Physical and psychological changes associated with puberty
Adolescence is a period that is characterized by both physical and psychological changes that occur on the body of a child from puberty to adulthood. Most individuals that are in the period are between the ages of ten to nineteen years. However, within the past 100 years, the age at which adolescent begins has been decreasing due to several environmental and physical factors. This post addressed various questions regarding this change, the physical and psychological implications associated with a child, and the issues of depression and suicide among adolescents.
Reasons for the decrease in the onset of puberty.
Puberty starts on average between the ages of 8 and 13 in girls and between the ages of 9 and 14 in boys. However, in some cases, the signs that are associated with puberty may appear earlier in a child and progress. Although there are no perfectly determined reasons for this decrease, one of the possible factors of this change is obesity. Over the past three decades, the number of children in the US that have obesity has doubled. However, it is not obesity that is responsible for causing early puberty but the fat cells, which are also responsible for producing estrogen which causes the development of the breasts. After the breasts develop, what follows is menstruation. In other cases, the diet that is taken also contributes to early puberty. The intake of sugary foods may instigate menstruation. Another factor that may also contribute to early puberty is emotional stress where children that live under conditions that may cause stress such as marital conflict, lack of support, and poverty usually experience hormonal changes earlier (Woodham, 2015).
What are some of the physical and psychological implications for a child as they go through puberty?
When girls reach puberty, their ovaries start getting bigger and their body starts producing two hormones that are oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen causes the breasts to grow as well as the vagina, the fallopian tube, and the uterus. At this point, the hips in the girl also broaden. The next change that follows is menstruation, which mostly occurs 18 months after the onset of puberty (NZFP, 2019). The girls also increase in height, weight, muscle mass, and they acquire a more oily skin. In boys, the hormone testosterone is produced and it leads to the production of sperms, broadening of the chest, and the growth of facial hairs. The boys also grow taller, heavier, and stronger. In both sexes, hair also grows in the genital areas and in the armpits. Some of the psychological signs that come up include sudden mood changes, involuntary increase in sexual appeals, attraction to the opposite sex, and the desire to be accepted and to fit in among their peers (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014).
What are the current statistics on rates of depression and suicide in Adolescents?
Rates of depression and suicide are increasing significantly among young people in America. In 2017, it was estimated that 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 years experience at least one episode of depression. This comprised 13.3% of the Americans under this age bracket. The prevalence of depressive episodes was higher in females at 20% compared to the males who stood at 6.8%. On the other hand, in 2017, suicide was ranked as the second cause of death for most adolescents in the US. The rate of suicide for the individuals in this age bracket had increased by 47% from 2000 to 2017 (NIMH, 2019). The rate of suicide among female adolescents was also high in this case.
What are signs and symptoms that parents/teachers/peers should be aware of regarding depression and suicidal thoughts in Adolescents?
Most teenagers rely on parents, teachers, caregivers, and peers whenever they have issues that may be affecting them. The following are some of the signs that may indicate that a child on a teenager has depression; hopelessness, poor school performance, loss of interest in activities, restlessness, withdrawal from family members and friends, changes in sleeping habits and fatigue and lack of motivation. On the other hand, one can tell whether a child has suicidal though by identifying some of these symptoms; talking about suicide, writing poems about death, speaking positively about death, seeking out weapons, pills, and other means to commit suicide, and giving away possessions that are prized. If one observes any of these signs that have been identified, they should take action with immediate effect (Helpguide, 2019).