Health Advice



More kids in crisis

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

The teen years are tough for many youngsters, and depression and anxiety became even more widespread among teens during the pandemic. According to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics, depression and anxiety symptoms during the first year of COVID-19 doubled among adolescents, and as the COVID-19 crisis dragged on, the rates became even higher, especially in older teens.

That may account, in part, for the alarming spike in drug overdose deaths among U.S. teens ages 14 to 18, even as overall drug use declines. A research letter published in JAMA says that "the death rate for drug overdoses in that age group ... nearly doubled between 2019 and 2020, and continued to rise early in 2021, reaching a rate of 5.49 deaths per 100,000 adolescents."

Another reason for the spike is that today's drugs are highly addictive and potentially lethal -- not like what was around even 20 years ago. The ever more common presence of the ultra-lethal fentanyl in street drugs accounts for 77% of adolescent overdose deaths.

If you suspect your teen is depressed or anxious or is experimenting with drugs, don't write it off to normal adolescent behavior. Talk to him or her about the risks of trying street drugs even once -- they're super-potent and can addict or kill. Help is available at The American Academy of Child & Adolescent psychiatry at, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (check out "If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Teens and Young Adults) and Health Care Alliance for Response to Adolescent Depression at



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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