PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pandemic depression is a new disorder linked to COVID-19 and it’s growing. Research shows people in major metropolitan areas, like Philadelphia, are being hit harder by mental health challenges.

Students have had their lives turned upside down, mainly with disruptions to schooling. The pandemic is impacting everyone and for many, taking a toll on their mental health.

It’s not just physical ailments as emergency departments are also being bombarded with the emotional fallout from the pandemic. Over a six-week period this summer in Montgomery County, 400 people went to hospitals because of self-injury or suicidal thoughts.

A new study in Britain shows school lockdowns are having a big impact on children.

“We found quite a substantial increase in ratings of depressive symptoms during lockdown,” said Duncan Astle, a developmental psychologist for the University of Cambridge.

The research tracked about 200 elementary students before and after the lockdown and found a 70% chance that depression increased with isolation.

“What the data suggests is you can’t simply pluck a child from one context and isolate them from it without it having knock on consequences,” Astle explained.

Hannah Smith’s decline started with the cancelation of a cheering championship.

“I had no motivation for anything, even school work,” Hannah said. “I didn’t care. I didn’t get up and do anything.”

“It’s scary to watch your child enter into mentally a place that you don’t know how to deal with and not knowing what can happen,” Hannah’s mother, Heidi Jamison Smith, said. “Suicide is a very real threat.”

One month into the lockdown, Hannah suffered a devastating loss when her best friend died by suicide.

“We all had to grieve alone,” Hannah said.

Locally, a community conversation notice from the principal of Lower Moreland High School mentioned three youth suicides and urged people to become aware.

Signs of depression and other mental health issues might not be obvious. Experts say it’s important for people to talk about their feelings and if self-help measures don’t work, counseling and medications have been shown to be very effective.

If you are feeling suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. More information can be found at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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