Teen Girls Have Tougher Time Than Boys
Girls Encounter More Stressors and Respond More Strongly to Them, Becoming More Depressed
Interpersonal Stressors vs. Achievement Stressors
The girls reported more interpersonal stressors, while the boys had more
"In an average week, the girls experienced twice as many interpersonal
stressors as the boys did," Hankin says.
While the boys averaged 0.50 interpersonal stressors a week, the girls
averaged one -- about twice as many.
However, the boys experienced 0.24 achievement stressors each week, while
the girls reported just 0.16.
The girls were more adversely affected, too, Hankin found. For the same
stressor, the girls reacted with more depression than the boys, Hankin
Looking at interpersonal stressors alone and the teens' reactions to them
"explains 30% of why the girls are more depressed than the boys,"
Genders respond in different ways to stress, the study also found.
"If there is a romantic fight between a boy and a girl, on average, a
girl will respond with more depression," Hankin says. "A boy will go
distract himself," Hankin says, perhaps playing basketball or doing some
No gender differences were found in the use of alcohol in response to
Another Expert Weighs In
The study sheds light on some of the pathways that lead girls to become more
depressed, says Karen D. Rudolph, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has researched the same
It shows that "girls are experiencing more stress in their lives and
react more strongly," she says.
For parents of girls and boys entering puberty, Hankin has this advice:
"Pay attention to what your child is experiencing at home and with
relationships. Be available and supportive emotionally for your child."
Be aware, Rudolph adds, that "when things go wrong, girls may be
interpreting it in a catastrophic way."
For example, an argument with a friend may be viewed as the end of a
friendship. But parents can step in and suggest how to heal the
relationship, she says.
Hankin's study is published in the January-February issue of Child
He did the work while at the University of Illinois at Chicago with his
University of Illinois co-researchers, Robin Mermelstein, PhD, and Linda