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Identifying Stress and Stress Triggers in Teens

Identifying Stress and Stress Triggers in Teens

Adolescence is a time in a young person’s life that is filled challenging lessons, immense physical growth, surging hormones, a newfound need for autonomy and all else needed to assist a young person’s development into adulthood. Societal norms and the subliminal pressures associated with American culture can be severely overwhelming to young people. The Cleveland Clinic describes stress as “a normal reaction the body has when changes occur, resulting in physical, emotional and intellectual responses.” Stress responses are designed to help a teenager adjust to new situations. Stress can be useful as it can help a teen remain alert, motived, and prepared to avoid danger. Stress can produce unwanted symptoms when stressors persist without a teenager experiencing periods of relaxation or relief. When a young person experiences chronic, long-term stress he or she is at increased risk for developing adverse physiological effects.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress

There are behavioral, physical, and emotional signs and symptoms that can manifest because of prolonged stress. The Mayo Clinic provides the following examples:

  • Physical symptoms of stress:
  • Chest pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle tension
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Weakened immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Emotional symptoms of stress:
  • Panic attacks
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fear of missing out
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Behavioral signs and symptoms of stress:
  • Avoids previously enjoyed pastimes
  • Sleep disturbances (e.g., sleeps too much or too little)
  • Overeats
  • Substance abuse and/ or excessive drinking
  • Engaging in risky behavior (e.g., unsafe sex)
  • Social withdrawal

In situations where chronic stress is left untreated it could lead to a variety of unwanted health complications, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and/ or obesity.

Stress Triggers

There are a variety of contributing factors that could contribute to a young person’s stress. Some common teenage stress triggers, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry include: 

  • Schoolwork (e.g., homework, projects, exams, etc.)
  • Extracurricular commitments
  • Problems with school friends and/ or peers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Body changes
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being overscheduled 
  • Family financial problems
  • Moving 
  • Switching school

The internal and external pressures placed on adolescents can be crushing. Often teenagers internalize increased stress when encountered with a situation that is perceived as painful, difficult, and/ or dangerous. Learning different coping mechanisms and various stress management skills can be advantageous for any teen.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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