Teens And Stress Essay, Research Paper
Teens and Stress
Today?s teenagers attend school, have jobs, make time for homework, participate in extracurricular activities, and deal with unexpected obstacles that life contains, all in the course of a 24 hour day. Teens must also set aside time to have a social life and for the 8 hours of sleep needed to help prepare them for the next hectic day. With no time for themselves, teens can easily become overstressed.
Stress is not just a mental problem, but also a physical response to an undesirable situation. According to a high school psychology textbook, stress is ?a particular pattern of disturbing psychological and physiological reactions that occur when an environmental event threatens important motives and taxes one?s ability to cope,? (Pikes Peak). Physically, the body reacts the same to stress whether it is positive or negative. Neurotransmitters send and receive messages between brain cells. There are two kinds of messages: ?happy? and ?sad?. Sad signals eventually cause the happy signals to fail. This causes a chemical imbalance called overstress (Pikes Peak). The first happy messenger to malfunction under stress is Serotonin, which causes one of the first signs of stress: inability to sleep. Noradrenalin sets teenagers? bodies? energy levels and causes them to feel energized. When this happy messenger fails, people begin to feel that they no long have enough energy to do much of anything. Dopamine, the third happy messenger, is located adjacent to where Endorphin is released in the brain. When the Dopamine function declines, the Endorphin function also declines. Endorphins regulate pain, so pain begins to increase when stress causes the Dopamine function to fail. Dopamine also operates the Pleasure Center. When stress interferes on the Dopamine function, it can result in a loss of pleasure in normally enjoyable events. Whether or not the problem that created the stress is solved, the body will return to normal. If the problem is not resolved, however, stress can build up and cause all kinds of physical and emotional symptoms.
There are a number of different symptoms that can result from stress. These symptoms can occur before an exam or highly anticipated event. Some symptoms of stress include: head and back aches, muscle cramps, insomnia, stomach aches, sweating, rapid breathing, poor eating habits, sudden weight change, confusion, and alcohol and drug addiction (Pikes Peak). Stress symptoms are not to be feared, but they do signal that a person is not managing his/her life effectively. They indicate that changes need to be made whether the stress is good or bad.
Teenagers face different types of stress than adults. It could be caused by problems at home or school and pressure from friends or family to do well. Stress is not always negative, however; some stress is good. Without stress in people?s lives, they would lack the drive to overcome obstacles. Stress can add flavor, challenge, and opportunity to life (VanWie). The challenges caused by stress help to develop new skills and behavior patterns (Pikes Peak). The problems with stress occur when it becomes excessive. It can become destructive and turn into distress. Too much stress on the mind and body can make a person feel miserable, worried, sad, and ill. Being under too much stress can cause a person to feel overwhelmed. A person may begin to feel angry and impatient with others and themselves. Little things may cause the sufferer to become upset and cry. Stress is an everyday occurrence that everyone needs, but stress has to know when to leave.
Stress can be short term or long term (Pikes Peak). Short term, or acute stress, is a reaction to an immediate threat or situation. Acute stress can cause uneasiness, concern, sadness, loss of appetite, alertness, infertility, and increased metabolism. If the problems seem to be unrelenting, long term, or chronic stress, can occur. Teenagers can respond to occasional stress, but when it happens repeatedly the effects can multiply and compound over a lifetime. Chronic stress can damage a person?s overall health. Stress can suppress the immune system. This makes a person susceptible to infectious diseases: viral infections such as influenza, and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis. Stress can cause cardiovascular disease. The heart beats faster, which makes a person vulnerable to chest pain and irregular heart rhythms. Stress may even lead to heart attack or stroke. Chronic stress can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability, or diabetes. All of these types of stress are caused by everyday occurrences.
Growing up means constant change: physically, emotionally, and socially. Teens today have more pressures than most of their parents had, and stress overload can become a huge problem. Stress is likely to happen while experiencing changes, whether happy or upsetting. Some causes of teen stress are: physical development being behind or ahead of most classmates, problems at home, someone close has passed away, and the feeling that everyone?s expectations are too high. Teenagers feel a lot of conflicting things such as: sometimes loving and feeling close to parents, then hating your parents and wanting to be antonomous, yet secretly wishing to be taken care of like a child again. Stress can be caused by having a job, extracurricular activities, not fitting in to a social group, school expectations, parental expectations, being unable to prioritize, and being pushed and pulled by different classes (VanWie). Teens face the stresses of educational choices after high school; should they go to college and if they do how will they pay? Financial pressures can be a problem, good part time work is scarce and parents do not have as much money as they did 20 years ago. Things such as burning dinner, hosting a party, receiving a promotion, or going on vacation can cause mild stress. Stress may be the result of too many simultaneous changes in your life over which teens have no control such as, moving to a new school or a divorce. Stress may be the result of one?s perception of life. Life may not be full of traumatic change, yet the way the problems are handled may make them seem bigger than they really are. ?Usually, it is the perception and interpretation of a situation that causes stress,? says Dr. Dreagan (Pikes Peak). Fortunately, stress can be handled and made less severe.
There are many ways to reduce stress and keep you from becoming overstressed. Some of the things used to manage stress can actually make the problem worse. Smoking, drinking, taking drugs, and eating junk food can magnify the physical effects of stress. Caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and alcohol increases susceptibility to stress and decreases tolerance. The number one way to prevent a lot of stress is to keep the lines of communication open. Communicate with parents, but if parents are the cause of stress, than talk to somebody who is trusted (Life in Realistic). There are also many peer support groups: at school, in the community, and even the Internet. Some ways of lowering stress are: define sleeping hours and stick to them, take a break and let the body have time to heal itself, say ?No? more often when others request something time consuming, and take time off from work or school (101 Ways). To avoid stress overload try learning to accept what can not be changed or work on solving problems one at a time. By doing simple things such as asking a friend for a hug or looking up at the stars, stress can become less harmful (101 Ways).
Stress is an everyday occurrence in everyone?s life. With the stress from work and school alone, many teens will face double the stress that many adults do in a day. A social life should be a release of stress but many times it will just add more stress to their already stressful lives. Teens need to remember to relax, have fun, and take one day at a time.
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