Almost 13% of teenage girls have experienced a bout of serious depression in the past year, according to a new federal study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There is a marked difference among genders when it comes to depression, Reuters reports, as only 4.6% of boys reported a major depressive episode in the past 12 months (though the disparity might be because this survey was self-reported, and lots of boys are unwilling to admit their unhappiness). For the purposes of the survey, a "major depressive episode" is defined as "two weeks or longer of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms such as problems with sleep, energy, concentration or self-image."
Perhaps this study will help authorities take teen depression seriously, as I think youthful mood swings can often be dismissed as hormonal or intrinsic to adolescence. I had my first (and only, to date) period of serious, clinically-diagnosed depression at age 18. Afterwards, it made me mentally rewind and review all the other depressed phases I had been through.
That time when I was fourteen and cried for an entire summer — was that early evidence of my burgeoning depression, or was it hormonal? That month I couldn't sleep junior year of high school: Was that SAT stress, or suicidal ideation? I never came to any definitive conclusions, but hopefully with these newly released statistics, teenage depression will be explored more thoroughly.
More Than 2 Million U.S. Teens Depressed [Reuters via MSNBC]