The teen years can be particularly troubling for young girls who struggle with serious issues at home and school. Today, there is significant pressure for girls to fit in with their peers and social media often creates a very public platform that sends mixed messages to teens. While both boys and girls can develop mental disorders, it is important to understand that girls may be affected in different ways and be at greater risk for certain types of disorders. As a parent or trusted adult working with teens, it is essential to know the following information regarding a teen girl’s vulnerability to developing a mental disorder such as depression.
Common types of teen mental disorders
There are several types of mental health disorders that are more likely to affect girls. For example, female teens are at greater risk for developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Girls also experience depression, anxiety and panic disorders that affect their ability to live a happy life. When left untreated, these types of teen mental health issues sometimes lead to other types of mental health problems such as substance abuse and addiction.
Identifying the signs of a problem
Teen girls and boys experience different symptoms of the same disorders. Whereas a boy may respond showing anger, a girl may be more likely to withdraw and experience symptoms such as frequent crying for unknown reasons. Parents and other adults need to be alert for less obvious symptoms such as losing interest in a favorite activity such as dance or soccer. If a mental health disorder causes physical symptoms such as a change of appetite, teen girls may lose or gain weight. They may also reach out to a new group of peers, experience a drop in their grades or suddenly start dressing differently. For a teen struggling with mental disorders, a change in their outward appearance may signify that something else is bothering them emotionally.
Reasons for a girl’s vulnerability to a disorder
There are several factors that contribute to girls being more vulnerable to teen mental disorders. In children, mental health problems can often be tied to low self-esteem and this is a common issue many girls deal with during the teen years. Low self-esteem leads to depression and anxiety. Naturally, if a girl does not feel good about herself, then she will feel anxious in social situations. Some girls will even use alcohol or drugs to deal with their anxiety when they are faced with social situations such as parties or giving a presentation at school. Some people also believe that fluctuations in hormones affect a young girl’s mental health and social media has become a significant influence on how girls feel emotionally. For example, cyberbullying is more prevalent among teen girls and extreme bullying has been linked to depression and suicide by those who are bullied by their peers.
How to help teen girls who are struggling
Every teen girl is vulnerable to mental disorders, so it is essential that adults make a serious effort to be alert for signs a girl is in trouble. Child mental health professionals recommend having teens assessed for disorders at the first sign of a problem. Through treatment, young girls can reclaim their lives and learn effective coping strategies for managing their symptoms. When addiction has taken hold, only professional help can ensure young girls will be able to remain on the right track for recovery. Whether a young girl is dealing with depression, an eating disorder or anxiety, prompt treatment is essential for easing the symptoms.
Today, child mental health experts make it clear that girls do tend to be vulnerable to certain disorders that affect their development. By treating these disorders, girls can revive their self-esteem and go on to live full and happy lives unencumbered by a mental health disorder.