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Understanding Depression in Adolescent Girls

depression in adolescent girls, Adolescent depression

Being a girl in today’s world is difficult. Society sets expectations for girls that are almost impossible to achieve and yet, sometimes girls are even harder on themselves than society as a whole. Perhaps that’s why it’s not surprising that a significant number of girls report feelings of depression.

In fact, according to recently released CDC data, nearly 60% of U.S. teen girls reported that they felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021 — double that of boys. There’s much we can do to help support our young women, but first, we need to understand the condition of depression among adolescent girls and how it can be addressed through proper treatment.

Adolescent Depression

Adolescent depression poses a widespread concern that impacts both boys and girls. Nonetheless, gender differences are evident, and adolescent girls encounter distinct challenges. One contributing factor is the hormonal fluctuations associated with puberty, specifically in estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts during this phase can influence mood regulation, potentially rendering girls more susceptible to depression.

Social and Cultural Factors: The undeniable societal and cultural pressures on adolescent girls range from unrealistic beauty standards to gender-related stressors, creating a challenging terrain that can contribute to the onset of depression. Social relationships, crucial during adolescence, can transform into stressors. The dynamics of friendships and romantic entanglements, coupled with social comparison and peer pressure, have the potential to worsen mental health challenges.

Academic Stress and Performance Expectations: As academic demands intensify throughout adolescence, girls frequently contend with heightened stress and performance expectations. The pursuit of high achievement can perilously internalize standards, nurturing feelings of failure and inadequacy. The burden of academic pressure adds an extra weight on the shoulders of adolescent girls, potentially playing a role in the initiation or worsening of depression.

Body Image and Self-Esteem: In a society fixated on physical appearance, adolescent girls grapple with significant body image struggles. Societal beauty standards can trigger a negative self-perception that, when intertwined with the already tumultuous journey of adolescence, creates an environment conducive to depression. The pursuit of self-esteem poses an equally challenging endeavor, as girls navigate a delicate balance between societal expectations and their intrinsic sense of identity.

Seeking Help and Intervention:  The good news is that adolescent girls are often more open to asking for and seeking help for their depressive symptoms. However, society’s stigma and lack of awareness be a barrier to early intervention. Recognizing warning signs and being open to communication are crucial to helping provide support.


Identifying depression in adolescent girls

Timely recognition of depressive symptoms is crucial for effective treatment. Parents, educators, and peers need to be watchful for signs of depression, such as alterations in behavior, mood swings, and withdrawal. Fostering open conversations about mental health not only diminishes the stigma associated with seeking help but also facilitates prompt intervention.

Warning Signs Include:

  •        Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” moods
  •        Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  •        Irritability
  •        Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  •        Decreased energy or fatigue
  •        Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
  •        Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  •        Moving or talking more slowly
  •        Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  •        Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  •        Changes in appetite or weight
  •        Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  •        Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment

As we explore the challenges of depression in adolescent girls, it is crucial to promote change and offer steadfast support. It is essential to promote open conversations about mental health, debunk stigmas, and enhance awareness within our communities. By nurturing an environment of empathy and understanding, we can establish a safety net for those grappling with depression.


What should parents look for when seeking inpatient mental health care for an adolescent girl?

Seeking inpatient mental health care for an adolescent girl can be emotionally draining for a parent. But, it’s crucial that parents carefully evaluate multiple factors to help ensure they choose a facility that can help their precious child.

Here are some key considerations:

Location: It’s only natural to want to be nearby when a child needs inpatient care. And we feel parents should be accessible to the facility that’s why we are so happy we can serve the people of Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Charlotte and other communities in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Accreditation and Licensing: Ensure that the facility is accredited by relevant mental health organizations and licensed by the appropriate state regulatory agencies. This ensures that the facility adheres to established standards of care. Carolina Dunes is accredited by The Joint Commission. Achieving Joint Commission accreditation demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement in patient care. Joint Commission accreditation tells your patients you’re committed to providing safe, high-quality care — time after time.

Experienced and Specialized Staff: Look for a facility staffed by a team of skilled professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and nurses, all possessing expertise in adolescent mental health. Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health offers a program that involves comprehensive therapeutic and diagnostic treatment planning conducted by our multidisciplinary clinical team, overseen by a leading psychiatrist. This approach is tailored to address the unique needs of each adolescent.

Comprehensive Assessment and Individualized Treatment Plans: A thorough initial assessment should be conducted to understand the specific needs and challenges of the adolescent. The treatment plan should be individualized, addressing the unique aspects of her mental health condition.

Evidence-Based Therapies: Ensure that the facility utilizes evidence-based therapeutic approaches. This may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other interventions proven effective for adolescent mental health.

Safety Measures: At Carolina Dunes, the safety of these most vulnerable individuals, is paramount. When considering a program, we urge you to assess the safety measures in place, including the facility’s security protocols, staff-to-patient ratio, and emergency response procedures to help ensure that the environment is conducive to the safety and well-being of the adolescents.

Therapeutic Activities and Recreation: Look for facilities that offer a variety of therapeutic activities and recreational options. Physical activities, art therapy, and other forms of recreation can complement traditional therapy and contribute to the overall well-being of the adolescent.

Transition and Aftercare Planning: A good facility should have a well-defined transition and aftercare plan. This includes preparing the adolescent for reintegration into her home and community and providing support for ongoing outpatient care.

Peer Interaction and Support: Consider how the facility facilitates positive peer interaction and support. A supportive community environment with peers facing similar challenges can contribute to the adolescent’s healing process.

Crisis Intervention: Understand the facility’s approach to crisis intervention. Ensure that they have established protocols for managing crises and that staff is trained to handle challenging situations effectively.

Insurance and Financial Considerations: You can always call Carolina Dunes for a confidential and no-cost insurance assessment. Understanding the costs involved and the coverage provided by insurance is crucial to avoid unexpected financial burdens.

Gut Feeling: Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right or if you have concerns, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the facility staff. A comfortable and trusting relationship with the treatment team is essential.


Before making a decision, take the time to thoroughly evaluate these factors can help ensure Carolina Dunes is the right fit for your family. Please contact Carolina Dunes for more information on our inpatient services.

  • In case of a mental health crisis, CALL 9-8-8 or seek the nearest emergency room.
  • For physical health emergencies, CALL 9-1-1 or seek the nearest emergency room.
  • If you need to reach us immediately, call us at (888) 652-3122


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About programs offered at Carolina Dunes Behavioral Health

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