El Paso doctor reports heightened anxiety, depression in kids due to virtual learning

Anxiety and depression rates in children have heightened since the beginning of the school year…

El Paso doctor reports heightened anxiety, depression in kids due to virtual learning

Anxiety and depression rates in children have heightened since the beginning of the school year says Dr. Carla Alvarado, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

“It has definitely taken a toll on them. There obviously is a lot of pressure and stress coming from the schools, coming from the home,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado says a combination of spending hours at home on a computer and being stripped away from social circles has led to an increase in kids showing signs of depression and anxiety.



a young boy using a laptop computer sitting on top of a table


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“I think the social aspect is what’s causing a lot of stress for the teenagers, because in the teenage world what’s important is their social circle. With the little ones, they have fear. A lot of it, they don’t understand, but they do demonstrate it with their body,” said Alvarado.

She says it’s been difficult to get small children to understand the pandemic and why they need to do things like wear a mask, social distance, and wash their hands more often.

“It all comes down to making the little ones feel safe and helping them understand the coronavirus situation at their developmental level,” said Alvarado.

Stomach aches, loss of appetite, nightmares, and new phobias, like separation anxiety, could be red flags for parents to look for in smaller children.

Alvarado says she’s also seen a spike in obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies, mostly in teenagers.

“With the adolescents, it’s a little bit different because they can articulate. I am getting a lot of patients with depression, OCD, and a lot of anxiety. A lot of teenagers will have poor eating habits or sleep more,” said Alvarado.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry offer resources to help children and families deal with the emotional impacts related to COVID-19.

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in our area and around the world, head to our coronavirus section.

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