Even in normal times, a teenager often feels emotional, vulnerable, insecure and confused.
But when a global pandemic turns their world upside down, many teens feel completely overwhelmed. They are challenged with social distancing, remote learning and the cancellation of important events and activities, like school sports, homecoming, prom and graduation. They also may be worried about the health of loved ones.
How to Tell if It's Anxiety or Depression
Aurif Abedi, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Henry Ford Allegiance Health, advises parents to look for changes in your teen’s behavior. Don't ignore signs of anxiety and depression, such as:
► Experiencing mood swings, agitation, frequent irritability or outbursts of intense anger.
► Being uninterested in connecting with friends or family – avoiding interactions and not texting, gaming or video chatting with friends.
► Losing interest in things they normally enjoy, like music, drawing or other hobbies.
► Having difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual.
► Losing their appetite or eating more frequently, often resulting in weight fluctuations.
► Not showering regularly, and not making an effort with how they look.
► Struggling with school: having attendance problems, not finishing assignments, or seeing a drop in grades.
► Engaging in risky behavior, including drug or alcohol use.
How to Help Your Anxious or Depressed Teen
Gently tell your child you’ve noticed a change in their behavior and give examples. Help them feel safe to tell you how they feel. Let them know you want to help and encourage them to ask questions.
Contact your teen’s doctor about your concerns. The doctor can complete an assessment and make recommendations, including letting you know if counseling seems appropriate.
If There is a Risk of Suicide
Thoughts of suicide, desperation or hopelessness should always be taken seriously. Make sure your home is safe for your child by locking up medications and weapons and getting help for your teen.
Contact your child’s doctor, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text TALK to the Crisis Line at 741741, or take your child to the nearest emergency department for an assessment. If your teen is in immediate danger of serious self-harm, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Learn about the wide range of behavioral health treatment options available at Henry Ford Health System.
Dr. Aurif Abedi, is a physician who is board-certified in psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry, and sees patients at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson.
Macomb Lutheran North freshman Emiliana Manzo has already achieved a long list of accomplishments, including a 3.8 grade-point average while juggling two sports she loves.
As a point guard, she led her basketball team to an undefeated season in its division. She is also a center attacking midfielder, sometimes playing forward, on the 2009 Nationals Girls Academy Blue soccer team, ranked No. 1 in Michigan and 14th in the country.
In June of 2022, Emiliana hit a detour on her sports journey when she was participating in a club soccer national championship in Oceanside, Calif. With a few seconds left in the game and her team up 2-1, she ran 20 yards full speed to get to the ball. Hyperextending her left knee, she felt two pops. It was the first time she experienced an injury.
“I was screaming and crying and got taken off the field on a golf cart,” explains Emiliana. The trainer felt she was OK. Fortunately, she had the next day off and her knee was feeling better. The following day she played again, and 20 minutes into the game she knew there was an issue.
“Someone hit me from behind and I heard the pop again. I knew there was a problem.”
Emiliana’s father Vince Manzo said she experienced swelling, and the athletic trainer thought she may have a meniscus injury; however, she was able to continue to walk around during the championship in California before heading home.
Finding the Right Provider
Back in Michigan, Emiliana saw a few surgeons during her evaluation to seek treatment. When she met with Vasilios Bill Moutzouros, MD, chief of Sports Medicine at Henry Ford Health, she felt she met the right match.
“He treated me like an athlete and made me feel really comfortable,” she says.
Vince adds that both he and Emiliana were also appreciative of something Dr. Moutzouros said during her evaluation: “He emphasized to Emiliana that she was an athlete before this injury, and she would be an athlete after the injury.”
A detailed evaluation by Dr. Moutzouros revealed Emiliana had a complete anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and medial and lateral meniscal tears. The meniscus, a C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery cartilage, acts as a shock absorber between the shinbone and the thighbone. It is one of the most common knee injuries. The ACL, one of the strong bands of tissue that help connect the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia), is also prone to injury during sports when there are sudden stops or changes in direction.
Emiliana required physical therapy to get the swelling down and increase mobility before surgical repair.
Dr. Moutzouros reconstructed her ACL with her own patellar tendon graft and repaired her medial meniscus.
“She handled the surgery well and has been working very hard in her rehabilitation,” he says. “Her high-level soccer experience likely helped in her recovery as her range of motion and strengthening advanced so quickly.”
Understandably, Emiliana was nervous and scared when she went into surgery but expressed appreciation for the little things from Henry Ford like hearing “great music” as she was entering surgery, which gave her a sense of calm.
“That’s when I knew I picked the right doctor,” she said.
The Road to Recovery
As part of her recovery, after surgery which took place in July of 2022, Emiliana has undergone six months of physical therapy to increase mobility and strength training to get her leg strong again.
She also participated in the Return to Sport Program at the Henry Ford Center for Athletic Medicine to optimize recovery.
“We loved it,” says Vince. “It gave us peace of mind.”
Dr. Moutzouros explains that ACL prevention and rehabilitation programs are critical, especially for women because they have a four times greater risk of ACL tear than men. He says performance training post-surgery, along with an injury prevention program for those playing cutting sports, can markedly reduce the likelihood of future ACL injury.
“At Henry Ford, we work with physical therapists across the Midwest as well as our own. They do a great job in following our Henry Ford specific post-ACL reconstruction protocol,” he says. “After therapy runs its course, we strongly encourage our athletes to undergo performance training to allow a smooth transition back to sport.”
Nick Parkinson, supervisor of Athletic Training and Sports Performance at Henry Ford Health, emphasizes that the return to sport program is designed to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and returning to full activity in your chosen sport.
“Many times, insurance limits rehabilitation to regaining activities of daily living and not necessarily rebuilding the skills needed to play a sport or return to activity,” Nick says. “This program provides an affordable option to fill this need and return athletes to competition at the highest level.”
As for Emiliana, who hopes to play soccer in college and pursue a career in the medical field, she says this experience has taught her to not be afraid of injuries and treatment. She has also used the experience to volunteer for a program through the Girls Academy which serves as an advisory board to come up with ideas to help with mental and physical issues girls her age may be facing.
“For other kids who experience injuries, I’ve learned that this does not define you,” she said. “You can push through it, recover from it and be way better than you even were before.”
To find a sports medicine doctor or athletic trainer at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com/athletes.