How COVID-19 Exposed My Daughter’s Underlying Anxiety and Depression

Mid-March brought huge changes for almost all of us thanks to COVID-19. The ferocious pace of our lives stopped as our workplaces, schools, and activities all shut down in an instant. The structure of our daily lives collapsed. The people who flowed through our days were either gone or became faces on a computer screen.

Except our family members. We were with our children 24 hours a day. And after getting over the initial adjustments, it becomes easier to notice when things aren’t right.

Is Your Daughter Struggling with Anxiety or Depression?

At first, it can be hard to tell. Some of the symptoms of depression or anxiety also show up during a major adjustment. When the shutdown happened, we all slept a bit more, snacked a bit more, and got cranky with each other a bit more. But as things settled for most of us, have things seemed to continue getting worse for your teenage daughter?

Is your daughter dealing with depression or anxiety due to COVID-19?

Depression and anxiety share some symptoms with each other, and sometimes it’s not “an either / or” situation. Depression and anxiety can certainly happen at the same time. So how do you know she’s struggling with more than typical teen moodiness or hormones?

Has she experienced any of these warning signs?

  • She’s moodier, more irritable or more sad than normal. Depression also shows up as anger in teens more than in adults.
  • She isn’t interested in topics or activities that used to interest her, i.e. a previously social person withdrawing from friends or a good student who isn’t turning in assignments.
  • She’s abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • She’s had a dramatic change in her sleep habits—either not enough or way too much.
  • She expresses feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness—including talking about how life isn’t worth living or thoughts of suicide.
  • She’s had changes in her weight, either up or down.
  • She’s had panic attacks—including shaking, difficulty breathing, or crying.
  • She’s obsessively worried about safety, family finances, or losing the people she loves.

Did COVID-19 Cause This or Was It Happening Before?

The changes that COVID-19 brought to our lives were immediate and drastic. Many people have found that these changes have affected their mental health in profound ways. It’s affected financial stability, family dynamics, social lives, and physical activity. Almost every category that supports our sense of wellbeing has been touched by the shutdown.

Add to that, teens have lost a lot of the markers of teen life. They’re not hanging around with their friends, they can’t see their romantic partners, proms and graduations have been cancelled, and extracurricular activities have been shut down for the foreseeable future or are at risk of being shut down again.

School Pressures Could Be Contributing

  • Many teens are at school from 6 or 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later — working on homework, participating in clubs or sports, or taking extra classes.
  • They feel the pressure to succeed and get into the ideal colleges more than ever, and these colleges require more evidence of excellent academic performance combined with participation in the community and other activities.
  • Bullying still exists and worse than ever, thanks to social media. Girls can’t escape by transferring to other schools, changing friends, or simply going home. The internet follows them everywhere.

So it’s entirely possible now that you have more time with your daughter throughout the day, that you’re seeing more of how she’s been dealing with the stress.

How Do I Help My Daughter with Her Anxiety or Depression?

Every parent suffers when their kids are in crisis — it’s agony. It’s easy to feel lost and unsure where to turn for the right resources. But if your daughter is struggling with the symptoms listed above, she needs help.

First of all, if you believe your daughter is a risk to her own safety, call 911 or, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support by calling, texting, or chatting 988. The first goal is to keep her alive and find immediate help.

“We are seeing very high functioning teens who were earning good grades and involved in extracurricular activities become debilitated by anxiety and depression during this time when typical social outlets have been all but removed. Check in with your teens regularly and if there are concerns with their lack of motivation, irritability or just not acting like themselves, reach out for professional support.”

–Brent Esplin, Executive Director of Embark Behavioral Health at Hobble Creek

Our Residential Program at Hobble Creek is Here to Help

A residential program might seem drastic, but getting a teen in crisis into a new environment can be an extremely effective way to help her regain control. Our short-term program for teen girls ages 12-17 provides the wraparound support that can help your daughter work through her depression or anxiety:

  • Our expert staff provides support and guidance through the entire process, from registration, through treatment, and returning home.
  • She’ll be with peers who’ve had similar experiences so she won’t feel so alone.
  • Our facilities are comfortable and homey, not clinical.
  • We’re located in the Utah Valley, on the breathtaking Wasatch Front. Beauty and physical activity are powerful forces for healing. There’s a ton of opportunity to engage the outdoors.
  • We have a chef and dietician on staff, so the food is not only nutritious, it’s delicious.
  • Potomac at Hobble Creek provides a short term, intensive therapy experience where your daughter will be challenged academically, emotionally, socially, and physically — because we believe in engaging the whole person.

As her parents, you’re not alone through this, either. We incorporate family treatment into our program because your daughter doesn’t stand alone — she’s part of your family. We make sure you’re with her, devising solutions for moving forward so when she comes home and resumes her life, the healing she’s accomplished here become strategies and tools that help her thrive in the years to come.

How will we pay to have our daughter in the Potomac at Hobble Creek program?

Our short-term program is often covered by insurance, and we can help you figure out the whole process so things can get better for your daughter and your family, because when one person hurts, the whole family hurts. Go here to find out more about our facility and our program, and if you’re ready, click on the button at the top of the page to get more information about how we can help your daughter and your family.

*This article is for informational purposes only and not to be considered medical advice. If your child is having a mental health emergency, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support by calling, texting, or chatting 988. You can also text HOME to 741741 -the Crisis Text Line- from anywhere in the country to talk with a trained crisis counselor.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit