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What Are the Causes of Stress Among Teenagers?

Updated July 19, 2017

Teenagers are just as familiar with stress as adults. In addition to academic pressures, sports, and school activities, teens also deal with pressures about sex, drugs, bullying, divorce, death, homelessness and even whether they can afford college. The challenges of life can be overwhelming for teenagers who often feel helpless to do anything about them. So, it's important to identify those stress triggers and help teens learn how to cope with stress.

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Pressure triggers that may cause stress in the life a teenager include school, future career, home and relationships. School creates academic and future-career stress for teens who must perform well in school in order to be accepted into a good college to position them for a successful career. Students deal with fitting in, body image, dating frustrations and pressure to try sex, drugs or alcohol. Teenagers who are actively involved at school risk taking on unnecessary stress participating in too many extra-curricular activities or sports. And bullying causes intense stress for those students who deal with bullying on physical and emotional levels.

If family life isn't stable for teens, they could face the stress of unavailable parents who may have to work long hours or more than one job. Arguments between the teen and parents or intense arguing between parents can cause added stress and fear of divorce.

Stress Overload

Stress begins to take its toll on teenagers when it involves intense situations or circumstances that continue over a long period of time. Teenagers tend to experience this type of stress if there's violence, intense family conflicts, a bad break up with friends or dating partner or even when it's a subject the teen is having difficulty understanding. If left unresolved, stress overload can affect teenagers on physical, mental and emotional levels.

Physical Symptoms

Although stress can motivate a student to achieve her goals, it can also have a negative impact as well. Some physical symptoms of stress to look for include stomach aches, loss of appetite, headaches, nervousness, nail biting, insomnia and perspiration. Any of these could be related to other symptoms of stress.

Mental Symptoms

Physical symptoms of stress can be accompanied by mental signs such as an inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, a drop in grades or carelessness.

Emotional Symptoms

Teenagers who are feeling distressed cans exhibit emotional symptoms of stress that can include depression, anxiety, boredom, nightmares, outbursts of anger, fighting and becoming withdrawn.

Stress Management

Teenagers must learn to manage stress just as adults. If studying, extra activities and sports are causing stress a teenager isn't able to handle, then it's wise to drop one or two activities. Teens need to enjoy recreation and relaxation. It allows the mind and body needed rest in order to continue functioning properly. The Wholistic Stress Control Institute suggests teenagers set realistic goals and expectations to avoid stress and disappointment. Teens should also talk to teachers, school counsellors and parents about any problems causing them stress.

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About the Author

Payton Pritchard

Payton Pritchard is a writer, graphic designer and adjunct instructor. She got her start in journalism in 1996 writing and designing newsletters and writing for newspaper before switching to radio news for eight years. Pritchard has a Bachelor of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in journalism and graphic design from Truman State University and Sullivan College of Technology and Design, respectively.

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