A recent study posted on ScienceDaily.com has discovered the reason behind the rise of teenage anxiety, which has something to do with a lack of “fear extinction learning.”
Fear extinction learning is the ability of a person to be able to get over panic and anxiety once the threat has gone. Unfortunately, this seems to temporarily disappear once a child enters adolescence.
Collecting data from both adolescent humans and lab mice, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College discovered that the lack of the ability to process fear is due to certain changes in the plasticity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that signals fear extinction. Interestingly, only adolescents experience this phenomenon--young children and adults generally seem to have no problem getting over anxiety. This may explain why trauma and depression are more prevalent in teens that in any other age group.
That's why it is important to give immediate help to adolescents who have suffered traumatic experiences. If your teenager seems to be having a hard time coping with a disturbing and difficult situation, don’t attribute it to emotionally immaturity. Instead, try your best to get to the root of her problem, and if it seems that she needs more than just emotional support, look for professional help. This may save her from a lifetime of depression.
(Photo by Lorenzo Sernicola via Flickr Creative Commons)