Puberty as a Developmental Context of Risk for Psychopathology

  • Karen D. Rudolph


Puberty is a formative transition, marked by a confluence of biological, psychological, and social challenges. During this stage, youth experience dramatic physical transformations that signal their passage into adulthood. Moreover, this period is typified by extensive brain remodeling and alterations in hormonal systems involved in sexual maturation (Susman & Dorn, 2009) and stress reactivity (Gunnar, Wewerka, Frenn, Long, & Griggs, 2009). Beyond these physical and biological changes, youth undergo psychological and social reorganization reflected in changing self-perception and self-regulation (Hyde, Mezulis, & Abramson, 2008), shifts in the dynamics of interpersonal relationships (Rudolph, 2009), and contextual changes such as school transitions (Eccles, Lord, Roeser, Barber, & Hernandez Jozefowicz, 1997). Although this period of rapid development provides an opportunity for positive growth, unfortunately it also represents a backdrop for the development of psychopathology (Gunnar et al., 2009). In particular, research documents striking increases in multiple forms of psychopathology, including anxiety (Hayward et al., 1997), depression (Rudolph, Hammen, & Daley, 2006), antisocial behavior (Lahey et al., 2006), and substance use (Patton et al., 2004) across the pubertal transition.


Romantic Relationship Pubertal Timing Early Maturation Pubertal Status Late Maturation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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