While it’s true that teen depression seems to impact girls more often, teen boys certainly aren’t immune.
In fact, the mental health statistics surrounding teenagers might even be slightly skewed because many young men are afraid to admit they’re struggling. This is a problem when it comes to men and mental health, in general.
It’s easy for teenage boys to appear strong, cool, and confident. But many of them could already be struggling with mental health issues they don’t know how to deal with.
There are also certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of depression in teen boys. Knowing some of these factors and paying attention to your teenager can make it easier to know when to get help.
Shifting Gender Roles and Equality
While women and young girls are still fighting for equality in many different ways, there are factors that have already changed for the better. High school sports and how girls are treated is increasingly coming to an equal playing field. This includes girls playing on boys’ sports teams, etc.
Most boys are okay with this, at least on the surface. But it can create different pressures that weren’t there before.
These shifting equality roles mean that boys need to learn the “new rules” of how things are going to be. This can cross over into their relationships with girls, too. It isn’t a bad thing, but it can feel overwhelming for a teenager.
The Drive for Success
Things like college confusion and thoughts of the future can have a huge impact on older teenage boys. There are still stereotypes surrounding boys that suggest they need to be successful. They need to be breadwinners and have a powerful career.
Again, these might seem like outdated ideas. But, for many people, they are still a major part of western culture.
As teenage boys get into their later years of high school, the pressure of what to do with their futures only increases, which could leave them feeling uncertain, stressed, and anxious.
Perhaps the most powerful factor that increases the risk of teen depression in boys is their social life. Everything from bullying to the pressure of fitting in can play a factor in how teen boys feel. They might feel pressure to date or to explore their sexuality.
You’ll probably notice that word has come up several times throughout this piece—pressure. Boys and girls both face different pressures as teenagers. But boys also have the stigma-based responsibility to be “manly men.” As a result, many of them have a harder time expressing their feelings or emotions.
When those feelings have to stay bottled up, it becomes yet another factor that increases the risk of teen depression in boys.
How Can You Help Your Teenager?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much parents can do to change the pressures teenage boys face on a regular basis. But you can encourage your teen to open up about what they might be feeling.
Talking about feelings isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. And it’s important for boys (and men) to recognize that.
You can make it easier for them by paying attention to some of the signs of a possible mental health issue. If they seem withdrawn, sad, anxious, or just aren’t acting like themselves, encourage a conversation.
If you’re worried your teenage boy might be dealing with depression, please don’t hesitate to contact me. They may not fully understand what they’re feeling. But the longer they go without any kind of treatment, the worse those feelings can become, which can lure them into things like alcohol or substance abuse, or even thoughts of self-harm.