Girls and Teens

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By mid-adolescence, girls are twice as likely to develop mood disorders as boys. This disparity could stem from the idea that girls develop faster in terms of emotional regulation than boys, and this sensitivity to emotional stimuli can make them vulnerable to anxiety disorders. Teens who have been anxious since childhood may have created a lifestyle built around her anxieties, which is why it's important to diagnose and treat anxiety early on as it's more challenging to treat the longer a child has lived with it.1


Symptoms of anxiety include: 

  • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • being easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

The most common treatment for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches those who are suffering to challenge negative thoughts and to train themselves to think outside of their usual patterns.1 

Learn more about anxiety disorders.



Studies show that nearly a quarter of teenage girls display depressive symptoms and that over two-thirds of teenagers taking antidepressants are girls.2 Symptoms of depression can include: 

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment

Treatment for depression commonly involves medication, psychotherapy - such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy - or a combination of both. Learn more about depression treatment and management.


Eating Disorders

While eating disorders affect both genders, girls make up over 90% of hospitalizations related to eating disorders.2 Eating disorders usually present themselves during adolescence but can develop during childhood as well.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of different eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating and know what type of treatment options are available to restore a healthy diet within your child or teen. Treatment options commonly include psychotherapy, medical care, medications, or a combination of the three. Learn more about eating disorders.



Self-harm can include self-poisoning and self-injury, and involves hurting yourself on purpose. It is the strongest risk factor for suicide, which is the second most common factor of death before the age of 25 across the world.3

While self-harm itself is not a mental illness, it is commonly associated with:

  • borderline personality disorder 
  • depression 
  • eating disorders 
  • anxiety 
  • PTSD.

The action of self-harm itself often indicates that a person lacks the coping skills to address these disorders.4


ADAA Resources






Trending Articles

  1. Mood Disorders and Teenage Girls, Child Mind Institute
  2. Mental Health Data Shows Stark Difference Between Girls And Boys. (2017). The Guardian
  3. Self-harm Among Teen Girls Is Skyrocketing In This Country. (2017). NYPost
  4. Self-Harm. NAMI.


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