Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Children's and parenting health centre

This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Stressed out teens

Dealing with teenage stress
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Remember being a teenager? The best time of your life, young and carefree, no responsibilities, living rent free at home with the world at your feet. Those were the days!

Think a bit harder and you may recall the flip-side of teenage life. Exams, feeling powerless, scared about growing up, not to mention hassle from your parents.

For teenagers it's not always a bed of roses. Many are stressed out and don't know how to deal with it.

What are the causes of teenage stress?

Exams and tests

"There are a lot of teenage stresses which adults aren't under anymore that they may have forgotten about," says Nicola Morgan, author of Blame My Brain; The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed!

She says: "There's the relentless nature of exams and continual assessments. It's high pressure and puts teenagers consistently under stress."

Nicola has carried out her own online survey for an upcoming guide to teenage stress and has found that the biggest worry for teenagers is exams and tests at school.

Brain overload

Too many commitments can crowd a teenage mind. They may have homework, chores, a part time job and belong to a sports club not to mention a burgeoning social life.

There's also the need that some teenagers have to be constantly in touch on phones, or instant messaging. Then there's the pull of social networking, which is hard for some teenagers to extricate themselves from.

Trying to fit everything in and not miss anything is a tricky ask for teenagers. The inability to switch off can cause anxiety.

Fear of the future

As a teenager people start to ask: "What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do with your life?"

They probably won't know and may feel stressed by having to make decisions which could have an impact on their future lives and careers.

The further away from childhood and the closer to being an adult a teen becomes makes them realise they're going to have to separate from their parents, make decisions and do things by themselves.

"Fear of the future is a common stress," says Nicola. "Teenagers may see their parents struggling with money and work. They may worry about finding a partner, having a good job or being able to pay the bills."

"Adults also have these worries but they have the life experience to deal with them, teenagers just worry that bad things may happen to them in the years ahead," she says.

Finding an identity

Teenagers are forming opinions, deciding what they like and dislike, working out what sort of person they are.

"Teenagers do have different stresses to adults," says clinical psychologist Linda Blair, "often based around their need to identify who they are as an individual and what everyone thinks of them."

There's a lot of concern amongst both boys and girls about appearance and wearing the right clothes.

Being liked and having friends is also a big cause of anxiety for teens. A fall out at school can seem like a full-scale tragedy.

Linda, author of The Key to Calm, says: "Everything is so magnified to a teenager, two hairs out of place is the equivalent to 4,000 hairs out of place."

She says: "They have to go through it to figure out who they are."

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
Treating your child's cold or fever
fifth disease
Illnesses every parent should know
spoonfull of sugar
Surprising things that harm your liver
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
What your nails say about your health