It is not easy to be an adolescent or to help young people through their adolescent years. Some people have referred to adolescence as the most confusing , challenging, frustrating and fascinating phase of human development, but the stresses and disruption of adolescence are not as bad as the society and parents fear.  

Adolescence is a period of maturation which starts from Puberty (usually from the age of 10 or earlier in some people) and extends till about 16 to 18 years. Puberty is the onset of adolescence which marks physiological, physical, emotional and mental changes. These changes amount to sexual maturity which causes dramatic changes in teenagers.

Apart from the obvious changes we observe like, the growth sprout in boys and girls, enlargement of sex organs in order to become capable of reproduction, increased nutritional needs, some adolescents are prone to emotional outbursts, extreme changes in mood, fits of depression and can have hard times getting along with their immediate family members and their society at large.      

A lot of times, people always assume that some rites the adolescents pass through is an indication of  asserting their right to be free from authority and therefore they are mostly rebellious. I have not always agreed with that assertion. I knew something was behind the eratic behaviour some adolescents display. So, I searched and found it.

Have you ever paused to think that some of these of changes may be hormonal? And if they are hormonal, that means that the adolescent can be nurtured to turn out better than the misconception people have about them.

Hormonal secretions cause these physical and physiological changes that occur during adolescence. Hormones are chemical agents secreted into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland, often called the master gland, which lies at the base of the skull.  A portion of the brain called hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce hormones, which in turn stimulate other endocrine glands ( the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes) to produce and secrete sex hormones. As the sex hormones enter the blood stream, changes occur in physical growth and sexual development occur (Zigler and Stevenson, 1987).

Simply put , hormones are a means of communication within the body, carrying messages from place to place and triggering changes in body function and structure (Peterson and Taylor, 1980). Now we know that the hormones send multiple messages to your brain when needed eg hunger, thirst, anger, excitement, danger, sex.

There are different types of hormones: Androgens, which is a Greek word for man, are the male sex hormones. Testosterone is one type of male hormone and Estrogen is the female sex hormone. These hormones, even though they are referred to as male and female, are present in small quantities in both sexes.  It is the increased levels of androgen and estrogen in the bloodstream that stimulates the events leading to sexual maturation and the development of male and female secondary sex characteristics.

Hormones control growth throughout the prenatal and childhood but from 7 years, hormonal level begins to rise gradually. At age 10 to 12, hormone levels become very high and puberty begins. Once the biological events are triggered , the process of puberty is very rapid and most major changes occur within three years.

I will allow you to digest the new information your brain is receiving and continue the talk in my next post. You can drop your questions in the comment box and I will respond immediately.


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