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10 Startling Causes of Teenage Stress in California

As adults, we sometimes forget that teens are under immense pressure, with life coming at them from all angles. The causes of teenage stress are much more than summer jobs and teen romances. Looking at teen stress statistics, we need to pay more attention to what the teenagers of today are going through with a realistic lens.

Adolescents in America face challenges that adults may not even realize, and when measured, many teens have severe and unhealthy stress levels that are higher than the average adult’s. Keep reading some of the most common stressors California teens are facing in 2023 and some coping techniques to help if you are wondering how to deal with stress as a teenager.

Academic Stress

One of the biggest causes of teenage stress is related to school. This is not only because of ongoing assignments, upcoming SATs and final exams, and the pressure to maintain a high GPA. According to the American Institute of Stress, around 90% of high school and college-aged youth had serious educational disruptions due to COVID-19, which are carrying through to their performance several years later.

As teens, a lot of emphasis is placed on getting high grades to set themselves up nicely for the future, causing school work and exams to add to an already high emotional load.  

Contact BeWellLine by calling our help center at 866-349-0854 to learn more about using virtual mental health services.

Effects of Social Stress

Having issues with friends, peer pressure, dating, the need for social acceptance, and bullying are all familiar stressors that we have all experienced in one way or another. Today’s adults may not realize how pervasive and insidious social media has become in all aspects of being a teen.

Teenagers can no longer escape their bullies, and the fear of missing out and social pressures are magnified online. Teens are also exposed to unrealistic views of other people’s lives, causing distress when they cannot live up to these idealistic standards.

Causes of Stress: Family Problems

Familial issues like financial troubles, abuse at home, and divorce can contribute to any person’s overall stress. Teenagers are not equipped with all the tools to handle such complex issues, especially when it involves their loved ones.

These life events are painful and can cause a teen to become irritable, have difficulties with sleep and concentration, or become anxious or depressed. They might display poor communication skills or get into physical altercations.

School Shootings

Any teen who has unfortunately been in the vicinity of a school shooting has had a traumatic experience that goes far beyond what the rest of us cannot comprehend. The rise of these school incidents has affected the entire country, making the educational environment inherently unsafe.

Even for those who have not been directly involved in a school shooting, being under the ever-present threat of it eventually happening in their classroom adds an underlying layer of stress to every American teen.

Traumatic Events

After experiencing trauma like being in an accident, losing a loved one, or witnessing a violent act, a teenager may act recklessly, become irritable, start using drugs or drinking, or become depressed or anxious. People of any age can develop PTSD after a traumatic event, and therapy might be the best option.

Effects of Moving to a New Place

For teenagers trying to understand their place in the world, moving to a new home can feel devastating. They lose their sense of security and close friendships and find themselves put into the position of adapting to a new school and social environment. This can be extremely overwhelming and stressful.

10 Startling Causes of Teenage Stress in California

School Bullying

Although California has anti-bullying laws, it is still prevalent in schools nationwide. Some common forms of bullying include physical bullying (violence or assault) and social, verbal, racial, religious, sexual, and electronic bullying.

No matter what form it takes, bullying is a display of power and control that causes the bullied to feel rejected, excluded, and isolated. It can cause self-esteem issues and turn into a stress disorder or depression.


Any content made to disparage or humiliate another person online is cyberbullying. It can be posted publicly or sent anonymously and may involve sharing private information, starting rumors, or sharing harmful content about someone else. The psychological damage that cyberbullying can cause is serious. Like in-person bullying, it can result in low self-esteem, feelings of isolation and helplessness, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Often, the advice for dealing with cyberbullying is to ignore it and not give a reaction. Still, when cyberbullying affects your ability to concentrate and live a happy life, it might be time to get an authority figure involved.

Contact BeWellLine by calling our help center at 866-349-0854 to learn more about using virtual mental health services.

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is called when an individual uses words to cause fear or pain to another. This can include using racial slurs, making sexual comments, body shaming, threatening with violence, teasing, name-calling, and insulting another person. It is often done publicly to elicit a reaction and get attention.

Teens affected by verbal bullying may feel shame, fear, and anger; without intervention, these interactions could escalate into violence as the victim feels provoked.

Body Shape Changes With Age

Growing into an adult body has many challenges we tend to forget as we age. Teenagers are growing taller, developing, becoming hairier and smellier, and trying to understand who they are in the world, all at the same time, while also being inundated with social pressure and harsh beauty standards that are only amplified by social media.

Teenage girls especially face harsh body image issues and pressures that can result in serious issues like eating disorders and other mental health disorders. It goes far beyond high school, with society sexualizing these teens before they can decide who they want to be for themselves. Teaching how to deal with stress as a teenage girl is challenging for any parent or mentor because of the ever-evolving pressures from online sources, the new influx of hormones that come with getting your period, and more.

Emotional Changes During Adolescence

Due to hormonal shifts and the challenges of identity formation at this critical life stage, teenagers often experience difficult mood fluctuations that can cause stress when trying to live their lives. It’s a peak time for stress for teenagers, and it’s a necessary time to pay attention to teenagers and young adults for these possible emotional changes — and to offer support as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About 10 Facts About Teenage Stress in California

What is the leading cause of stress among California’s teenagers?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) tells us that school is one of the top causes of teenage stress, while the CDC notes that social issues are also a leading cause.

How prevalent is cyberbullying in California?

Approximately 46% of California teens have reported being cyberbullied, with the top forms including rumors being spread about them and hurtful comments being made.

How do school shootings affect the overall teenage mental health landscape in California?

Those who have experienced or witnessed gun violence have a high chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. At the same time, all teens in California are at a greater risk of depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and intrusive thoughts due to the prevalence of school shootings and the consistent underlying risk accompanied by attending class.

What signs should parents look for if they suspect their teen is stressed?

Common signs of stress in teens include irritability, isolation in their rooms, sleeping more or less than usual, headaches and stomach aches, trouble at school, changes in social habits, and difficulty concentrating.

How do family dynamics in California contribute to teen stress?

Due to lack of structure and parenting, teens may find themselves falling behind, developing mental health issues like anxiety or depression, and acting out by fighting, using drugs, or skipping class. Emotional regulation issues are common, and teens may find themselves in trouble and failing classes, causing more stress.

Are teenage girls more susceptible to stress due to body image issues?

Yes. Due to social standards, girls are often the subject of intense scrutiny regarding their looks, weight, clothing, and body types. While body image issues concern boys and girls alike, girls are much more likely to be impacted negatively, often developing low self-esteem and consistent worry.

How can educators and parents help teens cope with academic stress?

Teens can benefit from help scheduling their lives and organization. They must make time for studying and homework, but having enough social/family time is also essential to give them a healthy work-life balance. Having a non-judgmental ear to listen to when stressed is also important, encouraging them to eat well and stay active.

If you are a parent, an educator, or a teen, you can call BeWellLine at 866-349-0854 to learn more about the top causes of teen stress in California and coping strategies.

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