Teens say: "my life is ruined." Studies say: they may have a point.

There's a reason everything seems like a really big deal to teenagers: they are. A rash of recent studies on teenage brain development suggests that minor traumas for adolescents can have major impact on their adult development, possibly even re-wiring their genetic code. Newsweek's Russ Juskalian rounded up recent breakthroughs in neuroscience, that point to hazards of the young mind.

Part of the problem is that their front lobe, which controls impulse and judgement, are still developing. As a result, teens are more likely to have impaired judgement when it comes to binge-drinking, drugs, and even sensitivity to bullying. The new research suggests all those factors can have lasting effects. Stress caused by bullying, suggests one Florida State University researcher, could tip the balance towards psychological disorders like depression and other psychopathology.

Juskalian adds: "Other research supports the hypothesis that these kinds of prolonged impacts of environmental exposure-not just to alcohol, but to other types of factors, like bullying or abuse-can persist through adulthood, and possibly be passed down to future generations."

Scientifically, it's alarming. Culturally, it's even more so. High school outsiders have always been offered salvation in the form of a promise: it gets better after high school. But what if it doesn't? What if the trauma you suffered from locker room teasing haunts you as an adult in the form of addiction or depression? Despite recent studies which offer convincing proof, at least there's hard evidence that some troubled teens can thrive as adults. Tim Gunn's It Gets Better video is proof. So is Bill Gates' life. High school couldn't have been easy for that man.


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