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Depression in teenage girls on the rise

(57 Posts)
RedToothBrush Fri 18-May-18 18:32:08

amp.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/18/poorest-brightest-girls-uk-depressed-study-teenagers-mental-health?__twitter_impression=true
Poorest and brightest girls more likely to be depressed – UK study
Research into 14-year-olds renews concern over rising rates of teenage mental illness

They add to growing evidence that teenage girls are particularly vulnerable to mental health difficulties. NHS figures show there were sharp increases between 2005/06 and 2015/16 in the number of girls under 18 admitted to hospital in England because they had self-harmed by cutting (up 285%), poisoning (42%) or hanging themselves (331%).

The Samaritans made an observation in this year's suicide report that there were signs that suicide in young women could be on the rise but it was too early to state it was a definite trend.

Cleverer girls also had a significantly higher risk of having high depressive symptoms at 14, she said, and she was doing further research to calculate that risk more precisely among those with “higher childhood cognitive scores”.

Krause said: “Part of it could be that [brighter girls] have a ‘hyper brain’, a more active brain, which often means they have a much higher emotional reaction to things and they are constantly overthinking things

'Pink brains' Teenage girls brains are more hysterical hyperactive? Or something else the researchers don't think of?

We certainly need to be looking at how the use of social media and cyberbullying may affect girls and boys differently.”

Yes. And why would that be?

Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, said it was unhelpful to highlight bright or poor girls as being at particular risk “when we already now there is a significant burden of mental illness in children and young people, including adolescent girls, and that there is a substantial shortfall in specialist services for them.”

Hmmm.

Depressing read.

QuentinSummers Fri 18-May-18 19:29:14

Very sad.
The "emotional brain" thing sounds ridiculous though

Biologifemini Fri 18-May-18 19:32:40

How about social media expecting them to be perfect and look like Kim k.
Given these expectations and the obesity crisis and online bullying I am not surprised. It is sad and terrible.

SeahorsesAREhorses Fri 18-May-18 19:42:30

Then we need people to take this seriously and start improving things for girls. Let's challenge harmful stereotypes, let these girls know they don't have to perform sexist stereotypes to be girls, let them know they aren't on this earth to please men and boys.

thebewilderness Fri 18-May-18 20:59:32

I think being criticized or screamed at or called names and told to kill themselves every time a girl says no to a boy may very well be a contributing factor in crating the hostile environment these girls are trying to survive.

Elendon Sat 19-May-18 10:06:40

Poverty plays a huge factor in these shocking statistics. Thank you for posting this. It's an important issue regarding a young female teenager's pathway to adulthood.

hipsterfun Sat 19-May-18 10:10:53

The article doesn’t say anything about an ‘emotional brain’, rather an active (‘overthinking’) brain, which can give rise to higher emotional reaction.

This is a good fit for my own experience.

QuentinSummers Sat 19-May-18 10:14:52

But intelligent boys have overactive/overthinking brains too. So it seems to be used as an excuse for girls depression here when I think it's more likely to be external factors causing it. Such as not being able to deal with the cognitive dissonance of being treated like you are stupid by men when you know you aren't.

hipsterfun Sat 19-May-18 10:21:34

I think it may be to do with a mismatch between the ability to perceive complexity and the life experience required to navigate it without, and this may be the issue for girls, feeling responsible for resolving the unresolved, or turning things inward.

KittyKlaws Sat 19-May-18 10:50:25

But intelligent boys have overactive/overthinking brains too. So it seems to be used as an excuse for girls depression here when I think it's more likely to be external factors causing it. Such as not being able to deal with the cognitive dissonance of being treated like you are stupid by men when you know you aren't.

I think it is the combination of both, while the boys also have an overactive/overthinking brain (like one of mine) they do not have the same amount of external factors to think about. I've said it on here before and I'll say it again (and keep saying it) the normalisation of pornography has crept insidiously into wider society, porn becomes normalised, online porn becomes more intense, violent and niche to make up for that providing increasing thrills. Girls and boys are exposed to this, boys expect certain looks and behaviour and even when some don't, girls will feel the weight of that expectation. This is expectation in both appearances and behaviours if you combine those worries with the expectations that girls do well at school and succeed and add the (sometimes) toxic atmosphere of social media to the mix then you have an almost perfect recipe for depression of for flight (transition) to avoid it.

This climate isn't good for girls and frankly there is no hope on the horizon. Our culture continues to be saturated in porn, even if girls rail against it it is ever present. I'm depressed about it, I was depressed about it when I was younger and I still am although in a different way.

