Is Depression a Symptom of Puberty?
Puberty is the normal transition from childhood to adulthood.
Along with physical changes, a child going through puberty experiences significant changes in their mental, emotional and social constitution.
There is a lot of important brain development going on in this season of an adolescent’s life. It is not hard to understand why this can be a very difficult time for kids—a heightened sensitivity to stressors and pressures, and a work-in-progress maturation process, learning to understand and adapt to the changes they’re going through.
As children mature, they quite naturally want to flex their muscles of independence and individuality.
Puberty can be a challenge for you and your child.
How does puberty affect a child’s mental health?
While some children are able to navigate their adolescent years more seamlessly than others, puberty is a time of higher risk for developing mental health disorders. Most frequent among adolescent struggles are anxiety, depression, eating and behavioral disorders and self-harm.
For those kids who have existing mental health conditions, puberty can exacerbate them.
Common stressors for adolescents take on amplified impact: peer-pressure and the desire to conform and fit in; self-esteem, body-image anxiety; academic pressures and expectations; and the inevitable struggles for greater independence, sexual curiosity, etc.
Any and all of these struggles, when combined with an immature and incomplete self-regulation system, can produce the perfect storm to overwhelm a young person.
Depression and Puberty
Many signs of depression—isolation, moodiness, irritability, shifts in sleep patterns, etc.—could be considered normal, naturally occurring adolescent/teen behavior.
How do you know if it’s something more?
Signs of Depression
In addition to those things listed above, depression symptoms may include things like:
- Academic decline
- Skipping school
- Abrupt emotional swings
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Avoidance of friends and relatives who were once close
- Difficulty focusing and/or concentrating
- Lack of motivation and/or energy
- Significant changes in diet, eating habits or weight
- Self-harm or suicidal ideation
If you are seeing any of these signs in your child, take them seriously.
Depression is a serious mental illness. Your child will not simply “grow out of it.”
Left untreated, depression can impact every area of your child’s life. Call Honey Lake Clinic today. We can help.
The Timing of Puberty
While not conclusive, studies have suggested that the timing of puberty’s onset may impact depression vulnerability.
Kids who are “early” or “late bloomers” typically exhibit more depressive symptoms than kids who’ve developed more concurrently with their peers.
Your Daughter and Depression
Depression is statistically more common among adolescent girls than boys.
The female hormone estrogen has been consistently linked to depression. During puberty, a girl’s estrogen levels increase, which may contribute to depression rates among girls in this age range. The male hormone testosterone has not been specifically identified in relation to depression. Perhaps this explains the lower numbers among boys.
Depression is more common among teenage girls than boys.
Honey Lake Clinic’s Adolescent Program for girls between the ages of 13-17 is the first and only program of its kind in the United States. We can help! (888) 837-6577.
Is Your Adolescent Struggling with Depression?
Here’s how to help:
- Don’t ignore the signs you see.
- Open lines of communication with your child. Assure and reassure them that it is okay to talk about how they’re feeling.
- Bring your child’s symptoms to the attention of your child’s doctor.
- Bring your child’s symptoms to the attention of your child’s school counselor.
Depression among adolescents is both underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Mild depression can often be treated through symptom monitoring and supportive counseling.
Moderate and more severe depression can be treated with combinations of medications and psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on recognizing and changing the thought and behavioral patterns, and interpersonal therapy (IPT), which focuses on interpersonal relationships and conflict. Non-traditional therapeutic modalities such as equine, art and music therapy have been very beneficial with teens.
You don’t have to go it alone!
As the first and only adolescent treatment program of its kind, HLC’s Hazel House offers adolescent girls the same life-changing, holistic, mind, body, and spirit treatment we offer adults at Honey Lake Clinic. We are here to help you.