TEENAGE STRESS Laura sits in her room surrounded by a stack of notes, cramming for a test that she entirely forgot about, while James stares blankly at a college application. He also has the knowledge that he must be at work in 20 minutes, and that his car hardly has any gas left in it. Both of these teenagers suffer from a common dilemma, stress. Stress is a reaction to external and internal pressure. It is a normal function that helps people in their daily lives (‘Stress: Who’).
Without some level of stress, individuals wouldn’t have the motivation to meet deadlines or complete projects (‘Stress: Who’).
However normal stress can become a burden over a long period of time and this leads to chronic stress. chronic stress is what people are referring to when they say that they are ‘stressed out’ (‘Spotlight’).
Stress can become even more overwhelming if chronic stress goes into overload; this is what is known as distress (Romero, B 1).
Since stress is a reaction, there must be a trigger to cause that reaction.
The items that cause the stress reaction are called stressors, and they can fall into three different categories: catastrophes, major life changes, and daily hassles (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
A catastrophe can be described as a sudden calamity that pushes people to their outmost coping abilities. Some examples of catastrophes are: O Earthquakes, Fire, Flood, etc, O War/Torture, O Car accidents, O Violent physical attacks, O Sexual assault (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
... stress. People can be affected by stress without having symptoms of stress. There are four types of stress. There is acute stress, episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and traumatic stress ... a miserable situation. The worst part of chronic stress is that people get used to it and forget that it ... 's there. Chronic stress kills by means of suicide, violence ...
Catastrophes often affect the victim’s mind long after the incident is over (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
– The following form of stressor is major life changes. A few examples of this, is:” u Death,” u Divorce of a parent,” u Imprisonment,” u Disability/Illness (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
The final class of stressor is the daily hassles. These may not appear very stressful but if experienced repeatedly over a long period of time may have very severe effects. Adults face such hassles, as: their jobs, personal relationships, noise, traffic, and owing money (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
However the typical teen has a more specific group of hassles such as:” Job competition,” Living at home,” Financial situations,” Dysfunctional families,” Blended families (‘Teen’).
Although stress is a normal part of everyday actuality, if it is coupled with despair it may lead to suicide. No one is completely sure what causes the shift into depression, therefore it is significant to understand and identify the symptoms of stress. This way, proper coping skills may be engaged before anything that’s life threatening can occur (Scanlon, 26 a).
Stressors, which aggravate symptoms, vary in severity and duration, (‘Stress (psychology) ‘) and may cause mental, emotional, or physical symptoms (Romero, B 1).
Mental symptoms can be as minor as: slight forgetfulness, carelessness, or lack of concentration. Yet they may also be as severe as: not studying, and major drops in school performance (Romero, B 1).
The emotional signals are far easier to detect. Feeling: bored, angry, paranoid, pessimistic, depressed, guilty, anxious, or hostile are common emotional signals (Romero, B 1).
People can also suffer from physical signs of stress such as: v Headaches, v Nervousness, v Rashes, v Increased urination, v Sleep disorders (Romero, B 1).
Laughing / crying for no apparent reason, eating too much or too little, or blaming others for the bad situations they ” re in, are also quite common for terminally stressed people (‘Stress: Who’).
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When the symptoms of stress are not managed properly, there can be a wide range of side effects a person may have. In the long fun if stress isn’t handled properly it could ultimately lead to death (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
As with any other aspect of stress it can have mental, physical, and emotional side effects. It’s more likely that a stressed out person will engage in many adverse behaviors, like:” Smoking,” Drugs / alcohol,” Sleep loss,” Poor eating (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
The classic type ‘A’ personality is much more susceptible to stress then others. Because of their highly competitive personality traits (‘Stress (psychology) ‘) they tend to overreact to stress; they also possess the ‘toxic’ traits of impatience and hostility that make stress harder for them to cope with (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
When type ‘A’s’ are stressed, they may be less cooperative and more aggressive in their personal relationships (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
However most people don’t have a type ‘A’ personality and when they become stressed they tend to have depression and anxiety problems. Depression and anxiety usually lead to withdrawal, because people want to reason out their problems on their own (Scanlon, 26 a).
