Depression is a common problem today, affecting more than 10% of adults and 6-8% of teens. Teenage girls are especially vulnerable to depression, with roughly ¼ of young women displaying symptoms of depression at some point in the teen years.
Although many people downplay depression to “the common cold of mental health,” the truth is that depression can lead to many harmful behaviors in teen girls, and can be equally distressing for parents and family members who don’t know how to help. Here are a few things to understand about depression in teen girls:
Depression May Be Connected to Hormonal Fluctuations
One of the biggest reasons that teen girls are more likely to suffer from depression is because of hormone fluctuations. Hormones closely influence our mood, and dramatic fluctuations in estrogen levels during puberty can lead to disruptions in the brain’s reward center. In other words, the same process that can lead to periomenopausal depression and postpartum depression can affect teen girls.
Unique Challenges of Adolescence Can Also Contribute
That being said, there are plenty of environmental factors that influence depression in teen girls as well. The teen brain is wired to value the influence and approval of peers in a way that children and adults don’t. This means that relationships, breakups, fights with friends, bullying, and ostracization can all hit teens incredibly hard. In addition, conflicts with parents, search for personal identity, and pressure to make decisions about the future can all add to the stressors of the average teen.
Understand Genetic Factors
One of the biggest risk factors of depression is if you have a parent who also experienced (or experiences) depression. So, if you know that there’s a history of depression in your family, it’s important to have a healthy outlook on it, be transparent about your own experiences, and be proactive in recognizing the signs of depression in your teen daughter.
Is It a Phase?
If depression is so closely influenced by biology and life changes that are specific to the teen years, does that mean that the depression is just a phase? The answer is… maybe. Many teens who experience depression experience a major reduction in symptoms when they hit young adulthood. They may live the rest of their lives free of depression, even without treatment. Many others either struggle with depression for their whole lives, or experience phases of depression once or twice again. The truth is that if hormone fluctuations and life stressors are triggers for depression, there’s no way to guard 100% from experiencing those stimuli again at some point. That’s why it’s important for teen girls with depression to learn healthy coping techniques that counter and manage depression if it should arise again.
Here at Trinity Teen, we treat girls with many different behavioral and mental health challenges, and empower them to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and proactively make and pursue positive goals for the future. If your daughter is struggling with depression that affects her daily life, give us a call today to see if either our residential or outpatient program can help her.