Psychological conditions of teenagers during pandemic

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Dear Editor,
Adolescents are a vulnerable group and are experiencing a time of difficult transition. Through the columns of your esteemed daily, I would like to highlight psychological conditions prevailing among teenagers and their effects due to pandemic. COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown may have multiple consequences on lives of adolescents chronic and acute stress, worry for their families, unexpected bereavements, sudden school break, and home confinement in many countries, increased time of access to internet and social media, worry for economic future of their family and country.
Social relations are disrupted all over the world, individuals are staying at home. Wearing masks is becoming more and more common. COVID-19 pandemic is having a psychological impact on individuals for adolescents with psychiatric disorders, lockdown may result in a sudden break or shift in care. In times of pandemic, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, and anxiety are potential disaster impacts on adolescent mental health. There is an increased risk of Post-traumatic stress disorders symptoms after disasters, as well as epidemics. The potential traumatic effects of COVID-19 outbreak on adolescents are unlikely to be identical to any disaster outcome. Different trauma types probably have different impacts on adolescent cognition and traumatic symptoms and Post-traumatic stress disorders.
Quarantine has negative and potentially prolonged effects on psychological health of individuals, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Adolescents are facing no schools, decreased physical activity, more screen time, irregular sleep patterns, and less appropriate diets. There are reciprocal interactions between brain maturation and social environment, and isolation may have an influence on psychiatric disorder onsets during adolescence. Adolescents are experiencing a new period of insecurity: worry about health and work of their relatives, ubiquitous issue of death, sudden separation from friends, and school disruption.
Countries such as India, Bangladesh have reported an increase in reported cases of domestic violence; children are more at risk of abuse or neglect, when they live in a home where domestic violence occurs. During this period, women and girls are reportedly more exposed to gender-based violence, including sexual violence. In context of lockdown, and school closures, adolescents escape vigilance of professionals or other adults who would have spotted their distress in normal social conditions. Family has a role in positive and negative outcomes for adolescents in times of crisis. Some aspects of the family environment, parenting practices, and parents’ coping are likely to influence children’s post-disaster mental health.
Social media could play an even more important role during the lockdown. They enable socialization and communication and they are learning opportunities, including for adolescents’ access to information about their health. Social media use could be a positive factor in helping teenagers to maintain social interaction during lockdown. The current period of pandemic brings together several factors related to internet addiction. Internet addiction is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges, or behaviors regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress. COVID-19 pandemic is also resulting in an economic crisis. Periods of economic crisis are reportedly associated with an increase in suicides, depression, anxiety, and addiction disorders in adults. Adolescents reported more tensions and fights within the family and less life satisfaction. Emotional support from parents and time spent with parents may preserve adolescents from possible negative effects of an economic crisis. To promote adolescent well-being and sense of security, it is advisable to promote reassurance, appropriate information, and stress reducing actions for adolescents. Parents are the closest and most evident help for children and adolescents. Promoting balanced life patterns, especially sleep patterns, is also recommended.
Fayaz Ahmad Paul,
Srinagar.