We are wired to connect with others; at our core we are social beings. A major task for a teenager is to develop and form his or her identity, this development diverges from mom and dad and shifts toward peers in the teenage years. Due to COVID, teens are more disconnected than ever.

One of the major paradoxes we have seen over the recent years, is the rise of social media and the furthered disconnection of our youth. The COVID crisis parallels and exacerbates the social media paradox, our teens are experiencing major isolation and it is unprecedented.

Rising Rates of Depression, Anxiety and Suicide

Teens are experiencing greater rates of depression, anxiety and even suicide. Teens are feeling hopeless, all you need to do is turn on the news and hear grim statistics and ominous warnings about the future. Uncertainties about health, safety, stability and returning to any sense of normalcy is creating increasing anxiety. When all seems hopeless and helpless, suicide becomes a dominate thought to escape the pain.

What Are the Solutions?

As a counselor, I’m seeing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts decrease as teens talk about the weight they carry and the ruminating thoughts that keep them stuck. Counseling is an effective tool to unpack and address the difficulties our teens are facing.

Stop the Depression Feedback Loop!

For depression, it is critical a teen sees the depression spiral that is often the cause of worsening depression. The depression spiral is a feedback loop that impacts behaviors, moods and thoughts, for example the more a teen has thoughts that nothing will change, the more his or her mood goes down, as the mood goes down the teen moves away from positive and healthy behaviors, which in turn increases the thoughts nothing will change and on and on the spiral goes.

Challenge the Ruminating Thoughts of Anxiety

Anxiety increases as ruminating thoughts go unchallenged, unchecked and worse yet go unnoticed. Being alone with your thoughts in the midst of a pandemic can leave your mind and body feeling like “bad things are inevitable,” causing the body to go into survival mode. Addressing the body sensations of anxiety and challenging the ruminating thoughts can be incredibly helpful.

Suicidal thoughts increase as pain and hopelessness abound. Addressing the pain stored in the body and challenging the thoughts, that lead to hopelessness, can free the mind to be open to hope. Even in a pandemic we can have hope.

Meditate on this Scripture:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

Action Steps:

If you or your teen is struggling during the pandemic you are not alone. Find a qualified mental health professional to walk with you or your teen to find hope, meaning and peace in this difficult season of life.

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