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Many Teens Still Dealing with Depression Brought On by the Pandemic

June 2021

Many Teens Still Dealing with Depression Brought On by the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on families. For teens, the past year will likely be remembered for how much they missed their friends and school, sports, band, or other activities. Some were disappointed when long-awaited milestones—such as prom and graduation events—were canceled or went virtual. Others were touched by the illness or loss of a loved one.

These challenges have taken a serious toll on teen mental health. In a national poll conducted in early 2021, parents reported that 31% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys experienced new or worsening depression during the pandemic.

Now, even as life starts moving closer to normal, many teens are still struggling emotionally. Here’s how to offer the support they need—and when to reach out for additional help.

Keep communication lines open

Look for natural moments to strike up a conversation about how the pandemic has affected your family. Invite your teen to open up about the experience, and listen for sadness or anxiety. Such feelings may be signs that your teen could use extra support and attention right now.

Be aware that some teens pull away from their families when distressed. If that sounds familiar, try connecting with your teen over a shared activity you both enjoy. That might mean practicing yoga, riding bikes, or going fishing, for instance. You’ll have a chance to check in about how things are going while having fun together.

If your child is still feeling cut off from some friends, suggest creative ways to bridge that divide. For example, your teen could organize a virtual movie or game night with buddies using an online platform like Zoom or Google Meet.

Stay alert for signs of depression

It’s normal for your teen to go through emotional ups and downs, especially in trying times. True depression is more than ordinary moodiness, however. It’s a health condition that can wreak havoc on your child’s daily life.

Watch for these signs of depression:

  • Long-lasting sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or anxiety

  • Disinterest in things your child once enjoyed

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Poor self-esteem

  • Reduced concentration

  • Drop in grades

  • Restlessness or trouble sitting still

  • Unusually slow movements

If you notice these warning signs, ask your child’s healthcare provider to screen your teen for depression. Seek help immediately for any talk of suicide by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).

The pandemic has been a unique strain on families. Know that there are resources available to help your teen cope with any lingering distress.



Reviewed Date: 04-01-2021

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.