Adolescence is the period between ages 13 and 19, encompassing all teenagers, and is the time in which the start of puberty occurs. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines puberty as “the condition of being or the period of becoming first capable of reproducing sexually that is brought on by the production of sex hormones and the maturing of the reproductive organs…” Puberty begins in the brain by releasing hormones, which result in physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, and social changes. The teenage years are filled with challenging lessons, immense physiological growth, surging hormones, a newfound desire for autonomy, and all else needed to assist a young person’s development into adulthood. Research indicates that the most important psychological and psychosocial changes in teenagers include the following developmental milestones:
- The emergence of abstract thinking
- The growing ability of absorbing the perspectives or viewpoints of others
- An increased ability of introspection
- The development of personal and sexual identity
- The establishment of a system of values
- Increasing autonomy from family and more personal independence
- Greater importance of peer relationships of sometimes subcultural quality
- The emergence of skills and coping strategies to overcome problems and crises
Although teenagers are undergoing immense growth and maturation throughout their adolescence, it is important to bear in mind that they are still inherently programmed to react to external stimuli from an emotional standpoint. This can be attributed to the fact that a young person’s brain does not begin to reach its full development until the age of twenty-five. The prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain that reigns rational thought, executive planning, and impulse control) is the last area of the brain to fully develop. Meaning teenagers innately process, problem solve, and make decisions using their amygdala (the area of the brain that is most closely associated with impulsivity, aggression, emotion, and instinctive behavior). Every person is different, and each teenager will mature through their adolescence at a varied pace, while encountering nuanced and unique challenges. The needs of each young person vary drastically, and often continuously shift as they enter new stages of their lives.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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