33.9% of adults reported symptoms of the depressive disorder and 24.4% of adults reported symptoms of the anxiety disorder, according to a May 2020 study done by the CDC, when in that very same study done in 2019, only 11.0% of adults reported feelings of depression or anxiety.
When interviewing four high school students at Eastern Christian High School, many confirmed that they had experienced feelings of depression and/or anxiety during 2020. All of them stated that COVID-19 had affected those feelings of depression or anxiety in some way.
“Having depression and going through quarantine is really hard,” an anonymous student said, “I had depression in my junior year, but quarantine did affect that a lot.”
“I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced a full depression but there would be times that I felt very sad. I would usually hang out with my neighbors all the time, but I would stop and stay inside and just be in my room. So I guess there was a bit of depression,” high-school freshman, Alexandra Spalt said.
Sophomore Matt Vander Wall said, “I find myself checking statistics almost every day, seeing if anything has been getting better... But I haven’t been depressed per say.”
If one is depressed or anxious, they naturally long for some type of understanding or connection, thus social distancing, although necessary, was reportedly hard for multiple students. Many commented on how they missed physical contact (hugs, high-fives, etc…)
“When you can’t hug your friends or family members, it's really sad, it's like ‘oh I get to see you after all this time’ and then you can’t really do anything with that. I guess you could say it feels like I’m very disconnected,” said Alexandra.
“Me and my girlfriends are really close and need to hug it out. If you really care about someone and can’t connect in that way anymore, it's really hard,” said a high school junior, Annemarie Kretzing.
However, despite the struggles of COVID and mental health, many high-schoolers reported on how they have grown throughout the pandemic. Even through feelings of depression or anxiety, these young adults still experienced growth, and started to understand and appreciate themselves and their true friends deeper.
Alexandra shared how she originally longed to be a part of the “city life” and “keep up with the trends” however throughout quarantine, she realized that she understood more about herself and was happy with who she really was, “It was awesome to really find myself and not worry about pleasing other people” she said.
“I would usually just stay in my room, but I improved on how I go out and hang with my friends. I would try to be intentional about how I interact with them,” said high school senior, Thomas De Block.
Annemarie said, “I’ve had a lot more patience and understanding for people that I didn’t really think about before. Also being able to be open and talking rather than just laughing with friends, but actually calling people to check up on them and see how they’re doing. Staying in contact with people who actually care. A lot of people you just see everyday but don’t really connect with them. So I’ve been understanding who my true friends are and connecting with them more. I know that I always have people who have my back and I’m not afraid to reach out to them.”
“I have been able to be more introspective than I ever was before, I got to know myself better,” said Matt.
When asked about advice to give to people struggling, they all were unanimous with the importance of reaching out to trusted friends and family.
“You need to be open with someone. [Mental health] is a very serious problem and if you don’t deal with it, it will grow. You just don’t want that to affect you as a person,” Thomas advised.
Annemarie said, “I’d say, don’t be scared to reach out to a friend. Check up on your friends too, talk to them and see how they’re doing. Be mindful that we are all going through a really hard time right now. Just stay together as a community, even if it's not in person.”