Negative Effiect of COVID-19 Lockdown on Teens’ Mental Health


  • By the age of 18, one in every three teenagers (31.9%) will fulfill the criteria for an anxiety disorder.
  • According to a recent survey, many teenagers display indications of anxiety and sadness.
  • The pandemic’s constraints have been felt across the board. Restrictions have resulted in months of virtual learning, more time away from friends, and the cancellation of crucial social events like sports, school performances, graduations, and proms for teens.

At the time of publishing, all facts and statistics were based on publicly accessible information. It’s possible that some of the material is outdated. For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our coronavirus portal and follow our live updates page. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant dealing with numerous issues at once, including financial and health-related ones. Our emotional and physical health has suffered as a result of these crises.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, during the epidemic, 4 out of 10 individuals in the United States showed anxiety or depression disorder symptoms. However, according to a survey conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the pandemic’s mental health impacts are more likely to have a substantial impact on teens.

The pandemic’s constraints have been felt across the board. Restrictions have resulted in months of virtual learning, more time away from friends, and the cancellation of crucial social events like sports, school performances, graduations, and proms for teens. According to a nationwide study conducted by Michigan Medicine’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 46% of parents believe their adolescent has shown indicators of a new or worsening mental health issue since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“Physical, emotional, and cognitive changes abound throughout adolescence. Hormonal changes, more independence and responsibility, and peer pressure are additional factors, according to Brittany LeMonda, Ph.D., senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “It’s hardly unexpected, however, that teenagers have been more vulnerable to mental health decreases in the recent year.”

A total of 977 parents of teens aged 13 to 18 years old participated in the survey. According to the findings, one in every three teenage females and one in every five teenage boys has experienced new or increased anxiety. More parents of adolescent females than parents of teen boys reported an increase in anxiety and concern (36 percent vs 19 percent) or depression/sadness (31 percent versus 18 percent), according to the findings.

Why are so many teenagers depressed and anxious during COVID-19?

Regardless of whether there is a pandemic, a significant number of youngsters will fit the criteria for anxiety, depression, or another mental illness. By the age of 18, one in every three teenagers (31.9%) will fulfill the criteria for an anxiety disorder.

According to the Child Mind Institute, depression and bipolar illness will afflict 14.3% of teenagers. It’s no wonder that adolescents are one of the most afflicted populations, especially given the extra stress of the worldwide epidemic. “What we observe in the pool is not unexpected,” said Dr. Jess Shatkin, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who directs educational programs at NYU Langone Health’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

“Since 1999, when the surgeon general released their first report on mental health in families and children, it has been estimated that roughly 20% of youngsters have serious psychiatric illnesses,” Shatkin added. “Some will be modest, such as adjustment or divorce, while others, such as anxiety, mood disorders, and schizophrenia, will be more severe.” All of these things become worse when you’re under a lot of stress.”

Teens have been forced to withdraw from typical social, physical, and educational contacts due to the epidemic. According to the poll’s findings, children have been the worst hurt by changes in social relations over the last year, with three out of four parents noting a negative influence on their teen’s friendships. According to the parents, 64 percent of their children text, while 56 percent use social media, 43 percent play online games, and 35 percent converse on the phone every day or practically every day.

A small percentage of parents said their children met together with friends on a daily basis, either inside (9%) or outside (6%).  “When kids are sad, we attempt to keep them engaged so they don’t isolate themselves.” “It’s called behavioral activation,” Shatkin remarked. Because of the COVID-19 limitations, remaining home and isolating becomes the only option to be physically safe and prevent the virus from spreading.

What are the symptoms of teen depression?

Parents have observed unfavorable changes in their teen’s sleep habits, detachment from family, and violent conduct during the epidemic, according to the study.

These indicators of sadness or anxiety might be present. Parents should be on the lookout for these behaviors, as well as other significant changes in behavior, in their children as a result of the increased stress of being away from their typical surroundings. “Parents should be aware of warning indicators including withdrawal and isolation from others, a reduction in grades, changes in sleeping or eating habits, drug usage, apathy, and suicide thoughts,” LeMonda added. “Early diagnosis of anxiety and depression may lead to improved treatment results and earlier intervention.”

During the epidemic, how can you support your teens with worry and depression?

The poll’s results also revealed how parents have improved their children’s mental health. Experts advise that you:

Relaxing family rules

Fifty-two percent of parents asked said they’ve tried loosening family COVID-19 rules to allow for communication with peers, and 47 percent said they’ve done the same with social media limits. Both of these were deemed to benefit by 81% and 70% of respondents, respectively.

Consultation with a professional

With or without severe depression or anxiety symptoms, speaking with a mental health professional is always a good idea. One in every four parents said they sought help for their teen, and 74% of those who did said it was beneficial.

Using a web-based application

Twenty-five percent of parents said their kids should use an online program or app to assist with mental health. Because they are efficient and portable, apps are often less intimidating.

Keeping communication open while still giving space

One in every seven parents said their teen has become estranged from the family. For a parent, this can be concerning, so they may try to compensate in some way. Sharing one’s own insecurities and fears about our changing world, as well as sharing personal coping strategies and asking questions to help create a safe space, can be more effective in demonstrating that teens are not alone.

Encourage good sleeping habits

One in every four parents said their teen’s sleep habits had shifted negatively. Creating a regular sleep pattern to match an online study plan, as well as assigning chores around the home and fostering connections with friends and family, may all help you get a better night’s sleep. “It could be advantageous for parents who are able and accessible around the house to try to exercise with their children on a regular basis,” Shatkin noted. Examples include “jogging, walking the dog, playing tennis, or anything else you can do securely outside.”

He also advised adding activities or increasing duties for teenagers to make them feel more purposeful. A family movie night, family cleaning, or having kids assist prepare meals or cooking may all be examples of this. “Sometimes kids get a break on them because their parents are too busy or they do it themselves.

Begin the conversation as soon as possible

The most essential thing to keep in mind is that mental illness may strike at any age. Waiting until an adolescent is in their 20s or 30s to address mental health issues may be harmful. “We have a big potential to detect and avoid a lot of these problems early,” Shatkin added.

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