Teenagers across the country are struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are forced to attend school through virtual learning, feeling isolated and bored sitting at home and not able to see their friends. That isolation is leading to fear and anxiety and causing behaviors that are not in their best interest. Throw in the constant negativity they are being exposed to on social media and you add to the impact on their mental health, creating a recipe for substance abuse, addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
There are many scary things occurring in our world currently, and that is causing anxiety in everyone, adults, teens, and even small children. Teens are old enough to understand that the current events are chaotic and see the worry and stress in their parents. This can create anxiety and depression or exacerbate any existing mental health issues. Seeing the anxiety in their parents may leave them feeling they have no one to talk to about their fears. This leads to such severe anxiety and depression that it can affect everything they do and even cause suicidal thoughts.
Time on social media can amplify all these issues. Excessive exposure to constant negativity about the pandemic, including deaths, arguments regarding the social distancing rules and masks, arguments about the elections, etc., all lead to feeding teenagers’ fears and anxieties. You may see them hibernating in their rooms more, even skipping family meals or avoiding other opportunities to interact with family. This may just be because they are looking for their own quiet space with everyone at home, but should be monitored closely for signs of depression, severe anxiety, and potential self-harm.
Your household may have also established some strict social distancing rules and your teen may be struggling with those limitations. They may see their friends socializing, and while they may understand the need for your rules, they may also resent them. Many teens are breaking the rules and socializing closely while engaging in risky behavior, such as substance abuse. The forced isolation is causing many teens to seek out that risk-taking behavior out of boredom and a way to engage with others. This substance abuse can quickly lead to addiction if your teenager doesn’t receive help.
Parents should be aware of and watch for specific warning signs in their teenagers for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Some warning signs include:
- Changes in eating habits or weight
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Emotional changes, such as feeling hopeless, or sudden outbursts
- Trouble thinking or concentrating
- Hanging out with known troublemakers
If you have concerns that your teen may be experiencing severe anxiety, depression, or engaging in substance use, then contact Aspire Counseling Services. Approach the subject with your teen as providing them with an outlet of someone to talk to about their concerns. Let them know that you are offering them an opportunity to meet with other teens going through the same issues, and counselors experienced in working with teenagers to find solutions to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Don’t let your teen become another statistic impacted by the pandemic. Teen mental health issues and addiction are rising astronomically during these stressful times. Call Aspire Counseling Services today to help your teen adjust to these unprecedented times and the mental health impacts.
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