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One-quarter of teenage girls in the UK are depressed

Friday 22nd September 2017
One in ten teenage boys and one-quarter of 14-year-old girls in the UK are depressed, according to a new report. Image: domoyega via iStock
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One-quarter of young girls in the UK are displaying signs of depression by the time they reach the age of 14, new research has revealed.

Statistics compiled by investigators at the University of Liverpool have found that one in ten boys are also depressed at the age of 14, indicating that they could continue to be plagued by mental illness throughout the rest of their lives, requiring long-term support from mental health workers as a result.

Entitled The Millennium Cohort Study, the report found that teenage girls are more likely to report signs of anxiety or depression than boys, with mental health issues also more common among young people from poorer and socioeconomic backgrounds and in girls who are white or of mixed ethnicity.

It is thought that girls may be more affected than boys due to greater pressures around their image from celebrity culture and social media, which when added to school-related stress and factors such as bullying, can leave some feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope.

The researchers are concerned that teenagers may not know where they can receive support for their mental health and that their parents may be dismissing their symptoms as simply teenage angst. However, figures show that half of all cases of adult mental illnesses begin manifesting themselves in a person's teenage years.

As a result, campaigners want to make sure parents are aware of the potential signs of depression so they can get their teenage children the help they may need. Symptoms can include a persistent low mood, low self-esteem, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and having no interest in things they once enjoyed, as well as self-harming and suicidal thoughts.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, commented: "Worryingly, there is evidence that parents may be underestimating their daughters' mental health needs. Conversely, parents may be picking up on symptoms in their sons, which boys don't report themselves.

"It's vital that both children and their parents can make their voices heard to maximise the chances of early identification and access to specialist support."

Written by Angela Newbury

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