U.S. Teen Girls Are Swimming in Waves of Sadness

Universally, our teenage years can be some of the most challenging of our entire lives. However, a recent study indicates that teenage girls, on average, struggle more than their male peers.

“These data show a distressing picture,” says Debra Houry, chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence and trauma.”

A recent CDC report found the average number of teenage girls who felt sad and hopeless (57%, which equates to nearly 3 in 5) doubled that of teenage boys and topped the depression charts for the decade. Additionally:

  • 30% of teenage girls seriously considered attempting suicide.
  • 18% of teenage girls experienced sexual violence in the past year.
  • 14% of teenage girls have been forced to have sex.

Unfortunately, declining mental health shares comorbidity with substance use. Depression and suicidal thoughts have strong ties to substance misuse. In fact, one in three people with a major depressive disorder also have a substance use disorder. Even just listening to your teen can help relieve their stress. Julie Cerel, a licensed psychologist and director of the Suicide Prevention & Exposure Lab at the University of Kentucky, spoke with NBC News about how it is critical to normalize conversations about mental health and give teens the tools to handle crises before they happen. Other ways of preventing sadness and the negative side effects include:

  • Asking your teen if they are feeling overwhelmed
  • Identifying other trusted adults in your teen’s life and keeping their contact information handy
  • Identifying and removing distractions that could help your teen get through a tough time until they are able to get help

March 8th is International Women’s Day. This holiday, take some time to make the female teens in your life feel appreciated. Inquire about their lives and ask if they could use a helping hand. You never know what someone may be going through and how your words of support and affirmation may help.

If you’re interested in digging deeper into the CDC’s full survey results, click here.

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