Stressful events often become more disruptive for people while they are adolescents. In fact, people tend to feel worse and to be more depressed during adolescence than they do at younger or older ages. Although it may seem like these differences are in some way due to puberty, current research findings suggest otherwise. A researcher at the Department of Psychology and Center for Developmental Psychobiology at Binghamton University recently described the relevance of changes that occur in the brain during adolescence.
What was the research about?
A number of changes go on in the brain during adolescence. Regarding stress susceptibility, the most relevant changes occur in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic brain regions. In these two areas, the increases and decreases in brain activity caused by certain types of chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, may be at least partially responsible for the higher rate of sensation seeking, risk taking, and drug use among adolescents.
Why should it matter to me?
People in their adolescence should be aware of their vulnerability to stress and that they may feel drawn toward sensation seeking, risk taking, and drug use. In this way, they can try to avoid some of the negative consequences that sometimes accompany such activities.
Source: Spear, L. P. (2000). Neurobehavioral changes in adolescence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 111-114.