Is Relationship Stress Contributing to Your Depression?

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Adolescent girls are at higher risk for depression than adolescent boys according to research statistics. Why this is true is uncertain.

It seems that male and female adolescents react similarly to stress. However, young women generally experience more interpersonal stress than young men do, according to recent research.

Relationship Stress and Depression

Our cognitive style, or how we think about things, affects our mood. A negative cognitive style, and constantly thinking over past negative events (rumination) makes us more vulnerable to depression.

According to the research:

  1. Teens who experience higher levels of interpersonal (relationship) stress also develop higher levels of negative thinking and rumination.
  2. The female study participants demonstrated more depressive symptoms than the males over the study’s 21 month follow-up period.
  3. The girls experienced a greater number of interpersonal related stressors during the study. This stress maintained negative thinking patterns, and the negative thinking increased the girls’ vulnerability to depression.
  4. Other types of stress such as a death in the family and academic stress were not linked to the development of negative thinking or rumination in males or females.

“Simply put, if boys and girls had been exposed to the same number of stressors, both would have been likely to develop rumination and negative cognitive styles,” said researcher Jessica Hamilton of Temple University.

The next step for researchers is to discover exactly why girls experience more interpersonal stress than boys. It might be owed to societal expectations for girls, the way girls are socialized, the way female adolescents relate to each other, or something unexpected.

Tips for Stressed/Depressed Young Women

If you are a young woman experiencing depressive symptoms, it might be that exposure to interpersonal stress is causing or contributing to your distress.

  1. Know that you are not alone. Relationship issues, stress, loneliness, and anxiety about being liked and accepted are common though uncomfortable aspects of growing up for most of us.
  2. Do not hesitate to talk to a school counselor if one is available. The sooner you address negative thinking and depressive symptoms by getting help, the better. Other options, if you are not comfortable talking to a parent, are speaking with a spiritual adviser or trusted teacher.
  3. Nothing is written in stone. Our personalities, ideas, emotional intelligence, and relationships go through continual change during our lifetime. A difficult experience today does not indicate a negative self or a negative future.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Tammy McGary / flickr

 
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