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Recent estimates suggest that one in three teenagers suffers from a level of anxiety that’s unlikely to “go away” unless it’s treated. Why is the teenage brain so vulnerable to anxiety?
The recent movie “Eighth Grade” accurately and heartwarmingly portrays a teenager who struggles with social anxiety WHILE dealing with the typical stress of adolescence. This film sparked conversation among neuroscientists on why the teenage brain so much more vulnerable to anxiety than the adult brain.
Well, researchers have found a biological reason for this vulnerability. It turns out that the connections in the brain that control our emotion are slow to develop and don’t finish developing until our early-20s. This is why so many teens have trouble regulating emotions like fear or stress.
So what does this mean for treatment? Surprisingly, 80 percent of youth struggling with anxiety don’t even SEEK treatment. No teen should have to face anxiety on their own. Psychotherapy and medications can both be highly effective. In fact, evidence suggests that both cognitive behavioral therapy and medication treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (better known as SSRIs) may reduce enhance the brain’s emotional regulation.
Translating this new knowledge into the treatment realm could allow treatments to be tailored specifically for teenagers, and make them THAT much more effective.
For more information on anxiety, watch the MedCircle original series Understanding the Anxious Self with Dr. Ramani.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.