Girls Who Menstruate Early Can Suffer (Duh!) Depression

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Tweens, Health

menstruating depression picture

If you think periods are depressing as an adult, think how you'd feel if you were younger than 12. Credit: Getty

Hmm, how to put this delicately? Aunt Flo is in town.

Scarlett is returning to Tara. The Red Army is marching south. The Crimson Avenger strikes.

Get it? You need to brace yourself. The forecast calls for cramping, bloating and bleeding. Bummer!

The thought of dealing with this may be bad news for many young women, but for girls younger than 12 -- who thought they had more time before having to, uh, pay the monthly bill -- it can be downright depressing.

True story. The London Daily Mail reports researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Cambridge studied 2,184 girls, and you'll never guess what they found out. Girls younger than 12 who experience painful monthly cramping, bloating and bleeding earlier than expected often experience depression as a result.

Who knew?

The study may seem like the latest news from the Department of Duh. However, researchers also found girls' depression doesn't always go away, often lingering well into later adolescence.

Lead researcher Dr. Carol Joinson of Bristol University tells the Daily Mail that girls who reach puberty at young ages often feel isolated and ill-prepared for growing up.

"Our study found that girls who mature early are more vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms by the time they reach their mid-teens," she tells the newspaper. "This suggests that later maturation may be protective against psychological distress."

No doubt about it. Between fluctuating hormones, changes in body images, conflicts with parents and the whole boy-girl thing, adolescence is a pool you don't want to jump in too soon.

It doesn't help when Shark Week comes early.

Joinson puts it a bit more scientifically.

"The transition into puberty is a critical developmental period, associated with many biological, cognitive and social changes," she tells the Daily Mail. "These changes may have a more negative impact on girls who mature at an early age than those who mature later."

What these girls need, she adds, is help at school with family-based programs aimed at early intervention.

Joinson tells the newspaper it's unclear if a rocky start for girls down the road of adolescence leads to depression as adults. It's possible, she adds, that the symptoms of depression lessen and girls start feeling less isolated and alone.

They just start feeling human.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.