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What Stresses Teens Out

Armen Hareyan's picture

Teen stress is not just about getting good grades and messy breakups anymore. The fast-paced world we live in has given way to a host of new pressures that young people, especially young women, face. This trend can be seen in girls all across the country from small towns to Hollywood. But what are some of the factors that contribute to this new wave of stress and how is it affecting teens' behavior? To answer these questions, BAN(R) antiperspirant/deodorant partnered with Seventeen.com to host an online poll of young women across the country. Here are some of the results:

-- 21% of young girls said they turn to comfort food after they have a bad day

-- 11% said they eat junk food like ice cream after a stressful event like failing a biology test

-- 44% said their personality leans towards "up and down" depending upon their mood

-- Nearly one-Fifth of respondents said they would be voted "most likely to stress out" by their classmates

-- 37% described themselves as emotional eaters, saying they always want to eat when they're happy or that eating is the only thing that gets them over the blues

-- 12% said that the best time for indulging in alcohol or junk food like pizza is as a way to "cheer up"

In order to gain further insight into the findings of the survey, BAN(R) enlisted the help of Dr. Michelle Pearlman, a clinical psychologist with her own private practice in New York City. Through her work with children, adolescents and their parents, Dr. Pearlman has studied some of the factors that contribute to adolescent stress.

1. The Internet - The rise of websites like Myspace and Facebook have given young people less time to themselves, as they are constantly connected to their friends and peers. While these websites can be beneficial and affect teens' relationships with one another in a positive way, they can also lead to more opportunities for gossip and rumors to spread.

2. The Quest for Perfection - When Britney Spears recently appeared on MTV her weight was criticized all over television and on the internet. The onslaught of messages like these can contribute to lower self-esteem and stress about one's physical appearance.

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3. Overscheduling - With the increased pressures of getting into college, teens today have more pressure than ever before to not only maintain good grades but have a host of extracurricular activities to put on their college applications. Teens need time to relax and unwind perhaps just as adults do.

"Girls handle their emotions differently than boys and, as a result, are twice as likely as boys to suffer from depression," says Dr. Pearlman. "Too much stress is a factor that often leads to feelings of depression so it is very important for teens to try to manage stress and for parents to be involved too." When it comes to managing stress, Dr. Pearlman recommends that teens do things such as:

-- pay attention to situations that trigger feelings of stress and then use relaxation strategies (such as deep breathing and visualization) to keep those feelings under control

-- Decrease negative self-statements and increase positive self-statements

-- Take breaks by talking to friends, exercising, listening to music, etc.

-- Ask for support or help if they need it

Dr. Pearlman recommends that parents do all they can to prevent stress from getting out of control. For example, she recommends that parents:

-- Monitor the time their children spend online

-- Ask to see their children's Myspace and Facebook pages

-- Talk and, most importantly, listen to what teens have to say about their day to day lives

-- Make everyone sit down and have dinner as a family so they can find out about their teens' lives

-- Use young celebrities as examples to talk to teens about things like drug abuse, weight loss and gain and sex