Depression affects between three and four percent of the population in the United States. It…
One of the Youngest Miss Americas Overcomes Depression
To the casual observer, Teresa Scanlan would appear to have it all: a tight-knit family, beauty and early success marked her life before being crowned the loveliest young woman in America at the tender age of 17 years. Miss America 2011 was riding the wave of outward success, but just as the wave crested she was inwardly crumbling.
Born into a solid Christian family in Midwestern Nebraska, Scanlan’s father is a child psychiatrist and her mom home-schooled their seven children. Teresa says her relationship with her parents and siblings is a source of strength.
Scanlan entered public school in high school and immediately won the leading role in her high school play. Not long after, she was crowned Miss America. She is a bright young lady who garnered success before she ever graduated from high school.
Her duties as Miss America were demanding. In addition to national speaking engagements, the young beauty was required to travel internationally. Far from her supportive family, Scanlan endured a hectic schedule and lots of public scrutiny — she quickly learned that the public was satisfied with nothing less than perfection. Of course, no one is perfect.
Not only her words but her every facial expression was examined. She was faulted for not only her appearance (hair, make-up, weight, etc.) but whether people felt she had smiled often enough or been responsive enough. The constant travel and constant criticism began to take a toll. Despite all her advantages, Teresa Scanlan became clinically depressed.
After talking with her psychiatrist father, she made adjustments where she could, including letting go of some studies. At the end of her tenure she came home and is now preparing to enter college and pursue a law degree.
It was in the university newspaper that Scanlan’s depression came to light. She spoke about the intense pressure she felt as a 17-year-old and the stress of publicly disappointing other people’s expectations. Even while traveling to Greece, France, Russia and the Holy Land, this young woman crowned as the most beautiful gained 30 pounds and felt deeply sad.
But Teresa Scanlan’s story is one of recovery. She came home, re-established her closest bonds and shed her extra weight. She is enrolled in the college of her choice and has high ambitions for her future. Scanlan’s story is remarkable not only for what she achieved but also for what she has overcome. No amount of outward advantage can guarantee inner peace, but coming to grips with your own limitations and seeking help when things become overwhelming can. It worked for Miss America.