The daily emotional experience of adolescents: Are adolescents more emotional, why, and how is that related to depression?

Reed Larson, Lisa B. Sheeber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Some time ago, one of us (LS) recruited a healthy comparison sample for an adolescent depression study via neighborhood canvassing. Armed with clipboards and name badges my staff and I knocked on doors and explained to the bewildered occupants that we were seeking adolescents who were not depressed to participate in a scientific investigation. To me, having grown up in an urban east coast environment, the most notable part of the public response was that people opened their doors to us. Second though, was the near unanimity with which the residents joked that “ non-depressed adolescents” was a contradiction in terms. Weren't we aware that adolescents were a depressed and moody lot, subject to the vagaries of their raging hormones? By reputation adolescence is an emotional period. In surveys, adults describe the typical adolescent as subject to strong and unpredictable emotional shifts, including not just to depression and anxiety, but also to exuberance and elation (Farkas & Johnson, 1997; Hess & Goldblatt, 1957). Moreover, if the teachings of Aristotle and Confucius (among others) are any indication, this reputation of adolescents for moodiness is a cross-cultural phenomenon that has characterized adults' views of youth for millennia (Larson, 1991). A wide range of factors might reasonably be thought to make adolescence a period of increased emotionality. Adolescence is characterized by significant biological, contextual, interpersonal, and cognitive changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdolescent Emotional Development and the Emergence of Depressive Disorders
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780511551963
ISBN (Print)9780521869393
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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