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How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 26, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Drug Use

Prevent Teen and Young Adult Drug Use

How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen & Young Adult Drug Use

Figuring out if your child is using substances can be challenging. Many of the signs and symptoms are typical teen or young adult behavior. Many are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety.

If you have reason to suspect use, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Prepare to take action and have a conversation during which you can ask direct questions like “Have you been drinking, vaping or using drugs?” No parent wants to hear “yes,” but being prepared for how you would respond can be the starting point for a more positive outcome.

What to look for with shifts in mood & personality:

  • Sullen, withdrawn or depressed
  • Less motivated
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Unable to focus
  • A sudden loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactive or unusually elated

Behavioral changes:

  • Changed relationships with family members or friends
  • Absenteeism or a loss of interest in school, work or other activities
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Disappears for long periods of time
  • Goes out often, frequently breaking curfew
  • Secretive with the use of their phone
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Has periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep

Hygiene and appearance:

  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
  • Messier than usual appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Frequently red or flushed cheeks or face
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)

Physical health:

  • Frequent sickness
  • Unusually tired and/or lethargic
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech or rapid-fire speech
  • Nosebleeds and/or runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Frequent perspiration
  • Seizures and/or vomiting

Being a parent – How and where to look:

Use your nose.

Have a real, face-to-face conversation when child comes home after hanging out with friends. If there has been drinking or smoking, the smell will be on their breath, on clothing and in their hair.

Look them in the eyes.

Pay attention to their eyes, which will be red and heavy-lidded, with constricted pupils if they’ve used marijuana. Pupils will be dilated, and they may have difficulty focusing if they’ve been drinking. In addition, red, flushed color of the face and cheeks can also be a sign of drinking.

Watch their behavior.

How do they act after a night out with friends? Are they particularly loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing? Unusually clumsy to the point of stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over their own feet and knocking things over? Sullen, withdrawn, and unusually tired and slack-eyed for the hour of night? Do they look queasy and stumble into the bathroom? These are all signs that they could have been drinking or using marijuana or other substances.

Search their spaces.

The limits you set with your child don’t stop at the front door or their bedroom door. If you have cause for concern, it’s important to find out what’s going on. Be prepared to explain your reasons for a search though, whether or not you tell them about it beforehand. You can let them know it’s out of concern for their health and safety. Common places to conceal vapes, alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia include:

  • Inside drawers, beneath or between other items
  • In small boxes or cases — think jewelry, makeup or pencil cases, or cases for earbuds
  • Under a bed or other pieces of furniture
  • In a plant, buried in the dirt
  • In between or inside books
  • Under a loose floor board
  • Inside over-the-counter medicine containers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
  • Inside empty candy bags such as M&Ms or Skittles
  • In fake soda cans or other fake containers designed to conceal

Don’t overlook your teen’s cell phone or other digital devices. Do you recognize their frequent contacts? Do recent messages or social media posts hint at drug use or contradict what they’ve told you?

If your search turns up evidence of drug use, prepare for the conversation ahead and do not be deterred by the argument of invaded privacy. Stand by your decision to search and the limits you’ve set.

If you discover that your child is not likely to have been drinking or using other substances, this could be a good time to find out if there’s another explanation for any changes in their appearance or behavior that needs to be addressed.

Source: Drugfree.org

If you have a good teen starting to make bad choices and you’ve exhausted your local resources, it may be time to consider residential therapy before it gets out of control. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 16, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Depression, Teen Help

One in every four or five U.S. youth meets criteria for a mental disorder

The pandemic has been extremely challenging for many people, but especially for parents and students. We have seen a spike in mental health concerns surrounding teens, from depression to defiance to losing their academic motivation.

Teens are most stressed and overwhelmed

American Psychological Association says that teens currently report worse mental health and higher levels of anxiety and depression than all other age groups—including adults.

San Diego State University researchers report that 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a 52 percent increase in major psychological distress, depression, and suicide since the mid-2000s.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry warns that one in every four or five youth in the U.S. now meets criteria for a mental disorder.

When striving isn’t enough

Dr. Michele Borba has been an educational psychologist for over 40 years, but has never been more concerned about kids and teens. In her latest book, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine shows the urgency in updating current parenting and educational practices to follow science so children will have the potential to thrive and become their personal best.

