Why Today’s Teens are Perpetually Plagued by Anxiety


anxious teenThanks to everything from hormones to the feeling that even the slightest pimple is the end of the world, teens of every generation have been one stressed-out bunch. Yet those of us who have left our teen years in the past my not realize the full extent of anxiety and stress that specifically plagues the current generation.

One of today’s teens clears it up for us, with a piece she wrote for the Intelligencer. Central Bucks West High School student Olivia Fitzgerald tells it like it is, noting the biggest stressors of teens today – and wondering if there’s any such thing as an anxiety-free life.

Everything Over-Analyzed

A simple response can easily turn into an in-depth analysis, with recipients reading multiple meanings into even just a few words. Those words are likewise taken way too personally, an issue that many of know can follow us well into adulthood.

Once-Fun Activities Now ‘Stress Minefields’

There’s no longer any such thing as playing music for the love of playing music, or playing sports for the thrill of the game. Playing an instrument has been transformed into a cut-throat competition for nabbing first chair and being perfect enough to get into Princeton, as if that’s the only single school that will ensure a life of success.

Playing sports is no longer about camaraderie and working toward a common goal. It, too, has become just another way to get into that single, select college that promises your future won’t be a failure.

People Consumed with Others’ Approval

Another trait that can merrily follow us into adulthood is the need for outside validation. Fitzgerald says people are so caught up in the need for other people’s approval that they’ll even sacrifice their own happiness to get it.

‘Terrified’ to Turn off Phones

The proliferation of mobile devices is a relative new way to generate anxiety for teens, yet it didn’t take long for it to become a huge one. Fitzgerald says teens’ hands are “glued to our phones” because they’re terrified if they shut them off for just a few seconds “we will be completely cut out of the social continuum.”

Wondering and worry about who is posting what or who is responding to what or who may have texted you adds another fine layer of stress. “Every second away from our electronic devices induces more anxiety,” she writes.

Whether the modern teens’ anxiety inducers have been around for eons or are relatively new to the scene, Fitzgerald reveals a key ingredient she’s noticed throughout her observations. She says much of the anxiety is self-induced, with teens letting anxiety pervade their thoughts and feelings – while bringing on the destruction themselves.

It’s been said that awareness is the first step in altering a situation, and Fitzgerald certainly has that going for her. Following awareness is typically acceptance, and then change, all of which can be openly discussed with your own anxious teens in the hopes of helping them maneuver through the “ stress minefields” they may encounter every day.


Photo Credit: wearandcheer Flickr via Compfight cc

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