Home Doctor NewsMental health Teens with diabetes should be screened for depression with greater caution: Study

Teens with diabetes should be screened for depression with greater caution: Study

by Pragati Singh

A recent study reveals that as teenagers become older, they grow more inquisitive in their behaviour, becoming more inclined to explore new areas. Its findings also demonstrate that increased exploration is linked to improved psychological well-being and wider social networks and depression.

Notably, the researchers observed that teenagers who spent more time exploring their natural habitats reported a higher frequency of hazardous behaviours.

“While adolescent risk taking is typically seen as a problematic behavior, we found that heightened exploration was also linked to greater social connectivity and emotional well-being,” says Catherine Hartley, an associate professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and the senior author of the study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science. “This suggests that risk taking may have an adaptive function during adolescence.”

Previously, Hartley and Aaron Heller of the University of Miami discovered that novel and diverse experiences are connected with increased enjoyment, and that this association is associated with a higher correlation of brain activity. These findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, demonstrated a link between our daily physical settings and our experience of well-being.

Hartley, Heller, and UCLA doctoral student Natalie Saragosa-Harris sought to better understand teens’ and young adults’ exploration of their environments, how it relates to behaviours we tend to see as “risky,” and what the psychological significance of these behaviours might be in the new Psychological Science paper.


Previous research has found that, as compared to children and older individuals, adolescents and young adults participate in more exploratory and novelty-seeking activities, such as trying out new hobbies, meeting new friends, or visiting new places.

However, most research on teenage exploratory activities have focused on self-report or behaviour in controlled laboratory settings, leaving the question of whether heightened adolescent exploration is seen in the real world – when participants are in regular daily settings – unanswered.

To better capture these phenomena, the scientists measured the everyday lives of 58 teenagers and adults (ages 13 to 27) in New York City, using GPS tracking to measure how often participants visited novel locations over the course of three months. From these measurements, they were able to capture daily exploration based on movement. Based on these GPS data and self-report, the researchers found several notable patterns:

There was an association between daily exploration and age, with individuals near the transition to legal adulthood (18- to 21-year-olds) exhibiting the highest exploration levels.

Regardless of age, people reported better moods on days when they explored more, supporting the notion that exploration is linked to psychological well-being.

People who had higher average levels of exploration also reported larger social networks — measured by the number of unique individuals the subjects interacted with via phone calls and direct-messaging platforms.

Adolescents who explored their natural environments more also reported a greater number of risky behaviors (e.g., gambling, heavy drinking, illicit drug use, etc.) — an association not evident in adults.

“These findings point to an important role for exploration in sustaining adolescent well-being and establishing social connectivity,” observes Hartley. “And while risky behaviors undoubtedly pose challenges, a healthy amount of exploration is important, particularly as individuals become adults, gain independence, and form their identities.”

Also Read: Smoking, lack of exercise linked to early death of people with type 2 diabetes: Study

Follow Medically Speaking on Twitter Instagram Facebook

You may also like