As a therapeutic program for middle school girls, we recognize that many of the girls we help are struggling with depression–there’s explanations for why that is. If you go back 25 years or so, you can see that even back then we knew that adolescent girls experienced depression at a higher rate than boys.
An article published by The New York Times in 1990 read:
“The higher rate of depression persists through adolescence and into adulthood, at which point women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed as depressed.”
That statement above still holds true–except that the rate is now increasing at an alarming rate. Despite the fact that researchers and professionals have known girls disproportionately experience depression for years, it continues to worsen. Researchers are even trying to connect this new information to the increase in middle school suicides.
So, why is depression rising in our daughters?
Causes of depression in adolescent girls
Long story short, we don’t have a solid, infallible answer yet. We have come far from that New York Times article in 1990, though. Back in the 90s, researchers decided that the “prime factor is their [young girls] preoccupation with their appearance.” They thought that this was the main issue causing this unproportional depression in girls. While this may be the reason girls were depressed when surveyed, the researchers were looking at the wrong thing–why were these girls so preoccupied with their appearance at such a young age (as young as 10, to be exact)?
Since then, researchers have looked into the societal pressures being forced upon young girls at an early age through television, advertisements, stereotypes, and now more than ever social media. As a therapeutic program for middle school girls, we understand that standards of how girls should look, act, and move through life are placed on their shoulders at a very young age–and this can be incredibly damaging. It can cause insecurity, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety, and–big surprise–depression. While more efforts to combat this have been put into place, the growth of social media and smartphones has made an enormous impact.
Is social media and smartphones the root of the issue?
Researchers believe it’s possible. As more “body positive” marketing campaigns get launched to support girls of all shapes and sizes, more issues arise–like cyberbullying–to combat the progress. Dr. Mark Olfson, co-author of the study from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health, explained:
“While it is not possible to determine the reasons for this difference, cyberbullying may play a role. Negative texting experiences appear to be more common in girls than boys and have been linked to depressed mood.”
In our therapeutic program for middle school girls, students often have a negative relationship with social media–either from being the victim of cyberbullying or from conducting the bullying themselves. Many girls are given unfettered access to the internet and not much guidance is given by parents on how to handle or use it responsibly–this could be a factor in the growth of depression in teen girls. More education and research needs to be put into this issue before it gets even more out of hand than it already is.
Our therapeutic boarding school can help your daughter
Asheville Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 10-14, struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other behavioral or emotional issues. Our therapeutic program for middle school girls uses the best tactics and therapeutic methods in order to help your daughter reach success.
For more information about our therapeutic program for middle school girls at Asheville Academy can help your daughter, call 800-264-8709 today.