Stressed? Depressed? Warning signs (and helps) for teens amid COVID-19

April 16, 2020

Two important factors that provide security for a teenager are home and school, both of which have been disrupted by the coronavirus. The current expectations of home and school life are so new that it’s hard to relate to how things are now versus how things used to be.

Plus, no one knows how long our current state will remain a reality. With all this change, stress and even depression can become an issue. Stress and depression are serious problems for teenagers in normal times, and even more so amid a global pandemic.

Stress is characterized by feelings of worry and sadness, or frustration and added tension. Wanting to withdraw from others for more than a few hours may be associated with stress. Depression is connected to more extreme feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worry, isolation and withdrawal that last several weeks or more.

So how do you recognize if what you are experiencing is more than simply adjusting to change? What if it is depression?

Many times with depression, there is a shift in how you think and act. You may have no motivation to do anything, feel withdrawn and have a desire to keep to yourself for long periods of time. You may sleep longer than normal. Your eating habits may change. You could have no appetite at all, or you may want to eat everything you can get your hands on.

You may feel apathetic and lack concentration. You may experience sadness that grows the longer you are confined to your home. Or you may become anxious and worried to the point of hopelessness.

Two important factors that provide security for a teenager are home and school, both of which have been disrupted by the coronavirus.

Most teenagers respond to stress in normal times by doing something relaxing, like hanging out with friends. These interactions help them think positively about life and use problem-solving techniques to relieve the difficulty that is causing the stress. Since such interactions may not be possible, here are some options you might want to consider.

  • You still have online schoolwork to do. Commit to do your best in spite of the current circumstances.
  • Get your school work done so you will have time to spend on other activities that reduce stress, like listening to music. Try worship music to take your eyes off your circumstances and place them on Jesus Christ who has the power to change all things.
  • Make up your mind to improve in one area of your life while you have a little more time to plan and put things into action. Maybe it’s to play more basketball or start an exercise program. Decide to walk at least 30 minutes a day, and increase that time every three or four days. Practice the piano. Read a book. Better yet, ask a friend or two to read the same book and then FaceTime to discuss what you read.
  • Utilize technology to do a small group Bible study with friends. Ask your youth minister or parents for ideas.
  • Organize a scavenger hunt with friends. Get all of them online, give them something they have to go find and whoever comes back first wins.

Additionally, statistics say that this generation spends more than 9 hours per day with technology and media. Instead of listening to all the updated statistics about those infected by the virus, try some of the following alternatives.

  • Survey how many songs you listen to that are not uplifting and don’t allow you to see hope in the midst of trouble.
  • Consider your choice of media. Do you consume media or gaming that is violent or promotes harm to others, whether those individuals are real or imagined?
  • Don’t just sleep or lounge in bed. Get up about the same time each day and try to stick to a daily schedule. Make a list of things you want to accomplish each day.

During these uncertain times, remember that God is in control. This virus did not surprise Him. Plus, this virus came in an age when we have technology that allows us to reach out to our friends and family almost instantly.

Technology is also allowing churches to continue sharing the truth that God is in control and He has a plan for all to be in a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hope during any time is found in a relationship with Jesus!


by Merrie Johnson  /  Youth Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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