Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Adolescence (12–18)

What kinds of emotional changes do adolescents undergo?

For many reasons, adolescence is a time of intensified emotions. The upsurge in hormones, the changes in brain function, and the adolescent’s own psychological reactions to massive physical, cognitive, and social changes all contribute to this emotional upheaval. In fact, brain imaging research has shown that the amygdala, an emotional center of the brain, is more responsive to emotional stimuli during adolescence than at any other time in life.

Adolescents are known to be moody, dramatic, and to react intensely to seemingly minor problems. Likewise, this is a time of increased vulnerability to mental illness. In fact, many psychological and psychiatric disorders have their start in adolescence, including depression, eating disorders, drug abuse, and even schizophrenia. This is not to suggest that all adolescents develop emotional problems; quite the opposite, in fact. Nonetheless, adolescence is typically a time of some emotional upheaval, which can set the stage for the development of psychopathology in vulnerable individuals.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App