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Reaching Puberty Earlier Linked to Greater Depression Risk in Adulthood

By jeremyc | January 6, 2018

According to a new study, early puberty in girls can increase the risk of depression in adulthood. The study authors also noted that girls who become sexually mature before the average puberty age are also more likely to show antisocial behavior in their adulthood.

Puberty brings with itself many changes, not only bodily but also in behavior, emotions, and appearance. It can be a bit challenging, no matter when it occurs. However, it can be especially challenging for girls who enter puberty before the average age.

Earlier studies have pointed out that girls who experience their first menstrual bleeding, called menarche, earlier than average, are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and eating disorders in their adolescent years. Additionally, these girls are also more likely to have substance abuse issues and poor school performance.

Why this is so is something that has not been established, even though the link has been probed extensively. However, experts believe many factors might be involved. Girls who enter puberty sooner than average age might experience increased emotional and cognitive strain. Further, they might also be more susceptible to psychological problems because of certain changes occurring in the brain earlier than normal.

While there are innumerable studies that have studied the link between earlier-than-usual menarche and mental health in adolescent years, hardly any study has analyzed its effect in adulthood.

In this study, the researchers checked the data of about 8,000 women and focused on depression as well as antisocial behavior, like stealing and drug abuse.

The researchers noted that the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and showing antisocial behavior like drug use, in adolescent years and in young adulthood was greater among girl entering puberty earlier than usual.

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