Although a great deal of research has measured stressful life events and stress-related symptoms in adolescents, little research has qualitatively examined the experience of stress in teens. The purpose of this study was to utilize thematic analysis to explore how teen girls described their experiences of stress. Thirty-one girls, ages 14–18, were recruited for a study examining stress and stress-related symptoms. As part of this study, they participated in an open-ended, qualitative interview about their personal experiences of stress. Themes included the mind of stress, emotionally shutting out others, and “growing out of it.” The overarching finding was that all teen girls described anger in relation to stress. Most concerning was the predominant theme of a lack of agency in relation to affecting change or management of stress in their lives.


Stress, Adolescent Health, Adolescence, Thematic Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Elin Björling is a research scientist in Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington-Seattle and clinical faculty in Nursing and Healthcare Leadership (Tacoma). She completed a Master’s in Health Psychology from Antioch University – Seattle (1996) and a Ph.D. in Nursing Science at the University of Washington – Seattle (2007). Elin uses her interdisciplinary background to research stress in adolescents using a mixed-method approach including in-depth interviews and Ecological Momentary Assessment. Currently she is working on the development of a social robot designed to gather stress data from adolescents. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: bjorling@uw.edu.

Narayan B. Singh, M.A., is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Seattle Pacific University. He previously completed a Master's in Psychology at Northcentral University in 2014. His research areas include anxiety disorders, stress, Ecological Momentary Assessment, interpersonal dynamics, and moral elevation.


We would like to acknowledge the 31 adolescent girls who despite their busy schedules and their headaches, agreed to participate in this research. It is because of these participants that we are beginning to better understand the experience of stress in adolescence.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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