'Triple Bind' pressuring many teen girls

February 26, 2009 5:35:57 PM PST
Every teenaged girl wants to be a triple threat: smart, athletic and beautiful. But a psychologist and author warns parents that's putting some at risk girls in a triple bind of depression, apathy, and even suicide.SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

If only being a teenaged girl were about just wearing the trendiest clothes, or using the best make-up. In real life, being a teen-aged girl is a like living in a pressure-cooker.

"Girls today are still socialized to be the care-givers and the nurturers, but because they are doing so well academically and athletically, they're now socialized to be competitors and number one - that's a double bind," said Stephen Hinshaw Ph.D., author.

In his new book, 'Triple Bind,' UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw, says those pressures are taking a dangerous toll on young girls.

"One girl in four by the age of 19 will have developed serious depression, suicidal behavior, binge eating, cutting - etcetera," said Hinshaw.

That's because the bar is set so high -- be athletic, get good grades, be involved in the community, and be a size two. Students at Berkeley's Maybeck High School know that's not realistic.

"I know that I can't be really pretty and smart and athletic and talented at once. But, I think there definitely is pressure to try to do all that," said Simone Riley, 14-years-old.

"It is kind of an unreal expectation of girls and it does happen in some cases, but not all the time," said Iris Haas-Biel, 15-years-old.

"If you know what you want, the only person giving you any pressure is yourself," said Amanda Ditmore, 17- years-old.

Hinshaw says pressure can bring out the best in some girls. Most, will find ways to deal with it on their own. But, some will need help with depression and other issues, and that starts at home - with the children having a frank talk with parents.

"Talking about it brings it to light. Second, we need to get a good evaluation and treatment for the girls who are suffering and many may not recognize the symptoms themselves," said Hinshaw.

For help and information, please click on:

  • http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm
  • http://psychcentral.com/library/teen_depression_symptoms.htm

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