Are Kids Experiencing Post-Covid ‘Long Anxiety?’
Identifying the signs and ways to reduce anxiety.
written by Dr. Liz Matheis, posted on www.psychologytoday.com
Here we are, almost three years post the pandemic that shut down our world instantly and has kept us in a state of uncertainty about many parts of life that we took for granted. We all experienced collective anxiety about the present, future, our health, and health of others. We also worried about the availability of basics such as food and toilet paper.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a pandemic as “a worldwide spread of a disease,” with the COVID-19 pandemic being our 21st (Pitlik, 2020). The government encted quarantine to limit the spread. Humans are social creatures and in need of interaction with others consistently. The rise of a “virtual” world allowed many to continue their jobs and education. However, isolation’s “side” effects continue to negatively impact mental health.
During this time, anxiety set in for many. Anxiety: “is characterized by increased arousal and apprehension tortured into distressing worry, and physically by unpleasant activation of multiple body systems.”
How is anxiety manifesting among teens?
Many children, teens, and young adults still avoid school, social situations, or participating as team members in sports or activities. Children may have participated in activities pre-pandemic and did not know how to “re-enter.” Some have found a strong interest in video games because they don’t require face-to-face interaction, and there is escape and submersion in a virtual and highly engaging electronic world.
Barbara Johnson of the Johnson Center for Health indicated that the quarantine change in lifestyle created weight gain; however, the long-term effect of the virus may have resulted in physiologically-based excessive hunger and increased appetite. Quarantine may have facilitated unhealthy habits like eating in response to boredom. The change in eating habits has created a change in appearance and ease of movement, further perpetuating avoidance of participating in school, socialization, sports, and activities.
Teens and young adults’ friendships changed over the pandemic. Thus, many teens have had to create new friendships; however, the problem is that their peer group was already small, and there weren’t other children with whom to create new ones.