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Overcoming fear is difficult for teens, leading to issues later

Researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College said that a teenager's brain, which has suffered a threat, suppresses the emotional response leading to anxiety or stress that lasts long afterwards.

fear childEnlarge
A new study says that people have a difficult time overcoming fear developed in adolescence. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Overcoming fears faced as a teenager is extremely difficult says new research.

Researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College said that a teenager's brain, which has suffered a threat, suppresses the emotional response leading to anxiety or stress that lasts long afterwards, said Medical Xpress.

The study used a group of volunteers of varying ages from teens to adults.

They were asked to wear headphones and skin sweat meters while looking at blue or yellow squares.

At any given moment one of the squares would let out a very unpleasant sound (one can only imagine a blood curdling scream).

Participants eventually acquired a fear of the noise, which increased sweating.

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Yet, the next day the study was repeasted and participants had similar levels of fear but with no noise associated with the colored squares - the fear had been internalized.

"This is the first study to show, in an experiment, that adolescent humans have diminished fear extinction learning," saoid study author, Siobhan Pattwell, reported HealthNewsDigest.

She went on to say that the fear might continue on later in life and develop into stress-related health issues.

"Our findings are important because they might explain why epidemiologists have found that anxiety disorders seem to spike during adolescence or just before adolescence. It is estimated that over 75 percent of adults with fear-related disorders can trace the roots of their anxiety to earlier ages."

The study hopes to shed light on how childhood fears and trauma might affect someone at later stages.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120927/overcoming-fear-difficult-teens-leading-issues-later