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Mental Health

WOULD YOU RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY?

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by Pamela Stoelzel M.S., LPC, NCC  Community Health Specialist, CSC Center for Health Improvement at CoxHealth

Many teens are still struggling with emotional challenges as the world moves on from COVID-19. Our featured guest contributor breaks down some of the warning signs.  


While we would always encourage you to listen to your teens in a non-judgmental manner, being available to ask and hear about their thoughts and feelings while they are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important.  

Many teens have been isolated for months, unable see friends in person, engage in extracurricular activities (including sports) and unable to see even close family members, such as grandparents.  Virtual learning has added another element of stress to an already overwhelming situation.  

Adolescents across the country are reporting higher levels of depression and anxiety.  A first step in addressing these issues is to offer a listening ear and your support. Remember that teens will often try to hide what is going on with them emotionally, so it is important to pay attention to changes in behavior.  

Signs that your child may be experiencing stress, anxiety or depression include: 

  • Changes in mood- increased irritability, anger or sadness 
  • Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed 
  • Social isolation: Is your child avoiding video chatting, texting or phone calls with family or friends when normally they would be engaging in these types of socialization? 
  • Increased or decreased sleep and/or changes in eating patterns 
  • Problems with memory, concentration or organization 
  • Loss of interest in academics as evidenced by incomplete or poor quality work 
  • Decrease in attentiveness to personal hygiene 
  • Increased reckless behavior and/or using drugs and/or alcohol 
  • Talking or thinking about death or suicide 

Whether or not your teen is experiencing depression or anxiety, we can all benefit from focusing on good self-care. As a parent, it’s important that you model good self-care for your child. Eating nutritious food, exercising several times a week and getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night are always important. Engaging in social activities (even remotely) and getting outdoors to experience nature and sunlight can also be beneficial.  Mindfulness is another activity that can help individuals manage difficult emotions. 

If you believe your child is suffering from anxiety or depression, a first step is talking with your pediatrician or primary care provider.  There are several effective treatments for anxiety and depression, including therapy and medications.  

Resources 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK or Text the Crisis Text Line by texting 'TALK' to 741741.  

Mindfulness for Teens

COVID-19 Support for Teens and Young Adults

How to Help Teens Manage their Anxiety 

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Six Things to Say to a Teen Struggling with Anxiety or Depression  

Parenting a Depressed Teenager

Anxiety and Depression in Children

Prevalence of Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents 

Statistics on Major Depression

Parents Guide to Teen Depression 

References 

American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org, March 12, 2021 https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Signs-your-Teen-May-Need-More-Support.aspx 

American Academy of Pediatrics.  Healthchidlren.org, October 23, 2020 https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Parenting-in-a-Pandemic.aspx 

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