AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control teen girls are experiencing record high levels of sadness.
The report found nearly three in five US teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, a nearly 60% increase from 2011.
“Yes, so disturbing,” said Dr. Allison Chase. “And unfortunately, from a clinical standpoint and what I’m seeing in real life, these numbers are quite accurate.”
Dr. Chase is the regional clinical director for Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center in Texas and says social media can play a major role in a teen’s mental health, especially girls.
“It’s becoming increasingly more challenging for girls to tolerate the influx and the rapid amount of information that’s available all the time,” said Dr. Chase. “These teenage girls, their brains are not fully developed, their capacity is limited and they can’t take in all that they’re seeing and recognizing not everything on social media is the slightest bit accurate.”
Chase says part of what plays into the detriment of young girls’ self-esteem is social media filters that can alter one’s appearance.
“It’s terrible in that it’s sending the messages constantly that you need to be different than who you really are,” said Dr. Chase. “That to me is where the problem lies. The sadness is, how can we learn to accept ourselves and recognize that each of our unique individual appearances is what’s really awesome.”
Dr. Chase suggests parents set boundaries and open lines of communication.
“Having conversations, being very open and honest, and recognize that you want to validate that this is all very tempting for them. It makes perfect sense how they want to be on it all the time and do that but it’s also really important to be a parent.”
Dr. Chase said parents should put limits on teens using social media, monitoring apps and being extra vigilant in your teen’s behavior are key.
“If you’re noticing your child is spending so much time on these devices, increased anxiety, maybe some increased depression, which would be lower mood, not interested behavior, change with the friends, sleep patterns are different. These are all indications that you need to be tuned in, and maybe something needs to change,” Chase said.