Teens’ Stress Levels Rival Those of Adults, Survey Finds

(HealthDay News) — Adolescents reported stress levels during the school year that surpassed those of adults, according to the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America survey.

The survey, based on an August 2013 Harris Interactive poll, is thought to be the first to focus on how stress is affecting the nation’s adolescents. It included more than 1,000 teens and nearly 2,000 adults. Thirty-one percent said their stress level increased in the past year, and 34% said they think their stress will increase in the coming year. Only 16% said their stress level declined in the past year. The teens in the survey also reported many of the same stress symptoms as adults, such as feeling irritable, angry, nervous and anxious, or lying awake at night. Nearly 3/4 of the teens reported more than one symptom of stress in the past month, the survey found.

The findings suggest that teens’ sleeping and exercise habits feed into their stress levels and the stress affects their health habits, creating a vicious circle, Norman Anderson, CEO and executive vice president of the American Psychological Association told HealthDay.

“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,” Anderson said during a Tuesday news conference. “Conversely, those who say they exercise on a regular basis and get a good night’s sleep show a decrease in stress.” Another “alarming” finding: “Teens don’t appear to realize the impact stress has on their physical and mental health,” Anderson said.

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