Stress and anxiety in young people

Teen Stress and anxiety

Stress isn’t a direct risk factor for heart or circulatory disease in young people, the problem is that when people are stressed they often make unhealthy choices.

What is stress?

Stress is a word people use for the mixture of feelings they get when everything seems too much. Stress can be triggered by and array of different things and is different for everyone, but some more common causes of stress are; school work, exams, bullying, or problems with friends or family.

What are the signs of stress?

Everyone experiences stress in different ways, it might feel like tension, anxiety, emotional exhaustion or a sense of being overwhelmed. 

There’s a difference between feeling low and feeling stressed. Stress can make you feel sad, irritable and distracted. But stress doesn't only affect the mind, it can affect you physically too. Everyone reacts differently to stress. These are a few signs you might be stressed:

  • you feel tired, weak, and have trouble sleeping
  • you don't feel like eating, or you start eating much more than normal
  • you find it difficult to concentrate
  • you have tight, knotty feelings in your stomach
  • you find yourself avoiding people and not wanting to do things

How does stress affect my heart?

If you have a heart condition, being stressed could cause you more problems, because you're more likely to make choices which can be bad for your health (such as eating unhealthy foods, smoking or drinking too much alcohol).

To help keep your heart healthy, you need to take care of your body and your mind. Sometimes this can seem easier said than done. Start by thinking about which areas of your life are most stressful, this is the first step to finding ways to cope with them and putting you back in control.

What can I do to reduce stress?

Just small changes can make a really big difference. Try to get a handle on stress by:

  • Identifying what is making you feel stressed
  • talking things through with someone you trust
  • find something that relaxes you – maybe a creative hobby, listening to music or going for a walk. Everyone is different what is important is you find what is right for you.
  • doing regular physical activity that you enjoy
  • asking your doctor for help and further information

If you can, avoid things that make you stressed. For example, if you're having a problem with friends or family, try and calmly talk about any issues with them before they get any bigger.

If you can't avoid the things that are making you stressed, see if you can change your attitude towards the problem. Try to build the habit of thinking positively and treating yourself with respect. Focus on what is working well and what you're good at.

Useful links


The Mental Health Foundation

Do you want to meet other young people with heart conditions?

Are you over 13 and living with a heart condition in the UK? Join one of our young people’s support programmes.They are a great way to get information, help and support, and meet other young heart patients at free events.

Find out more