Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

by Lisa Damour Ph.D.

Hardcover, 2019





Ballantine Books (2019), 288 pages


"Though anxiety has risen among young people overall, studies confirm that it has skyrocketed in girls. Research finds that the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55% from 2009 to 2014 while the comparable number for adolescent boys has remained unchanged. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with girls, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., has witnessed this rising tide of stress and anxiety in her own research, private practice, and in the all-girls' school where she consults, and knew this had to be the topic of her new book. In the same engaging, anecdotal style and reassuring tone that won over thousands of readers of her first book, Untangled, Damour starts by addressing the facts about psychological pressure. Surprisingly, she explains the underappreciated value of stress and anxiety--that stress can helpfully stretch us beyond our comfort zones and anxiety can play a key role in keeping girls safe. When we emphasize the benefits of stress and anxiety we can help our daughters take them in stride. But no one wants their girl to suffer from emotional overload, so Damour then turns to the many facets of their lives where tension takes hold: their interactions at home, pressures at school, social anxiety among other girls and among boys, and on social media. As readers move through the layers of girls' lives, they'll learn about the critical steps that adults can take to shield their daughters from the toxic pressures to which our culture--including we, as parents--subjects girls. Readers who know Damour from Untangled or the New York Times or from her regular appearances on CBS News will be drawn to this important new contribution to understanding and supporting today's girls"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rivkat
Advocates giving our daughters permission to slack off, to be imperfect, to be not just beautiful in their own way but unbeautiful, even though it’s very hard for parents alone to be in control of those messages. I particularly noted the concept of “settling your glitter”—giving agitation time to calm down before reacting as a parent, and letting the girl do the same. And also the concept that we regularly expect boys to exert the minimum effort necessary to achieve an objective, like an A, but expect girls to go full throttle; girls can benefit a lot from figuring out when they can slack off—and from encouragement to do so.… (more)
LibraryThing member JessiAdams
I was feeling kinda meh about receiving this book, if I'm being honest. It isn't a "fun" topic. For me, reading this went from "oh well, this is fine" to "I am never letting go of this book" fairly quickly.

I want it known first of all that this is definitely not a book about anxiety disorders. I think the use of the word anxiety makes people think that this book will only be used to learn about abnormal and dysfunctional feelings. This book is about the normal stress and anxiety of being a girl. Honestly, 85% of the book would apply to any gender, so I would say you don't necessarily have to stick to reading this only if you have a cis gendered girl in your home.

I really enjoyed reading this, took copious notes in the margins and marked a lot of pages to return to, something I almost never do while reading, so that should tell you how useful this book really is. This book covers very useful and practical exercises to do (in many cases with sample scripts) to help your daughter process feelings, navigate complex social relationships and get the most out of her education and friendships. The author acknowledges that society puts a lot more pressure on girls to be socially savvy very early that it doesn't put on boys, and also that they must be attractive, even more qualified than a male counterpart and charming while doing it. The author does not dwell on this information, I wouldn't even say the book is really about the pressures put on girls, but it is a backdrop to the information provided, which is how to help yourself and your daughter navigate this landscape.

