How to Identify Stress in Teenagers


Just as adults deal with stress from various sources, teens also must navigate overwhelming and stressful situations. From school to family to peers and friends, teenagers experience anxiety and worry. While some amount of stress can be positive, if a teen becomes overwhelmed and anxious, unhealthy coping strategies may seem tempting to a teenager. By monitoring your teenager, you can watch for signs of stress and provide healthier options for coping.

  • Observe your teenager’s behavior to discern possible stress, advises the American Psychological Association. Moodiness, isolation or withdrawal, verbalizing worries, sadness, complaining, a change in sleep or eating habits or exhibiting unusual fearfulness are common behaviors that can indicate a teen feeling overwhelmed with stress.

  • Watch for physical signs of stress in your teen. Stomach upset, headaches and chest pain are common indications of stress, according to the Kids Health website. A teenager may also experience a flare-up of allergies, with eczema or asthma becoming worse.

  • Listen to your teenager talk to determine whether you hear hints of stress. You may notice impatience, anger, anxiety and irritability in the way your teenager interacts with others or expresses thoughts and feelings.

  • Ask your teenager if he’s feeling signs of internal stress and anxiety. Obsessive thoughts, fast heartbeat and stomach butterflies are frequently signs of stress, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

  • Encourage your teen to cope positively with stress, suggests the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Yoga, exercise, engaging in a hobby, spending time with friends or family or relaxing with music might be options for your teen to consider as he strives to reduce stressful feelings.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you perceive signs of unhealthy stress in your teenager, provide opportunities for communication and support. Offer to listen if your teenager wants to talk about issues bothering him. If your teen describes himself as feeling “confused” or “worried,” it’s possible that your teen feels negatively stressed, advises the American Psychological Association.
  • A teen might alternate back and forth between healthy and unhealthy ways of coping with stress, according to the “Confronting Teen Stress” brochure published by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Denying or distracting attention away from stress is generally unhealthy; whereas, working through stress or seeking support for it are healthy responses.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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