I was suffered depression as a teenager and still do - for me it was expectations of all kinds but particularly the pressure on appearance and being treated badly for not meeting it; being called names, being left out, thinking I wasn't good enough on a daily basis - I can't tell you how wearing it is and it came with other issues. And you know what? The situation hasn't improved - far from it - it has exponentially worsened. I can see why depression has increased, no trouble at all. I felt it when it wasn't this bad (I accept I was also predisposed as my adult life has demonstrated) it must be crushing now - the weight of all these expectations. I feel so goddamn sad for girls growing up today and now we have gender confusion and wanting to fit in into the mix.

JoyTheUnicorn Sat 19-May-18 10:52:06

Dd is very anxious/depressed and was with CAMHS crisis team for a month earlier this year. She's 15 and currently sitting GCSEs.

She hasn't had any issues with boys as such, but some of the things I've noticed are:

Amongst her peers there are huge amounts of throwaway comments about suicide and self harm, something goes vaguely wrong and you get "oh well, I might as well slit my wrists", which I can't remember being a thing when I was that age. I feel we've done a full circle where mental health issues have gone from being an unacknowledged taboo to being trivialised and almost expected of teenage girls.

Amongst her peers I've noticed a sort of competition amongst them. Any comment that "everyone feels like that" means a frenzy to outdo each other in terms of how very ill they are.

With dd I'm seeing (rightly or wrongly) links with the current trans behaviour. It comes across as an identity that must be validated, or she spins out of control. She has the worst life, the most exam stress, the most severe mental health issues, and any suggestion that this isn't the case spins her out of control with accusations that we don't care, don't understand her and that she must kill herself to prove it. At the same time she loves it when we've done anything that validates it - we have all knives and painkillers locked away, but she really loves the fact that we've done this.

The pressure from school(s) has been immense. From year 5 there has been an increasing build up, first to SATs in year 6, then from year 7 the build up to GCSEs.

I can see that boys are affected as much as girls, but they will show it in different ways. For example it seems to be common in dd's school for boys to smoke weed to cope, where the girls will be far more openly mentally ill.

Dd was dropped by CAMHS back into the services who had failed her before. There's a massive disconnect between the increased awareness/understanding of MH and the ability to deal with it.

I think there's a massive contagion effect going on which, added to the pressure (both socially and academically) means that teenagers aren't coping, but then having to rely on underfunded and under-resourced services that can now only deal with the most severe cases.

JoyTheUnicorn Sat 19-May-18 10:55:38

I agree with Kitty's post about porn etc, but in dd's case it's been pressure from school and behaviour amongst her peer group that has had the biggest observable impact.

KittyKlaws Sat 19-May-18 11:01:11

I agree with Kitty's post about porn etc, but in dd's case it's been pressure from school and behaviour amongst her peer group that has had the biggest observable impact.

I agree with your post too. I do think it is the combination which creates this. However, what you have said resonates as I recall a recent conversation with a friend about how her daughters friends behave and I can see exactly what you have said happening with her daughter's friends. I know they feel this pressure and the idea of competitive victim-hood rings some loud bells and you are right it ties in with the the sudden increase in transitioning teens. When you look at my post (and experience) and your post (and experience) it is so complicated to be a teenage girl right now. Little wonder they are depressed and as you say there are precious few resources to deal with it. Very worrying indeed.

ConstantlyCold Sat 19-May-18 11:04:11

Krause said: “Part of it could be that [brighter girls] have a ‘hyper brain’, a more active brain, which often means they have a much higher emotional reaction to things and they are constantly overthinking things

I know some seriously intelligent women (and one man). They have had mental health issues due to (IMO) overthinking. The boy has a far more chilled out personality.

I worry about both my kids mental health. Particularly the girl as I think girls have a few more pressures and she is one of life’s natural worriers. The boy

NotDavidTennant Sat 19-May-18 11:08:22

Teenage girls do seem to be particularly vulnerable to social contagion around these kind of issues.

YetAnotherSpartacus Sat 19-May-18 11:56:04

Joy - from the exposure I have to slightly older girls/young women I have to say I totally agree with you.

Also, dons flamesuit, suicide is 'sexay'. It's almost compulsory to know someone who has done it and to wear a memento, sometimes a tattoo.

YetAnotherSpartacus Sat 19-May-18 11:57:20

Krause said: “Part of it could be that [brighter girls] have a ‘hyper brain’, a more active brain, which often means they have a much higher emotional reaction to things and they are constantly overthinking things

How fucking belittling. I think they just realise what a fucked world it is they are entering as young women. That's not overthinking. It's realism.

StaplesCorner Sat 19-May-18 12:14:07

I'll go and have a good read of that. My DD14 has always had some problems with "depression" then at Easter she literally had a breakdown and its like our lives have all changed overnight, so many "services" now involved. Everyone accuses her of over-thinking but I know Yet is right - I think they just realise what a fucked world it is they are entering as young women. That's not overthinking. It's realism. - I often think of what Spike Milligan said - that if you actually stop and think what is going on in the world if you'd definitely go mad (well, something like that). But perhaps "over-thinking" is the new "highly strung" sad

JoyTheUnicorn Sat 19-May-18 12:24:05

"Also, dons flamesuit, suicide is 'sexay'. It's almost compulsory to know someone who has done it and to wear a memento, sometimes a tattoo."

