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News Archives

Pandemic’s Mental Toll On Teenagers (Stanford Research)

Wednesday September 23rd, 2020

By : Adam HadHazy
Source : Stanford

The COVID-19 crisis has taken a psychological toll on people of all ages, but one group especially affected is teenagers. School closures and enforced social distancing have cut off many teens from major means of psychological support, putting them at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.

Stanford researchers have identified specific patterns of brain activation that protect adolescents from experiencing COVID-19-related anxiety and depression. (Image credit: Getty Images)

To learn about how teens (as well as other age groups) might avoid experiencing these emotional difficulties, a new study has focused on a sample of adolescents who, even in normal times, are particularly prone to stress: youth who have entered puberty earlier than their peers.

The study examined brain scans of American teenagers taken five years ago and self- and parent-reported surveys about mental wellbeing and progression through puberty, both before and after the pandemic lockdown started in March 2020.

The researchers found that teenagers who showed greater connectivity, or interconnectedness, in a set of particular brain regions were less likely to experience pandemic-related depression and anxiety, even if they had started puberty early relative to their peers. The results highlight the importance of the so-called executive control network, or ECN, in dealing with stress and adapting to new challenges.

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