“They are not okay,” she warns. “In fact, they are less happy and more stressed, lonely, depressed, and suicidal when compared with any previous generation — and those descriptions were identified prior to COVID-19.”

In short, our kids are failing to thrive, and if left as is will have grave consequences on our kids’ futures.

Many teens and kids have hopes and aspirations for their future, maybe college, or even the simpler things such as a family gathering — yet they are emotionally overwhelmed. These are good kids, they have goals and dreams but suddenly are feeling distressed and lonely.

How can we redirect a student that was striving and help them thrive in these challenging times?

Building THRIVERS

Some young people aren’t struggling; they’re thriving. They cope with adversity, develop healthy relationships, and embrace change.

They are ready for whatever the world throws at them, even in uncertain times.  Borba calls these kids Thrivers, and the more she studied them, she wondered, What is their secret? And can it be taught to others?

Through her years of research Borba said:

“Thrivers are made, not born. Yes, the strengths and skills that help our kids thrive can be taught at any age,” she continues. “But in our new uncertain world, it’s a moral mandate that they must be added to our parenting and teaching agendas. Doing so is the best way to raise a generation of strong kids who are ready and able to handle whatever comes their way.”

Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers and experts in the field, and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life. In the end, she found something surprising: The difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven essential character strengths that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life):

  • Self-confidence: Healthy identify, using personal strengths to find purpose and meaning.
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing another’s feelings, and acting compassionately.
  • Self-control: Managing stress, delaying gratification, strengthening focus.
  • Integrity: Valuing and adhering to a strong moral code, ethical thinking to lead a moral life.
  • Curiosity: Having open-mindedness and willingness to try new ideas, take risks, innovate.
  • Perseverance: Exhibiting fortitude, tenacity and resolve to endure so as to bounce back.
  • Optimism: Learning self-advocacy and keeping unrealistic pessimism to encourage hope.

Each of these seven character strengths is like a superpower that helps safeguard kids and teens against the depression and anxiety that threatens to derail them. And when those superpowers are combined, they become even more potent, creating a Multiplier Effect that prepares children to succeed in our fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Yes, they can be taught at any age, says Dr. Borba.

Order THRIVERS on Amazon today.

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Article originally written by Sue Scheff on Psychology Today.

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Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 21, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

10 Ways to Start A Conversation With Your Teen

DadSonChatLet’s face it, we all know that raising teens today is not easy and experts all agree, communication is key to having a good relationship.

However sometimes simply talking to a teenager is not so easy.  They can be very challenging when they turn us off.

Here are some ideas for ways to get teens talking:

