The Differences Between Teen and Adult Stress

We all know that going through our teenage years can be difficult. There are pressures from school, difficulties with parents, peer pressure, bodily changes and an abundance of hormones. But as adults, isn’t stress a reality too? Of course it is, however, the truth is that the stress that teens experience and how they experience it differs from adult stress. Understanding these differences can help create understanding for how and why teens act the way they do.

One key difference between teen and adult stress is the source that it comes from. Whereas adult stress often stems from work, finances, health or family, for teens the source of stress often emerges out of relationships with parents, school, self-image and peer pressure. What’s important to note here is that for teens, these stresses can often fluctuate and grow throughout the year. For example, during exam season or when several school assignments are due, students tend to experience a lot more pressure and stress than during the summer months. This increased stress and how it will look from term to term can be difficult to anticipate, however, making it hard for teens to develop appropriate coping mechanisms and strategies.


Another factor to consider is how teens report feeling as a result of their stress. For many, (31 percent according to an APA study), they feel depressed or sad as a result of stress while nearly a quarter of teens stated that they skip meals due to stress. Unfortunately, even with high reports of these negative effects of stress, more than 50 percent of teens interviewed stated that stress has little impact on their physical and mental health, a figure that was nearly 10 percent higher than adults. This is significant because it suggests that teens do not have a strong awareness about the impact of stress and the need to address it properly.

Perhaps, therefore, the biggest difference between teen and adult stress is how it is dealt with. While more teens report feeling stressed than adults, fewer see the impact it has on them. As parents, teachers and mentors, it’s important to help teens build positive coping and relaxation strategies for teens so that they are well-equipped to face their daily sources of stress.