Upstate children face mental health issues, trauma due to pandemic

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UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – In 2018, 4.4 million children were diagnosed with anxiety, according to the CDC.

The children that have been diagnosed range from the ages of 3 to 17 years old but the pandemic is expected to have a lasting emotional and social impact on many more children.

According to Dr. Megan Zappatelli, a psychiatrist at Prisma Health who specializes in children, the number of parents booking appointments has yet to slow down.

“Telehealth has become the standard of health right now. Fortunately patients that couldn’t make an appointment or had a hard time with transportation, there’s now good access to care. We’re seeing a lot more people making appointments and keeping them because they really are asking for help,”

Many families with children are facing traumas such as eviction, isolation, food insecurity, worries about the virus and difficulties with e-Learning.

β€œ’The biggest challenges have been the impacts of the social isolation that children are experiencing and the limited access to things that were used to doing,” Zappatelli said.

Zappetelli said it’s important for children to know what’s going on in the world but she urges parents to limit screen time when it comes pandemic related content. Instead, she said it’s important to sit down and have an honest and fact-based conversation with them and simply ask how they feel.

Health officials urge parents to keep an eye out for signs their child is suffering from stress, depression or anxiety.

Some symptoms of depression or anxiety in children outlined by the CDC include:

  • Being afraid when parents are away
  • Extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, or going to the doctor
  • Afraid of school and other places where there are people
  • Worried about the future and about bad things happening
  • Episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
  • Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things
  • Changes in eating, energy or sleeping patterns
  • Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
  • Self-injury and self-destructive behavior

For more additional resources to help your child cope with pandemic related stress, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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