- One in three adolescents (31.9 percent) will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18.
- A new poll finds many teens show signs of anxiety and depression.
- The restrictions of the pandemic have been felt across the board. For teenagers, restrictions have meant months of virtual learning, more time isolated from friends, and the canceling of important social activities like sports, school performances, graduations, and proms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant living through multiple crises, including financial and disease-related ones, all at once.
These crises have taken a toll on our mental and physical health.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 adults in the United States have reported anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms during the pandemic.
But a poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shows that the mental health effects of the pandemic are more likely to have a significant impact on teenagers.
The restrictions of the pandemic have been felt across the board. For teenagers, restrictions have meant months of virtual learning, more time isolated from friends, and the canceling of important social activities like sports, school performances, graduations, and proms.
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, a national poll shows that 46 percent of parents say their teen had shown signs of a new or worsening mental health condition since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
“Teenage years are filled with physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. There are also hormonal shifts, more independence and responsibility, and peer challenges,” said Brittany LeMonda, PhD, senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “It is therefore not surprising that teens have been more susceptible to declines in psychological health over the last year.”
The poll looked at responses based on 977 parents of teenagers between 13 and 18 years old. The results suggest that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 teen boys have experienced new or worsening anxiety.
Going deeper, the results show that more parents of teen girls than parents of teen boys noted an increase in anxiety and worry (36 percent versus 19 percent) or depression/sadness (31 percent versus 18 percent).
Why are teens experiencing depression and anxiety during COVID-19?
Regardless of a pandemic, a large portion of teenagers will meet the criteria for a anxiety, depression or other mental condition.
One in three adolescents (31.9 percent) will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by age 18.
According to the Child Mind Institute, 14.3 percent of teens will be affected by depression and bipolar disorder.
With the added trauma of the global pandemic, it’s not a surprise that teens are one of the most affected groups.
“What we see is not surprising in the pool,” said Dr. Jess Shatkin, a child and adolescent psychiatrist leading educational efforts of the Child Study Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Health.
“Since 1999, when the surgeon general did their first report on mental health in families and children, it showed that about 20 percent of kids suffer from major psychiatric disorders,” Shatkin said. “These can be mild, from adjustment to divorce, while some will be more severe, like anxiety, mood disorders, and schizophrenia. All of these increase with added stress.”
The pandemic has forced teens to be removed from normal social, physical, and educational interactions.
The poll’s results show that kids have been hardest hit by changes in social interactions over the past year, with 3 in 4 parents reporting a negative impact on their teen’s connections to friends.
The parents report that 64 percent of their teens have been texting, while 56 percent are using social media, 43 percent online gaming, and 35 percent talking on the phone every day or almost every day.
The minority of parents reported that their teens have been meeting with friends daily, indoors (9 percent) or outdoors (6 percent).
“When kids are depressed, we try to engage them so they don’t stay in and isolate. We call it behavioral activation,” added Shatkin.
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, this all becomes a much greater challenge when staying in and isolating becomes the only way to stay physically safe and curb the spread of the virus.HEALTHLINE RESOURCECOVID-19: How we’re finding hope in the heartache
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