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Teens Report Higher Levels of Stress than Adults, Survey Finds

Update Date: Feb 12, 2014 10:11 AM EST

As people age, they tend to encounter more stress factors, such as providing for a family or finding a job. However, despite all the extra stressors that adults deal with, a new survey found that American teenagers are self-reporting high levels of stress. These levels surpassed the stress levels reported by adults.

In this survey, which was a part of the Harris Interactive poll conducted in August 2013, over 1,000 teenagers and 2,000 adults participated. The survey focused on measuring stress levels and identifying where the stressors might be coming from. The researchers found that teenagers reported higher levels of stress in comparison to adults. 31 percent of them stated that their stress levels increased this year and 36 percent believed that their stress levels would increase the following year. Only 16 percent of the teams reported dealing with lower levels of stress.

The study also discovered that many teens are unaware of the potential health consequences associated with stress, which prevented them from seeking help with stress-management. The stressors that teens dealt with were mostly related to college and finances.

"Getting into a good college and deciding what to do after high school was also a significant stressor for about 69 percent of teens," the American Psychological Association's (APA) executive director for professional practice, Katherine Nordal, stated. "Children learn what they live, so I think that when there's a lot of stress in the household in regard to financial concerns that certainly it bleeds down to children as well."

These stressors appear to be exacerbated by poor sleeping habits and a lack of exercise. The teens reported getting 7.4 hours of sleep on a school night and 8.1 hours of sleep on a non-school night, which fall short of the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation of 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep. 20 percent of the teens stated that they either exercised once a week or did not exercise at all.

"Those who experience high levels of stress tend to report that they exercise less and they don't sleep as well, which feeds back into increasing their stress," Norman Anderson, the CEO and executive vice president of the APA said reported by Philly. "Conversely, those who say they exercise on a regular basis and get a good night's sleep show a decrease in stress."

The researchers reported that even though teens and adults might be dealing with different kinds of stress, a lot of the symptoms were the same. These symptoms included feeling irritable, angry, nervous and/or anxious. Many of them reported having difficulty falling asleep. The findings suggest that teenagers might need help with managing their stress levels. Teenagers also need to be better educated about the side effects of dealing with too much stress

The survey can be accessed here.

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