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What Happens to Overworked Teens?

by Ashley Miller, studioD

The teen years are stressful enough without the added pressure of academic concerns, job responsibilities and worries about the future. Teens must often deal with hormonal changes, peer pressure, family issues and a host of other problems that can make the adolescent years trying for both parents and teens alike. Teens who are overworked and overstressed might face many additional physical and mental consequences that may compromise their well-being and ability to function at an optimal level.


Teens who are too busy and overworked might have an increased risk of developing burnout. Burnout is a term used to refer to the psychological and physical effects of being pushed beyond the limits of what you can handle. Teens with burnout might experience difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety or feelings of nervousness. They also might become easily angered, display attitude changes or lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, says Dr. Vivien Brown, a family physician in Toronto, in an interview with "Canadian Living" magazine.

Decreased Free Time

All teens need time to unwind, relax and have fun. Too much work and not enough free time can have a detrimental impact on many teens. In an interview on HuffingtonPost.com, Harris Cooper, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, says that free time, or "play time," is essential for developing normal social skills, preventing obesity and promoting brain development. A teen who doesn't have enough time to blow off steam and just be a normal kid might experience some of these negative effects and suffer from a build up of pressure and stress.

Unhealthy Behaviors

Sometimes, teens who are overloaded with work and stress might engage in unhealthy or even self-destructive behaviors. When teens are unable to productively and effectively manage stress and work overload, they might feel like they have nowhere else to turn but toward negative behaviors. Some teens might engage in behaviors like over-eating, smoking or using alcohol or drugs as a way of self-soothing and handling stress. Others might avoid parents, lose interest in long-term friendships or display hostility toward family members, according to the American Psychological Association.

Physical Problems

Overworked teens are more inclined to develop physical problems. The stress response, or the instinctive fight-or-flight mechanism that provides signals to your body to flee or take action, can become overstimulated in situations of long-term stress, say authors Clea McNeely and Jayne Blanchard in a publication for the Center for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In such cases, your teen might experience a weakened immune system, increased headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain or physical fatigue.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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