Teens and Stress
By Rebekah McGlasson
Teenagers today face multiple stressors on a daily basis. From school, to friends, to family,
they have stress coming to them from every angle, sometimes it can seem too overwhelming to
handle. Having that much stress in your teenage years, especially at such a chronic level, can
cause severe health problems, both physically and mentally. Our teenage years are so critical for
human development that stress of that amount can cause serious problems that can follow you
Page and Coutellier (2018) did a study on female and male mice that focused on the amount
of stress they received in their teenage years and how it affected the mice later in their adult
years, specifically anxiety-related behaviors, emotional maturation, and cognitive functioning.
They found that chronic stress during adolescence caused over activation of the amygdala, the
brain system that is responsible for processing emotions and linked to fears and pleasures, which
caused an unregulated emotional response along with heightened anxiety behaviors in adulthood.
(Page & Coutellier, 2018) They also found that stress during adolescence caused impaired
cognitive functioning which sometimes show during adolescent years but often manifests later in
adulthood. Along with this, they found a sex difference where female mice were more resilient
and demonstrated less of an effect on their cognitive functioning in adulthood whereas male mice
had more stress-induced cognitive dysfunction in adulthood. (Page & Coutellier, 2018)
The study shows us that stress has different effects on different people based on different
factors including their age and sex. Stress does not look the same for everyone. Stress can
manifest in different ways but yet everyone who is experiencing chronic stress in their teenage
years are at risk for emotional disorders like depression and anxiety in adulthood.
Since stress is inevitable, especially in high school, here are some ways that teenagers
and parents can help decrease stress and reduce higher risks in adulthood (The American
Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2019):
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2019, January). Stress management
and teens. Retrieved from:
Page, C. E. & Coutellier, L. (2018). Adolescent stress disrupts the maturation of anxiety-related
behaviors and alters the developmental trajectory of the prefrontal cortex in a sex- and
age-specified manner. Neuroscience, 390, 265-277.