Wound Up and Worn Out: How to Help Teens and Kids Cope with Overwhelming Stress

By Dr. Tony Ebel, DC, CPPFC, CCWP
Wound Up and Worn Out: How to Help Teens and Kids Cope with Overwhelming Stress | PX Docs

I want to dig into a common issue that we’re seeing more and more in kids, especially teenagers – who are both wound up and worn out at the same time. While we’ll focus on teenagers, this stress isn’t exclusive to teenagers. Younger kids are also experiencing this due to the challenges of the past few years. It’s also affecting parents – yes, you – with many feeling anxious, stressed, and fatigued. 

what does “Wound Up” Look like?

Let’s dive into what being wound up looks like. It often presents as anxiety, anger, meltdowns, outbursts, and defiance. It’s important to note that there is a neurological component to this. The sympathetic fight or flight system is overactive, leading to a constantly triggered nervous system. This is what causes rage, anxiety, and upset feelings in kids and even adults.

The teenage years can be tough, and our kids will face challenges with school, social situations, friends, and more. While it’s natural for them to experience some moodiness and testiness, it’s important to recognize when something is off. A stressed-out nervous system can make things worse and lead to many challenges.  When the sympathetic fight or flight system is too wound up, it is too quickly triggered and too on all the time. That is actually the neurological cause of constantly raging, angry, and anxiousness. This can happen to a little one, a teenager, or an older adult, and there is absolutely a neurological underpinning to this.

what Does “Worn Out” Look Like?

Now, let’s talk about the worn-out component. This is when kids are tired, exhausted, sad, depressed, and lacking in confidence… or, as some incredible parents have told us, they lose their sparkle. They may not want to engage socially or participate in activities they previously enjoyed. This can be frustrating for many parents, and it’s important to understand that being worn out often results from being wound up for extended periods. We can only push our adrenals hard for so long!

As parents, it’s important for us to understand that the worn-out state of our children is not just a temporary phase they will grow out of.  But when you take your child to a traditional medical doctor, their answer to your child being wound up or worn out is throwing medication at them. But really, it is actually a sign of an imbalanced nervous system that needs attention and care. 

We need to be aware of the factors that can contribute to this imbalance, such as early birth trauma, colic, chronic ear infections, immune challenges, overuse of steroids and antibiotics, and environmental stressors. We call this the Perfect Storm that gets into their nervous system early on.

Your pediatrician most likely told you not to worry and that they will grow out of all these challenges. We’re here to tell you they most often will not grow out of them. They will grow into wound up kiddos with sensory sensitivities, ADHD, and anxiety, and from there, grow into worn out, exhausted, fatigued teenagers and adults. 

The sweet spot is in the middle of being wound up and worn out! 

The good news is that there are things we can do to help our children regain their balance and get their sparkle back.

How Pediatric Chiropractic Can Help With Stress and Restore balance

If this sounds like your teen or grade-schooler, get them into a neurologically focused chiropractor and get them scanned. Our INSiGHT scans can show us these patterns of tension and exhaustion in the nervous system.  We can get to the true root cause by measuring the stress on the nervous system, exactly where they may be wound up or worn out.  By using this technology, we can set up clinical protocols and know precisely which adjustments to make in order to calm the wound up side of the nervous system and activate the worn out and exhausted side. This helps the whole neurophysiological system get back to balance and regulation, which in turn leads to better adaptability, resilience, energy, and calmness.

If you suspect your child or teenager is experiencing this wound-up and worn-out phenomenon, don’t hesitate to contact your local PX Doc in our directory. They will put a customized care plan in place to help your child calm down what needs to be calmed and activate what needs to be activated so they can reach their full potential.  

Dr. Tony Ebel is the lead writer and educational guide for PX Docs. He is a Certified Pediatric + Wellness Chiropractor with 15 years of clinical experience. In addition, Dr. Tony has been teaching and training other Pediatric + Family Chiropractors for the past 10+ years, primarily teaching the clinical protocols he created for pediatric neurodevelopmental challenges such as Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Epilepsy, Anxiety, and more. This clinical program is now taught in collaboration with the Life University Postgraduate Department and has over 500 graduates. Dr. Tony’s passion is educating, empowering, and informing parents about the nervous system's role in natural, drug-free healing for all pediatric conditions and cases.

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