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?
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