Teen Anxiety Risk Higher in Stressed Infants


Extensive studies have been conducted on teen anxiety and they reveal that if children experienced a lot of family stress during their infancy, it may cause anxiety issues when they grow up to be teenagers. There may be differences in their brain functions also. A particular study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has come out with concrete evidence that describes the pathway through which stress during infancy contributes to changes in brain functions.

Links Between Stressful Environments During Infancy And Teen Anxiety

Small children who live in families in which a stressful environment constantly prevails may have high Cortisol levels as early as in their pre-schooling age. Cortisol is otherwise known as the stress hormone. Further, in teens with higher levels of Cortisol and more particularly in teenage girls, communication and connectivity between the neural pathways of the brain that are related to regulation of emotions will be less. Researches have also confirmed that high levels of Cortisol and changes in the brain activities may contribute to teen anxiety when these young girls attain the age of 18. But, none of these patterns are seen in young men.

Research Findings May Help Timely Interventions

Researchers have conducted new systems of brain scanning for looking at the brain-connections when the brain is in a state of rest. These scans and further studies have helped these researchers to find out that in teenage girls, the mothers of whom experienced extreme family stress when these girls were small babies, there is reduced connectivity between different brain areas and more particularly, between the amygdala, that is the brain’s threat center and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, that is the part of the human brain that regulates emotions. Researchers are of the same belief that these findings will help them identify ways for intervening even when these teens are quite young.

Findings Of The Recent Researches 

All the recent researches have confirmed that mothers of girls in whom there are weak connections in the brain had lived in stressful environments when the girls were small babies. The environments might have consisted of depression symptoms, the general frustration they were having as parents, marital conflicts, financial stress and so on. When the girls reached their pre-schooling age, they had high levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol. The saliva of these girls was tested for proving this.

Stressful Childhood, One Of The Main Reasons For Teen Anxiety

These teenage girls were asked about their anxiety and stress also. When these girls spoke out, they confirmed that they had stressful childhood. This is what has contributed to the shooting up of the Cortisol levels. Such levels of this hormone have resulted in changes in their brain development and have weakened the links between the brain areas such as amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. These differences between teenage boys and girls are quite pronounced, researchers point out.

These findings may help experts to devise preventive strategies so that these children can be helped by teaching them how they can live well with resilience and combat their teen anxiety effectively.

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