Girls reaching puberty at an early ageare more susceptible to depression and behavioral anomalies in their 20s compared to their peers experiencing menstruation at a normal age, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics in December 2017.
The researchers analyzed around 7,800 females who had their menarche (first menstrual cycle) when they were 12 years old. These females were interviewed four times from the age of 16 to 28.
The researchers foundthat females going through precocious puberty (early puberty) had a higher probability to be depressed and their symptoms were more serious duringadolescence. Compared to girls who reached puberty at a normal age,thoseexperiencingmenarche at a comparatively younger age were comparatively more susceptible to mental illness. Moreover, girls going throughearly puberty weremoreprone to developing behavioral issues,such aslying, stealing, breaking into buildings, using and selling substances, etc.Usually,these traits tend to persisttill theiryoung adulthood as well.
Various mental and behavioral challenges associated with puberty
According to Jane Mendle, the lead author of the study,there is a direct correlation between the age of puberty, depressive symptoms and antisocial traits during both adolescenceand adulthood. The above finding suggested that the impact of psychological repercussionsof early puberty lingers longer than expected. Therefore, puberty is not only about the pain witnessed during the phase of growing.
The researchers established that puberty isa landmark in a female’s lifespan due to the key changes witnessed in biological processes, physical appearance, emotional makeupand self-perception. Therefore, the authors noted that puberty could be a challenging time for adolescents, particularly those reaching early puberty.
Given the major changes associated with puberty, it may become difficult for a girl to cope with them. As a result, one becomes morevulnerableto mental and behavioral challenges. In order to avoid being overwhelmed by the changes, it becomes essential to counsel girls about the physical maturation and changes in social roles witnessed during such a critical phase of life.
The study participants were asked questions pertaining to the timing of menstruations,feeling of depression experienced in the past one week and the frequency of antisocial behaviors. The authors concluded that adult women with depression wouldhave been at risk of witnessing above problemsduring their adolescence.With the relationship between antisocial behaviors and early puberty not so well-established, there is a need to explore other factors, such as the impact of academics and friendship.
Dr. Ellen Selkie, an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of an editorial, stated that females reaching early puberty were generally treated like a woman older than her age. Consequently, they are pushed into activities and things for which they aren’t mature enough. Bereft of thesense of belonging, the above treatment can lead to mood problems that tend to become a pattern of behavior.
Road to recovery
Since puberty leads to a range of physical, behavioral and mental changes,it is likely to put a girlin a difficult spot by occurring early. Dealing with bodily changes can bring a lot of distress, which often gets manifested in the form ofdepression and other abnormal behavioral patterns. Therefore, teachers and caretakers must monitorthese abnormalities of adolescent girlsto treat depression on time. Any delay in treatment can lead to serious psychological issues thatmight affect the overall quality of life of a person.
Usually,depression responds really well to medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). As such, talk therapy methods like CBT help teens going through depression to face their difficulties and navigate through them with the help of several coping mechanisms.
Sovereign Health offers necessary behavioral health treatment for teens. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-615-7266 or chat online with one of our representatives to know more about the facilities providing treatment for teen’s behavioral health.