It Ain't Easy Being a Teenage Girl

Depression among teen girls triples halfway through adolescence

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Growing up is hard to do - especially if you're a girl. While mood swings and emotional highs and lows are all a normal part of adolescence and hormones, major depression shouldn't be.

Yet a recent report found that the number of girls experiencing a major episode of depression triples between ages 12 and 15.

"Depression can impact your daughter - ask a therapist."

The report, put out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is based on data from the 2008 through 2010 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

One of the most significant findings of the report is that the rate of depression among teen girls is almost three times greater as the depression occurring among adolescent boys.

While the rate of having a major depressive episode among males aged 12 to 17 was 4.5 percent, the rate among girls was 12 percent, which encompasses 1.4 million girls a year suffering from a major occurrence of depression.

These episodes are not evenly distributed among the girls' ages, though. While 5.1 percent of 12-year-old girls experience a depressive episode, the number jumps to 15.2 percent among 15-year-old girls.

Yet most of these girls are not receiving treatment for their depression. The report found that just one-third of 12- to 14-year-old girls experiencing major depression received treatment for their condition.

Only a slightly higher number - about 40 to 42 percent - received treatment among girls aged 15 to 17 who were experiencing major depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of depression that might be observed in other people include more than just sadness or excessive crying. It can also include irritability, anxiety, anger, agitation or frustration, even over seemingly insignificant things.

A depressed person may spend much more time sleeping, or they may have trouble sleeping at all and go through bouts of insomnia. They may also avoid social interaction more.

You might also notice if your teen girl's appetite changes, whether she's eating far less than usual and losing weight or suddenly starts eating more and begins rapidly gaining weight.

Depression leads people to lose interest in normal activities they might usually enjoy, and it can slow them down literally so that their speech and movements seem more sluggish than normal or they may have difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions.

If a girl's grades start inexplicably slipping because she's not getting her schoolwork done, or if she often displays signs of restlessness, like she's unable to sit still, these could also be red flags.

If parents notice several of these symptoms in their daughter, they shouldn't ignore it. Serious depression can lead toward more serious issues, such as physical ailments and suicide.

The report was published by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality on July 19. The funding was provided by SAMHSA.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 25, 2012
Last Updated:
April 1, 2013