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How To Cope With Emotional Changes During Puberty

Let’s talk about emotions! Ok, so you’ve got a lot going on right now. You’re juggling social and
emotional changes during puberty with so many other things: school, family, friends,
dating…that’s a lot. Here’s your guide to managing it all.

Let's take a closer look at the emotional changes that occur during puberty. Whether you're experiencing mood swings, feeling anxious, or just need some general guidance, we're here to help. Up to *25% of young South Africans experience depression and anxiety, especially in places with limited access to mental healthcare providers. This shows us just how important it is to learn how to deal with emotional changes during puberty. You’ll be well on your way to becoming the best adult you can be!

Understanding physical and emotional changes during puberty

Feelings of worry and anxiety are your body’s natural way of preparing for new challenges. Now that you’re growing into a young adult, you’ll face a few of them. They’re caused by your biology and a rush of chemicals called hormones in your body preparing you for “fight or flight”.

But don’t panic, we all experience a build up of hormones and unpredictable emotions no matter our age. For many of us, these heightened emotions manifest as sadness, anxiety, confusion, anger or fear.

Puberty and emotional changes are also a sign that you’re maturing and discovering positive ways to embrace the ‘new you’. Your hobbies might change and you will probably start thinking about your future a little more. This is called developing a sense of self.

However, try not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t adapt overnight. So many other girls and boys feel a little self-conscious or struggle with low self-esteem at this time.

Dealing with puberty mood swings

If you find it increasingly more difficult to control your mood, it’s okay. Dealing with your emotions during puberty might take some time to get the hang of, especially with everything that you have to juggle. For example, there’s pressure to do well in school or to be popular on TikTok. And all this peer pressure is likely to affect your mood.

One minute, everything is going well and you’re happy about your life. Next, you feel a little down and you don’t feel like talking to anyone. Managing puberty and mood swings is all part of the journey.

Here are some practical tips for dealing with mood swings and mental changes during puberty:

  • Acknowledge your emotions and remember they are only temporary
  • Calm down by taking a deep breath whenever you feel anxious
  • Practice patience, even when you’re feeling annoyed or angry
  • Try out some physical activities to manage stress
    Develop a healthy routine to make you feel more in control of your life
  • Find healthy ways to process your emotions such as journaling or drawing

Sometimes the mental and emotional changes during puberty become too overwhelming. It may help to confide in role models such as family members or teachers. They might have some good advice on how to navigate these feelings and deal with puberty in general.

And if you’re still on edge, seek professional help to guide you through the changes of puberty. Typically, there are mental healthcare resources available at school to take advantage of. You won’t have to tell your parents or guardians until you’re ready.

How emotions and mental changes in puberty affect relationships

As you go through mental and emotional changes, relationships with family, friends and your crush at school might be tested. Embracing these social changes and seeking support can help create healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Family and emotional changes during puberty

During puberty, the emotional changes you experience don't just impact you. They can also affect your relationships with family members. It's important to understand that everyone in your family may be adjusting to these changes in their own way. You aren’t the only one.

The best thing to do is talk about it openly and honestly. Practice patience and empathy towards one another as it may take time for everyone to adjust and find the best ways to support each other.

Friendship and emotional changes during puberty

So here’s the thing, everyone is different. Everyone starts puberty at different ages and your friends may be in a different stage to you – that doesn’t mean they’re more mature or ‘better at puberty’ than you. Truth is, your friends are probably going through the same things and feeling just as confused. Try to support one another and see each other’s point of view.

You may also find that you’ve changed friendship groups during puberty as you find out more about who you are — and that’s fine too. Getting to know yourself is just as important as being part of a friendship group. Remember you’re unique and this puberty madness won’t last forever. It will teach you a lot about who you are as a person and the kind of friends you wish to have.

Our final thoughts on the physical, social and emotional changes during puberty

There are lots of changes that come with puberty and it can get super challenging. But it's important to remember that you're not alone. Mood swings are a normal part of being a teen and there are effective strategies to help manage them. You might also start to experience sexual feelings towards someone and that’s both normal and exciting. Let your hormones do what they’re supposed to do.

Remember you're on a journey of self-discovery. Embracing these changes can lead to personal growth and stronger connections with others. Take care of yourself and this phase in life will shape you into an incredible person.

*https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2022-05-30-teen-mental-health-stigma-our-education-and-health-systems-fail-to-tackle-stigma/ [Accessed: 13 June 2023]


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Frequently asked questions

How does puberty affect emotional development?

Puberty affects emotional development due to the rapid fluctuations in your hormones. The hormones make your emotions become stronger and less predictable. Nevertheless, your emotional development during puberty is something you’ll never forget. It shapes you into the beautiful person you're meant to be.

What are some emotional changes during puberty?

Some of the typical emotional changes during puberty include heightened mood swings, confusion, anger, fear, sadness and anxiety. Although you might not know why you’re feeling this way, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What causes emotional changes during puberty?

Emotional changes in adolescence are caused by hormonal changes in the body. At this time, you are also still learning how to control your emotions and become better at decision-making. It takes a little time, but you will get there. Be patient with yourself and those around you.

Why do emotional changes occur during puberty?

Emotional changes occur during puberty because you start to experience rapid brain development. In fact, the adolescent brain is slowly maturing all throughout your teenage years. At this time, parts of the brain create new neural pathways that make it easier to feel and process emotions.

What are the physical and emotional changes during puberty?

There are several physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. The physical changes during puberty include body changes like growth spurts, pubic hair growth, pimples, body odour, menstruation, breast development and more. On the other hand, emotional changes in puberty cause mood swings and intense emotions.

Does puberty make you emotional?

Puberty can make you emotional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy your life. If anything, learning how to feel and express your emotions is one of the best things about puberty. You’ll be equipped to handle all the challenges of adulthood.

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