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10-05 Acting Out: Female teen hormones and their effect on behavior

Acting Out: Female teen hormones and their effect on behavior

Just like their male counterparts, teenage girls will experience their fair share of hormonal changes. Research throughout history has shown that the increased release of estrogen and other important chemicals have a significant effect on how the female gender behaves during the teenage years.

In “Are adolescents the victims of raging hormones? Evidence for activational effects of hormones on moods and behavior at adolescence,” authors Christy M. Buchanan, Ph.D., Jill B. Becker, Ph.D., and Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan reviewed the extensive list of adolescent-based research and identified key connections between female hormones and displayed behaviors. Important findings included:

  • High testosterone in women has been correlated with more masculine traits: enterprising, resourceful, uninhibited and impulsive.
  • More estrogen in the female body has been associated with more positive moods and a lack of the hormone is linked to depression and other negative emotions.
  • Concentrations of estrogen and its interaction with other important hormones may influence aggression. In some women, low estrogen and progesterone are associated with competiveness, irritability, tension and other emotional outbursts, including aggression.

Specific observations were noted in the study, “Mood and Behavior at Adolescence: Evidence for Hormonal Factors,” which oversaw the pubertal development of 100 girls between the ages of 10 and 13, with aspects ranging from specific hormone levels to mood and behavior. Researchers Michelle P. Warren, M.D., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., from both St. Luke’s Hospital and Columbia University in New York found that a noticeable trend existed between the rapid increase of hormone levels and changes in depressive effect, impulsivity and psychopathology. The data supported how hormonal changes may be more influential than physical changes on emotional and behavioral patterns during adolescence.

Further support on this conclusion was found in the study, “Biosocial foundations for adolescent female sexuality.” In this cross-sectional study of 78 female public school students in eighth, ninth and 10th grade, the authors observed that hormones have a distinct impact on sexual motivation and conduct. Authors J. Richard Udry, Ph.D., and Luther M. Talbert, M.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Naomi M. Morris from the University of Illinois summarized, “Comparison with previous results from a parallel sample of males indicates that for both sexes these effects are primarily androgenic in origin and for the most part exert their effects directly rather than through the social interpretation of age and hormone-induced pubertal development.”

In short, although other factors are in play as well, hormones are a strong determinant of behavioral expression during female adolescence. If you or your child is having difficulty managing his or her behaviors, professional support can aid in adding a sense of structure. Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in treating substance abuse, mental disorders and co-occurring conditions that can arise in youth. Call or visit us online to speak with a professional representative.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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