According to a recent study conducted by the American Psychology Association, teens are reporting that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy, and tops adults’ average reported stress level in the past month.
- Thirty-one percent of teens say that their stress level has increased in the past year and 34 percent believe their stress levels will increase in the coming year.
And if teen stress is not dealt with properly, according to the annual Teens and Parents Columbia University report, the chance of them engaging in ‘worsening’ behavior increases. This includes using alcohol or drugs, or experiencing depression that can lead to self-harm or harm to others.
Keeping an eye out for the signs of stress — for yourself or your teen — is important. Warning signs can include poor sleep, anger outbursts, anxiety, overeating or undereating, withdrawal, or lack of motivation.
If you are a parent, learning to manage your own stress can be a good model for your children — and others. Such common sense changes — such as proper exercise and nutrition, enough sleep, examining and modifying workload, communicating in a calm manner — can become habits that others in your family can take on.
As always, keeping the lines of communication open between parents and teens is a critical step in dealing with issues around stress and dangerous behaviors that can accompany it. Encourage your teen to talk, to share. Help him/her strategize how to cope with school workload, with problems with friends — with all the things than can trigger stress.
Links to more information:
- Stress in America™ 2013 Highlights: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits? – American Psychological Association
- Study: Today’s teens more stressed than adults – San Francisco Chronicle
- America’s Teens Outscore Adults On Stress – Time Magazine
- Teens Using Drugs to Cope with Stress, Parents Underestimating Pressures (2008 report) – Partnership for a Drug-Free America
- The Teen Years Explained (PDF) – Johns Hopkins University
- Teen pitfall: Stress can lead to depression, drug use – ABC7 News, Denver
- Stressed Out: Teens and Adults Respond Differently – National Science Foundation
- National Survey American Attitudes on Substance Abuse Teens 2012 – Casa Columbia
- Stress and Coping Center for Teens – TeenHealth from Nemours
- Helping Teenagers With Stress – aacap.org
- Teen Stress: How Much is Too Much? – Psychology Today