If the depression and anxiety are not taken care of, the victim may end up committing suicide.
It is even possible for stress to make a person stupid. Research has proven that parts of the brain actually shrink from over exposure to stressful situations (‘Stress: Who’).
Even more alarming then the mental and emotional side effects are the physical effects. Some people may contract ‘bad habits’s uch as: q Teeth clenching, q Hand wringing, q Nail biting, q Pacing, q Heavy breathing (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
There are other minor side effects that people experience, like: butterflies in the stomach, cold / warm hands / feet, dry mouth (‘Stress (psychology) ‘), itching, and pain caused by rashes or acne (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
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Yet these are trivial when compared to the major damage stress is capable of inflicting.
People become more susceptible when exposed to vast quantities of stress (‘Stress (psychology) ‘), because negative events can cause immune system failure (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
Stress also changes the immune system in hormonal ways, (‘Stress (psychology) ‘) and when the immune system is suppressed it can lead to cancer (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease (‘Stress (psychology) ‘), particularly coronary heart disease and some forms of cancer (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
Hypertension (high blood pressure), skin disorders, irritable bowl syndrome (‘Stress (psychology) ‘), respiratory conditions like: asthma, wheezing, panting, feeling suffocated (‘Stress (psychology) ‘), as well as gastrointestinal problems especially ulcers, are very common physical side effects (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
But what really cause people, especially teenagers to become stressed out? ‘Normally people don’t kill themselves because of something that happens to someone else,’ says psychiatrist Michael H. Allen (Scanlon, 26 a).
This is true because, society is causing teenagers stress that wasn’t present in earlier generations (Brody, A 1).
Lifestyles have changed from earlier generations where kids grew up in a relaxed atmosphere and were allowed to play outside without parents worrying. Now days however kids are growing up in a high anxiety society where parents are over protective (Brody, A 1).
‘Mental health services are four times higher then they were forty years ago,’ states Dr.
Wayne A. Yank us (Brody, A 1).
In today’s society doctors are seeing too many patients and don’t have the time to study emotional problems, which are usually undiagnosed, until kids are in their late teens (Brody, A 1).
Pediatricians have identified that depression, eating disorders, adjustment difficulties, hyperactivity, and psychosocial problems have increased from 7% in 1979 to 19% in 1996 (Brody, A 1).
Abnormal Psychology Problem: Excessive Use Of Marijuana Abnormal Psychology Problem: Excessive Use Of Marijuana And Alcohol Case Study Abnormal Psychology Problem Excessive use ... nightmares (2 to 3 times monthly). Appetite: No problems. Sexual function: N/A History of lost consciousness: ... very motivated to fix, or work on the problem. Diagnosis Axis I: Substance abuse, particularly alcohol and ...
ADD, hyperactivity, and ADHD account for a substantial portion of mental health problems in kids’ ages 4 – 15. In fact it occurs in 4 – 12 percent of school age kids (Brody, A 1).
The current statistics seem to be high although ADHD was under diagnosed in the past and is over diagnosed currently (Brody, A 1).
Once the onset of the teenage years set in, hormonal changes take place in the brain, which contribute to behavioral changes (Siegfried).
However it is the mental hormones not the physical ones that alter teenagers’ behavior (Siegfried).
Brain changes may just be evolutions way of preparing a young person for adulthood (Siegfried).
Love, drugs, driving, and peer pressure, put extra stress on children as the mature into teenagers (Siegfried).’s society imposes great stress to the teens of this generation,’ states child psychologist Dr. Allen (Scanlon, 26 a).
Allen also quoted, ‘When children are ill or disabled it not only imposes stress upon them but on the family. This stress occurs mentally and financially,’ (Scanlon, 26 a).
Each year more than half a million kids try to commit suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death in kids ages 5 – 12 and the 2 nd leading cause of death in older teens (Seibold, 8-12).
Despite the fact that adults think that teenagers are nothing more then stressed out, immoral, criminals, the violent crime rate has fallen from 23% in 1994 to 12% in 1997 (Seibold, 8-12).
