Storm and stress (A guide)

In this brief blog, we will be discussing storm and stress, storm and stress during adolescent years, storm and stress as a theory, and more information about storm and stress.

What Is Storm And Stress?

Storm and stress is a period in adolescence where teenagers will experience constant troubles with their parents, confusing emotions, and engaging in risky behaviours that can lead to detrimental consequences.

Not all adolescents will get to experience this kind of period but from all the stages in development, only the adolescent stage of development is where this period is apparent. 

Studies have shown that storm and stress only occur in teenagers in Western cultures unlike teenagers in traditional cultures but with the advancement of the world today, almost all cultures may have teenagers who experience this kind of period.

Adolescence has been marked with at least 2 disagreements with parents in three days which only intensifies this kind of period in this age.

Researchers have described adolescence as the stage of development where major changes start to rise such as physical growth and maturation, independence, constant need for social interaction, and brain development.

The need for independence at this stage can only make the adolescent get exposed to the overburdening events of change which can influence the storm and stress period.

Researchers have also found that psychiatric illnesses appear in the adolescent stage which may arise from the storm and stress period and in this kind of period, there is the high number of suicides.

As mentioned before, there is the appearance of physical maturation which can lead to psychological change and brain changes.

A part of the psychological change in the adolescent is the intense emotions that happen in the storm and stress period.

These kinds of experiences can make these adolescents go through suicide which can be caused by general psychopathology.

Some studies have stated that the storm and stress period can be caused by our evolutionary past, the increase of life stresses, and hormones that fluctuate in this kind of period.

Storm And Stress In The Adolescent Years

The adolescence years have been described as the years where a period of heightened stress is present due to the many changes in the adolescent life such as physical growth, the need for an independence from parents, social interaction with peers, and the development of the adolescent brain.

Most adolescents would have an onset of a psychiatric illness in these years instead of those in their childhood years. 

The physical maturation that starts in the adolescent years can make them more susceptible to the psychological and physical change such as brain development that inevitably happens in this kind of stage.

The storm and stress period is characterized by the gradual intensity of emotions. 

These kinds of emotions can lead adolescents to feel more depression or engage in emotional dysfunctions which lead some of them to think about suicide or even act on it.

There is the abundance of psychiatric illnesses once the person reaches the adolescence stage.

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Theory On Storm And Stress

Stanley Hall is the founder of the storm and stress period in adolescence where it is defined as the occurrence of behavioural complications and an emotional storm and stress.

Albert Bandura who is the founder of social learning theory decided to study about this kind of period to challenge its propositions.

Bandura has found in his studies that the storm and stress period is not experienced by most adolescents.

And some adolescents who had distressing experiences in childhood had more distressing experiences in adolescence that were associated with this kind of period which indicates that this period only occurs to adolescents who had their time in this time when they were children.

Other studies have accumulated that only several adolescents experience storm and stress.

In this kind of theory, storm means the reduction of self-control levels while stress means the increased level of sensitivity and vulnerability.

Even with these studies fighting off the reality of storm and stress period, Hall’s theory has still its influence on the development of adolescents.

In his theory, he stated different categories of this kind of period which are the following:

  • Conflict or trouble getting along with parents: Adolescents tend to rebel against authority figures as they find better independence and autonomy in their experiences.
  • Mood disruption: Hormonal changes and the psychological turmoil of adolescence can trigger uncontrollable swings in emotions.
  • Risky behaviour: The combination or interaction of a neurological need for stimulation and lack of emotional maturity can lead to increased risk-taking behaviours during adolescence.

Background Of This Theory On Adolescence

Hall might have indicated that the storm and stress period is part of adolescent development but he wasn’t the first one to coin this term.

Aristotle who is an early philosopher sees adolescents as similar to drunken men who have their heavy dosage of wine.

Socrates who is another early philosopher even stated that adolescents were strongly rebellious towards parents and other authority figures.

Rosseau even described adolescence as a period where roaring waves can come crashing towards them and the growing passions inside them can lead them to blind ambition which can become a tool of destruction if they don’t keep themselves grounded.

Hall thinks that the storm and stress period is part of our human evolution since this period is vital for human growth.

In this case, this period has passed through the generations since it has made humans easily able to survive.

