Teen Girls and Depression: How to Help

Depression amongst teenagers is on the rise–especially for girls. It is estimated that 13% of teens between the ages of 12-17 struggle with depression, with pressure being a major contributor. This includes pressure to achieve good grades in school, fit in with peers, and be attractive. At a time when emotions are heightened and experiences are confusing, it is understandable that pressure can propel someone into depression. If your daughter has expressed feeling down or if you have noticed a change in her behavior, it may be a good time to seek help through teen group therapy for depression.

What does depression look like?

Depression is a mental disorder that causes intense sadness and feeling of hopelessness. Up until a few decades ago, youth depression was not acknowledged as a disorder because of the belief that it was inappropriate to diagnose a child whose brain had yet to fully develop and whose hormones affected their mood. Now it is understood to have a lot of overlap with adult depression but also has its fair share of differences. A major difference is that teens prefer to connect with their peers when depressed while adults isolate themselves.

A way to gauge if your teen is depressed is to look for a loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy such as playing soccer, dancing, etc. You might also look for allusions to self-loathing in front of you or in their work such as personal essays and poems, erratic outbursts or irritability,  or just if they have trouble focusing in general. You can also keep an eye out for physical symptoms such as sleeping at odd hours, have a change in appetite and weight (binge eating or withdrawing from eating), or showing an evident loss of energy. 

teen group therapy for depression

Teen Group Therapy for Depression: Why girls are more prone to depression

The girls of this generation have a heap of obstacles at-hand. We are in an era of accessibility to information through the Internet that can both provide inspiration and distress. With the socio-political climate of the world, violence, and climate change, teens can feel uncertain about their future and their safety. Additionally, being plugged into electronic devices and engaging in social media can influence a teen’s self-worth or warp their body image. Our society also pushes for efficiency, limiting quality time spent with families, all of which affects a teen’s relationship attachment. Electronics limit in-person time as well so teens may not feel like they have a community or support system. And, if a girl has a group of girl friends, she may engage in co-rumination–excessively sharing negative thoughts and problems with people. Research has found that girls who co-ruminate feel a sense of closeness with friends but also a greater feeling of anxiety and depression because the problems are brought to the surface over and over again without a solution.

Tips to help your teen

As you can see, your child is in a vulnerable stage. You may feel reluctant to intervene or try to provide help as they may react from a place of anger. But it is important to work through their depression. An afterschool teen group therapy for depression may be the most welcoming environment for your teen. In a group, your daughter will be surrounded by others dealing with similar internal changes and experiences, creating community and safety as well as quality time with others. The sessions may include talking, fun activities, sports, and collaboration projects among others. Group therapy can also establish accountability as each person will be encouraged to shift from problem mode to solution mode using empathy. This will break the habit of only focusing on problems.

Moreover, your teen can work individually with a therapist using methods such as CBT and alternative therapies like art therapy.