Forms of Psychological Stress that are Typical for Teens – Part One

This two-part series is a review of types of stresses experienced psychologically. Teenagers are undergoing significant inward changes and becoming familiar with what is going on inside them. The first part of this series will review three types of psychological stress. Part two will cover various ways to cope with them.


The types of psychological stress that are in a list below are in fact common for adults and adolescents alike. However, reviewing them, you might see that these forms of stress are rampant in the life of a teen. The demands on teens include: home life, in school, among friends, and even upon themselves.

Different Teen Stresses



Pressure is the psychological experience causes by urgent demands or expectations for a person’s behavior, originating from an outside source. For an adolescent, this could be the pressure to complete a school project, or to study for an exam.  As well as, to help a parent with a task before the holidays. Or maintain a certain grade point average in order to stay on the football team.



Uncontrollability is the degree of control that a person has over a particular event or situation. A teenager might often experience him or herself as having very little control over life. Could be they might feel during this stage of life that many developmental changes are taking place. Particularly, as an adolescent struggles to find his or her unique individuality, experiences of role confusion, inner turmoil, and emotional chaos are common. The inability to control these emotions and any circumstances that trigger them is the psychological stress that is typical in adolescence.



Frustration is the psychological experience  by the blocking of a desired goal or fulfillment of a perceived need. There are two types of frustration: external and internal. Examples of external forms of frustration are: a car breaking down, a desired job not coming through, or a rejection of some sort. Examples of internal forms of frustration are: when a goal is not attained or a need is not fulfilled because of a personal characteristic, such as not acquiring a job in the engineering field because math skills are poor.

For teens, both forms of frustration are not only common, but the inability to cope with frustration is frequent. This is especially true because of this stage in life. Adolescence is discovering a sense of self, which is partly  by achieving certain goals and having recognition for those achievements. When there is an obstacle in reaching a goal, the result might be frustration, in addition to an injured sense of self and feelings of unworthiness, shame, and powerlessness.


The ways that teens might manage the frustration of a blocked goal is through persistence, aggression, displaced aggression, and escape or withdrawal. Persistence is the continued efforts towards a goal and reaching it at all costs. When feeling frustration, a teen might feel angry and exhibit aggression towards getting around what is blocking their path ahead. This is one of the more typical reactions to frustration. Other teens might exhibit displaced aggression, which is taking out one’s frustrations on some less threatening or more available target. Lastly, some teens might simply find a means for escape. This includes leaving the presence of the stressful problem, either literally or psychologically through withdrawal into fantasy, drugs, apathy, or even suicide.


Regardless of the form of stress, anxiety is typical during adolescence. The next part to this series will explore the various ways to cope with these types of psychological stress as well as provide tips to manage a difficult life stage.