While both genders of teenagers experience anxiety and depression, it is much more prevalent among girls.
Both anxiety and depression happen to people of both genders. However, during the teenage years, girls are at much greater risk than boys of getting these issues. Pre-puberty depression and anxiety happen to both girls and boys at the same rate. But by the time mid-adolescence hits, girls are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with these conditions.
You may then quite reasonably ask why there is this discrepancy. Well, by taking a look at brain scans, scientists have been able to determine that girls and boys process emotional stimuli very differently. Girls are much quicker to mature than boys. It could easily be this sensitivity that makes them that much more vulnerable to these mental health conditions, depression, and anxiety.
Evolution may also be able to provide an explanation behind the mystery of this discrepancy. Girls evolved to get emotional maturity much faster than boys did because they were the ones who were the primary caregivers of babies.
Young men, on the other hand, played the roles of hunters and protectors of their respective tribes. Maybe emotional responsiveness was not the most important attribute to have for those specific roles.
This argument, that the differences in emotional sensitivity are practically hard-wired, is even more validated that these statistics still hold true today. It is in fact quite astonishing that even with much more involvement in physical activities for girls and women, such as participating in sports, the rate of depression still has not gone down.
This really is quite startling as physical activity is one of the main recommendations that mental professionals give out to people who struggle with anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of Depression
The first noticeable sign of adolescent depression is the tendency for the people suffering from it to really withdraw from everything. Even including things that they enjoyed doing. The person suffering from this condition will also notice other changes in their mood, such as irritability or sadness.
There may also be behavioral changes as well. This can include things such as their appetite, sleep patterns, energy levels, and also academic performance. If you notice multiple symptoms in a loved one, you should be very vigilant with them and get them checked.
This is very important as family members very often fail to recognize the symptoms early on and as a result, by the time they do recognize it, the teenage girl has already been depressed for quite some time.
It is very important to note that depression is an internalizing disorder. This means that it severely hampers a person’s emotional life. It is not an externalizing one and is not one that manifests itself in the form of behavior that is disruptive or problematic. It is for this reason, that depression is so difficult to recognize.
Also, know that there are several forms of depression. The most common one, major depressive disorder, usually has a cluster of the symptoms mentioned above and it usually lasts for seven to nine months. There is also another kind of depression that although milder, it lasts for several years. It is called dysthymia.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety is another type of mental health condition that can be seriously debilitating. Technically speaking, anxiety is a pretty normal adaptive system that warns the body when it feels that there is danger. It gets troublesome, however, when the anxiety gets blown out of proportion when you consider the situation that caused it and therefore it can very seriously hamper a person’s ability to function properly.
A teenage girl, who is experiencing this condition, may very likely choose to withdraw from the regular activities that other teenage girls take part in. Note that anxiety is a serious condition and it simply does not go away with reassurance.
If a teenager has been experiencing anxiety since her childhood, it is very likely that her entire lifestyle has been based on the anxieties that she does have. It is very likely that she will choose the activities and environments she gets involved in based on her anxiety.
Friends will also be chosen with her anxiety determining the outcome. This is why it is very important to detect these symptoms early on. If they develop coping mechanisms, it will be much more difficult to treat them.
There is, fortunately, the very real possibility of shortening the period of the illness if help is gotten early on in childhood.
The most common form of treatment for these conditions is a thing that is known as CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Treatment also depends on the age of the patient and it can involve teaching the parents too.
CBT is based on the idea that the person suffering from these conditions is trapped in a pattern of thought that is very negative. Kids who are depressed tend to evaluate their self-worth very negatively and they are also likely to think of the darkest possible outcome of their actions. In a very similar fashion, girls who are suffering from anxiety also tend to be overwhelmed by a train of negative thoughts.
CBT can address these issues quite adequately. If the condition is more critical, psychotropic medications like antidepressants and antianxiety medications will be prescribed.
One therapy model that is getting very popular in recent times and is also one that is quite safe is light therapy. It is also known by the names of bright light therapy or phototherapy.
The way this works is that it tries to replicate natural light in an indoor setting with the help of a light therapy device. Natural sunlight has been proven to be very good in easing the suffering that patients with different mental health disorders suffer from.