Teenagers and Stress

There are a number of events in life that cause teenagers to experience stress. Such events, which are called stressors can include changing schools, going on a first date, competing in sports, having a job, participation in extracurricular activities and throwing a party. Teenagers can also feel under stress if there are high expectations placed upon them by parents and teachers, if they are ahead or behind their peers in physical development, or if there is family dysfunction such as abuse or alcoholism at home.

If a teenager allows stressors he or she is dealing with to pile up and does not deal with them in a proper manner, he or she will experience distress. Too much emotional and mental stress can cause teenagers to go into a physical state of distress. The stress depletes the brain of important chemicals needed to regulate emotion which results in physical and mental symptoms that can disrupt enjoyment of normal life.

In addition, if the so called "happy" neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine, fail, a person's tolerance to stress declines even more. Poor diet, lack of regular sleep, as well as lack of physical exercise all make it harder for the body to replenish its stores of these chemicals when they are depleted.

Too much stress can have many adverse side effects. Stress can make a teenager more susceptible to illness. A teenager under stress can feel very tired and ill-equipped to deal with challenges in life. Distress can cause depression, a constant sense of boredom, severe emotional upset, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers among other things. A teenager needs to learn proper coping techniques early in order to avoid a lifetime of constant overstress.

A teenager can cope with stress in numerous ways. It is important for teenagers to learn to assess their stress levels and realize when they are getting out of control. When they notice excessive stress levels, it is essential to find ways to relieve stress.

To cope with stress one can define sleeping hours and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Taking breaks during stressful activities and avoiding being overloaded with obligations can also help cope with stress. One can also eat a healthy diet low in sugar and high in fiber and avoid making major changes in life during high stress periods. Regular exercise of at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes and taking time off from work and school activities can also help teenagers avoid overstress.

There is also a range of treatment options available to teenagers to cope with stress. There are many non-prescription alternatives for stress management on the market. Some of these alternatives contain supplemental vitamins and minerals. Other alternatives contain herbal alternatives that have been used to naturally alleviate stress.

Behavioral therapy can help teenagers to weaken the connections between troublesome situations and the habitual reactions to them. Reactions common to stress, including irritability, anxiety, depression, self-damaging behavior and anger, can be controlled. Behavioral therapy can teach teenagers how to calm their mind and body in order to feel better, think more clearly and make better decisions.

Cognitive therapy can teach teenagers how certain thinking patterns are causing their symptoms. Such thinking patterns can give a distorted picture of what is going on in one's life and make him or her feel anxious, depressed or angry for no apparent reason. They can also provoke one into negative actions. If one resolves the cognitive aspect of stress, he or she will face less worrying and unpleasant thought while also having a positive outlook on life.

As part of literary therapy, one incorporates books and other research materials into the process of healing. One can acquire in-depth knowledge about his or her problems by gathering information about stress. Such knowledge provides a person with the essential tools for controlling and resolving his or her issues. There is an extensive amount of information available from various perspectives, including in books from a local library or on the Internet.

Talk therapy refers to the idea of healing through communication. A teenager can find support for dealing with stress while taking to friends, family members or a therapist. Since communication comes naturally to humans, the simple act of talking over one's problems can be of great help in the healing process.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence
Inge Seiffge-Krenke.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Adolescents' Health: A Developmental Perspective
Inge Seiffge-Krenke.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Links between Stress and Health"
Handbook of Psychology and Health
Andrew F. Baum; Jerome E. Singer.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, vol.2, 1982
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Hypertension in Adolescents"
Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Perspectives on Stress and Coping
E. Mark Cummings; Anita L. Greene; Katherine H. Karraker.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Stress during Childhood and Adolescence: Sources of Risk and Vulnerability"
All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis
David Elkind.
Perseus Publishing, 1998 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part III "Result: Stress and Its Aftermath"
Soothing and Stress
Michael Lewis; Douglas Ramsay.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Getting Specific about Coping: Effortful and Involuntary Responses to Stress in Development"
Stress, Coping, and Resiliency in Children and Families
E. Mavis Hetherington; Elaine A. Blechman.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Stress, Parenting, and Adolescent Psychopathology in Nondivorced and Stepfamilies: A Within-Family Perspective"
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon
David Elkind.
Perseus Publishing, 1988 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part II "Hurried Children: Stressed Children"
Search for more books and articles on teenagers and stress