Increase in teen depression, suicide as pandemic continues

Health

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)-As the pandemic continues, many are going through a lot of stress. Teens are also experiencing heightened stress.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: COVID-19 vaccination distribution in the RGV

There are reports of rising rates of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide among Texas students, as the pandemic affects their classes and the sense of normalcy of hanging out with friends.

CBS 4 spoke to a local psychologist for what parents can watch for if their teen is experiencing these mental health challenges.

Over the last year, kids in Texas have experienced higher rate of clinical depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts as the pandemic has left them isolated, scared, and uncertain about the future.

Many things like prom, graduation, and sports have been taken away from them. 

Some teens already struggled with mental health challenges before the pandemic. Others are experiencing depression for the first time.

Doctor Clarissa Salinas, assistant professor at UTRGV, said she is hearing stories of children not wanting to learn online.

“Even in my neighborhood there’s a lack of motivation,” said Dr. Salinas. “It’s primarily this increased sense of losing motivation. When there’s time without motivation it can lead to depression. And then we know that severe depression some thoughts of suicide can come in unfortunately.” 

Dr. Salinas suggests starting a conversation with your teen and getting them involved with family moments.

“Ask them to bake with you, go for a run, anything to share a moment with each other. When they’re struggling with fear or anxiety, listen to them and acknowledge their feelings are real. ” said Dr. Salinas “We’re all going through a challenging time and we all have our ways of coping. We are all in this together.”

Dr. Salinas adds she sees a lot of children and adolescents and not all of them show symptoms of depression, but when they do, it’s mostly surfacing as wanting to be in their room by themselves.

Even though they’re feeling isolated, children will do just that. They’ll say it helps them to feel better.

Dr. Salinas also said it can be helpful to establish a routine to help children have something to look forward to, even if its family movie night, or making dinner as a family.

WHAT TO AVOID

Dr. Salinas recommends to check in on teens and be on the look out for any changes, such as staying in their room longer than 30 minutes. She also suggests watching for changes in their appetite.

Do not punish kids. “Avoid punishment because we’re all feeling burnt out. For parents experiencing burn out, there’s less of a tolerance for kids to manage their feelings. We’re all more inclined to say, ‘Don’t talk back to me, go back to your room.” Dr. Salinas said.

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