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05 . 04 . 21

Update on Teen Anxiety and Depression

By Shelterwood

Despite the decrease in COVID-19 cases and increase in people receiving vaccines, the Pandemic continues to impact the mental health of teens.

According to U.S. News and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Med, three fourths of parents confirmed the negative effects the pandemic has had on their teens and connections with friends. In a similar post shared on WebMD by HealthDay Reporter Robert Preidt, 46% of 977 parents of teens reported their child had shown signs of new or worsening mental health since the pandemic first began.

Disruptions to routines, classroom learning and social opportunities were the first of many challenges teens faced with COVID-19. Now differing opinions regarding personal safety, restrictions, and potential outcomes of the vaccines have teens feeling more confused and less confident about their leaders and future.

Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Dr. Gary Freed spoke about the importance of social opportunities and peer interaction in adolescent development. “Just as young people are at the age of being biologically primed to seek independence from families, COVID-19 precautions kept them home,” stated Freed.

Many kids turned to social media, virtual gaming and texting to connect with friends. These same vehicles that helped teens to cope with social distancing and isolation may now make it harder to disconnect from public opinion, feel safe in larger groups and engage fully with friends.

What are Some of the Signs Your Teen May Be Suffering From Anxiety or Depression?

  1. Trouble sleeping at night or focusing on routine tasks.
  2. Increased fear and worry about the future.
  3. Diminishing grades or increased stress and frustration with learning, teachers and school administration.
  4. Withdrawal from family members and aggressive behavior toward others.
  5. Lack of interest and motivation to get out of the house, reach out to friends, or talk about the future.
  6. Negative self-talk or harm. If your child expresses any thoughts of suicide or self-harm, seek assistance from a mental health professional immediately.

Talk to your teen and ask them how they are feeling about school/finals, summer, plans for fall, sports, work or friends. Many parents assume their teens will come to them if they ever need to talk or are feeling unsure about the future. But in an age where kids are struggling to reconnect with others, it’s not safe to assume they are managing on their own.

The first step to helping teens overcome anxiety and depression — and improve mental health in the midst of a pandemic — is to ask them how they feel. Then, listen and ask how you can help.

Sources:

  • “Pandemic Has Harmed Mental Health of Nearly Half of U.S. Teens: Poll.” U.S. News. www.usnews.com. University of Michigan, news release. 15 March, 2021.
  • “Mott Poll Report: How the Pandemic Has Impacted Teen Mental Health.” Volume 38, Issue 2. S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, Michigan Med. www.mottpoll.org. 15 March, 2021.
  • “Pandemic Has Harmed Mental Health of Teens,” by Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter. www.webmd.com. 15 March, 2021.
  • “New Survey Reveals American Teens Are Experiencing High Rates of Anxiety, Depression, Acts of Self-Harm,” by John Zogby. Public Safety and Wellbeing Index, Navigate360 and John Zogby Strategies. Forbes Magazine. forbes.com. 13 January, 2021.