Body processes

Adolescence – Function, Task & Diseases


Adolescence is the period of life from late childhood to adulthood. It begins around the onset of puberty and ends when the person is physically, psychologically and socially mature.

What is adolescence?

Adolescence is often understood as a synonym for the period of puberty, but in fact also includes parts before and after. Childhood and the juvenile phase flow directly into adolescence and end in young adulthood. The WHO describes adolescence as a phase of life between the ages of 10 and 20, in the USA it includes the 13th to 19th year of life in the sense of puberty and in German juvenile criminal law the 13th to 21st year of life.

All of these periods can be coherent, ultimately adolescence also depends on the individual development of the girl or boy into a woman or man. It has medical, biological, psychological and social relevance.

Young people in adolescence develop physically to sexual maturity and then mature into adults with all the physical characteristics of their sex. The psychologist observes the first experiences of independence, responsibility, love and detachment from parents during adolescence. Friendships and one’s own place in society play an increasing role.

Today’s adolescence ends when young adults take responsibility for their own lives and are physically well developed for their age.

function & task

The purpose of the childhood phases was to develop basic functions of the body and to set important psychological processes in motion. The young person already has a lot behind them, such as learning the basic attachment behavior or breaking through the teeth . 

Adolescence begins along with puberty and all the major physical changes that the body goes through during adolescence. The young person reaches sexual maturity, whereby the body is now constantly influenced by male or female hormones and develops or strengthens corresponding sex characteristics. Many teenagers find it difficult to accept these changes and their appearance as a whole during adolescence, but by young adulthood most achieve some degree of acceptance of their appearance. In most cases, unpleasant symptoms of adolescence such as skin blemishes or severe menstrual pain have normalized by then.

A fundamental reorganization and reorientation of the brain is also characteristic of adolescence . Emotional independence from parents is thus achieved over the years. Young people in adolescence also look for their place in society and find ways to create it. Friendships are more important, they shape the learned social behavior . The development of the intellect during this time is clearly noticeable, which is promoted in a development-oriented manner by attending school.

The benefit of adolescence for a young person is to gradually become more self-reliant and to lead an independent life in order to father and raise offspring themselves. But although independence is the goal, the adolescent person needs support from parents, family and also from peers and society in general in order to develop into a healthy adult.

Diseases & Ailments

Just like childhood, adolescence is a formative phase of physical, mental and social development. Anomalies in development can therefore lead to permanent consequential damage. Physical development towards sexually mature adults is particularly important. Premature sexual maturity can be as normal as it could be a symptom of an underlying condition. Previously undiscovered tumors of the thyroid and pituitary glands , which can remain symptom-free, would lead to puberty occurring late, slowing down or not occurring at all in adolescence. This eliminates male and female hormones that allow the body to mature into an adult image. Consequences can be diminishedfertility , a micropenis , or undeveloped, androgynous breasts in women. 

More common than real illnesses are complaints that are basically harmless, but can be very stressful. In boys, for example, this includes increased aggressiveness due to high testosterone levels . The level is not the same for every boy in adolescence, but if it is, then it sometimes leads to more aggressive and combative behavior and likes to get the adolescent into trouble.

Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer from their menstrual periods, which can still be painful, especially in adolescence. This remains the case for a few years and improves in early adulthood or as early as late adolescence. Many young women also struggle with skin blemishes during adolescence and find it difficult to accept the changes in their figure.

However, the physical developments of adolescence also trigger a maturing process of the psyche , because the young adult has to learn to accept himself. Nevertheless, mental illnesses during adolescence are perfectly normal, even if the teenager seems to suffer greatly from them at times. Regular offers from parents to talk, exchange among peers, the availability of trusted people such as teachers, school psychologists or even the pediatrician help to ensure that mental problems in adolescence can be recognized and eliminated in good time.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.