There are different categories or elements of storm and stress period which will be discussed in the following sections below.

You can learn more about this point in time in human development that has been true to our evolutionary backgrounds by buying this book on this website.

Elements Of Storm And Stress

As mentioned before, the elements and categories of the storm and stress period are parental conflict or rebelliousness, irregular moods, and reckless and risky behaviours.

These kinds of elements are not the only elements of this period but these kinds of elements have been very typical.

Researchers have also concentrated the storm and stress period in the following elements such as school complications and reputation.

These three elements have been studied and discussed by Hall, anthropologists, psychoanalysts, and modern scholars.

Hall believes that the storm and stress period lasts until the teenager reaches his or her early twenties.

In contrast, Aristotle and others have concluded that this kind of period can last until the teenager reaches his or her peak adolescent years or the middle or late adolescent years.

These three elements of the storm and stress period can start at different ages in the adolescence period depending on the experiences that will unfold in the teenager’s life.

Conflict With Parents

The inevitable backlash of adolescents and parents can begin in the adolescent years than in the prepubescent years which will end at the early adulthood years.

Some researchers believe that this conflict can lead to a decline in emotional closeness between adolescents and parents.

From other adolescents, this conflict is very deep between mother and teenage daughter.

This is why most parents would think that this stage in development is the most complicated stage in their child’s life.

This conflict between parents and adolescents tend to occur when adolescents are having emotional difficulties such as depression, may have engaged in substance abuse which parents don’t approve, and the adolescent may have been physically mature in the early years.

Some studies have found conflict with parents in the storm and stress period does not destroy the intimate relationship between parents and adolescents.

In fact, some adolescents and parents would say that they end up getting more emotionally involved and both parties realize that important values are similar which causes mutual affection.

 Parents can learn more about how to talk to their troubled teenagers by buying this book on this website.

Mood Disruptions

Hall perceives adolescence as the stage of having speedy fluctuations of mood.

Research has even found most adolescents dealing with the higher levels of different moods.

Parents have even reported that adolescents are more engaged in mood disruptions than they were after a stressful day at work.

They have also reported their children to be more ashamed and embarrassed with the flair of awkwardness.

In this case, there really is a lot of mood disturbances in adolescents.

Some researchers have even proposed that the beginning of abstract thinking in this age may be the cause of these disturbances. 

Larson and Richards have associated the mood disturbances in the storm and stress period to many changes in life and some transitions such as puberty and having a new crush.

These researchers also stated that it is also the fault of how adolescents understand the stressful situations around them.

Risk Behaviour

For a very long time, adolescents have always been associated with antisocial behaviours due to their rebelliousness, especially in teenage boys.

Hall stated that this behaviour is part of human development, especially in adolescent boys.

The United States has even found more criminals in adolescents than other ages.

These adolescents tend to have their criminal behaviours in this stage such as shoplifting and speedy motor riding.

These criminal behaviours can rise in the late adolescence years which can be the middle of the storm and stress period.

Crime rates have increased when these adolescents turned 18 years old.

These risky behaviours can determine a complication in the adolescent years if not taken care of immediately.

You can learn more about the risky behaviours engaged by adolescents by buying this book on this website.

Causes Of Storm And Stress During Adolescence

People have always associated the adolescent years to a conflict which make them neglect the concerns of these troubled adolescents.

Parents may go as far as seeing their adolescents as rebellious and troublesome even when the teenager hasn’t shown signs of being intolerant.

Studies have been rampant about the storm and stress period being only half correct in the development of children.

Nevertheless, this kind of theory continues to be influential despite its contradictions.

The storm and stress period can occur in various triggers and risk factors.

For instance, teenagers have to deal with the increased influence of hormones, the rapid changes in school, some changes in personal lives, need for autonomy, and the expectations for the future.

There are also typical causes of the storm and stress period.

The following are the typical causes of this period and these kinds of causes will be discussed in the further sections.

  • Biological Changes
  • Increased Independence
  • Environmental Changes

Biological Changes

As mentioned before, adolescents are fated to meet biological changes which are more excessive than those they have experienced in their childhood years.

These changes can be the intense influence of hormone and brain changes that make them more likely to think in abstract ways. 

