The pandemic has put significant stress on many teens, yet to date, there has been limited longitudinal research examining how it has affected symptoms of depression in adolescents. It’s important to get a better sense of who is struggling and what can be done to support them, especially as the new school year begins.

Tracy R.G. Gladstone, Ph.D., a senior research scientist who leads the Depression Prevention Research Initiative at the Wellesley Centers for Women, is available to talk about her recent article in Child Psychiatry & Human Development investigating the factors that make certain teens more vulnerable to negative mental health outcomes as a result of the pandemic.

In the study, Gladstone and her coauthors found that adolescents—particularly females—reported an increase in symptoms of depression during the pandemic. And in the face of high COVID-19-related distress, low resilience and negative cognitive styles were associated with higher depression scores. These results suggest the importance of exploring ways to decrease factors that make teens more vulnerable while strengthening factors that protect them from depression.

“With continued research, we can prepare our kids to face the challenges that come their way,” said Gladstone. “We have an opportunity to turn the tide of mental health issues that was rising even before the pandemic.”