Connecticut Families Extra: The body remembers the days of teen angst

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — Most of us can relate to the ups and downs of being a teen.

One adult recalls, “I remember it was constantly stressful for me. I was always stressed, because of my hormones.”

Whether it’s hormones, or friends, or fear of the future, is teen angst here today and forgotten tomorrow?

University of Virginia social scientist Joseph Allen said, “We’d like to think we’re beyond it and we’re not as far beyond it as we’d like to be and it matters more, and sticks with us longer.”

Allen and his colleagues recruited 184 13-year-olds and followed them for 15 years. They interviewed the teens, their parents, and friends to assess how they resolved conflict. At age 21, the participants were rated to see how they responded to hostility from a romantic partner. Finally, participants had a blood test at age 28.

Researchers say adult participants who reported a lot of stress and conflict during their teens had markers of a higher level of immune system inflammation.

Allen says, “It’s called interleukin-6 and it has been linked to everything from tumor formation to arthritis to early mortality.”

He says the findings suggest the body does remember teen conflict and that could hurt one’s health years later.

“Conflict is not something that is trivial,” Allen added.

He suggests parents should model conflict resolution. Talk openly with teens about why you disagree with your spouse or partner. Teens who have calmer home lives will look for relationships with less conflict.

The researchers also found that difficult adult relationships were also linked to higher levels of interleukin-6. Even after accounting for relationship stressors in adulthood, the teen conflict is continuous which suggests that the teen years are important.

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