Sometimes the struggles teens face don’t necessarily all fit within the boundaries of a particular Mental or Anxiety Disorder, but rather, a teen’s struggle with a certain aspect of life causes stress that leads to more serious symptoms. Some of the most predominant struggles faced are teen academic issues.
Teen Academic Issues, What are they?
The academic stress that adolescents experience is considerable and can sometimes lead to severe side effects such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and constant feelings of being overwhelmed. Many times, a teenager’s academic stress is felt in combination with other conflicts that might be felt in social settings, a particular peer relationship, or at home. Because academic responsibilities exist at school (among peers) and at home (among family), this stress can overwhelm teens, making them feel that they’re failing in multiple aspects of their lives. And as the struggle to find a sense of self is an ever-present aspect of an adolescent’s life, this feeling of failure can be debilitating and depressing.
What It Looks Like
There’s a vast array of academic issues that teens face, especially because it’s common for teens today to be inundated with all the different demands on their time, including: family, friends, sports other extracurricular activities, and school. It’s important to note that academic stress is not limited to students who are performing poorly at school, but is also strongly felt by students who are currently succeeding, who feel the pressure to continue succeeding despite any upcoming challenges, or, students who’ve always done well in the past, who feel pressure to continue doing well. Though every student feels some amount of pressure and stress, some adolescents experience stress that increases to a severe degree, to a point which it has negative effects on multiple aspects of their lives. Some of the effects that extreme academic challenges commonly show in adolescents include, but are not limited to:
- A sense of there never being enough time
- Fear of being disliked
- Fear of failure
- Constant worry about grades
- Anxiety surrounding managing time
- Anxiety about not feeling organized
- Inability to prioritize
- Suddenly withdrawing from friends
- Sudden change in participation
- Sudden apathy towards normally enjoyable things
- Sudden increase in sleep
The important thing to keep in mind about seeking treatment, for any struggle a teen might be facing, is that the treatment should address the teen holistically, taking into consideration all aspects of life. If the teen is struggling with things at school and needs help, it’s not simply a matter of raising grades, getting a tutor, or keeping the highest A in the class, though those might be reasonable steps along the way. The goal should be to support the teen to become healthy enough that they feel confident in taking on whatever stresses they face, including the ups, downs, and in-betweens of their school work.
The good news is that there are definitely ways that teens facing what feel like impossible academic issues can find relief from stress and discover healthy ways to cope, without just quitting everything and never hanging out with any friends again. The hard news is that often teen academic issues are closely intertwined with other stresses or conflicts in a teen’s life, and so it may take time to determine exactly what’s going on and what steps should be taken.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe how much the simple process of getting teens to communicate what they’re feeling will help provide relief and insight. Along with so many other aspects of life, teens are trying to learn how to manage their stress and what to do with it, and sometimes they haven’t yet learned that talking about what they’re feeling can help them sort their thoughts, which can begin to open doors toward relief.
With the help of a therapist, adolescents can learn not only to articulate their own feelings, but in the process of doing so, can learn:
- How to identify what stress they’re feeling
- What things are causing stress in their lives
- What are their priorities
- How to become better organized
- What relationships are healthy and unhealthy
- What causes strife at home with family members
- How to respond to their stress differently
- How to possibly minimize or eliminate certain stressful situations
- How to relax when stressful situations arise
- How to take care of themselves and support themselves to succeed
What if I need therapy but don’t have the time to fit it in?
If you feel like you need help addressing some of the stress you’re feeling, but just don’t have the time to get the help, that’s probably a sure sign that you need it. A lot of times these days, people have very busy, over-scheduled lives, with a class, assignment, practice, email, or text message filling up every second of the day. It might be true that you don’t have time for an hour- much less a month- of therapy to address what you’re experiencing; it’s also true that you have to make the time for what’s most important. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is your overall well-being, and not the upcoming essay or test. Chances are, if you need help, and you just keep pushing it, forcing yourself to get by despite how overwhelmed you’re feeling, then you’re not suddenly going to feel better one day. Instead, you’ll probably continue feeling worse. Now is as good a time as ever.