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Depression in female adolescents Essay



Depression in Adolescent stage is one of the most rampant and overlooked problem in our present society. Regrettably, females are the common victims of depression in the adolescent stage. The probability of women suffering from depression in the adolescent stage is higher than men.

An individual suffering from depression normally exhibits certain symptoms. These include self injury, inactiveness, attempts to commit suicide, or lack of appetite. Nevertheless, there are numerous therapeutic techniques that can be used to treat depression in female adolescents. These range from guidance and counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. However, even with treatment, the likely hood of subsequent depression is still high.


Depression can be defined as acute state of melancholy coupled with reduced vitality and bodily symptoms. Depressions occur in different forms and are part and parcel of human life (Brent & Poling, 1997, p. 2). There is no human being in this world that has undergone all stages of life without experiencing stress, anxiety and sadness.

Regrettably, the most common victims of depression are those in adolescent stage. According to Pearse (2004, p.3), one in every four adolescent have suicidal ideations, and by the end of secondary school one in every ten adolescent has attempted to commit suicide. The main aim of this essay is to explore depression among the adolescent females, symptoms of depression, and several treatment options available for these individuals.

A study conducted in England on a sample of 375 adolescent females between the ages of 11 to 16, revealed that the likeliness of depression increases with age. The results of this study showed that the probability of depression in a 16 year old adolescent is higher than an 11 year old adolescent (Sand, 1998, p. 4).

Depression in female adolescent is attributed to many factors. A number of psychologists attribute this to the self defeating belief among the female gender. In other words, women are the most vulnerable people in the society; they are more likely to be abused, made to feel weak, and defenseless (Myers, 2004, p. 2).

Dr. Myers (2004, p.3) also explains that females responds much stronger to depression compared to men. He states that when women are encountered with challenges, they tend to think while men tend to act. This explains why men are more likely to succumb to negative events than women.

Women usually fret or act anxiously to depression while men revert to drinking, delving into work or other negative activities. Many studies have shown that depression or mood disorder run deep in the family. The danger of developing major depressive disorder increases when you have people suffering from depression in the family (Dunn & Goodyer, 2006, p.217).

Causes and symptoms of depression among the female adolescents

Scientific studies have found that depression can also be passed through genes from parents to siblings. Genes influences certain biochemical reactions in the brain which affects individual behaviors. Burkitt (2000, p. 4-5) explains the difference between depressed and non depressed brain.

Serotin, norepinephrine and two neurotransmitters are very limited in a depressed brain. Scientific studies have established that brains of depressed individuals are less active. The left frontal lobe which is normally active becomes inactive during depression (Essau, Conradt & Petermann, 2000, p. 475).

During the adolescent stage, girls experience numerous physiological and physical transformations which cause doubts and confusion. Therefore, there are other factors besides biological factors that influence the onset of depression among the adolescents.

According to Neergaard (2004, p. 12), women are at a soaring risk of depression because of very many factors including stereotypical role imposed upon them by the society. Female adolescents normally exhibits characteristics such as low self esteem, self blame, meekness, expression of grief among others which unfortunately are symptoms of depression (Neergaard, 2004, p. 12).

There are numerous symptoms of depression among the female adolescents some of which are very difficult to spot. Among the most dominant symptoms is low self esteem. Low self esteem can results into a different phase of depression. A depressed adolescent female usually starts to withdraw from things that were once significant to her. These include friends, family members, sports, faith among others. She is always left with nothing except hopelessness and sorrow (Burkitt, 2000, p.5).

Another sign of depression is substance abuse and these include abuse of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol among others. Maag and Irvin (2005) found that most depressed adolescents were most likely to abuse alcohol than the non depressed peers. Fergusson and Woodward (2002) suggested that depression is one of the key risk factor for adolescents abusing legal and illegal substance.

According to Sand (1998) suggested that the earlier an individual starts to abuse alcohol the higher the possibility that psychological disorders such as depression will occur (Fergusson & Woodward, 2002, p.225; Sands,1998, p.2).

During the Adolescent stage, girls become more and more aware of what the society expects from them. Body image such as beauty and weight becomes very significant to them.