  1. Create a topic jar. A topic jar is a jar that you fill with different pieces of paper containing conversation topics. Each night at dinner a different person gets to choose a slip of paper from the jar and read it aloud. The reader gets to start the conversation. For example, the slip of paper could say, “Tell about something that surprised you today”.  Don’t forget to add in topics about digital lives.  “Any new apps, websites, videos, virtual friends….”  Be as interested in their online lives as you are in their offline ones.  Remember, statistics show that kids today spend at least 8 hours a day digitally connected.  This includes cell phones and computers.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. By asking questions that cannot be answered with only a yes or no, you are opening the door for your teenager to say more than a couple of words in reply to you. Try to avoid grilling her and stay away from asking questions like, “How was your day?” Her answer will most likely be a one word answer to these type of questions. Instead, say something like, “Tell me about your day.”
  3. MomDaughterChattingTalk about topics she likes. Often teens feel like they are misunderstood by their parents. Instead of trying to get her involved in whatever you want to talk about, try talking about something that you know she likes. If she is an avid tennis player, discussing the French Open is a great way to start a conversation.
  4. Schedule some one on one time with her. Take her out to her favorite restaurant with just the two of you. If that is too expensive, just go for dessert and linger over coffee. Do something that she enjoys, like going to a shopping (even if it is window shopping) or a tennis match. Sharing these moments with her will give her the opportunity to talk to you while you are both relaxed and alone.
  5. Listen more than you speak. Every minute of your time together with her doesn’t have to be filled with idle chit chat. If you are trying to get someone to talk, leaving some silence will give them the opportunity to fill that silence with conversation.
  6. Be patient with your teen. If she is going through a rough time with her boyfriend or her other friends at school it may be difficult for her to talk about. Give her opportunities to broach the subject with you, but don’t try to force her to talk to you. That will only result in her becoming more stubborn and closed off.
  7. Put yourself in her shoes. Teenagers think that their parents and caregivers don’t understand them. Try to resist saying things like, “I understand what you are going through because I was a teenager once too you know”. Every generation has their own obstacles to overcome, and you can’t know what she is going through until she tells you. Really try to imagine how you would feel if you were in her shoes going through what she is going through.  Keep in mind, we didn’t have technology or social media to deal with. It is their world today.
  8. Don’t try to fix her. Parents and caregivers often try to fix a situation before they even understand it. Everyone is busy, but make time to hear her out. Don’t jump in and offer advice until it’s asked for. The only thing you should be doing while she is talking is nodding and saying the occasional, “hmm” or “I see” to indicate you are actively listening. This part is very difficult, but she needs to feel heard. Imagine how it would feel if you were sharing one of your problems and the person kept interrupting you to offer advice. Would you enjoy that?
  9. Try to be her soft place to fall, not a road block. Teenagers are faced with a lot of peer pressure. Amazingly enough, teens will come to the right decision most of the time if given the chance. Comfort her if she’s had a fight with a friend or if she breaks up with her boyfriend, but don’t condemn the boyfriend or friend. Anything negative that you say now will come back to haunt you when she gets back together with her boyfriend or the next time that her friend comes over to spend the night.
  10. Only offer your opinion when she asks for it. If you are lucky enough to get your teen talking, don’t interrupt with your opinions. Telling her what you would do isn’t going to help because she will remind you that you and she are nothing alike. Teens are trying to break away and prove their individuality. If she asks for your advice, start by asking her what she has considered so far. This will give you an idea of where her head is and you can act accordingly. Avoid lectures at all costs.

Keep in mind, having conversations before you reach a point of confrontation makes for a happier household.  Studies have proven that families that have frequent meals together can reduce risky behavior in teens, it doesn’t have to be every day, but try to have them as often as possible.

Bonus tip: Order Fourteen Talks By Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have With Your Kids Before High School.

If you feel your teen is shutting you out completely and you have exhausted all your resources, seek help from outside sources such as possible a friend or family member they respect.  You may have to then reach out to an adolescent therapist.

If you are still struggling, please contact us for information on residential therapy.  Sometimes removing them from their environment can help them reflect on what they are having difficulties with.

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How Would I Know My Teen Is Using Drugs?

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 10, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

15 Warning Signs Your Teen Might Be Using Drugs

Be an educated parent

Never doubt, no one is immune to being exposed to having their teen use drugs. Most of these kids are very smart (academically), some have great friends and even participate in sports or other activities — you would never expect this behavior.

Good kids, bad choices

Teens are a source of worry for every parent. You look after them for years, and you hope that they end up turning our alright.

While there are hundreds of books and articles on how to raise your kids, few really work that well, and it’s all down to trial and error. Of course, if your kids end up taking drugs and getting caught, they could end up facing a trail for their errors.

Bad puns aside, it’s clear that drug education does a lot for some and little for others. Indeed, government-sponsored drug education programs tend to be somewhat weak. It’s therefore vital that you watch for the common signs of drug use in your kids.

1. Possession of the drug itself is a dead giveaway. While marijuana is fairly distinctive, how do you tell whether a pill has been prescribed or not? The Internet is usually a good resource. Look for the symbol on the pill. Something marked OP will likely be OxyContin, for example. Identify the pill and see what comes up. Alternatively, ask your teen.

2. Odd smells are another sign. It could be a new interest in deodorant or a heady smell of marijuana-laced smoke. If you don’t know what marijuana smells like, it’s time to educate yourself. We don’t suggest smoking it yourself, but you may be able to ask a friendly cop to show you a sample.

3. Paraphernalia for drug taking include roll-ups and tin boxes. For other drugs, it could be syringes and burnt teaspoons. If you see a tin box, open it and take a sniff. If it smells like tobacco, it probably is. If it smells of something else, ask your kid about it.

4. Rapidly changing grades are one of the common consequences of drug addiction or use. If you kid goes from being a straight-A student to getting F’s or D’s, something’s changed. Of course, it could be linked to a number of factors, so tread carefully here.

