Severe depression is on the rise in America, and disturbingly, it's affecting one group the most.
According to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, teenage girls have the highest risk of developing severe depression. From 2005 to 2014, depression rose from 4 percent to 6 percent in boys. In girls, however, it rose from 13 percent, which is already startling, to 17 percent. This means that nearly one in every five teenage girls is severely depressed.
More than anyone, girls ages 12 to 18 are developing severe depression. But what is causing this trend? Why are boys less affected?
The first reason is one that adolescent researchers have known for a long time: Girls are far more likely than boys to struggle with interpersonal stress.
Some also believe that social media is partly to blame for the rise in adolescent depression. The UCLA Brain Mapping Center recently conducted tests to see how teenage brains react to likes on social media. Disturbingly, their response to such activity is similar to the one that would occur if they were winning money.
Additionally, Dr. Mark Olfson, a co-author of the study, told CNN that "negative texting experiences appear to be more common in girls than boys and have been linked to depressed mood."
While some might be tempted to write off teen depression as mere angst, doing so is detrimental. Every year, thousands of teens commit suicide in the U.S. Others struggle with unhealthy habits and addiction issues that follow them into adulthood.
As we recently reported, it's never too early for parents to look for signs of depression in their children. Ashlynn Conner was only 10 years old when she developed severe depression due to bullying. Sadly, the little girl took her own life.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has suggested mandatory depression screenings for all adolescents ages 12 to 18. Catching severe depression early can make all the difference in someone's life.