Females normally feel in control when they are able to take care of their weight and / or diet. Significant drop of weight below the ideal weight normally leads to Anorexia nervosa which is an eating disorder. People withy such condition usually feel they negative body image, fat and bloated even when they have lost a lot of weight. This disorder is common among the female adolescents (Myers, 2004, p. 462).

Another common eating disorder common among the female adolescents is bulimia nervosa. This disorder is characterized by excessive and riddance episodes such use of laxatives, fasting, and excessive exercise. Most bulimia victims are females in their late adolescence stage. Dr. Myers (2004, p. 464) explains that those who suffer from these eating disorders are preoccupied with food, are afraid of becoming overweight, and are depressed or nervous.

Some symptoms of depression are not visible as others for instance self mutilation which normally accompany depression. A study conducted by Pearse (2004) established that female adolescents are twice likely to suffer from depression than their male counterparts, with self mutilation as a related behavior.

In the same article, she explains that men are capable of expressing their anger outwardly while women are keep their anger inside and are more likely to cause harm to their bodies. In most cases they tend to appear as if nothing is wrong. Therefore, most female adolescents tend to be introverts and reluctant to share their feelings with others. They are like ticking time bomb waiting to explode when depressed (Pearse, 2004, p. 67).

Treatment of Depression

There are numerous ways through which a depressed female adolescent can receive help. First and foremost, they need support from the people close to them. Family and friends plays a major role in helping individuals to recover from depression. Showing concern is very important when dealing with a depressed adolescent.

Depressed female adolescent should be handled with care without confrontation, crowding, and threats. The closest persons to the depressed female adolescent should always remind herb that they care (Shute, 2004, p.120; Pearse, 2004, p. 68).

In a case where the intervention of the close family members and friends proves futile, professional help can be sought. Depression experts include psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and other medical personnel. They normally recommend therapy or antidepressants to depressed individuals. People normally have a stereotypical image regarding therapy which is a total misconception.

Therapists take their time to listen to their clients in order to understand and to focus, encourage, advice, comfort, construe or explain. They allow their patients to narrate their problem, and probably heal them. Therapists can provide an explanation or an alternative point of view for a depressed person (Pettit, Lewinsohn & Joiner, 2006, p. 272).

Studies have shown that different gender requires special types of therapists. Feminist therapists can approach the direct causes of stress or depression on female adolescents. Feminist therapists use exceptional approach that is different from the conventional models in its emphasis on acknowledging societal and cultural factors that contribute to depression among the female adolescents (Fergusson & Woodward, 2002, p.226).

There are three fundamental principles that direct feminist therapists in treating female adolescents. These are: societal gender role, gender equity and appreciation of the female view point techniques. Societal gender role technique explores general role of women in the society. This technique differentiates between those characteristics that are considered normal by the society in relation to female adolescent and those that are peculiar which are symptoms of depression (Fergusson & Woodward, 2002, p.226; Myers, 2004, p. 2).

Societal gender role technique requires female therapist to initially establish the orthodox gender-role messages the female adolescent has encountered throughout her life. The feminist therapist then assists the patient to examine both positive and negative impacts of these stereotypes.

Traditionally women are forbidden to act assertively and by helping female adolescents to stand up for themselves enable them to counter patterns of vulnerability and submissiveness. Using the egalitarian relationship technique feminist therapists guides the female adolescent to explore the main reasons for her depression.

This technique views the therapist as a collaborator not the healer. Egalitarian relationship technique use tools that appraise certain situations in female adolescent’s life. Among the tools used in this technique is silencing the self scale. This tool enables the feminist therapist to evaluate the characteristic sex related items that are connected to female depression.

This tool is based on the theory of depression women that posits that women have been socialized to silence some feelings, ideations, and actions. Silencing women contributes to low self esteem (Fergusson & Woodward, 2002, p.227; Myers, 2004, p. 3).