5. Glazed expressions may be a sign of addiction, but with some teens, it’s hard to tell. Teenagers and twenty-somethings tend not to be the most communicative of creatures, but if your kid starts looking stoned all the time and are accompanied by any of the other factors listed, it’s entirely possible he or she is stoned.

6. Abandoning friends is quite common throughout the teenage years, but it could have a more sinister implication. If your kid starts hanging out with a different crowd who smoke and so on, it could be a phase, but it could be linked to drugs.

7. Abandoning social activities is another potential sign of drug abuse. Again, interests change throughout your kid’s formative years, so tread lightly. It might just be related to a change of tastes.

8. Evasive answers to questions of where your kid has been can sometimes be linked to drugs. As a parent, you’ll never know all the aspects of your kid’s life, and sometimes it could be related to your kid’s interest in dating.

9. Behavioral changes are quite common with kids who take drugs. While the moody teen is a stereotype, it’s one that holds true. If your kid is jittery in the morning and calmer in the evening, he or she could be taking drugs.

10. Memory problems sometimes herald drug use. While everyone forgets stuff, if your kid has problems remembering basic things, you might need to question further. Of course, it could also be a sign of medical issues, such as ADHD.

11.Unexplained injuries can be related to drug or alcohol use. Just as above, however, they could also be related to medical issues or even bullying.

12. Items or money going missing around your house might mean that your kid is stealing to fund a habit. Keep an open mind, however, as it’s just as likely to be a partner or someone else stealing them.

13. Weight changes are a normal part of teen life, but rapid fluctuations could indicate an addiction. Some teens neglect to eat due to drugs or spend lunch money on an addiction rather than eat.

14. Your child is more likely to get ill if he or she takes drugs, as the side effects of some drugs partially suppress the immune system. Inhaled drugs can also lead to respiratory problems.

15. Staying out late is a typical teenage habit, but in combination with things listed above, it’s possible that this could be an indication of drug abuse. Of course, it’s most likely that the drug of choice is alcohol in this case.

Source: American Addiction Centers

Are you concerned about your teen and their behavior? Have you exhausted your local resources? Contact us to find out if residential therapy is right for your teenager.

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How To Talk To Your Teen About Dating Violence

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 01, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Teen Dating Violence

Tips to talk to your teen about dating abuse

In the U.S., nearly 26% of women and 15% of men experience intimate partner violence for the first time before they turn 18. In hopes of shedding light on the experiences of teenagers in abusive relationships and preventing other teens from falling into future abusive cycles, Congress declared February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

While it can be difficult addressing scary topics like teen dating violence and abuse with your child, it’s incredibly important that teens are able to identify what abuse looks like and how they can avoid abusive situations.

Teen dating violence is a broad term that is generally defined as abusive practices occurring between 13-22 year olds. These abusive practices can include emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Ensuring that teens as young as 13 can identify these forms of abuse may seem extreme, but for many young teenagers their first relationship may be with someone older and more experienced.

As seen in cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by students at boarding schools, teens without proper supervision or knowledge of healthy relationship dynamics can be victimized by older classmates who prey on the inexperience and excitement of their younger partners. Naivete has also played a role in the abuse perpetrated by adults who target socially isolated, vulnerable individuals who may not understand how they are being groomed for abuse.

Start the talk about dating abuse

Regardless of the abuser’s age, abuse is a method of control. Though most victims of abuse will recognize physical violence and sexual violence as clear efforts by their partner to control and intimidate them, it’s also important to educate your child on psychological aggression and stalking as a means of teenage dating violence and abuse. These forms of abuse can damage a child’s fledgling self-image and self-worth, while enabling an abuser to exert more control over all areas of their partner’s life.

Psychological aggression is when partners use verbal and non-verbal communication to harm another person mentally or emotionally. This can include constant criticism, name-calling, and even “ghosting,” which occurs when partners cut off communication as a form of punishment.

This kind of abuse begins tearing down the self-esteem of the victim, convincing them that they are failing their partner and need to change to make their partner happy. Psychological aggression also isolates and intimidates the victim, oftentimes in private, which can result in the victim feeling unable to seek help from their friends or parents.

