The COVID-19 pandemic intensified an existing societal issue that has been on the rise for years: teen depression. Over the past three decades, there has been a significant increase in teen depression due in part to environmental factors such as social media use and peer relationships.
The impact of teen depression can have a lasting effect, as it increases the risk of long-term disability into adulthood and increases reports of both suicidal thoughts and rates of suicide among teenagers and adolescents. While studies demonstrate connections to environmental factors, the ability to identify specific risk factors that cause depression continues to be a challenge. Meanwhile there is evidence to support the need to address the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on the rates of teen depression while giving special attention to marginalized groups who may be underrepresented and under-supported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.9 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with depression and girls and young women experience depression at higher rates than their male counterparts. Despite the availability of effective treatment options, an estimated 60% of youth with depression are untreated for their symptoms. This is particularly troubling considering the direct relationship between depression and suicidal thoughts and suicide.
While several factors can cause depression, including family history and demographics, preventing depression may be linked to the prevention of ACEs. Increasing protective factors and resiliency, such as positive relationships, developing healthy coping strategies, and mentorship can help youth who may be experiencing depression or might be at higher risk.
At Pace, we recognize the power of prevention and early intervention. Girls at Pace receive access to counseling, therapy and psychoeducational groups, which have all been recognized as effective treatments for depression. Additionally, our girls learn and grow in an environment specifically designed for girls that focuses on their strengths and recognizes the impact of trauma.
Depression leads the nation as a cause of disability affecting all communities. Characterized by changes in mood, changes in social interactions, and erratic behaviors, depression impacts individuals in all aspects of life. Adolescents are contributing significantly to the growing number of individuals experiencing depression. As cases of depression continues to rise, so do the long-term implications.
As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to not only be aware of the rise of teen depression but also the crucial steps that must be taken to address the rise of teen depression and steps we can take to prevent this disease from taking the lives of our young people.