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Is it 'teen burnout' or just a sign of puberty? Tucson doctor weighs in

How To Get Your Teenager To Take The Pandemic Seriously
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 10:11:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ahh, teenagers. As stereotypes would tell us, their emotions are all out of whack, and spending time with mom and dad is pretty much the last thing on their to-do list.

"Teens sometimes have mood swings," says Dr. Helene Felman, Pediatrician, Banner Health. "They sometimes react in a more dramatic way than adults might and that's part of normal development."

But instead of just blaming those mood swings and hormones on odd behavior, doctors say burnout, especially now, could be the culprit.

"Increase in depression, increased anxiety and increased suicide with COVID," says Dr. Felman.

Think of it as a state of chronic stress. And as adults, it’s easy for us to forget that things like school, sports, extracurricular activities, friends, relationships and even social media all demand time and attention.

"Look out for our changes and behaviors specifically around sleep, eating, or disengaging from activities that they would normally enjoy," says Dr. Felman.

But because teens are so different, it can be hard to tell what’s really going on. Teens are an interesting breed. They're developing, and things are changing. So, how do we know that it's not just a teenager being a teenager hitting puberty?

"I think watching for changes in typical behaviors and patterns," says Dr. Felman. "So a teen may not want to talk to you one day, but then the next day they're talking to you about the things that they enjoy. That to me is not a red flag. But if they're not wanting to talk to you for two weeks straight, that be very concerning."

Doctors say the last year has been especially difficult on teenagers because remember: their brains are still maturing and they’re learning to spread their wings beyond the four walls of mom and dad’s house.

"Sports have been changed some of their activities have been canceled," says Dr. Felman. "As they develop and grow, teens don't just need their parents involved, but also their friends and other supportive adults in their life."

It's not all bad news, though. Doctors say if your youngster has a strong support system, it can go a long way when it comes to burnout. So, check in with them—even if it’s not the most pleasant experience. And if you’ve got questions about your teen’s mental health, reach out to your pediatrician.