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Teen Mental Health During the Holidays

teen mental health during the holidays at clear recovery center teen program

While the holiday season can be a great time for many people, it can also be a difficult time for others. For some teenagers, the holidays can be particularly tough. There are a number of reasons why the holidays may be tough on teens, and as a parent, it’s important to remember to keep an eye out for your teen’s mental health.

In this article, we’ll review four ways in which mental health issues can arise during the holiday season. If you’re concerned, remember that mental health experts can be an important resource to help your teen get through periods of difficulty.

Teens Might Struggle with SAD

As many as 1.7% to 5.5% of teens ages 9 to 19 suffer from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This condition is characterized by symptoms of depression that occur during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Although the holiday season is usually associated with frivolity and happiness for children, the biological effect of decreased exposure to natural sunlight can be very serious.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of SAD so you can get your teen help if necessary symptoms become severe. Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness or depression
  • Loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fatigue

If you think your teen might be suffering from SAD, talk to them about how they’re feeling. There are certain things you can do at home to help alleviate symptoms. Adhering to a regular and healthy sleep schedule, spending more time outside, and taking a vitamin D supplement in the mornings can improve SAD symptoms.

If you believe your child’s symptoms and mental health challenges are becoming severe, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional or a medical care provider. Unlike feeling “blue” or down during the winter months, which is normal for many people, young and old, seasonal affective disorder is a diagnosable condition that may require treatment like PBM light therapy, medication, or talk therapy.

Family Financial Stressors Can Cause Anxiety In Teens

For many families, the holidays are a time of financial stress and pressure. Around 14.4% of all children living in the United States live in poverty, and during the holidays, older teens can feel guilty about the stress financial stress that their parents may be placed under during October, November, and December.

In addition to financial stress, the holiday season can also be a time of increased family conflict. Money troubles can cause arguments within the family which can be especially hard for teens who are already dealing with the pressures of school and growing up.

Teens may even be under their own financial stress. Many teens feel the same pressures that adults do, to buy gifts for their family and loved ones, which can lead to increased stress and tension.

If you’re worried about your teen’s mental health during the holidays, there are a number of things you can do to help, regardless of economic circumstances.

  • Talk About Budgeting: As a parent, you can help your teen understand the way you’re family budgets for the holiday season. You can help them prepare their own budget. This can help your child feel more secure and less anxious about financial pressure.
  • Encourage Them To Spend Less Money: During the holidays, teens and adults can both get caught up in trying to spend large amounts of money on holiday gifts. One way you can encourage them to spend less money is by suggesting that they plan experiences as gifts, instead of more expensive material items. Gifts like a hike in a favorite park, or a spa day can be more meaningful than anything at the store. This can help alleviate the financial stressors and the pressures of the holiday season.
  • Talk to a Mental Health Professional: If you’re concerned about your teen’s mental health during the holidays, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help your teen manage their stress and anxiety and get through the holiday season.

Holidays Can Be a Difficult Time for Teens Who Have Experienced Loss

The holidays can be a tough time for anyone who has experienced a loss, but this time of year can be especially hard for teens. Teens may be grieving the loss of a loved one, whether it’s due to death, divorce, family conflicts, or any other reason. The holidays can be a reminder of what they’ve lost, which can make the grieving process even harder.

If your teen is grieving, there are several things you can do to help them get through this difficult time.

  • Encouraging Them To Talk About Their Feelings: Loss is a complex emotion, where grief, anger, and sadness can all be present in adults and young people alike. It’s important for your teen to talk about their feelings and express what they’re going through. This can help them process their emotions and start to heal.
  • Helping Them Create a Support System: Grief can be isolating, so it’s important for your teen to have a strong support system. This can include family, friends, a therapist, or a support group. If your teen has a specific family member they are close with, having them spend time with them can also be beneficial to their mental health.
  • Encouraging Them To Be Patient With Themselves: Grief is a process, and it can take time to heal. It’s important for your teen to be patient with themselves and understand that there is no timeline for grieving. While your teen might not want to “dampen the mood” during the holidays, it’s okay for them to take a break from holiday festivities if they need to.
  • Helping Them Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms: During the holiday season, with so much movement and activity, it can be easy for your teen to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse. Helping them find healthy coping mechanisms, like journaling or exercise, can help them get through the holidays without resorting to unhealthy behaviors.

Increase in Drug Abuse

Substance use disorder and addiction aren’t just a problem for adults. Around 40% of surveyed 18-year-olds stated they suffered from substance use disorder symptoms at some point in their lives.

The holiday season can be a difficult time for teens struggling with addiction. The increased stress and anxiety of the season can lead to increased drug and alcohol use. This can be a dangerous situation, as substance abuse can lead to overdose and death. In fact, the holidays coincide with a 150% spike in relapse, making the holiday season a dangerous time for those in recovery.

If you think your teen is struggling with addiction and relapse, it’s important to talk to a professional about treatment options. Treatment can help your teen get through the holiday season and improve their overall mental health. Addiction treatment is also a great way to improve their overall quality of life and continue to treat the chronic nature of drug abuse.

During the holiday season, there are several things you can do to ensure your teen won’t relapse or struggle with substance abuse issues. These include:

  • Encouraging Them To Attend Support Groups: If your teen is in recovery, encourage them to attend support groups during the holiday season. This can help them stay sober and avoid relapse.
  • Helping Them Find Sober Activities: The holidays don’t have to be all about parties and drinking. There are plenty of sober activities that your teen can enjoy. Helping them find these activities can prevent them from feeling left out and struggling with sobriety.
  • Keeping Them Busy: A busy schedule can help your teen avoid relapse during the holiday season. Keeping them busy with activities, errands, and chores can help take their mind off of drinking or using drugs.
  • Making Treatment a Priority: If your teen is struggling with addiction, treatment should be a priority. Outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization programs can help your teen get through the holiday season and improve their overall mental health by allowing them to attend treatment during the day and return home at night.

All of these tips can also help your teen increase their chances of successful sobriety. Your teen should engage in these activities during the holiday season and throughout the year to maintain their sobriety and improve their mental health.

Get Your Teen Into the Holiday Spirit With Help from Clear Recovery Center

Whether it’s convincing your child to get adequate sleep, helping younger children find healthy coping mechanisms, or encouraging sober groups, all of these are helpful tools for your child to get through the holiday break. In addition, we at Clear Recovery Center want to help your teen through their mental health issues and get them the care they need. Through our anxiety treatment program, depression treatment program, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs, we can help your child live a wonderful life this holiday season and for the rest of their life.