The American Psychological Association has found that high levels of stress are extremely common among teenagers.
The APA also reports that school is the number one stress factor for teenagers. Stress unmanaged can quickly turn into depression if your teen doesn’t have healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Here are 5 signs your teen’s stress levels are too high and might need advice on how to better cope.
- Your teen is sick a lot
Complaining of a headache or stomachache a lot may be a sign of stress, especially if it coincides with the days before tests or other big school events, or if your teen is using health complaints to get out of going to school. Chronic pain could be a sign of something more serious, but as long as a doctor has proclaimed them physically healthy, physical complaints are often stress-related. Stress also reduces your immune system, so getting colds or flus often can also be a sign of high stress levels.
- Your teen is irritable and hostile
Being irritable and hostile with family members is a sign that your teen is not coping healthily with stressors. Just like adults, when a teen is easily frustrated or stressed by small problems that normally would not affect them, it may mean their stress levels are higher than normal and they are having trouble coping with small problems. Teens also have a tendency to lash out at family members when they are stressed out.
- Your teen isolates him/herself
A loss of interest in socializing, either with family or with friends, is a sign that your teen is having trouble coping healthily with problems. A loss of interest in activities and isolating oneself are also signs of depression, so it may be time to talk to your teen about stress and coping mechanisms.
- Your teen has nervous habits
Unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety and anxious habits like chewing on fingernails or hair or tapping feet. Watch for nervous habits to see if they are related to stressful events in your teen’s life.
- Your teen has turned to alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs
Many teens who have not developed healthy coping strategies are tempted by alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs as ways to deal with stress. Talk to them about finding healthier ways to cope with anxieties and stressors that will help them throughout their lives.
If your teen is developing these unhealthy behaviors, it may be time to get professional help. Counseling can teach your teen healthy coping behaviors that will benefit them for the rest of their life. If you’re not sure about counseling, talk to your teen about healthy ways to cope with stress and watch for signs that his or her stress levels are unhealthily high.
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