Entries in Adolescents (4)


Anger Attacks Rampant Among US Teens, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- America’s schools may want to add some anger management classes to their curriculum.  A new study by Harvard Medical School finds that nearly two-thirds of all young people have a history of anger attacks.

The study, which involved more than 10,000 adolescents, found many teens admitting to having uncontrollable anger that prompted them to destroy property or threaten or engage in violence towards other people.  The sentiment was found to be two to three times more common in boys than in girls.

As Dr. Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School explains, it isn’t just a case of angry teenagers -- one in 12 adolescents in the U.S. meet the criteria for Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a mental condition that can have a ripple effect on a person for their entire life.

He says teens who suffer from the anger disorder tend to develop depression and substance abuse problems later on in life and find themselves having issues with work and family.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arrests Increasing Among Young Americans, Study Finds

Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- By age 23, up to 41 percent of American adolescents and young adults have been arrested at least once for something other than a minor traffic violation, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study gives no indication of how many of these young people committed violent crimes versus how many were rounded up for more minor infractions, such as disturbing the peace. But the study's authors say such a high percentage of arrests may point to a host of potential health and behavioral problems that put young people at risk for criminal activity.

"An arrest usually happens in context. There are usually other things going on in a kid's life," said study author Robert Brame, professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

In the study, Brame and his colleagues analyzed responses to a national survey of more than 7,000 young people between 1997 and 2008.  They found that between 25 and 41 percent of the respondents reported one arrest by the age of 23; 16 to 27 percent of the respondents reported being arrested by age 18.

Not all of the young people remained in the study for all 11 years, accounting for the uncertainty reflected in the wide ranges of the study's findings.

But even at the lowest ends of these ranges, the study's findings were higher than projections of youth arrests made in 1965, the last time scientists studied this topic.

"Those are alarmingly high numbers," said Dr. Eugene Beresin, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.  "There are social, economic, educational and family risks associated with arrests.  And we all have to be worried about that."

Although an arrest doesn't necessarily mean a child, teen or young adult is a criminal, previous research has connected run-ins with the law with other problems -- drug addiction, physical or emotional abuse and poverty, to name a few.

Beresin said a high number of arrests could also indicate a high rate of untreated psychiatric disorders, another factor that has been linked to criminal activity.  According to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit group, between 50 to 75 percent of incarcerated young people have diagnosable mental health problems.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teen Sex Linked to Depression?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- A new study suggests teen sex can have lasting effects on mental health -- at least in male hamsters.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that male hamsters that mated when they were 40 days old (the hamster equivalent of adolescence) showed symptoms of depression later on compared to their abstaining littermates.

Adult 120-day-old hamsters that had teen sex were less enthusiastic about swimming in a shallow pool and exploring a maze, symptoms of depression and anxiety that were not seen in virgin hamsters. They also had higher brain levels of a gene involved in inflammation, a change that might interfere with the brain’s normal development.

“There is a time in nervous system development when things are changing very rapidly, and part of those changes are preparations for adult reproductive behaviors and physiology,” Zachary Weil, assistant professor of Neuroscience at OSU, said in a statement. “There is a possibility that environmental experiences and signals could have amplified effects if they occur before the nervous system has settled down into adulthood.”

Nearly half of U.S. high school students have had sex, according to a 2009 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 14 percent have had sex with four or more people. An estimated one in 10 adults report suffering from depression.

The researchers suggest sexual activity might serve as a stressor during development.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Toolkit Released for Identifying Mental Illnesses in Adolescents

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Researchers have released a "toolkit" designed to identify troubled adolescents with mental health problems, according to HealthDay.

The toolkit, which was released Friday under the auspices of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, allows parents, teachers, and doctors to diagnose adolescents who otherwise would not be.

The study lists 11 warning signs, which include things like feeling withdrawn for two or more weeks, panic attacks, belligerence, and eating disorders.

The "toolkit" has been published in the Pediatrics journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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