Teen girls have more relationship-related stress than boys, which puts them at greater risk for depression, a new study finds.
Depression among American teens
Nearly 400 white and black American teens underwent an assessment for depression and then had three follow-up assessments at about seven-month intervals.
Girls tended to have more depressive symptoms during the follow-up than boys. Boys' depressive symptoms seemed to decrease during follow-up, while girls' depressive symptoms did not.
Further investigation showed that girls had more relationship-related stress (such as fights with parents or friends) than boys, which increased their risk for depression, according to the authors of the study published online recently in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
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"These findings draw our focus to the important role of stress as a potential causal factor in the development of vulnerabilities to depression, particularly among girls, and could change the way that we target risk for adolescent depression," lead author Jessica Hamilton, a psychology researcher at Temple University in Philadelphia, said in a journal news release.
Girls exposed to more stress
Although other vulnerabilities contribute to depression during adolescence, this study highlights an important, changeable pathway that explains girls' greater risk of depression, she added.
"Parents, educators, and clinicians should understand that girls' greater exposure to [relationship-related stress] places them at risk for vulnerability to depression and, ultimately, depression itself," Hamilton said.
"Thus, finding ways to reduce exposure to these stressors or developing more effective ways of responding to these stressors may be beneficial for adolescents, especially girls," she concluded.
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