No flaming from me, you're right.
I'm sure I read somewhere that the media publicity surrounding the semi colon tattoo encouraged swathes of teenagers to see MH as glamorous and almost a rite of passage.

QuarksandLeptons Sat 19-May-18 12:25:14

I agree that the “overthinking” comment is sexist and belittling and is a lazy way of dismissing a phenomenon that impacts so many girls

Hideandgo Sat 19-May-18 12:35:12

Whatever is behind selfies plays a part here I fear.

Yes men, porn, being the sub-sex surely plays a part but I think hair, makeup, beauty regimes, focus on appearances, pink clothes, pretty dresses etc. puts huge pressure on girls and this is hugely a female led problem. So think carefully what you are showing your girls is important in life. So many women openly say in front of their kids about not leaving the house without their ‘face’. Looks are constantly commented on ‘you look gorgeous’ being mistaken as a positive thing to constantly say to a girl. Being in a good mood only when you’ve shaved your legs, covered yourself in fake tan, have your nails done and moisturised every part of your body. All these messages to our little girls. Then they emulate it online looking for likes.

It’s just soul destroying. And must do damage.

It wasn’t like this 30yrs ago.

MoodyDench Sat 19-May-18 14:08:09

I agree that most of the pressure for us women to look good comes primarily from other women - well, a female led fashion culture. When I hear people discuss 'female beauty standards' and 'size zero' etc it conflicts to me with the fact that many (most?) men seem to prefer a curvaceous figure to a Kate Moss.

I also think that part of the reason why we've got less happy over the last few decades is the whole 'ignorance is bliss' element. Men often used to play the breadwinner and worry about all the bills, but now, with more women competing in the rat race, our stress levels (and suicides) are slowly starting to catch up with that of men.

I could be wrong but it sounds more feasible than being 'screamed at by boys for rejecting them' which I've never seen happen and seems a bit daft tbh.

MoodyDench Sat 19-May-18 14:14:54

And with both parents often working busy office jobs nowadays it may be easier for parents to overlook the telltale signs. My mum was the main breadwinner when I was young, having got into computing in the late 70s/early 80s. My dad had a good banking job but she made almost twice the amount working for IBM. I remember that she was always preparing for meetings and it was hard to talk to her.

FlippinFumin Sat 19-May-18 15:06:42

Girls are brutal to one another, always have been. But years ago if someone said something brutal to you, you went home and your parents told you how beautiful, clever, special and loved you were. These days the girls get home. go to their rooms and the bullying continues on SM and mainstrea media. How they should look, what size they should be, how their nails should look, how they should shave away any body hair, what they should wear and how they should wear their hair.

My granddaughter is 14 and tiny, until a year ago she was wearing clothes for age 10, so that tiny. Then she started taking an interest in fashion, so she moved up to a Primark size 4 clothes, no women should really be that size but hey ho. Recently we have been trying to find her a dress for a family wedding. So in Primark she is size 4, some shops she is a size 6 and eventually she bought a dress from Quiz, a size 8. Now, she can fit in a childs clothes, no wonder women have bizzare ideas of body shape and size. I am guessing that shoppers in Quiz are tiny, and any girl already suffering from an unhealthy obsession with her body, will try on the size she usually is and get even more depressed.

My granddaughter is a pretty confident girl, thankfully. She likes her nails done, and has her eyebrows waxed, and sometimes wears a bit of make-up. But is not at all 'girly' in the clothes she wears. She loves sports clothes or jeans, t-shirts and definitely not dresses! Other girls at school have made comments about her not being girly, if she didn't have a close family, if she wasn't made to feel loved, if she didn't have us to talk to, maybe she would be questioning her 'gender' and whether or not she is a 'real' female.

SardineReturns Sat 19-May-18 17:28:07

I also find the "girls overthink things" comment a bit weird. It's very throwaway, feels sexist (female brain = too emotional and prone to malfunction) and doesn't leave room for other explanations.

Other considerations might be

Clever girls seeing, noticing more acutely how sexist society is and feeling distress as a response
Boys having more outlets for negative feelings (overthinking) in terms of more participation in sports etc
The thing around girls feeling they have to be "perfect" which is well documented
And so on. There are loads of possibilities which might be more helpful than simply "well you know what teenage girls are like" which is what has always been said and is dismissive.

Oh the other big one

Recent report said that hormonal contraception in teen girls carries a massive risk of mental health issues as a side effect. This is a big one. Well known anecdotally forever and now the studies say it is worse than realised, very significant. That could well be a factor here as well. Rather than, well, you know girls, overthinking. Just how they are...

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