Mental Health Issues in Teen Girls

Mental health issues among American teens are worse than ever before - especially pertaining to teenage girls. In the following, we will discuss mental health issues among teen girls in detail, including statistics, the various and most common issues affecting teen girls, and how Elk Mountain can help parents in need of restoring their teenage girl's life. 

According to the latest polls (2019), teenage females are three times as likely to live with depression or anxiety. 

By the Numbers 

A 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report found: 

  • 13% of teenage girls claimed to have had a depressive episode
  • One-in-five teenage girls (2.4 million) lived with depression that year
  • Girls were much likelier to suffer from depression than boys who had only 845,000 reporting to have experienced depressive issues within the same year 
  • The number of girls who lived with depression had significantly increased (59%) from 2007
  • The rate of growth with which teen girls were experiencing depression (66%) was also considerably higher than that of boys (44%)

But while three times as likely to develop depression than boys, the report also found teenage girls are much more likely to receive some form of psychiatric treatment (therapeutic sessions with a licensed professional or taking antidepressants) for their mental health disorder with 45% seeking treatment compared to only 33% of depressed teenage males.  

Reasons Teens Develop Mental Health Issues

Adolescence is a typical time for mental health issues to emerge. Researchers point to a variety of factors. Of course, the main theoretical train of thought has to do simply with the time in which a teen is living. Adolescence is trying, and often, a terrifying phase in any person's life where, in addition to the daily stresses, hormones, and new obligations, the stakes and expectations are much higher than on teen than just a few years prior. 

Why Do Teenage Girls (In Particular) Struggle with Mental Health Issues? 

The time of adolescence is a difficult and trying time filled with factors such as new life stresses, hormonal imbalances, and a dramatic shift in one's environment. When factoring all developmental pressures, it's easy to understand why teens are at higher risk of developing mental health-related issues and disorders. 

However, as previously covered, teenage girls are especially at risk of developing a mental health disorder, more so than adolescent males. 

While there is no clear-cut, definitive answer, most experts believe it has to do with the fact that girls on average develop sooner than boys, and therefore, experience the effects of mental health-related issues at a younger more vulnerable age, which, consequently, leaves them highly susceptible and less capable of dealing with said complications. 

Of course, due to their increased chance of developing mental illness, the severity of said potential illness, and the possible outcomes that can arise if left untreated, no teenage girl living with mental illness should be left un or mistreated. Failure to adhere to their psychiatric, behavioral, and spiritual needs can quite easily result in unimaginable tragic consequences. 

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depression
  • Substance Abuse Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Panic Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Co-occurring Disorders
  • ADHD

Anxiety Disorder

In many ways, feelings of anxiety are inherent to being a teenager. However, it is when anxiousness becomes pervasive and overwhelming that it becomes a clinical issue. Teens with a general anxiety disorder will experience near-constant feelings of tension and fear that can interfere with or even wholly hinder their daily life and developmental progress. Like that of depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is one of two of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder among female teens. Teenage girls who experience GAD have their lives negatively impacted when it comes to their relationships as well. This social detriment may cause a teenage girl to self-isolate, causing their anxiety and other mental health issues, like depression, to worsen as well. 

Moreover, anxiety lasts for a prolonged period—teens with generalized anxiety experience intense emotional stress and a range of anxiety-related symptoms. Furthermore, teens with GAD experience excessive worrying and also low self-esteem.


One of the most common (and devastating) mental health issues affecting American teen girls is general depression. According to the latest data on the subject, the nation's youth struggle with depression unprecedentedly. Major depression has risen by 33 percent in the last decade among teens and young adults, with major depression in teens increasing by 45 and 65 percent in boys and girls. 

Major depressive episodes

One of the most challenging aspects of having depression is, of course, living with the debilitating symptoms, none more so than depressive episodes. Depressive episodes are a significantly vulnerable and challenging period (typically two weeks). An affected person will experience intense symptoms including low-self esteem, little or no interest in anything, sleeping issues, lacking energy, and inability to focus.

These symptoms make for a difficult time for anyone afflicted - especially when it comes to teenage females, who, statistically, are much likelier to harm themselves and commit suicide than males of the same age.   

Major depression, or a depressive disorder classified by the previous two-week episodes, is also a major depressive disorder. It is especially devastating and prevalent in teens. What's worse, major depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder among any demographic. 

Luckily, major depression, although serious, is also highly treatable. With the right treatment regimen, which may or may not include medication and residential therapy, teenage

Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar disorder is a severe mental illness characterized by: 
  • extreme mood swings
  • depression
  • manic episodes

A person with bipolar disorder is prone to experiencing up to days or weeks of mania or depression at a time. Others with this mental illness will experience rapid cycling. They will feel a myriad of feelings that include happiness, sadness, and mania (highly energetic) switching emotions in fast phases for an extended period. This mental illness is highly volatile and can be extremely dangerous to an afflicted person if left untreated. 

What makes this disease even more dangerous in females is that it goes un or misdiagnosed more often than males. This is mainly due to the fact that girls generally internalize their emotional stress, whereas males are more likely to display their emotions externally. This self-internalization makes it significantly more difficult to diagnose bipolar disorder in females. 