These biological changes can make adolescents feel emotionally driven which can make them aggressive, frustrated, and terrified. In a review of the literature on human adolescent brain development, Yurgelun-Todd suggests and concludes that development through the adolescent years is related to increasingly greater efficiency and progression of cognitive control capacities or in this case, being more abstract in thinking.

Increased Independence

When they enter the beginnings of adulthood, adolescents will become more concerned about their world.

This is what makes them to have different preferences from their family members with their knowledge of their wants and dislikes. 

This autonomy can make teenagers more likely to debate if other people don’t seem to follow what they want to do and they get easily frustrated.

This is also what makes adolescents see the world more clearly and see hypocrisy and evil in its realistic form.

Adolescents will also become involved in finding jobs to make their own money.

This job search can lead them to believe that they are individualized from their parents and can lead to parental conflict. 

The attainment of money may also make adolescents more likely to buy stuff such as drugs that can lead to risky behaviours.

Help your teenagers to be confident and have high self-esteem so that they can prepare their independence in adulthood by buying this book here.

Environmental Changes

When adolescents grow more, they become more aware of their environment changing such as the difficulty of classes, the different peers they get to meet, and the possible authority figures that may be too harsh for them.

This is also the time when they find their cliques that they can join and be comfortable with bringing them to their identities. 

This can also lead them to have high demands in school and home since they are about to be adults.

In this period in development, adolescents find themselves in more responsibilities than before such as taking care of old parents, watching over younger siblings, and being the source of financial support if they are holding a job.

How To Cope With Adolescents During This Period

If you want to help your kids be more comfortable and mature in the storm and stress period, you need to show them that you can be a support for them whenever they feel these contrasting events and emotions.

This is because as mentioned before, these adolescents will be facing significant changes in life like school and peers. 

You need to give them a conflict-free environment where they feel accepted despite their turmoils in the storm and stress period.

You might not be able to agree with them all the time but make sure that you are not like the other changes in their lives that only greet them with conflict.

You can also recommend your teenagers to a support source outside of the family that can help them as well.

It could be a trusted neighbour, mentor or other family friends that are willing to help. 

These kinds of support can give these adolescents a new perspective on the storm and stress period and can improve the parent and child relationship if the support source is helping a lot.

If you’re an adolescent who is searching for advice to help you go through young adulthood process or simply need someone to talk to, BetterHelp has a wide range of online mental health therapy services to help you conquer obstacles, regulate your emotions, and manage and control your mental health. 


In this brief blog, we have discussed storm and stress, storm and stress during adolescent years, storm and stress as a theory, and more information about storm and stress.

FAQ Questions

Why is adolescence stressful?

Adolescence is stressful because this age in human development makes these teens have a maturing brain that may bring emotional turmoil upon their lives which may contribute to mental health complications such as anxiety and depression.

What is psychological turmoil?

Psychological turmoil is a state of great commotion, confusion, or disturbance, tumult, agitation, great noise, and mental turmoil caused by complicated decisions.

This kind of event is also similar to an event of a nervous breakdown when a person is faced with an impossible situation.

What does stress do to the teenage brain?

Stress can change the teenage brain and disrupts with a teenager’s ability to make decisions.

This can also lead them to do risky behaviours such as substance abuse, unprotected sex, and joining groups that only cause harm to these teens and other possible negative consequences.

How do you deal with emotional turmoil?

You can deal with emotional turmoil by finding someone to talk to, find a way to sort your emotions, do breathing exercises or techniques, break the complication into small steps, take care of yourself, and go easy on yourself.

Does stress affect puberty?

Yes, stress affects puberty in these troubled adolescents.

The arrival of puberty is a bodily event influenced by psychological forces or influences. Decades of studies have demonstrated that a stressful childhood accumulates reproductive development, at least as measured by menarche or the first menstrual cycle in female teenagers


Howstuffworks. What is Storm and Stress?.

Jeffreyarnett. Adolescent Storm and Stress, Reconsidered.

NCBI. The Storm and Stress of Adolescence: Insights from Human Imaging and Mouse Genetics.

SpringerLink. Storm and Stress.

SpringerLink. Storm and Stress Theory. G. Stanley Hall: Storm & Stress in Adolescence.

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