Social situation, college applications, identity issues—many aspects of a teen’s life can make them stressed. Although the occasional bit of stress is normal for everybody, regular or recurring stress can have a negative impact on an individual’s well-being and relationships. We’ve identified five clear signs to watch for if you think your teen is feeling overwhelmed, so you can step in and help them feel better.
Frequent Headaches and Pains
Many teens experience physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches when they’re dealing with significant stress. If your teen is constantly complaining of aches and pains or they’ve been making frequent trips to the school nurse, their physical ailments could be due to stress. If this is left untreated, your teen could become vulnerable to illnesses. An appointment with the family doctor can help identify whether it’s stress or another cause of these pains.
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Excess stress can make it difficult to sleep, and even lead to insomnia. If your teen is having trouble falling or staying asleep, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Teens need about 8–10 hours of sleep each night, although many don’t get enough. However, there may be other reasons such as staying up late to watch TV or play video games. If your teen often mentions that they feel tired, check in with them and ask if something’s been keeping them up at night.
Sudden Bursts of Anger
If you’ve noticed your teen behaving in an abnormally angry or disruptive manner, it could be because they don’t know how to deal with their stress. Teens who are under a lot of pressure often lash out at parents and avoid spending time with family as a way to try and hide their stress. While this doesn’t excuse their disrespectful actions, it can provide you some insight into your teen’s sudden change in behavior so you’ll be ready to respond to it.
Lack of Concentration
When teens are stressed, it’s hard for them to stay focused on their schoolwork. As a result, your teen’s grades may suffer. Or you may notice that your teen seems preoccupied whenever they’re doing a household chore or when you’re talking to them. This could be because they have something pressing on their mind.
Withdrawal From Others
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If your teen normally has an active social life but has been spending a lot more time alone lately, they might be dealing with stressors that make them want to isolate themselves from their peers. Although your teen may think isolation will help them deal with stress, loneliness can cause further problems, like depression.
Many teens find it difficult to talk to someone when they’re experiencing overwhelming levels of stress. If you notice any of these signs in your teen, gently ask them how they’ve been doing and if there’s anything you can do to support them. If your teen admits they’ve been too stressed to function normally, it may be time to seek professional help. When left unmanaged, stress can have long-term negative effects on a person’s physical health and mental health so it’s crucial that your teen gets the help they need.
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