• Various mental health trends emerge among different groups of people: for example, men are more likely to develop substance abuse than other groups.
  • When it comes to young women, there are three significant trends that emerge: first, these individuals often have a low self-esteem and body issues.
  • They can address this issue by discussing it with other women and recognizing it as a widespread problem in society.
  • Young women also commonly experience anxiety, as a result of overthinking; these individuals should not expect the worst but anticipate a positive outcome.
  • Finally, many young women develop depression as a result of the increasing pressure to look and act a certain way. 
  • It’s important they open up about their feelings, so as to prevent or address depressive thoughts and other mental health problems. 

There are trends in mental health among different groups of people. For example: Men are more likely to develop substance abuse as well as antisocial problems. And people 55 years and older most commonly experience severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders. But what about young women? Victoria Woodruff, Licensed Master Social Worker, discusses three mental health problems individuals in this group often present:

Self-esteem and Body Issues

A common issue for young women is low self-esteem, especially in reference to body issues. The “thin ideal,” or the concept that a slim female body is ideal, is engrained into the minds of many teens and young adults. They are pressured by society to lose weight and look like the women who are idolized on TV and in movies. Woodruff further explains this problem and offers a solution:

“Self-esteem and body issues are common among young women. It doesn’t seem to matter the size, race, height—it is something that many women struggle with but fail to talk openly about. What would happen if our girlfriends knew that we really did feel unattractive, unwanted, unappealing? What if instead of trying to reassure us they let us know that they, too, felt that way? What if we really heard one another? At the end of the day, understanding that it is a widespread problem and you aren’t alone can be a huge first step. The next is learning to love yourself.”

Anxiety Stemming from Overthinking

Anxiety is also common in young females, as they tend to overthink. They obsess over thoughts about the future, and they assume the worst. This is known as fortune telling, which is a cognitive distortion or negative thinking pattern that many of us are guilty of engaging in. Woodruff delves into this issue and explains that we need to shift our thoughts from negative to positive: 

“Another common issue is anxiety. Women have a natural tendency to be active obsessive thinkers. This can get us into trouble when we try to forecast how things will turn out. We see a job that we want but immediately begin to imagine how poor the job interview will go, how poorly we will perform, when we will get fired… we need to slow it down, girls, we haven’t even put in an application. The point is we tend to overthink things and that can be great when we are planning a get-together, but it can be difficult if we don’t know when to turn it off.”

Depressive Thoughts Due to Increasing Pressure

The third issue on the list, which is another mental health problem that is too common among young women, is depression. Many women develop depression in their teenage years, as they face increasing pressure from their peers and society to look and act a certain way (as we touched on earlier). Woodruff explains the importance of opening up about these pressures so as to prevent and properly deal with depression that might develop as a result:

“Depression is another mental health issue that hits young women hard. It is not uncommon for depression to hit in late teens. There is a lot of pressure from school, peers, and changes that are occurring which can make this a tough time in life. The key is to talk about it. Don’t be scared of your symptoms. I always tell my patients don’t hide from me, don’t lie to me when you are feeling sick. Telling me that you are having thoughts of hurting yourself does not necessarily mean I am going to send you to the hospital. Therapists have one goal: to keep you safe and if that can be accomplished with you at home, all the better. Just talk to your parents, teacher, guidance counselor, and get help. The sooner you reach out, the faster we can help you to get on the road to feeling better.”