Treatment for depression in girls and young women typically involves psychological therapy, in the form of individual and group counseling. Antidepressant medications are often prescribed as a supplement to talk therapy, to help relieve the symptoms of depressive disorder. Recent studies have shown, however, that exercise and sports participation can also be exceptionally beneficial in the treatment of this serious mental health issue.
Biological Effects of Sports and Exercise
The exact cause of depression is not known; however, many believe it is likely related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly of the neurotransmitters serotonin and beta-endorphin. Medications can influence the brain’s chemistry to treat the symptoms of depression, but physical activity can be just as effective for many young women. Clinical studies show that regular exercise is clearly linked to reduced rates of depression. Sports participation increases the brain’s production of beta-endorphin, which helps regulate mood. Exercise can also raise serotonin levels in the brain and reduce activity of the stress hormone cortisol, providing an effect similar to antidepressant drugs.
Psychological Effects of Sports Participation
Depression affects not only your mood, but also your emotions, thoughts and sense of well-being. Participating in sports provides teens with a feeling of accomplishment and mastery, and this has been shown to favorably alter mood and raise a person’s overall outlook. Sports and exercise give teens a positive body image, leading to an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. Treating girls’ depression involves finding ways to positively contribute to mental well-being, and sports participation can improve teens’ psychological state by helping them feel better about themselves.
Social Effects of Participating in Sports
When participating in organized sports activities, teens must interact and work together with their peers. Shared experiences create a sense of camaraderie, giving young women the opportunity to form bonds. This also provides a beneficial therapeutic effect for teen girls with depression. Depressive mental health disorders often involve difficulties in forming and managing relationships, and participating in sports can help teens learn to relate to other people.
Developing relationships with peers through sports also helps girls cope with their feelings, because it shows them that other people understand and share the same emotions. Many depressed young women lack a willingness to trust others. The sports team environment requires that players rely upon one another, opening teens up to an increased willingness to trust.
Depression is a serious mental health issue for many teen girls. Successful recovery from depressive disorders requires the use of a variety of strategies and therapies that positively affect mental health. For those girls and young women who need a more intense level of intervention, Havenwood Academy offers residential treatment protocols designed to help teens overcome their challenges. Contact their compassionate counselors today to learn more about treating depression in girls and young women.