Childhood and teen depression aren’t often spoken about because we tend to think of childhood as a time of play, fun, exploration and innocence – and so it should be. But many of us have lost people we knew and loved to Covid and the pandemic has taken its toll on everyone including teens, tweens and youngsters. They are particularly vulnerable because they haven’t developed adequate coping skills yet. Peer contact and approval matters very much for normal development of this age group and not having contact with their peers can create feelings of isolation and loneliness. Plus, due to the COVID-19 vulnerability of older caregivers or grandparents, they have been separated from children who depend on them emotionally and physically. Ongoing stress, separation, fear, grief, isolation and uncertainty created by COVID-19 pandemic can lead to issues with anxiety as well as depression.
Now, with COVID-19 vaccines, there is growing hope that this pandemic may finally ease off and end. Schools will soon reopen fully and life will continue but we will have to readjust to the new norms. This does not mean we will forget about the struggles and losses that the pandemic has brought about. During times of change, it is even more important than ever to check in with your children often and watch and listen for any signs they might be struggling with fears and concerns. Children may not always be able to tell you what’s wrong – some hold feelings inside and others are just too young.
This is the time to remember that your pediatrician is here to help. Keeping regular visits allow your pediatrician the opportunity to assess any signs of depression or anxiety so help can be provided quickly. Parents who also suspect it at any time should schedule an appointment immediately.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of teens:
Some signs that a teen may need more support are:
Infants and young children may display stress in a different manner. They may
Regardless of the age of your child, the importance of making and keeping appointments with their pediatricians is critical – especially now. They can help your children deal with grief and separations caused by the pandemic and will work with you, the parent, to provide help about ways to best support your child.
Remember, pediatricians are important to the development and overall functioning of your children.
Of course, if a child/teen is talking about suicide, call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK to speak to a trained professional immediately or text TALK to 741741.
Luis Velasquez, MD FAAP
Director of Pediatrics
Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center