KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When many think about the holidays their minds go to the lights and magic of the season, but for some teenagers, it can be a much darker time.
“A lot of teenagers, even before the holidays, are struggling with anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, and the holidays can make those problems a lot more intense,” said Sarah Long, the Assistant Director of Family Treatment Services with The McNabb Center.
Long explained there are a few things that can make matters worse for teens who are already struggling during the holidays.
“Their routines are different, they’re not connecting with their teachers, often times their sleep habits and their eating habits are thrown off,” said Long. “When there are family stressors that are more challenging, you know, kids are exposed to that for longer periods of time during the holidays.”
Long suggests looking out for certain signs in your child. “Their bodies might seem more fidgety, they might have a tough time falling or staying asleep, their eating habits might change, some kids might seem really down.”
There are also a few steps parents can take to help their teens enjoy the holidays just a little bit more.
“One thing is to try our best to keep our kids on somewhat of a normal sleeping and eating schedule,” began Long. “Also, watch for teenagers isolating a lot, we know that when we connect with our children that can foster more health mental health so make sure we are carving out times to connect.”
Long shared that the American Journal of Pediatrics studied children from ages three to 17. “They found that 1.9 million children across our country have been diagnosed with depression and 4.4 million children with anxiety.”
For those in need of help, the McNabb Center has crisis lines you can call 24-7, 365 days a year. The phone number is 865-539-2409. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24-7, it can be reached at 800-273-8255.