While anxiety is a normal response to stressful events, a main source of anxiety for teenage girls is being anxious about being anxious and feeling like they are alone in their experience. Girls suffer more from depression and anxiety than boys because they tend to internalize problems and social expectations of being kind, generous, obedient, and pretty. As a parent, it is hard to find a balance between helping your daughter understand that stress can be an adaptive factor that pushes you to grow and learn new things and to validate her overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety.
Mental Health in Middle School
Middle school is a particularly significant phase in one’s development where teens build social skills and develop personal interests that help them discover who they are, however, it is also a prime environment for social pressure and social anxiety. Between hormonal changes, budding romantic interest, and an increased workload, many middle school girls struggle to feel like they fit in.
In middle school, teens begin to form their identity based on peer values more than parent relationships as they spend most of their time at school and with friends, so they are particularly sensitive to peer rejection. While many people look back on Middle School as an embarrassing time of their lives, teenagers are more likely to hang onto the hopelessness of the experience rather than take advantage of it as a time to build confidence and healthy relationships.
Signs that your Daughter is Struggling with Depression and Anxiety:
- Loss of interest in things she used to care about: Quitting extracurricular activities and losing touch with childhood friends may be a sign of social anxiety or loss of pleasure.
- Always on edge: While hormones may contribute to mood swings, intensified anger and lack of control over emotions may be underlying symptoms of depression.
- Increased need for privacy: Although privacy can be a healthy boundary, excessive privacy can be associated with social isolation and lack of trust.
- Difficulty talking about emotions: Teenagers are beginning to develop an abstract understanding of emotions but may not know how to verbalize what they’re feeling.
- Trouble in school: Mental and social well-being are strong indicators of one’s academic success. Emotional difficulties can lead to a decline in academic performance, behavioral problems in the classroom, trouble concentrating, bullying, and school refusal.
Importance of Relationships
Middle school girls are known for drama and cliquey-ness, however female friendships during this time are important for girls to find emotional support. Teenage girls are often people-pleasers and struggle to be authentic in relationships due to a fear of judgment. Teenagers benefit from having positive role models and mentors that can speak openly about their own experiences and encourage them to embrace differences as strengths. Teenage girls are often caught up in personal fables that the world revolves around them or that they are terminally unique and forming relationships with like-minded individuals helps them to feel a sense of belonging. Asheville Academy provides opportunities for middle school girls to build relationships in school, therapy groups, equine therapy, experiential activities, and community service.
How Asheville Academy for Girls Can Help
Asheville Academy for Girls is an accredited Therapeutic Boarding School for girls 10-14 that is all about relationships. Our students commonly struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, learning differences, attachment and other emotional and behavioral issues. Our small classrooms encourage teamwork and collaboration with additional support for girls struggling with academic skills. This program is focused on emotion regulation and building confidence, communication skills, and social skills that will help students transition back into their home and school life. We can help your family today!
For more information about helping your daughter with depression and anxiety at Asheville Academy, call 800-264-8709 today.
Cat brings more than thirty years of experience making an impact in the lives of adolescents. Cat has developed multiple programs helping children, teens, and young adults in a variety of settings and with a diverse range of diagnoses. She has dedicated her career to behavioral health and is honored to be part of the passionate team at Asheville Academy for Girls. She recognizes how delicate this age is and is proud of the role she and her team play in helping girls grow and prosper.