How Has Covid Affected Mental Health for Kids?Aug 26, 2021
Escalating Anxiety in Kids & Teens
As I transitioned to virtual visits for my patients, I witnessed firsthand the fragile psychological state so many pre-teens and teens are in as they wrestle with that chaos associated with COVID-19. They're often stuck at home, sharing with me how they are frustrated, disappointed, inconvenienced, and worried.
The pandemic has increased uncertainty over school experiences, how and when kids might connect with friends, family finances, vacations, part-time employment, and medical and mental health. This lack of a clear path forward, and our powerlessness over many factors about the direction of our lives, can lead to significant stress.
In the video below, I'll cover some of the current trends in anxiety and depression, how Covid has impacted these trends, and what can be done to support kids in their mental health. Specifically, I'll discuss how children and teens can be empowered to reverse the effects of negative experiences through the development of self-care skills and resilient childhood experiences. See below the video for more on this important topic.
Rates of Anxiety Disorder in Kids & Teens
Even before the pandemic, studies indicated that anxiety in teens was rising as much as 20% over the last several years. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. Adolescents have many reasons for experiencing heightened anxiety:
- A culture of achievement with high expectations and pressure to succeed academically, socially, and in extracurricular activities.
- Constant media and exposure to coverage of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, school shootings, and epidemics may lead to a feeling that the world is a scary and threatening place.
- Negative social media impacts as kids compare their social connections, accomplishments, and life to glossy "influencers" and others in their circles.
It's also important to note that the anxiety and irritability that I have witnessed lately in my patients is largely situational. It does not mean these individuals are experiencing a major, long-term mental health issue. In fact, most kids are experiencing what is sometimes called an adjustment disorder. This can be described as an emotional/behavioral reaction to short-term stressors or situational stress that results in symptoms like anxiety or depression. The symptoms can be functionally impairing, but will likely improve when the stressors are gone or the situation changes.
Of course, it's not wise to just wait it out. There are many ways to boost up resilience and reduce symptoms so that kids and teens can get through the stressors more easily. See some articles below for more natural approaches to support kids.
Help Kids & Teens Nurture Natural Calm
Conventional treatment approaches for anxiety have an important role in the treatment of children and teens with more severe forms of anxiety disorders. This includes prescription psychiatric medication (SSRI’s and others). However, in my clinical practice of integrative pediatrics, I rely on natural therapies for anxiety whenever possible.
Many of these therapies are outlined in the following articles. Visit the parts that might align most with your kid.
- Vitamins and Supplements: Also referred to as nutraceuticals. These options are usually made from natural substances (herbs, vitamins, minerals) and may have less side effects than prescription medications. Read this article on supplements for anxiousness in kids and teens.>>>
- Aromatherapy: Involves the use of essential oils from plants by inhalation and topical application for therapeutic purposes.
- Healing Technologies: Also called electroceuticals. This category includes biofeedback devices and devices that modulate electrical activity in the central or peripheral nervous system. Read this article on technology for anxiousness in kids & teens.>>>
Other articles that may help
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Symptoms of Anxiousness in Kids and Teens
Anxiety in kids and teens may not look like it does in adults. Emotional changes are more easily spotted, but social, physical, and sleep changes are also common for both anxiety and depression. Read the article.