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Teens more stressed out than ever, even more than adults

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Survey finds teens more stressed out than adults.

American teenagers are more stressed out than ever - even more so than their parents, according to a new survey published by the American Psychological Association (APA) each year.

This year’s annual survey found that nearly one-third of teens and adolescents consistently reported feeling depressed, sad and overwhelmed due to stress, especially stress from school, which they reported as far greater than what’s healthy.

Indeed, the survey results showed that the average amount of stress reported by teenagers exceeded that which was reported by adults.

In addition to 30 percent of teens feeling depressed because of overwhelming stress, the APA’s “Stress in America” survey found that another 36 percent reported feeling tired from it as well, with 23 percent saying they had even skipped meals as a result.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the average teenager reported the amount of stress they experience routinely was 5.8, compared with 5.1 for adults.

APA chief executive Norman B. Anderson said that the results of the survey are “alarming” as it pertains to teens feeling more stressed than adults. As a nation, he suggests that the “cycle of stress” needs to be broken, and that better support and education on stress management should be offered to help teenagers.

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That’s no surprise to counselors who work with teens on a frequent basis.

Steve Carlock, Director of HeartPointe Counseling in Sheridan, Indiana says that the demands of school, sports, work and other activities competing for a teenager’s time make life stressful.

“Combined with social networking tools and the non-stop onslaught of media, which has become part of our computerized culture, and you have a perfect recipe for stress,” said Carlock.

“Many of the teens I talk to come from broken homes where dysfunction was common, increasing the usual stressors they feel from competition at school,” he added.

Such stressors include more rigorous school testing designed to prepare teens for future college and career plans – which, in some cases, start as soon as middle school.

“That’s too much and too soon for many kids,” said Carlock, who pointed out that such intense focus on the future can actually backfire in some cases, causing kids to become overwhelmed and more stressed than ever.”

Moreover, many teens reported an increase in stress levels over the last year, with 34 percent saying that they expected it would worsen during the coming year.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults, Stress in America™ survey finds similar patterns of unhealthy behavior in teens and adults, especially during school year (Published February 11, 2014)