Today, lots of young people are struggling with depression. Children, school-age kids, and teenagers are all vulnerable to mental health troubles. Now, it seems that these problems are more prevalent than ever. Many adolescents are dealing with depression for a myriad of reasons.
Parents, teachers, and other people in caregiving roles may have concerns about the adolescents in their lives. Yet they don’t know exactly what’s wrong, or how to help. Adolescents can be reluctant to open up to adults about what they’re going through. Here are a few reasons why rates of depression are rising among adolescents today.
Excessive Screen Time
Many adolescents spend long hours looking at screens each day. Sometimes, it’s necessary. Plenty of students need to use the internet in school or while doing homework. However, adolescents can easily end up scrolling online for a long time, which eats up time that they could use to see their friends, pick up fun creative projects, or enjoy an active hobby.
In addition to taking time away from other activities, hours of screen time can hurt adolescents’ attention spans and make it harder for them to focus. If they’re using screens at night, it can also be detrimental to their sleep schedules.
Social Media Comparisons
Adolescents who use screens excessively are likely to spend much of that time on social media. Whether they’re scrolling on TikTok, Instagram, or another platform, they’re seeing lots of highly edited images that depict unrealistic scenes.
They might compare themselves to other people they see online, not realizing that the images on their feeds have been completely manipulated. It’s easy to see how a young person could develop symptoms of depression when they are holding themselves to a standard that no one can actually reach.
Setbacks After the COVID-19 Pandemic
The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have left many adolescents struggling with their mental health. They may have struggled to maintain friendships when schools went remote, and now, they feel like their social skills are weak. Adolescents whose social circles disintegrated during the pandemic might still be having trouble making new friends. Furthermore, some might have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and the grief is still present.
Lack of Hope for the Future
Overall, many people feel like they are losing hope for the future. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened economic inequality, and young people may see that their parents are working harder than ever while still having to tighten their financial belts. They might also have older siblings who have no choice but to keep living at home, even if they have full-time jobs. Seeing the adults around them struggle to maintain their financial footing can be stressful for adolescents, and they might wonder how they will ever manage to build stable lives for themselves in the future.
Uncertainty in Society
During the pandemic, even young people became increasingly hyperaware of widespread societal issues that they might not have given a second thought before. Adolescents are very perceptive, especially with the increased access to information that we have today.
Young people often grapple with concerns about climate change, political uncertainty, and other global problems. It is not just adults who fear these issues—young people are often paying close attention to these headlines. These worries can contribute to depression. However, adolescents can feel like adults don’t take them seriously when they express these concerns, which only makes the problem worse.
Are you concerned that your child or teen might be struggling with depression? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling their first session.