One tell-tale sign of bipolar in teenage girls is that the disease often disrupts the menstrual cycle. If a teenage girl misses her period or it lasts longer than normal, it could be a symptom of undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Parents must act quickly to seek treatment as this disruption of the menstrual cycle can delay full puberty and even lead to potentially fatal diseases such as diabetes. Subsequently, experts implore parents to chart and keep track of their daughter's menstrual cycle to prevent these life-changing consequences from happening. 

Teen girls with bipolar disorder are also at risk of facing severe social challenges as well. While experiencing phases of stability or mania, a teenage girl may be inclined to develop what they believe to be long-lasting friendships with others. However, these relationships often completely derail after a depressive or angry episode takes hold, causing the bipolar teen to become depressed afterward.

These rapid and often unpredictable changes in moods and behavior can make it difficult for females with bipolar disorder to develop or sustain relationships with others. 

Substance Abuse Disorder Co-Occuring Disorder

Substance abuse disorder is also commonly referred to as a co-occuring disorder because drug abuse and mental disorders such as bipolar, depression, and clinical anxiety, are often the catalysts of a teenage girl's experimentation and eventual addiction substances. 

According to the National Institue on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 60% of those who abuse drugs also live with at least one form of mental illness.

The brain does not fully develop until between the ages of 25 -27. Consequently, the majority of mental illnesses develop before the brain's development is complete. What's more, during this time of predevelopment, the brain is especially vulnerable to damage due to drug abuse. To conflate the issue even further, teens - who are already prone to developing a mental illness and are especially vulnerable to brain damage - turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. 

 Psychologists conduct research every day to better understand the links between addiction and mood disorders. Specialized treatment centers have the expertise and resources to help teens with co-occurring disorders recover.

Girls More Likely to Self-Medicate

Most parents can't even conceive that their little girl would ever turn to harmful substances, let alone become a full-on drug addict. Unfortunately, these unsuspecting are most likely unaware of statistics that prove drug abuse amongst teens is high in the US. 

According to the newest study on the subject - conducted by Partnership for a Drug-Free America, not only are teenage girls at risk of abusing harmful substances, they are actually at higher risk of potentially becoming an addict than any other demographic. 

The study's findings are as follows: 

  • 68% of girls said, "using drugs helps kids deal with problems at home" (up from 61% in 2008).
  • 53% said drugs helped teens forget their problems (up from 48% in 2008).
  • 59% of teen girls reported using alcohol (up from 53% in 2008).
  • The use of marijuana increased by 29% from 2008 to 2009.

Eating Disorders

In the US, an estimated 10% of young women live with at least one type of eating disorder. Unfortunately, when it comes to teenage girls, eating disorders, namely, anorexia and bulimia, are especially common.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is one of the most dangerous and prevalent eating disorders among teenage girls. Episodes of binge eating characterize it, immediately followed by purging or throwing up. This potentially fatal disease, among other things, typically leads to immense feelings of shame and guilt. Girls who are bulimic generally consume more than the average teen, often concentrated in a short period to vomit the entirety of their entire days' worth of eating. These binging sessions typically last from anywhere between days to months in duration. Other than vomiting, girls with bulimia nervosa will abuse laxatives, engage in intermittent fasting, and obsessively participate in excessive exercise. 


Anorexia is another highly common and dangerous eating disorder that primarily affects teenage girls and adult females. It is characterized by systematically abstaining from food to achieve or maintain meager body weight. This condition is typically when a teenage girl is experiencing emotional challenges, has an eschewed body image, and is obsessively fearful of becoming overweight. Apart from being one of the most common eating disorders, it is also the third most prevalent mental illness among teens. Anorexia is extremely dangerous and can result in many devastating health issues, including osteoporosis, kidney disease, liver disease, and heart failure - all symptoms that, if severe enough, can lead to death. 

Elk Mountain Girls Academy

Elk Mountain Academy is a Christian therapeutic boarding school that offers affordable, expert treatment to teenage girls with mental health issues and disorders in girls, including:

  • attachment disorders 
  • attention deficit
  • eating disorders
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • self-destructive or antisocial behavior
  • issues involved with adoption.

At Elk Mountain, we pride ourselves in leading troubled girls to trust in the Holy Spirit. At EMA we teach our female students the importance of utilizing god's wisdom and to rely on his planned purpose for their life. 

Elk Mountain: With 20 Years of Experience, We are Well-Versed in Treating a Myriad of Mental Health Issues

With over two decades of experience in treating mental health-related issues, Elk Mountain is a top-tier residential treatment facility that parents from anywhere in the nation can depend on. 

In addition to common mental health disorders, we are expert in treating many types of mental health disorders including (but not limited to):

Self-mutilating behaviors

Teenage girls who live with mental health issues are prone to committing self-harm. These behaviors would include scratching, head-banging, pulling out their hair, burning, and cutting themselves. Girls who engage in self-harm do so as a means of coping with overwhelming emotional pain, feelings of anger, and sadness. 

Eating Disorders 

Eating disorders are a highly dangerous behavior that, if left untreated, can even prove to be fatal. Here at Elk Mountain, we have professional therapists who are experts in treating anorexia, bulimia, and other extreme eating behaviors. 

Reactive Attachment Disorders

Reactive attachment disorder is a developmental mental health disorder that is characterized by a child's difficulty developing a relationship or sense of bonding with their family - namely, parents. This disorder typically develops before the age of five and occurs after a child is emotionally neglected before being adopted by their current parents.