Delhi hospital sees 2-fold rise in adolescents with anxiety, depression

A two-fold increase in anxiety, and depression cases among adolescents has been seen, as compared to pre-pandemic times, doctors at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals reported.

Covid pandemic, associated mandatory protocols, and restricted life of adolescents within the four walls of their homes, remote learning, the increased use of the internet, are some of the reasons, the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Pandemic has created a major shift in which the students have to stay indoors and study from their homes in the absence of physical classes. All this has caused a major change in the lifestyle of young adults who are both school and college going students and impacted their mental health,” said Dr Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant, Mental Health and Psychiatry, Apollo, New Delhi.

“As a matter of fact, the number of OPD consultations for young adults have doubled for anxiety, depression, gaming addiction and inability to concentrate and focus on studies. Hence, parents are advised to actively engage with their children, talk to them and observe all kinds of behavioural changes shown by them,” he added.

Further, being restricted to homes has increased screen time, reduced physical activities and increased the prevalence of sedentary lifestyle — all of these make them behave more agitated and feel helpless.

Physical activities and exercise, on the other hand, stimulate the release of brain chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin that play a vital role in regulating an individual’s mood. Release of these chemicals is essential to maintain a good appetite and proper sleeping pattern. Therefore, till the time students remain indoors with an absence of physical activities and exercise regime, such behavioural changes are evident, Vohra said.

A recent study, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, has also shown that an alarming percentage of children and adolescents are experiencing a global-wide mental crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The study revealed that depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled in children and adolescents when compared to pre-pandemic times.

The doctors suggested that mental health issues must be addressed at the earliest and if the parents or the teachers think the problems cannot be addressed at their level, they should refer their children for emotional wellness evaluation or intervention, if required by mental health professionals.