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Ashley is your typical teenage girl. She has a bunch of friends and gets pretty good grades. She seems to have herself together. No one realizes what she has to go through to keep herself that way. She is trying to balance school, work, and sports. She feels overwhelmed constantly because she feels she has no time. Eventually she breaks down. She stops trying in school, quits her job, and gets kicked off the volleyball team. Large amounts of stress on a teenager can lead them down a destructive path. Sadly this problem occurs every day. Some teenagers are very good at managing their time while others just cannot handle as much on their plate. There are many different causes of stress and even more ways it can affect the person. Some causes of stress may include but are not limited to: expectations from people that matter most, family problems, social problems, and balancing school, extracurricular activities, and work. The effects of stress include symptoms such as cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral.
To begin with, high expectations from family, friends, and teachers along with family problems are two of the most common causes of teenage stress. Let’s start with the high expectations factor. Some parents may not realize that putting too much pressure on a teen to be perfect can damage their self esteem. It leads to stress known as “Hyperstress which occurs when an individual is pushed beyond what he or she can handle” (“Teen Stress-Types”). Parents need to avoid setting unrealistic expectations. For example, straight A’s for many kids may not be easily attained, instead they should opt for A’s and B’s with nothing lower. Provide lots of encouragement and don’t overreact if they are not perfect. It is not only parents who do this. Teachers can be blamed too, especially during high school when there are five different classes and many assignments to get done. Friends can also cause hyperstress by putting a lot of peer pressure on another person. Similarly, problems within the family cause loads of stress on a teenager. According to an article about the top 5 causes of stress family is number one. “Though family is a very important part of our life it could also be a big source of our stress” (Malgaj). Families go through a lot together. There are good times and bad but many people don’t realize that the problems families face together can be biggest stressor. This can include a death, financial problems, divorce or even an addiction within the family. Teenagers may try to act strong when around members of the family, but changes for the worse can be happening in other aspects of their lives.
In the same way, social problems and time management can heighten levels of stress in a teen. Fitting in is not always the simplest thing to do and as a result social problems makes the cut of stressors in a teen’s life. A family therapist said “Peer influences are normal and necessary in our lives” (Hawes). There is no doubt that friends are an important part of a teen’s life. It is good to get feedback from their friends. Friends end up becoming a problem when they are having a negative influence on the person’s life. They may be pressuring them to participate in acts they know are wrong but the teen just wants to fit in so they chose to participate. Friends have one of the biggest influences on a high school student’s personality and lifestyle. Another huge cause of stress is the inability to manage time. “High school student are one of the busiest people in the world. These people study, takes classes, join school activities, and socialize. They have a lot of work in school and at home” (Shin). When teens have trouble balancing everything they need to do in their lives they may become overwhelmed. Managing time is not always the easiest task to overcome. Time management becomes a stressor when a teen realizes they can’t handle everything that is thrown at them. If there is too much and they don’t have any time for themselves they can’t de-stress and move on with the day. It continually builds up until it is unmanageable and the teen breaks down.
On the other hand, the effects of stress can be harder to handle than the causes. There are four main types of stress symptoms. The first two are cognitive and emotional. Included in the cognitive symptom category is negative thinking. “A negative attitude is self-defeating” (Gallozzi). Having a poor attitude will not fix the problem; it will only become more self destroying. A bad attitude can lead to poor judgment. A great example is a straight A student who becomes stressed, begins not taking school seriously, and can potentially end up failing. The teen may then begin to feel everyone is against them and that they have no chance of succeeding in life. One thing leads to another and then they are left with the emotional problems. “Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression if you aren't coping with the stress well” (Hall-Flavin). The effects of stress can have a big emotional toll on a person and can lead to more serious illnesses like depression if not managed properly. Sooner or later it can lead to having to make medicine for the rest of their life. Moodiness and anxiety are also some key symptoms a teen may be stressed out.
Continuing on, physical and behavioral symptoms are two other effects of stress. “For short term 'problems' that can be physically resolved this chemical response is fine and causes no health problems for a fit human body. However most of today's modern problems, situations and issues are not short term and cannot be solved with simple physical re-actions” (“Physical Symptoms Of”). If stress is left untreated it can lead to chronic pain. If a person doesn’t learn how to manage stress to keep up with society your body will pretty much take it on you. “Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death--heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide” (“What are the”). Behavioral symptoms are most likely to be noticed if a person is overly stressed. An example is “Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger” (Stehl). Behavioral changes such as emotional eating and using drugs and alcohol can lead to more serious problems beyond stress but don’t help cope with stress. A teen may begin hanging out with the wrong crowd which can lead to going against their values and beliefs. Stress can really change someone, especially a teenager.
All in all, some causes of stress are high expectations, problems within the family, social problems and not being able to manage time. The effects of stress include symptoms like cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral. People can learn what the triggers of stress are and what warning signs to look out for if a teenager is stressed. Having a person admit they are stressed in not always an easy. Once they figure out what is causing the stress, it is easy to change. That person can either eliminate the problems or participate in a stress relieving activity. So take a deep breath and just relax!
Gallozzi, Chuck. "Negative Thinking." Personal Development. Web. 10 Feb. 2011. <http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/negativethinking.htm>.
Hall-Flavin, Daniel K. "Cronic Stress: Can It Cause Depression?" Stress Managment. Mayo Clinic. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/AN01286>.
Hawes, Liisa. "Articles-The Ins and Outs of Peer Pressure." Calgary Allergy Network Home Page. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <http://www.calgaryallergy.ca/Articles/English/peerpressure.html>.
Malgaj, Luka. "Top Five Causes of Stress." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 8 Feb. 2011. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/top-five-causes-of-stress.html>.
Shin, Gord. "Time Management for High School Students." Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles - ArticlesBase.com. Web. 8 Feb. 2011. <http://www.articlesbase.com/management-articles/time-management-for-high-school-students-28482.html>.
Stehl, Meredith Lutz. "Emotional Eating." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Web. 12 Feb. 2011. <http://kidshealth.org/teen/stress_coping_center/serious_stress/emotional_eating.html>.
"Teen Stress - Types of Stress." Mental Health Center - Anxiety, Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, ADHD - Adults, Teens and Children. Web. 8 Feb. 2011. <http://www.thehealthcenter.info/teen-stress/types-of-stress.htm>.
"What Are the Common Symptoms of Stress." Physical Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <http://www.symptoms-of-stress.com/>.