Study: Depression in Teen Girls On the Rise
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(Baltimore, MD) -- According to a new study done by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 1.4 million girls ages 12-17 have experienced a major depression episode in the past year.
The report is based on an annual national survey that assesses drug use and mental health. 12 percent of teenage girls, aged 12 to 17, were found to experience major depressive episodes compared to 4.5 percent of teenage boys the same age.
Dr. Elizabeth Miller, chief of the division of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh says that a major depressive episode can be easily mistaken for a mood swing, which is common during puberty. Major depressive episodes are defined in the report as, "losing interest and pleasure for two weeks or longer and other symptoms such as problems sleeping, eating, lower energy, difficulty concentrating."
Miller isn’t sure on the specific reasons that depressive episodes are found in higher rates in girls than boys, but suggests that it may have to do with increased biological vulnerability and higher rates of sexual abuse.
When trying to properly identify and deal with depression in teenagers, Richard McKeon, chief of the suicide prevention branch at SAMHSA says, "You don't want parents to overreact. On the other hand, it's important they do not dismiss those signs."
Miller says that early intervention may not just mean medication. "It may mean counseling, making sure the kid has more social support, offering more activities within the school that are promoting health and wellness."
McKeon says there are any number of reasons for the higher rates, ranging from psychological, biological and social factors. "It is a time of great transition, a time of biological transition, a time of social change, so there are likely a number of different reasons."
Copyright ABC News Radio 2012