I highly HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone with a daughter, and still recommend it for anyone without.
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LibraryThing member julieandbeli
Perfect timing for me to read as my daughter moves into this phase/time in life. I found many great tactics to employ including breathing exercises that are great for my very reactive daughter. I must admit though, that our life situation may not fit in with many of the situations specific to this book as we are a homeschool family and my daughter is sheltered from many of the "school" situations. That being said I was very happy to find good information to take with me as my daughter and I move forward into her teen years.… (more)
LibraryThing member LissaJ
I have a ten year old daughter and I feel like it is the perfect time to read this book. While she is not yet dealing with many of the issues presented, it is good for me to know what problems might be down the pipeline and down to earth, reasonable, ways to handle them. My one objection is that the author works at a private all-girls school and at a private practice. This means that common issues that girls from less privileged backgrounds were not really addressed. Overall, though, I found this incredibly helpful and full of commonsense advice. I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.… (more)
LibraryThing member AlanaB
The book was really informative and really put things into perspective about all the expectations and stress that teenage girls are experiencing. I have to say, I have already been sharing her information about the square breathing technique with others and it really makes sense. I like how the book was readable and backed up by research. I also loved all the references to real life examples from others. I definitely recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member Susan.Macura
I finally received this book. It arrived as a package that obviously had been exposed to the elements. However, once I dried out the book, I found it a great read. The author provides the reader with a great deal of advice on how to help especially girls deal with the pressures of life. What made this such a great read was the examples based on her practice that illuminated the points she was making. She also gave us examples of how she learned to look at things differently by making some mistakes along the way - something every parent and teacher has done as well. This was a very insightful and helpful read about a timely topic that proved to be an entertaining read as well.… (more)
LibraryThing member CarolynSchroeder
I found this book wonderful and despite its title, had a way of making an adult feel calm about the situations young girls face. I basically got this to deepen my relationship and understanding of the current climate my nieces (9 and 17) have to navigate. I am close to both of them and this gave me much-needed tools on what to do in some situations. It is funny how we, as adults, tend to ratchet up the stress, but it is the last thing we want to do. It never occurred to me to give the stress validity (and also recognize that some stress is actually very good and growth-producing) and then help the girls deal with the reality, and give much-needed support. There simply are some stresses that I did not experience generationally (I am 51). My only small complaint is that this is definitely for the demographic that has money, resources and not dealing with severe emotional/behavior issues. I don't think she really was able to address the oppressive conditions of severe poverty, domestic abuse, various mental conditions, etc. That said, the book is tailored to the patients who can and do afford and utilize her services. Overall, excellent.… (more)
LibraryThing member LivelyLady
Realistic reviews of issues and situations confronting today's young women. The author uses examples from her psychotherapy practice to illustrate scenarios this generation of young women (and men) are experiencing along with suggested ways of lessening the tension accompanying the situations. I thought the chapters dealing with the changing mores of sex sounded very contemporary and, to me, made this a credible resource for a parent, grandparent, or young adult.… (more)
LibraryThing member catfan69
I received a copy of this book from Library Thing Early Reviewers and was eager to read it as soon as it arrived. I have a 17-year old daughter who has been in counseling for about two years for issues with anxiety. The author, Dr. Damour, has written a user-friendly and very informative guide for helping teenage girls manage stress and anxiety caused by a variety of factors. I particularly appreciated how she kept reiterating that a certain amount of stress and anxiety is normal and actually beneficial for teenage girls. As I was reading, I underlined passages and made many notations in the margins. This is a book you can return to over and over for practical advice. Dr. Damour does not just admire the problem; she gives parents specific and reasonable actions to help both the young girls and their parents. Some of the examples of the girls she has counseled were excessively long and detailed, which I did not enjoy. Overall, however, I was tremendously pleased with Dr. Damour's book. It is well referenced and has an ample section of suggested additional reading material for each chapter, with suggestions for both the teen and the parent. I have purchased two of the books recommended for teens, and my daughter and I are reading them together. I have shared ideas and excerpts from Under Pressure with my daughter, and she has really taken to the idea of square breathing. I give this book 4 stars and recommend it for parents of adolescent and teenage girls. Your daughter does not have to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder for this book to be beneficial. It provides information about managing stress and feelings of anxiety for all young girls, not just those who experience it to a severe degree.… (more)
LibraryThing member Dgryan1
I have already shared the title of this book with a number of friends and work colleagues, urging them to read it because of the extremely valuable insights and advice Lisa Damour brings to the subject of the pressures facing teens today. While primarily a book devoted to the anxiety and stressors with which so many girls struggle, it contains much that is equally applicable to boys. Today's world is very different than it was a decade ago, and certainly a different environment for teens than two or three decades ago. Damour makes the point that although teens have always experienced stress and anxiety, it is a different ballgame today. She goes through many of the reasons why this is so, such as the advent of social media, a constant news cycle, and the increasing competitiveness of the college application process. There are also many helpful suggestions for coping with specific types of problems. For example, she gives a technique for teaching girls how to navigate saying "no" to someone without hurting the other person's feelings. Girls are often raised to please or have an expectation that they should accommodate others. We can give girls a verbal toolkit that includes a strategy of yes-no-yes. We decline to do something because we are saying "yes' to something else. (I won't do that extra thing I'm being asked to do because I'm saying yes to extra sleep this weekend...which I really need). Then, "no" grows out of the first "yes" when the girl actually declines to do the thing she was asked, but the second "yes" allows her to state what she can do. With a culture that has trained girls to "people please" too often, and with situations that do not always require a firm, harsh "no" that may make a girl uncomfortable because it would seem impolite, teaching them this strategy can decrease their anxiety about saying "no" to something. It is simple little tips and strategies like this that Damour includes throughout her book, after describing some of the specific types of stressors that girls experience.

I particularly liked the chapter where she addressed the stress girls face and the pressure they place on themselves through the whole process of trying to get into the colleges of their choice. Damour advises changing our focus from academic achievement that eventually leads to affluence, to one that focuses on well-being and fulfillment. We need a new definition of success, one that focuses on a life that has meaning and direction, a feeling of success in one's endeavors, and which emphasizes well-being and fulfillment...not just impressive academic achievements, a long resume, and high earnings.

Anyone who has daughters or who works with teen girls will find much to take from this book. The author offers so many ways to help teach or coach teen girls facing difficult situations and to help them cope when they are feeling overwhelmed. I plan on re-reading this one and highly recommend it to anyone who cares about teens today, especially teen girls who face such unique pressures in our society.
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Original language


Physical description

288 p.; 5.73 inches


0399180052 / 9780399180057


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