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COVID 19 and The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents

A recent report by The Childhood Trust warns that "children and adolescents can develop serious mental conditions due to the pandemic, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)".

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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Dr. Lisa Damour is a psychologist, best-selling author, and monthly columnist for the New York Times. In an interview with CBS News, Damour said, "What we know about this pandemic is that it is going to be difficult for all children, and for some, it can be devastating."

Children around the world have been locked up for months due to the COVID-19 ban on leaving their homes.

If children face the death or serious illness of a loved one, it will be more difficult. Also, if they are not physically safe or hungry due to the conditions of their families, the children will be dealing with more stress. There is no question that they may ultimately suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Behavior Changes to Watch For

Children are more irritable, have trouble sleeping, and feel more anxious. This may seem like temporary, superficial behavior problems, but keep in mind that serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression manifest differently in children than in adults.

-Excessive crying or irritability in young children.

-Regression to behaviors that they had already overcome (for example, habits of going to the bathroom, or wetting the bed).

-Excessive worry or sadness.

-Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.

-Attention and concentration difficulties.

- Indifferent attitude towards activities they previously enjoyed.

Dr. Damour stresses that "even if children suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, they all suffer from chronic stress, which is what we are all experiencing as this pandemic progresses."

Children need routines, preventive measures, and guidance from adults who are in good mental health. However, the problem with this pandemic is that it alters all the patterns of children.

Also read: 7 Tips for Managing Social Isolation During the Pandemic

Many adults who care for children feel very stressed, anxious, and some are even dealing with unemployment and tremendous financial worries.

According to the report, "children and young people who live with family members with substance abuse and/or alcohol problems, may have affected their physical and mental state, their relationships and their educational results will be significantly more affected than before the restrictions of Covid-19."

Another behavior to watch out for is the use of unhealthy management and defense mechanisms. For example, adults and adolescents, who choose to use substances as a way to manage stress regularly. Also, doing things that we know don't help in the long run, like taking the phone to bed and moving around instead of sleeping, not getting off the couch, only eating comfort foods, or being in a bad mood all the time.

What Can Be Done?

Embrace healthy coping mechanisms, like reaching out and getting good social support from people who love us. Adults and children can do this. It can be things like finding a happy distraction.

"One of the things we know from chronic stress research is that having things that allow you to take a mental vacation from stressors is really very important. Whether it's a fantastic book, being distracted by a good movie, or going outside. Children and adults need it, "recommends the expert.

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