The Science of Teen Drama


Why is it that in middle school and even more
so in high school there is so much drama? Can’t put together a cute outfit for school?
I hate all of my clothes! Your mom asks you what you want for lunch. Why do you hate me?!
Prom is coming up. This is the most important night of my life! A lot of adults tend to
blame raging hormones but as most teenagers can tell you a lot of adults are wrong. Say hello ladies and gentlemen to me in ninth
grade. ‘Hey guys I’m Cristen, want to be friends?’ Yes I did make that choker myself. This was
a time when I was more drama-susceptible than ever before. Not just because I had started
high school, was completely boy crazy and was navigating the social minefield of cliques.
Scientists have discovered that the deeper root of teen drama lies in the brain. When
we’re teenagers our prefrontal cortexes or the part of our brain responsible for things
like reasoning, impulse control and self-reflection is in flux. That was weird. In certain areas
around half of the so-called thinking neurons are being wiped out while more myelin which
is fatty tissue that increases the speed between neuron connections is being added. In other
words our brains are undergoing this massive remodeling project converting it from say
a kids clubhouse to more of an adult condo. Or shack depending on how poorly you take
care of it. By watching Stuff Mom Never Told You videos you can upgrade your brain from
a condo to a townhouse! Ha! Is that an upgrade? Now on the upside this evolving prefrontal
cortex means that we are also evolving our sense of self. On the downside with all that
flurry of activity in our brains it makes it harder for us to stop, calm down, think,
self-reflect and take a break from the drama-rama. And like pouring gasoline on the fire that
sometimes is teen drama, we have dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter which tends
to amplify and intensify our emotional reactions and processing of situations around us. And
when in our lifetimes is dopamine activity highest in our brains. Yeah, duh our teen
years. God, have you been listening?! Partly as a result of all that dopamine we have so
many feelings. Hence our teenage propensity to dramatize even the most minutest of things.
Get off my back mom! The good-ish news is that this brain remodeling process tends to
end in your mid-twenties. In the meantime, researchers suggest practicing more mindfulness,
being aware of that kind of emotional flooding that tends to happen naturally in our teen
brains. It’s impossible to prevent drama from happening around us, it is possible to control
our response to it. Does that help? I have a feeling if someone had told me this when
I was a teenager I just would have sighed and walked away. Let me know what you think
in the comments below and hey take care of your brain. It’s the only one you got. Why
is it- [rooster crowing]. [Rooster crowing] Okay! Or the part of our [rooster crowing].
Think you need a little prefrontal cortex help too, chicken. Take that. Under reconstruction.
Yes it is and this is a song about prefrontal cortexes.

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