EUGENE, Ore. -- Well into the coronavirus pandemic, precautions like social distancing combined with financial stress and other issues have left many feeling anxious, and health professionals are saying it may be worth seeking help.
Oregon Medical Group pediatrician Dr. Laura Sanderson said that she has been keeping an eye on rates of anxiety and depression among teens and tweens over the past years. While she's seen an increase correlated with social media use, the pandemic has been driving mental health concerns.
"Since the pandemic started it has just skyrocketed," she said. "Kids are sponges. They pick up on stress around them. They see that their parents are stressed. They see the news."
According to Sanderson, anxiety and depression that interfere with sleep and appetite, as well as thoughts of self-harm, are signs that you or your child should be seen by a professional as soon as possible.
"Even if it's milder anxiety or depression, it can be incredibly helpful just to meet with your primary care doctor or pediatrician and talk about it. Sometimes just acknowledging it is therapeutic," she said.
While some immediately seek assistance from mental health professionals, your primary care doctor may also be prepared to help address concerns and refer you to a specialist. But day-to-day, getting fresh air and taking your time to have face-to-face conversations with your household pod can promote good mental health.
"That goes a long way too because we are social beings and we need that real social interaction," Sanderson said.
For youth, limiting screentime outside of schoolwork and social media use can also be successful.