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Teens More Stressed Than Adults

Teens are feeling more stressed than adults and it’s affecting every aspect of their lives according to the results from a new national survey. The 2013 “Stress in America” survey...

Teens are feeling more stressed than adults and it’s affecting every aspect of their lives according to the results from a new national survey.

The 2013 “Stress in America” survey involved responses from 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens. Teens reported that during the school year an average stress level of 5.8. That is way above 3.9, which is considered a normal level of stress. Even during the summer months, when the stress level typically decreases, teens averaged a 4.6 score. Ten was the highest score on the stress scale.  

Adults reported more stress as well with an average of 5.1 on the scale.

Teens reported that their main stressor was school, with one out of ten saying that stress led to lower grades. Money was the top reason given for stess among adults, followed by work and the economy.

Thirty-one percent of the teens reported feeling overwhelmed and thirty percent said they feel depressed or sad. Adolescent girls were more likely to feel down from stress than boys, which holds true in the adult population with more women reporting feeling depressed than men. 

 This is the first time the group has focused on teen stress. Other research has studied teen depression and other mental health concerns, but officials say this may be the most comprehensive national look at stress in teens to date. Despite anecdotal reports of high stress, researchers say stress itself in adolescents hasn't been studied broadly; global comparisons have focused on adult stress rather than teens.

Teens reported feeling irritable, angry, nervous, anxious and tired at around the same rate as adults. More than one-third of teens said they were exhausted due to the stress in their lives, and 25 percent skipped a meal because of the added pressure.

Teens seem to realize they are not doing enough to manage their stress with four out of 10 reporting that weren’t actively working towards finding positive ways to cope with their stress and thirteen percent saying that they didn’t do anything to help deal with the added pressure on their lives.

“It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults. It is even more concerning that they seem to underestimate the potential impact that stress has on their physical and mental health,” APA CEO and executive vice president Norman B. Anderson said in a press release.  “In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health care professionals.”

Like adults, stressed kids are not getting enough sleep, overeating, and not exercising.

“When spending time with teens, we can encourage them to exercise, eat well, get the sleep they need and seek support from health care professionals like psychologists to help them develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress sooner rather than later,” said Anderson.

How parents handle stress impacts how their children are able to handle stress. Family dinners together or time that is specifically set aside for family discussions provide a good opportunity to discuss what is going on in each others lives. Talk to your kids about your day and what events caused you stress, what you learned from them and how you handled them. Ask your child to be honest about the kinds of things that make them feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s not a parent’s job to try and protect their children from everything that is unpleasant, but to teach them positive coping mechanisms so they can grow into healthy and happy adults.

Source: Michelle Castillo, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stress-in-america-survey-reveals-teens-feel-more-pressure-than-adults/

Sharon Jayson, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/11/stress-teens-psychological/5266739/

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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