Kids who go through puberty earlier than normal have a higher chance of developing depression later on, during their teenage years. The conclusion belongs to a new study conducted by Australian investigators at the University of Melbourne.The research was carried out on 155 adolescents, who were aged 12, 15, or 18. Scientists conducted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans on all participants, in order to analyze their neural activity patterns.
A larger pituitary gland – one of the brain areas responsible for triggering puberty – was discovered in all those who underwent puberty earlier on. These test subjects were also found to be more likely to develop depression during adolescence, PsychCentral reports.
“These changes are actually having particularly long-term effects on the brain structure, where the brain is plastic and can change shape,” lead study researcher, Sarah Whittle, PhD, explains.