Are your teens stressed out?

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Dr. Kristin Woodward takes a look at the signs of stressed out teens.

Teens in the US are stressed, more stressed than adults. One-third of teens in the US are so stressed it is causing them to feel depressed, sad, overwhelmed, and tired.

A new survey published by the American Psychological Association examined stress levels in teens and adults. 1,018 teens and 1,950 adults were surveyed. This was the first time such a large number of teens were surveyed and surprisingly, teen stress levels rivaled that of adults. Teens reported their stress level was 5.8 on a scale of 1-10 whereas as adults reported a level of 5.1.

Teens identified school, work, sports, family, and friends as the cause of their stress. Unfortunately, few teens expect to see their stress levels go down. Almost half think their stress will increase in coming years. While teens are just as stressed as adults, they do not understand the negative impact it can have on their health.

Stress in teens interferes with sleep, healthy eating habits, and exercise. Teens report feeling angry, sad, tired, and often complain of having headaches. Many teens use the Internet to manage their stress and a much smaller number use exercise as a stress reliever.

Experts say chronic stress in teens can lead to anxiety and depression later in life. Signs of stress include sleeping problems, changes in eating habits or weight, changes in friends or activities, and abrupt changes in mood.

Parents can help their teens manage their stress by talking to their kids. Experts say listening is more important than advising. Encourage teens to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep, get plenty of exercise, and meals should be a priority. Kids should also talk to their doctor about their stress. Your teen's doctor can help with stress management as well as make a referral to a specialist.