This month, students will begin returning to school buildings for full-time, in-person instruction. During this time, it’s incredibly important that the adults in the building are mindful that many may require additional support.
The reality is, the last 18 months have been difficult for all of us. For young people in the crucial developmental stages of their lives, though, the impacts have been especially severe.
While shelter-in-place orders were instrumental in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, the precaution undoubtedly took a toll on the mental health of many teenagers. And even before the pandemic, mental illness among teenagers was on the rise.
Here are some signs to watch out for this school year from teenagers who might be struggling with anxiety or depression.
Signs of depression in teenagers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.2% of young people between the ages of three and 17 years old have been diagnosed with depression. The true number of young people suffering from depression is likely to be higher, though—especially in the pandemic era.
Below are the behavioral changes that the Mayo Clinic says teenagers might display:
- Lack of energy
- Oversleeping, or having difficulty sleeping
- Extreme dietary changes
- Alcohol or drug use
- Appearing restless
- Speaking or moving lethargically
- Consistent reports of unexplained body aches or headaches
- Isolating socially
- Poor academic performance or chronic absences
- Not caring about appearance or personal hygiene
- Issues with anger
- Self-injury behavior
- Suicide ideation or attempts
Signs of anxiety in teenagers
When it comes to the rate of young people diagnosed with anxiety, it’s even higher.
The CDC says 7.1% of young people between the ages of three and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety. At the same time, the National Institute of Mental Health predicts about 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder.
According to Psycom, teenagers suffering from an anxiety disorder may show many of the same signs as those who are impacted by depression. In some cases, teens with an anxiety disorder may experience some of the following symptoms of a panic attack:
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Shaking and sweating
- Feeling dizzy
- Breathing complications
- Stomach or chest pains
- Feeling like they’re going to die
- Saying that they’re “going crazy”
- Numb or “pins and needs” feeling in arms and legs
- Appearing detached from their surroundings
Young people have experienced a lot over the past 18 months—that is for certain. But, while it may require a bit of an adjustment period, there’s good reason to hope that students will be comfortable and even excited to get back into the swing of things with a more “normal” routine.
For those who might be having a difficult time with mental health challenges, though, school counselors, teachers and parents can offer vital support in this time of need by going the extra mile to make sure they’re doing OK.
Do you know a young person who’s having a difficult time readjusting after the trauma and constraints of the pandemic? Meridian’s dedicated specialists can help. Learn more about Meridian’s child and adolescent mental health services today.