Female perspective technique aims at boosting the female adolescent’s self esteem through affirmative statements. Female perspective technique recognizes feminine nature of women. Naturally women needs intimacy which if not fulfilled can result into depression. The need for intimacy in this case does not mean dependency or psychological disorder. The most frequent concern that forces female adolescents to attend counseling sessions is the anguish of loss of a relationship or fear of losing one (Essau, 2005, p.135).

At times a biological approach to depression is necessary. Depressed patients in this case are prescribed with antidepressants. Most of the antidepressants work by enhancing the accessibility of the norepinephrines, serotonin or neurotransmitters which lift up mood and averts depression.

Most people believe that antidepressants only work for short period of time and when the patient wakes up the next day they turn back to their previous state. On the reverse, antidepressants do not work in that manner. There effects are felt for nearly a month. However, there are reports of side effects of these drugs.

Skeptics believe that antidepressants increase suicidal risks. Neergaard (2004, p. 3) warns that some antidepressants can cause anxiety, agitation and hostile behavior among patients vulnerable to rare side effects. Most of these drugs contain label warning users of possible inherent of depression. Dr. Myer (2004, p.3) compares antidepressants users to cell phone users who are prone to brain cancer. Shute (2004, p. 5) recommends a combination of therapy and antidepressants to treat depression.

Another option used in helping adolescents with depression is group sessions. This is a technique where patients/ victims of depression or substance abuse are allowed to hear from other victims, and probably finds fresh alternative for their behavior. Group sessions help female adolescents with depression to receive feedback and be assured that it’s normal to feel anxious and self conscious. Group sessions also reassure the victims that they are not alone (Essau, 2007, p.130).


Depression in female adolescents is becoming a common problem in the world today. Societal expectation on women is gradually changing and women struggle very hard to meet these expectations. Self defeating beliefs, stronger reaction to pressure and genetic factors considerably contributes to the problem.

There are numerous negative symptoms connected to depression and these are eating disorders, self injury, and substance abuse among others. Therefore, satisfactory treatments for the adolescent females are very important. Depression in adolescents can be treated using several therapeutic techniques and drug [prescriptions. Research studies show that a combination of therapy and antidepressants produces satisfactory results.

However, there are side effects related to the use of antidepressants in treating depression. Nevertheless, some patients suffering from depression requires these drugs to balance their emotions. On the whole, more research is still needed to come up with the best approaches in treating depression among the adolescents.


Brent, D., & Poling, K. (1997). Cognitive therapy treatment manual for depressed and suicidal youth. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh.

Burkitt, J. (2000). Why are so many teens killing themselves? The Seattle Times. Web.

Dunn, V., & Goodyer, I.M. (2006). Longitudinal investigation into childhood- an Adolescence-onset depression: Psychiatric outcome in early adulthood. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 216–222.

Essau, C.A. (2005). Use of mental health services among adolescents with anxiety and depressive disorders. Depression and Anxiety, 22, 130–137.

Essau, C.A. (2007). Course of depressive disorders in adolescents. Journal of Affective Disorders, 99, 191–201.

Essau, C.A., Conradt, J., & Petermann, F. (2000). Frequency, comorbidity, and psychosocial impairment of depressive disorders in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15, 470–481.

Fergusson, D.M., & Woodward, L.J. (2002). Mental health, educational, and social role Outcomes of adolescents with depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 225–231.

Maag, J., & Irvin, D. (2005). Alcohol use and depression among African-American and Caucasian adolescents. Adolescents, 40, p. 40-50.

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Neergaard, L. (2004). Suicide warning sought for antidepressants. Journal of the depression, 6, 22-30.

Pearse, E. (2004). Girl talk – Why we cut and burn ourselves. Inter Press Service, 1, 66-70.

Pettit, J.W., Lewinsohn, P.M., & Joiner, T.E. (2006). Propagation of major depressive disorder: Relationship between first episode symptoms and recurrence. Psychiatry Research, 141, 271–278.

Sands, T. (1998). Feminist counseling and female adolescents: Treatment strategies for depression. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 20, p. 1-20.

Shute, N. (2004). Teens, drugs, and sadness: Is a combo of pills and talking the best remedy for depression? U.S. News & World Report, 3, p. 120-145.

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