What Causes Teen Stress

Stressed? Blame stressors. Stressors are events in your life that cause stress. Teenagers experience a myriad of different stressors. And a first step in controlling stress is identifying the stressors.

First of all, not all stressors are bad, there are good stressors that activate the right hormones to enhance and quicken your response in stressful situations. A deer darting in front of your car will power up your fight or flight response and help you to slam on your brakes. Poised at the starting line at a large track meet and your nervousness will initiate your body to become taunt and ready for action. Stressors can really help you out in a pinch, however, when stressors are a constant draining part of your life, then you need to learn how to control and combat them.

Remember that not all stressors are bad, but identifying the good and bad stressors in your life will help you to prioritize, learn stress techniques and in some cases get needed help before the stress leads to physical or emotional harm. Some of the stressors teens deal with include the following:

  • Moving to a new home and school
  • Dating
  • Tests and homework
  • Too-high expectations
  • Sports and other extracurricular activities
  • Employment
  • Social backwardness
  • Too much to do
  • Too fast or too slow physical development
  • Family problems including abuse and alcohol
  • Owning a car
  • Relationships with friends
  • Having a boyfriend or a girlfriend
  • Not achieving something that you really wanted
  • Money problems

Interestingly enough, a study called “Shifting the Lens: A focus on stress and coping among East Baltimore African American adolescents” found that out of list of 16 stressors, the five stressors most frequently felt were “school work (78%),parents (68%), romantic relationships (64%), friends’ problems (64%), and younger siblings (64%).” The five stressors that the youth cited as causing the most worry included “school work (68%), parents (56%), friends’ problems (52%),romantic relationships (48%), and drugs in the neighborhood (48%).” Friends and family are both cures and causes for bad stressors so it can work both ways.

When stress overloads your life, you’ll feel it both physically and emotionally. Your neurotransmitters in your brain will begin to fail. The first one normally to temporarily shut down is your body clock, and this usually causes sleeplessness. The second one is in charge of energy levels and that will cause a decrease of wanting to get things done. The final neurotransmitter is in the pleasure part of the brain and will cause sadness and can cause depression. As these shut down, it becomes harder to react to stress, so it is important to understand, prevent, and/or combat the bad teen stressors. In another article, we will explore signs of too much stress, prevention and tips for coping with the stressors in your life.

Teen Stress Causes Sources:

  1. The Health Center: What causes stress in teens? [online]
  2. Wholistic Stress Control Institute [online]
  3. Confronting Teen Stress: Meeting the Challenge in Baltimore City [online].