Teen Stress

All teens experience some amount of stress, but many teens suffer with significant stress levels that rival that of adults.

According to data collected by the American Psychological Association for the Stress in America Survey, teen stress rivals that of adults. Results of the survey show that not only do teens identify that their stress levels are not healthy, but they also underestimate the impact stress has on their mental and physical health.

For teens, the most commonly reported sources of stress are school (83 percent), getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school (69 percent), and financial concerns for their family (65 percent).

Many teens report lying awake at night (35 percent), overeating or eating unhealthy foods (26 percent), and skipping meals (23 percent) due to stress in the past month.

  • Forty percent of teens report feeling irritable or angry, 36 percent report feeling nervous or anxious, 36 percent report feeling fatigued or tired, and 31 percent report feeling overwhelmed due to stress in the past month.
  • More than one-quarter of teens (26 percent) say they snapped at or were short with classmates or teammates when stressed in the last month. Fifty-one percent of teens say someone tells them they seem stressed at least once a month.
  • Teens report that during the school year they have an average stress level of 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared with a level of 4.6 during the summer.

Signs of Stress

All teens experience some amount of stress, and some stress can even be healthy. Many teens, however, struggle with significant stress levels that interfere with learning, relationships, and other areas of functioning. Stress can manifest in different ways, and some symptoms of stress mimic normal teen behaviour. To that end, stress can sneak up on teens. It’s important to know what to look for when it comes to teen stress:

  • Emotional changes: Your teen might appear agitated, anxious, and/or depressed. Pay attention to changes in behaviour.
  • Physical changes: Teens under stress are likely to get sick more often and complain of headaches, stomach-aches, and other aches and pains.
  • Behavioural changes: Look for changes in eating or sleeping habits, and avoidance of normal daily activities.
  • Cognitive changes: You might notice decreased concentration, forgetfulness, and/or the appearance of carelessness.

Academic Stress
From grades to test scores to applying to college, teens experience high levels of school-related stress. Many teens worry about meeting academic demands, pleasing teachers and parents, and keeping up with their classmates. Poor time management skills or feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work can play into academic stress as well.


The research provided in this article is by :
Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC