This is a stressful time for everyone, and with online school underway our teens and tweens may be feeling the pressure more than you would imagine. The National Institute of Health says that usually nearly 1 in every 3 teens will experience an anxiety disorder every year. On top of that teens with adolescent depression are becoming more and more common. Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand in some cases and they can be hard to handle on your own as a parent and as the child.
World events, especially the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, virtual school, and lengthy quarantine are causing increased stress and anxiety for everyone, especially children and teens who are still growing and learning coping skills. Below are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for.
Anxiety Warning Signs:
- Fear and increased worry about daily tasks or established routines
- Changes in behavior, like increased irritability
- Avoidance behavior, especially avoiding school, or social interaction
- Falling grades
- Issues sleeping and concentrating
- Risky behavior and/or substance abuse
- Repeated physical complaints like fatigue, headaches, stomach aches, etc
Depression Warning Signs:
- A sad or “cranky” mood for most of the day that may result in either tearfulness, anger, or numbness
- No longer enjoying activities or tasks they previously did
- A noticeable change in weight either up or down (This could be cause for larger concern. If you notice your child or teen obsessing about weight or changing weight quickly, schedule an appointment immediately.)
- Sleeping too much during the day and not enough at night
- No longer wanting to interact with family or friends
- Lack of energy, self esteem, ability to focus, or make choices
- Not caring about the future
- Aches and pains when nothing is wrong
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Any of these signs can happen normally with children and teens. However, if you see multiple signs that seem consistent, it is time to make an appointment with us.
What can you do to help?
- Speak to your children about potential stressors and help them navigate their way to helpful coping mechanisms.
- Things like taking a break from social media, walking around the block, or getting extra help with school work.
- Be mindful about the expectations set for your children and teens.
- High expectations are helpful to push and motivate your family to reach their potential but, the world is an unsteady place right now and everyone is still adjusting to school and our “new normal.”
- Remembering that children and teens need breaks, relaxation, and socially distanced visits with friends and family members just as much as they need school time.
- Set aside time to speak with your family about how much time they are spending on social media or watching/reading the news a day.
- This can help them think critically about the effect that constant negativity and pressure can have on their anxiety levels.
- Promote healthy habits at home.
- Diet, exercise, regular sleep schedules, and time relaxing and socializing (safely) are the basics for good mental health.
- Let your child or teen see you doing these things as well. They pick up on more than you might think and mirroring your habits is a great place to start.
If you are noticing some signs of heightened anxiety or depression with your children or teens please call us. We can help screen your child, and create a comprehensive treatment plan to help your family. Call us at 540.349.3225!