Teenagers experience stress just the same as adults. And as with adults, too much stress can lead to stress overload, causing anxiety, irritability, problems sleeping, physical aches and pains, and depression. In fact, information compiled by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that teen stress is a frequently overlooked health issue that can potentially have serious long-term consequences on physical and emotional health. Learning how to cope with stress is key to preventing problems.
Health Care Professionals
If your teen is suffering from too much stress and needs help coping, talking to a health care provider is often the first step. A medical doctor can rule out physical illnesses that could be causing problems, offer advice on how to reduce stress and determine whether a teen needs to see a mental health professional for treatment for managing stress. Doctors also treat health problems that stress causes. Besides increased anxiety, signs that a teen may be under too much stress include headaches, nausea, chronic diarrhea or constipation, asthma, or having more colds than usual. Physical illness can cause or increase stress. According to Cleveland Clinic, while it isn’t certain that stress causes illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders or diabetes, stress can make certain medical conditions worse.
Teenagers who feel overwhelmed by schoolwork, extracurricular activities or peer relationships can talk to teachers and school counselors about how they feel. The school nurse is also there to provide support and help a teen cope with stress and any health-related problems. School counselors work with students in finding solutions to their problems. Teens often find it helps to talk about their problems with someone they trust and who listens. Sometimes just being able to let it all out can help teenagers feel better about what’s bothering them. KidsHealth points out that school counselors are trained to help students with all kinds of problems, not only those relating to grades and school.
Teens who can’t cope with stressful situations on their own sometimes need professional counseling to help them learn how to manage stress more effectively. A licensed counselor or therapist will work with a teen to help her face the issues that are upsetting her so that she can work out her problems. Therapists help teens sort out their feelings in an effort to understand the causes of their stress. While mental health professionals may recommend family therapy, group therapy, biofeedback or medication to help a teen deal with stress, KidsHealth explains that treatment usually involves individual therapy, in which a teen meets with a therapist to talk about what’s worrying her.
Besides talking to school counselors or mental health professionals, a teen may find relief by confiding to his parents what he is thinking and feeling. Parents can also work with professionals or seek advice about how to be supportive of their children. If your teen’s stress level seems too high, the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry recommends watching his behavior. Be cautious about the way you react to stressful situations, as how you manage stress can affect how your child deals with his own stress. Encourage your teen to find activities to help him relax. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and adequate sleep are additional steps a teen can take to help keep stress under control.
- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Confronting Teen Stress – Meeting the Challenge in Baltimore City
- Cleveland Clinic: Stress and Physical Health
- KidsHealth: School Counselors
- KidsHealth: Going to a Therapist
- American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry: Helping Teenagers with Stress
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