This study explored sources of stress and psychosocial reactions of adolescents displaced as a result of the war in the Republic of Croatia. The most frequent stressful events they faced were loss of home (80%), loss of personal belongings (66.7%), separation from family members (66.7%), damage to property (48.9%), exposure to enemy attacks (46.7%), and death of a family member or friend (37.8%). Among the most frequent posttraumatic stress reactions were intrusive images (48.9%), loss of interest (40.9%), restlessness (37.8%), appetite disturbances (33.3%), and increased irritability (31.1%). The exposure to a greater number of stressful events was related to increased depression. More posttraumatic stress reactions were evident in females, in adolescents who were exiled for longer periods, and in those whose parents were more anxious. Adolescents who manifested a higher number of stress reactions had poorer expectations regarding their future.
Adolescence, defined here as the transition from childhood to adulthood, is a critical period of development characterized by dramatic physiological, emotional, and cognitive changes. Family values are challenged as the adolescent strives for independence. It is a time when persons become increasingly aware of themselves as social beings, and the establishment of an adult identity, a complex and demanding process, is initiated. Erikson (1982) has stated that the identity established by the end of adolescence includes identifications with past significant figures, modified to fashion a unique and integrated individual.
The adolescent begins to make important decisions, ones that will permanently affect future life. Such decisions involve education, family, and health, and the consequences may lead to confusion, excitement, frustration, or anxiety. It is not surprising, then, that adolescence has been referred to as a …