Boys and girls have the same rate of depression until they reach adolescence. Between the ages of 11-13, the rate rises sharply for girls. By age 15, girls are twice as likely as boys to have depression, a trend that continues throughout adulthood.
Adolescence is a stressful time involving physical, hormonal and intellectual changes. Stresses include identity, sexuality, separation from parents and independence. Girls experience these stresses differently from boys, which may be a risk factor for developing depression. Parents may not recognize depression in adolescents, viewing withdrawal from the family as a "normal" part of being a teenager. However, parents should watch closely for confusing signs between teenage rebellion and clinical depression.
In general, stress can contribute to depression in people who are biologically vulnerable to the illness. Some professionals think that the greatest contributor to the higher rates of depression in women isn't their greater vulnerability, but the number of stresses they face, including major responsibilities at home and at work, single parenthood and caring for children and aging parents. How these factors uniquely affect women is not yet fully understood.
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