This changes dramatically by age 13; at that point, girls are twice as likely as boys to become depressed. What is going on for girls around age 13? And why do early adolescent pressures affect them so much more than boys?
Part of it is the way that girls respond to the problems, stress , and tumultuous change that is swirling around them. Girls are more likely than boys to experience multiple stressors at once.
It is true that both adolescent girls and boys experience a lot of stress. The difference is that boys tend to react to the stressors differently, through externalizing the pressures. This can cause the problems we see with boys acting out — fighting, using substances, and aggressive behavior.
Girls, however, are more likely to internalize the pressures, holding them in, blaming themselves for not being able to cope. So while both girls and boys may experience high levels of stress, girls are far more likely to become depressed in response to the stress. Also, girls are more likely than boys to experience multiple stressors all at once — including puberty.
Girls' bodies are changing dramatically, their hormones are surging, and they often feel bewildered by what is happening to them. Boys are somewhat protected from this, because they tend to reach puberty at a later age than girls. Girls are more likely to be hit with everything at once, and to become depressed as a result. Girls have greater emotional sensitivity than boys.
Girls have greater overall emotional intensity than boys and feel higher levels of almost every emotion. Girls place more importance on relationships than boys. Feeling like everyone needs to like her and approve of her at all times, and that she is not okay if any of her relationships are not okay, can leave her prone to depression2.
Girls are more likely than boys to have excessive empathy. Girls are also more likely to use excessive empathy in their relationships with others. Girls are more likely than boys to co-ruminate. Rumination refers to the tendency to worry excessively about your problems, to blame yourself for every bad thing that happens, and to mull your shortcomings and mistakes over and over in your head instead of taking action to make the problem better.
Girls, more so than boys, also talk about their feelings and problems with their friends. The more that girls co-ruminate with their friends, either in person or online, the more likely they are to become depressed over time4. What can parents do to help prevent depression in their daughters? The reasons that one girl develops depression while another doesn't are not always easily understood.
However, research shows that girls who develop effective coping and problem-solving skills are better protected from the risks described above. When your daughter encounters issues that are causing stress, she can learn to identify the problem and how she wants to manage it. Instead of worrying about the future or staying stuck by ruminating about the past, she can decide: If she decides to take action through problem-solving, she can practice the following model: My friends are texting me late at night, and I have trouble telling them I need to go to sleep , because I want to be there for them if they need me.
I will put my phone on Do Not Disturb at 10 p. I did get more sleep. Your daughter should develop a solid coping-skills repertoire and have strategies she can implement, depending on a given situation.
What does she need in the moment that will help her feel better? Help her develop a list for the following 5 categories5: Coping Skills Plan Do something fun.
What do I like to do for fun? These are things I do because I like to do them, not because I have to do them. Do something to release energy and stay healthy. What are some things I can do to move my body and reduce stress? Is there anything I need to do overall to practice better self-care e.
Do something soothing and relaxing. What do I like to do to relax? What can I do to add more relaxing activities or events into my day? Talk to someone about it. Who makes up my network of support right now? Who can I call when I am having a problem, so I can express my emotions? Who is someone that I trust will be there for me? How can I spend more time with supportive people?
Change the way you think about it. Do I need to change the way I am thinking about the situation, so that it is less harsh and extreme?
To reconsider the situation, your daughter can ask herself three questions: Our efforts to help our daughters learn to increase their awareness of what they are thinking and feeling will go a long way towards helping them decide what to do in any given situation: Is it more effective to take steps to change the situation?
Or to cope with it more effectively? Empowering her with these skills can keep her from staying stuck in her problems and free her to thrive during her adolescent years. Girls will be girls: Raising confident and courageous daughters.
Epidemiology, comorbidity, and course of adolescent depression. Sex differences in child and adolescent depression: A developmental psychopathological approach. Clinical report — the impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families.
Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, , Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression: