The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, including children and teens. The social isolation, worry, and stress associated with the pandemic have caused increased mental health problems for teens. Teens who already battled depression and anxiety have been hit especially hard. If you are concerned that your teenage son’s depression or anxiety is becoming more than he can handle, contact us about our school for troubled teens. Our staff is friendly and ready to help parents find answers during this difficult time.
Teens already have a lot going on in their lives, even when there isn’t a pandemic going on. They have to manage schoolwork, home life, and social life. Meanwhile, they’re experiencing all of the hormones that come along with puberty. With so much to balance, things aren’t always going to go smoothly.
Most teens experience some emotional ups and downs as the stressors in their life shift. They might get anxious right before a big exam or before asking someone out on a date for the first time. They might be sad when they don’t get invited to a party or get in trouble for breaking household rules. These negative emotions usually balance out with feelings of happiness and success, though.
Why is the COVID-19 pandemic especially hard on teens?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, teenagers have experienced a lot more stressors than usual. Along with the additional worry and lifestyle changes, many teens have been removed from their positive activities. They haven’t been able to participate in sports or school clubs the same way they used to. They also haven’t been able to interact with their peers in the way.
The teen years are a key time for socialization. Teenagers typically start to pull away from their families more during high school and begin to form their own identities. They rely on their friends and peers for social interaction. With the departure from school, sports, and standard routines throughout the pandemic, many teens haven’t been able to socialize the way they need to.
When teens don’t get to socialize appropriately, they can start to feel isolated. Feeling isolated is hard at any age, but especially during the teen years. Isolation makes people feel lonely, and loneliness can lead to both physical and mental problems. If you suspect that your teen is feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic, keep an eye out for signs of depression.
Depression and anxiety in teens during the COVID-19 pandemic
With so many unexpected changes, many teens are experiencing increased levels of depression and anxiety during the COVID pandemic. Life has been in a constant state of flux for over a year, and they don’t know what to expect anymore.
On top of the constant changes in routine, many teens are worried about themselves or their loved ones.
Having anxiety can make it difficult for teens to function in everyday life. Teens with anxiety tend to worry about things that they have no control over. Being so worried all of the time can interfere with important activities like schoolwork and developing healthy relationships.
Symptoms of teenage anxiety:
Having trouble sleeping (insomnia, nightmares, restlessness, etc.)
Having trouble focusing
Being on edge
Worrying about things they didn’t formerly worry about
Being easily upset or irritated
If your teen is talking about suicide, take it seriously. You can always reach someone on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Symptoms of teenage depression:
A significant change in eating habits or weight
Change in sleeping habits (sleeping a lot or having bouts of insomnia)
Withdrawing from activities that they used to enjoy
No longer caring about things that used to be important to them
Withdrawing from others (including not texting or using social media as they used to)
Complaining of aches and pains (headache, stomach ache, “not feeling good,” etc.)
Substance use or abuse
Talking about suicide
Helping your teen cope during the COVID-19 pandemic
Chances are, your teen is having a rough time during the pandemic. Having your support can help them get through it.
Check-in with your teen regularly to see how they’re doing. Let them know that you realize life is extra hard right now and that you’ll be there for them. Your teen needs to know that they can talk to you if they’re not doing well and that you will sincerely listen to them.
Many teens also benefit from talking to a mental health professional. If your teen is dealing with the effects of depression or anxiety, talking to a professional can help. You can start by talking to your teen’s pediatrician or primary care physician. They should be able to help you assess the severity of the symptoms and offer guidance.
Your teen could also benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school that offers fun outings and social interactions. At Sundance Canyon Academy, we implement COVID-19 precautions to keep our students safe while offering recreational activities and life skills training. Students earn high school credits and receive the social interaction that they crave. Contact us today for more information about our school.