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  • Writer's pictureDr. Edan M. Alcalay

COVID’s Impact on Teen Mental Health


A teenager’s number one priority is often the ability to develop and maintain meaningful friendships. COVID caused a mandatory isolation to be enforced, which became an added stressor into teenagers’ lives. Being able to see their friends and have in-person social interaction is something teens rely on. Most teens even utilize their friends as part of their support system, someone they can talk to in a moment of stress or sadness. Abruptly being cut off from seeing each other in person made the everyday stress of being a teenager more difficult for some teens. This led to an increase in the use of social media and electronics. The media overreactions online caused further stress, anxiety, and other emotions. On top of the fear and stress that were being experienced, some teenagers also had to deal with grief and sickness from COVID. All of these challenges brought on feelings of rejection which led to symptoms of depression and anxiety such as panic attacks and irritability. Fear combined with avoidance due to an inability to tolerate adversity can lead to dangerous actions. Examples of avoidance include but are not limited to video games, risky behaviors, imitation of adult relationships, substance use, and/or suicide. The part of the brain responsible for analysis and reasoning does not fully develop until around age 26. In regard to COVID, this means it is important for parents/guardians to set routines and make the home environment as predictable and as much like pre-COVID as possible. This may look like having the same rules, explaining exceptions to normal rules before changing them, familiar foods, and appropriate familiar activities.



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