It has been a long-held belief that adolescence is a time of emotional turmoil. There is no shortage of people who have confirmed this claim. The first notable mention can be traced back to 1904, when the first president of the American Psychological Association, G. Stanley Hall referred to adolescence as a time of “storm and stress.” In 1958, Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, stated that experiencing emotional distress during your teen years was normal. In fact, if you didn’t experience emotional distress during these years, there was something wrong with you, and you were more likely to suffer from psychological problems in adulthood.
Pop psychologists like Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil) have contributed to the propagation of this belief. On his television show, he warned viewers that “the teenage years can be a parent’s worst nightmare.” Numerous films, including Ordinary People (1980), Kids (1995), Thirteen (2003) have focused on the “stormy” decade of adolescence.
But the evidence shows that some teenagers experience stress and emotional distress, but certainly not the majority. Further, studies have shown that the experience of stress during adolescence is largely determined by culture, since non-western participants reported experiencing much less emotional turmoil than adolescents in the west.