What is Storm and Stress?

First coined by G. Stanley Hall, the first president of the American Psychological Association, storm and stress refers to the period of adolescence in which teenagers are in conflict with their parents, are moody, and engage in risky behavior. Although not all teenagers go through the storm and stress stage, storm and stress is more likely to occur in a teenager than in a child or adult. Research shows that storm and stress is milder in traditional cultures and more extreme in Western culture, but that, as the world becomes a global village, the prevalence of storm and stress is likely to increase.

With an average of two conflicts every three days (20 per month), adolescence can certainly be a stressful time for parents and teenagers. Interestingly, the highest number of conflicts is found between mothers and teenage daughters, but it doesn't mean that your daughter hates you or doesn't want to have anything to do with you. Mood disruptions, including greater volatility and depression, are more common in teenagers than in children or adults, and are more common in the early and middle years of adolescence, similar to conflicts with parents. Risky behavior (drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, dangerous driving practices, risky sexual behavior, or actions that are dangerous to the teen or to others), on the other hand, is more likely to occur in late adolescence and may persist into the early twenties.

While some degree of storm and stress may be normal, if your teenager seems severely depressed or has mood swings that are so extreme that you can't help considering the possibility of bipolar disorder, consult with a professional, as many psychiatric conditions first make their appearance during the teenage years. The good news is that 60 percent of teens report that they're happy almost every day, despite their hectic schedules and homework, and that they have a positive relationship with their parents.