Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teen Girls: When Anger is Masked by Depression and Powerlessness?

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Teen Girls: When Anger is Masked by Depression and Powerlessness?
July 31, 2012 | Soraya Chemaly

Growing up, lots of girls get the message that the phrase "angry woman" is an oxymoron. A little like boys might get the message that "sad man" is. Girls are taught that overtly expressing anger threatens their relationships. Depression, on the other hand, does not.

New data from a national survey conducted between 2008 and 2010 reveals that between the ages of 12-15, the number of girls experiencing depression triples. This happens at a rate of three times that of boys. Girls attempt suicide in greater numbers but boys, who tend to use guns more, succeed more often. As last week's Huffington Post article about the study explained, before puberty, boys and girls typically experience depression at the same frequency. "Social pressures" appear to be greater for girls and, of course, we've all been schooled on the impact of "hormones and emotions." Doctors believe it is vital that we teach teenage girls coping skills and social support systems so that they can better avoid depression. But girls aren't just depressed when they are teens. Remember that 2009 study "Why are Women Increasingly Unhappy?" They grow up to be more depressed in their 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond.

Depression is a complicated business. As is the case with many things, there are genetic factors, hormonal issues and environmental circumstances. But do you know what clinicians think a large component of depression is? Anger.

The first thing is that this type of anger is caused by a perceived or actual loss or rejection, as described by Dr. Fredric N. Busch in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment:
Patients struggle with the experience and expression of angry feelings. Anger in people with depression often stems from narcissistic vulnerability, a sensitivity to perceived or actual loss or rejection. These angry reactions cause intrapsychic conflicts through the onset of guilt and the fear that angry feelings will disrupt relationships. These conflicts lead to anger being directed inwards, further lowering self-esteem, creating a vicious cycle." The second thing about it is that the most common aspect of female anger is powerlessness.
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