FEATURE

Teenage Depression in Girls

Teenage Depression in Girls

Are you worried about your daughter having the ‘blues’ or feelings of depression? Know that you’re not alone. Let’s look at why girls experience this common problem and how to best support them through it.

The role of hormones in teenage depression

The hormonal changes that come with puberty not only affect kids physically but also emotionally. As clinical psychologist and self-esteem expert Dr. Tara Cousineau explains, this is especially true for girls. “The pubertal process for boys tends to be slower and extend over a longer period of time and boys don’t experience rapid shifts in hormones as girls do,” she says. Talking to your daughter about the impact hormones may have on her moods can help her understand that what she is experiencing is perfectly normal.

However, hormones don’t always tell the full story, so don’t be too quick to write off her moodiness as just a passing phase. Her bodily changes can also interact with other environmental factors that may contribute to depressive feelings.

Stress and depression in teenagers

Adults aren’t the only ones affected by our troubled economy. Kids often worry about their future, anything from being accepted to the ‘right’ college to securing a stable job when they’ve grown up. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association has shown the level of stress that teens experience is comparable to that of adults. A third of the teens surveyed reported that stress caused them feelings of depression or sadness. What’s more, it seems that teen girls in the US are almost three times more likely to suffer from depression than boys of the same age. A recent UK survey reported similar findings in that girls between the ages of 15-19 had one of the highest numbers of hospital admissions for stress, behind only middle-aged men. Such elevated levels of stress are associated with poor body image, lower self-esteem and increased depressive symptoms.

Although this data is disturbing, Dr. Cousineau points out that “girls are more likely to report feeling sad and depressed than boys, given the cultural norms for girls to express themselves while boys are encouraged to be strong and stoic." It’s good news that girls are more likely to share their feelings, but your daughter may not confide in you when she’s feeling down; she might prefer to talk to her friends about her struggles. Some girls may not want to worry their moms. Others may want to avoid being too closely monitored, especially while their sense of identity and independence is developing.

What do I do if I suspect my daughter is depressed?

Read more at The Dove Self-Esteem Project website

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Bio

Sharon HeadshotSharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing.

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Bio

Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a lengthy career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing. After backpacking throughout Mexico, Southeast Asia, and much of South America, she found her second home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there she committed herself to writing. She studied the craft, joined a writer's group (Thursdays@Three), and experimented with various styles of fiction and non-fiction, which led to her participation as an author, editor, and presenter at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires in 2008 and 2009 representing the US Embassy.

Today, she is a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to medicine, web design, the American justice system, wind technology, anthropology, psychology, and the English and Spanish languages. She has authored textbooks and several online courses for colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. From authoring white papers to copy editing university-level exams, from ghostwriting for bestselling authors to development editing quarterly and annual reports, Sharon's experience is far-reaching.

She especially enjoys combining her love of the written word with her passion for body image activism and feminism. She regularly writes for Herizons, Canada's leading feminist magazine, and most recently, has contributed to Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago), an anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

Since 2009, she has acted as co-editor for AdiosBarbie.com, a website that promotes healthy body image and identity for people of all sizes, ages, races, cultures, abilities, and sexual identities and orientations, in addition to being a virtual member of the London-based AnyBody team, part of the international movement Endangered Bodies. Sharon's work with AnyBody inspired her to organize Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body in Buenos Aires, one of five international summits held in March 2011. Subsequently, she founded AnyBody Argentina, the Buenos Aires chapter of Endangered Bodies, which fights against sizeism and promotes healthy body image for Argentine girls and women, issues that Sharon writes about in both English and Spanish. As of January 2013, Sharon has been a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

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Proud Contributor to:

Fifty Shades of FeminismPublished in March 2013, Sharon contributes "Owning the F-word" to this anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

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