Teenage burnout: key symptoms & how to help

The MIND 24-7 Team | March 8, 2024

The teenage years are full of academic pressure, social expectations, and personal growth. While this period can be exciting, it also carries the risk of burnout, especially for kids these days. Recognizing the signs of teenage burnout and knowing how to support your child is important for preventing long-term mental health consequences. Let’s talk about how common it is for teens to feel burned out, burnout symptoms in students and children, and ways to help them cope and thrive. 

How common is teenage burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by stress that is very intense, long-lasting, or both. Teenage burnout is more common than many people might think. Factors such as academic pressure, extracurricular activities, social expectations, digital overload, and stress at home make burnout a serious issue among teenagers. 

What teens have to say on the topic of burnout is noteworthy. According to a survey conducted in 2022 by a student at President William McKinley High School in Hawaii and published in the school’s newspaper, The Pinion, 71% of students reported experiencing burnout at least once and 57.3% reported experiencing it more often, with school described as the main stressor. 

Common burnout symptoms in students

The symptoms of burnout are different for every person, but here are some common symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Always tired: If a student seems constantly tired, even after getting enough sleep, they may be burned out. They may complain of exhaustion or a lack of energy no matter how much they rest. 
  • Grades start to slip: Burnout can make it hard for teens to stay on top of schoolwork. When completely exhausted from stress, teenagers may struggle to concentrate, finish assignments, and remember what they learn. 
  • Change in emotions: Teenagers experiencing burnout may be emotionally distressed. They may become more withdrawn, sensitive, or likely to overreact to situations that previously would not have made them feel so upset. 
  • Physical difficulties: The chronic stress and tension of burnout can lead to physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and other physical issues. 
  • Loss of interest: Teenagers dealing with burnout may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, like hobbies, sports, or spending time with friends. 
  • Sleep troubles: Burnout can make falling asleep and staying asleep hard. Teenagers with burnout may struggle with insomnia, nightmares, or disrupted sleep cycles. 

Remember, these symptoms may also be caused by other symptoms, and there may be more symptoms of burnout that aren’t listed here. While it may be helpful to note individual symptoms, it is also important to think about how symptoms may be connected or overlap. Students may show one symptom or another, depending on their unique situation. By learning about burnout symptoms, you can help recognize struggles and give the support your students and children need. 

How to help your children with burnout

As we’ve discussed, teenage burnout is something many teens face. It is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can impact every aspect of their lives. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to help can make a big difference in helping teens overcome this difficult time. Here are some practical tips and resources to consider: 

  • Create a safe space: Use active listening, curiosity, and non-judgment to create a safe and supportive space for your teen to express their feelings and struggles. Validate their experiences, build trust, and be there when they need you. 
  • Help them address stress and overwhelm: Help your teen identify and understand what is causing them stress, whether it is school, sports, family, social demands, or something else. Work together to create a plan to achieve their goals without feeling overwhelmed. Help them learn ways to relax, like mindfulness exercises, yoga, or walking in nature. 
  • Model healthy habits: Share your own stress-management strategies and show them how to respond to challenges in healthy ways. Prioritize sleep, good nutrition, and spending time with loved ones to feel your best. Help your teen develop self-compassion by being kind to yourself and others. 
  • Get professional help: If your teen’s symptoms are severe and persistent, or they talk about hurting themselves, get help from a mental health professional. MIND 24-7 is here. MIND 24-7 offers walk-in treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns. We are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays, and we can help anyone who walks in needing mental health care. All adults and youth are welcome—regardless of their ability to pay. We accept private insurance, Medicare, and AHCCCS, and will never turn someone away. If you or a loved one needs same-day mental health care—visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247.