Have you ever wondered why you can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday, but you have vivid memories from when you were a teen? Adolescence or the teenage years is a time of great change in the brain. It is a time of great plasticity when the brain in constantly changing and absorbing information like a sponge. This change begins in the back of the brain and moves forward. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for emotions, memories, and survival instinct. The amygdala is fully formed at some point during the teenage years. That is why we can remember so vividly things that happened to us, or even our emotional responses, when we were teens. The prefrontal cortex is in the front part of the brain. It is the area of the brain responsible for controlling impulse and emotion, as well as, making informed judgments. This portion of the brain is not fully developed until around age 25. Does this help explain some of the differences between teens and adults and how we think? Of course a teen is going to be more emotional and impulsive than an adult would be. The tools the teen has are different than the tools he/she will have as an adult. This does not mean that a teen should not be held responsible for his/her actions and that the teen can not control his/her impulses. What it does mean is that teens tend to feel before they think, and act moire impulsively than adults. The emotional highs seem to be higher and the lows seem to be lower. During this time of great change in the brain, teens are more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Nearly 1 in 3 teens meet the criteria for anxiety disorder.
Stay tuned for my next post: Does My Teen Have Anxiety?