Teen Stress

Danger!  Warning Signs of Teen Stress Overload

Are you sad, tired, frustrated, mad, or confused all the time? Do you constantly seem stressed out? These are danger signs that point to stress overload and you should be aware of the warning signs.

Teen stress is a normal part of life as you participate in school, sports and other extracurricular activities, and engage in various relationships. But pressure to excel or outside influences can cause teens to experience too much stress, to the point of an anxiety disorder or other serious mental health problem.

If you suddenly feel or experience the following, pay attention! If you:

  • Have lost interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Don't sleep or eat well
  • Want to be alone and avoid friends and family
  • Daydream and don't want to do things
  • Think or talk about suicide or feel that life is just too hard to live
  • Hear voices
  • Experience a sudden drop off in your grades
  • Grieve for an abnormally long time after a death
  • Feel guilty or worthless
  • Show extreme anger and/or sadness and overreact to many things
  • Worry constantly about appearance and/or physical problems
  • Are afraid constantly
  • Get multiple headaches and stomachaches
  • Forget and don't want to study
  • Withdraw from social situations
  • Sweat profusely and/or experience an increase in needing to go to the bathroom
  • Can't make decisions and or concentrate well
  • Have constant nightmares
  • Turn to drugs or alcohol
  • Eat way too much or diet way too much
  • Exercise obsessively
  • Break the law and/or hurt others
  • Take extreme risks

All of the above are danger signs that warn of more serious problems and/or are serious problems in themselves. If you are experiencing any of the above, get help. Additionally, the following questions can help you determine whether you are in danger of stress overload:

  1. Have you recently gone through a traumatic event such as a move, death of a loved one, major relationship change? 
  2. Are you frequently teased?
  3. Are you overscheduled with your activities? 
  4. Have you experienced any of the above listed physical symptoms (i.e. headaches, tired, low motivation)? 
  5. Do you feel emotionally out of control (i.e. extreme anger, sadness, or hopelessness)?

Dealing with stress overload can sometimes be as simple as better prioritizing you life or can be as complicated as needing outside help such as counseling and additional therapy. Speaking with teachers, parents, the family doctor, or counselors can be a first step in determining what is best for you.

Warning Signs of Teen Stress Sources

  1. Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration "Teen Mental Health Problems: What Are The Warning Signs," [online].
  2. Holistic Stress Control Institute, "What is Stress," [online].
  3. Center for Adolescent Health, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "Confronting Teen Stress, Meeting the Challenge in Baltimore City," [pdf online]

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