Like the violent crime rate, teen pregnancies and abortions are also on the wane (Seibold, 8-12).
Teen drug rates have declined in the general population as well (Seibold, 8-12).
The teens of this generation have been putting forth more energy into extra circular activities as well as learning better coping skills.
Learning to cope properly all depends on what responses the person needs to control, their attitudes and their outlook on life (Seibold, 8-12).
First of all, never think that suicidal thoughts are normal (Scanlon, 26 a).
There may be times that stress never seems to get any better. Don’t give up! It’s a danger sign leading to suicide (‘Stress: Who’).
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Anyone with stress, especially teens, needs to connect with someone outside of the family so that they have someone to talk to (Scanlon, 26 a); talking about emotions and feeling helps make people feel better in the long run (Stress: Who’).
In order to avoid self-destruction teenagers need to understand the differences between normal and abnormal behaviors (Siegfried).
There are harmful ways to relieve stress, such as drugs and alcohol. The only problems with these methods are that they usually lead to more stress and problems, like:’ Addiction, ‘ Family problems,’ Health problems (‘Stress: Who’).
There are good ways to handle stress however, such as: SS Making a list of stressor’s, SS Control what is possible to control, SS Take a break, SS Find someone to talk to (‘Stress: Who’).
It has been proven that people who have animal companions have lower stress levels. Aerobic exercises such as: running, walking, biking, and skiing will help to relieve hypertension, tension headaches, and chronic pain (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
Some other good ways to relieve stress include:” u Good decision making skills,” u Getting enough rest,” u Being physically active,” u Managing time,” u Writing in a journal,” u Spending time with friends,” u Talking to a trusted adult,” u Having a sense of humor (‘Stress: Mental’).
There is also a technique called biofeedback. In biofeedback people are taught how to recognize minute changes in their bodies response system, and voluntarily be able to control them (‘Stress (psychology) ‘).
Parents seem to think that adolescence is a time of fun and being carefree (Siebold).
This is far from the truth, parent’s need to learn the symptoms and be able to identify them, in their children. That way they can teach their kids coping skills, and stress management (Siebold).
However some parent’s believe that the increased stress level of teenagers is because of higher poverty levels and more single parenting (Brody, A 1).
Regardless of what they think the problem is, here are a few tips for parent’s to help keep their kids more stress free: O Be a parent not a friend Give kids limitations, O Get involved in what they are doing, O Set a good example, O Avoid unnecessary worries, O Be organized, O Recognize symptoms of stress (Seibold).
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When Laura and James, along with millions of other teens in this world learn how to cope and mange their time, stress will become less of a factor in their lives. Perhaps then, when today’s teens become parents, their kids can enjoy a world where they will be able to grow up normally and not be tired and stressed.
Bibliography Brody, Leslie. ‘Kids’ Emotional Problems Surging Disorders are Linked to Stressful Lifestyles?’ The Record. (Hackensack, NJ).
CD Newsbank. 6 June 2000. Romero, Heather.
‘Teens Tackle Busy Lifestyle/Students Exert Extra Effort Daily for School, Jobs, and Activities.’ The Arizona Republic. (Phoenix, AZ).
CD Newsbank. 23 August 2000. Scanlon, Bill. ‘Stress Coupled with Despair can Spur Suicide, Experts say.’ Denver Mountain News.
CD Newsbank. 23 October 2000. Seibold, Douglas.
‘The Kids are All Right.’ Our Children. April 1999: pp. 8-12. in Social Issues Research Series, Inc. Siegfried, Tom. ‘Adolescents’ Risky Rebellion Reflects rewiring in the Brain.’ Dallas News.
CD Newsbank. 21 August 2000.’s pot light on Stress.’ 17 November 2000. web matter / feelings /stress p 4. html.’s tress: Mental or Physical Tension?’ 20 November 2000.
web /~ WWI ct / teen /stress. html.’s tress (psychology).’ Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999.’s tress: Who has Time for It?’ 17 November 2000. web handouts/278. html.’ Teen Stress.’ 17 November 2000. web teen stress.