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Teenage Girls and Depression: By the Numbers

As all of us adults already know from experience, adolescence can be an arduous and even nightmarish time in a teenage girl’s life. With raging hormones, new responsibilities, expectations, and social structures to live up to, it’s no wonder why teens are more prone to developing anxiety and depressive disorders than any other demographic. 

But while we can certainly empathize and relate to the hardships inherent to being a teenager, many of us adults cannot relate to the national epidemic of teenage depression in today’s America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), roughly 20% of teens have lived or are currently living with a major depressive disorder - approximately 8 million teens. Making matters even direr is the rising trend of suicide among youth, which (as of 2020) currently stands as the third-leading cause of death among young people (ages 15-25).

Today more than ever, it is more important for parents to recognize the warning signs of depression. As tragic statistics prove each year, failure to recognize depression in a teenage girl can result in irreversible and potentially fatal consequences. 

Luckily for parents of a depressed teenage girl, with the necessary treatment regimen and therapeutic environment, major depressive disorder is highly treatable. 

To assist parents in identifying the characteristics of depression, in the following article, we will discuss the specificities as well as potential warning signs and key characteristics that are commonly endemic of major depressive disorder in teenage girls. 

Teenage Girls are More Depressed Than Boys

Depression is an illness that behavioral experts refer to as ‘an equal rights’ disease in that it doesn’t discriminate in terms of who it can and does affect. Even so, statistics prove that teenage girls are at greater risk of developing a depressive disorder than any other demographic. According to the latest studies, nearly 25% of adolescent females will experience major depressive symptoms. Studies also show that girls two-thirds of teenagers prescribed antidepressants are female. 

As to why teenage girls are more likely to develop depression than boys (a 2014 study by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health estimated as high as three times more likely), experts consider a few factors. However, the most viable theory is that, in terms of emotional regulation, girls generally develop at a younger age than boys. Incidentally, this added sensitivity to emotional stimuli could make teenage girls especially prone to developing mood disorders, including anxiety and depression - two common, yet severe illnesses that often accompany each other in an afflicted youth’s psyche. 

Typical Tell-Tale Signs of Depression 

As previously stated, depression, although severe and dangerous if left untreated, is also highly treatable (probably, the most treatable out of any mental illness. However, before a depressed teenage girl can receive any type of treatment, parents must first identify whether or not their daughter has a likely case of major depressive disorder.  

Below are the most common and identifiable warning signs for parents to look out for. 

Persistent Feelings of anxiety

According to studies conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), girls are twice as likely to develop mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, than boys. In fact, girls who have a depressive disorder typically experience both anxiety and depression at the same time. 

That said, if a parent notices their daughter is having an uncharacteristic and increasingly difficult time managing her stress, it could be indicative of an undiagnosed depressive disorder. 

It is common for teens suffering from depression to also suffer from a co-occurring anxiety disorder. This added anxiety is mostly due to the fact that depressed teens have a difficult time handling other complex emotions such as anxiety.

Persistent physical symptoms (headaches, body aches, upset stomach)

Depression is an illness of the mind. That said, it is also an illness that can cause intense physical reactions such as headaches, body aches, or upset stomach. If severe enough, depression is known to cause symptoms that mimic physical illness, such as throwing up.  

Withdrawing from normal activities

One of the most obvious and common tell-tale signs of depression is withdrawing from activities, social circles, and most (if not all) society. Teenage girls who internally battle with depression and anxiety tend to self-isolate or check out of their day-to-day lives whenever possible. 

Moreover, teenage girls who develop major depressive disorder tend to lose interest in things that they were once fervently passionate about before.  

Quick to feelings of anger or frustration 

 As one could imagine, living with the pervasive and intense symptoms of depression can easily become frustrating. Incidentally, when attempting to live with their condition on their own, teenage girls with undiagnosed depression are quick to act on feelings of anger and frustration. 

Parents should easily identify if their daughter uncharacteristically acts out in fits of anger over minimal circumstances.  

Continuously expressing anger is also conducive to depression and can manifest if a frustrated and depressed teen fails to receive treatment, or least of all, recognition for having a critically undiagnosed mental illness.

Issues in school

Depression, being the debilitating illness that it is, often negatively affects one’s ability to concentrate. Of course, this is all the more evident in teenage girls who, despite their intellect, are prone to suffering a sudden drop in their academic performance. 

The high-stress levels that come with attempting to balance depression, and academics can leave an adolescent female drained and exhausted.

Are You a Parent of a Depressed Teenage Girl? If so, Elk Mountain Academy Can Help!

When it comes to one's daughter's overall wellness and safety, finding the necessary treatment can be arduous. However, with over 20 years of experience in changing, shaping, and improving struggling teenage girls' lives, Elk Mountain Academy is an optimal choice for parents of a depressed teenage girl. 

At Elk Mountain Academy, girls with a wide array of issues - including but not limited to anxiety and depression - receive an individualized treatment program that is unique and specially designed for their psychiatric needs. With the assistance and guidance of our multi-disciplinary staff, teenage girls under our care are not only able to heal from their psychiatric maladies but, for the first time in their lives, able to embark on a whole new, productive, and life-affirming path altogether. 

Furthermore, our clinical staff, both on and off-campus, is made up of psychiatric specialists, primary care physicians, a dentist, an orthodontist, licensed psychotherapists, and teachers, mentors, and residential care staff.

For more information, please call us today at (208) 266-1122