Stalking is another tool used in teen dating violence and abuse. The repeated, unwanted attention or contact by an abusive partner is another way the abuser controls and dominates their partner. It’s especially important to discuss stalking with your child as it can often be misinterpreted by teens as another form of passion or romance.

Every year, millions of teenagers struggle in unhealthy, abusive relationships. Discussing teenage dating violence and the signs of abuse with your child before it happens is one of your only resources in protecting your child from a potentially dangerous situation.

It’s also critical to establish an open dialogue with your child about unhealthy, abusive behaviors so they will feel comfortable seeking out your support and advice in all areas of their lives.

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Are You Running Out Of Options for Your Troubled Teen?

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 15, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

How do you know if your teen needs residential therapy?

Are you running out of options for your troubled teenager?

Many parents are extremely concerned today about their teen’s today. We are witnessing higher rates of depression, stress, anxiety, self-harm and sadly — suicide ideation among our young people.

If you’re one of these parents, you are certainly not alone.

Are you experiencing the following:

  • Poor grades even though they are intelligent
  • Disengaged and apathetic about school, skipping classes, truancy
  • Anger or rage (explosive) at home – but seems to handle it okay in other settings
  • Low work ethic
  • Authority issues
  • Poor decision making
  • Abuse of technology – (Video game addiction, porn use, screen addiction)
  • Psychiatric Struggles – Depression, ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Mood disorders, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
  • Poor social skills
  • Low self-image and self-worth
  • Entitled attitude – feels they deserves or are “owed” stuff but not willing to put in the effort
  • Substance abuse, vaping
  • Self-harm, suicide ideation
  • Running away, sneaking out
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
  • Family conflict, withdrawing from family
  • Dropping out of their favorite activities (sports, dance, cheerleading)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Shoplifting, stealing (usually from parents)
  • Legal issues

Have you tried these things to help:

  • Switching schools, moving
  • School counselors, therapists
  • Taking away technology, removing cell-phones
  • Lectures, pleading
  • Tutors
  • Mentors, teen coaches
  • Short-term in-patient or out-patient services
  • Living with a relative

There are few things more frustrating than trying to help someone who doesn’t want help. They don’t see any reason to change their behavior because it isn’t causing enough pain and frustration now.

But if they don’t get help. . . then they are going to experience a very challenging life.  They are unlikely to complete high-school let alone be able to obtain and hold a job.  It is unlikely that they will have the opportunities that you want for them.  They will struggle.

They need more help than you can offer. . . but it isn’t too late.

Residential therapy can be extremely beneficial where local resources have failed.

Removing your teen from the influences of negative peer groups or sometimes even family conflict can help them reflect more on what is creating their negative behavior.

These programs (therapeutic boarding schools/residential treatment centers) continue with your son’s education, have therapists to work on your son’s emotional wellbeing to help him develop coping and communication skills as well as building motivation and setting goals for his (now) bright future.

This is a major emotional and financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s why we help educate parents on schools and programs that would best fit their individual teen’s needs. We know how confusing the internet can be — and you don’t want to make a rash decision while you’re in crisis. Learn from our mistakes, gain from our knowledge. Read more about the founders story.

Contact us today for a free consultant about teen help programs.

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Is Your Struggling With Depression, Anxiety or Sadness?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 31, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

Teen Depression, Anxiety and Sadness

It’s been a challenging time since the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen a rise in teen depression, anxiety, stress and worse — self-harm and suicide ideation.

Parents are dealing with teen defiance that is amplified more than ever. Remote learning has been anything but easy for most teenagers.

Today teenager’s not only have the stress of schoolwork and peer pressure, they are concerned about their social media presence. If you doubt this is an issue, you are fooling yourself. Statistics have proven that teens rely on their virtual reality for many feelings of acceptance. This is why it is critical for parents to continue to have offline discussions about online reality.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real for these kids today. Even some adults have this fear. You have to look far and wide to walk down the street to find someone without their cell phone in their hand.

What are some of the warnings signs that your teen could be struggling with depression or anxiety?

  • Apathy
  • Complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, or fatigue
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Irresponsible behavior — for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school
  • Loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
  • Memory loss
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Rebellious behavior, defiance (more than normal)
  • Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Staying awake at night and sleeping during the day
  • Sudden drop in grades (underachieving)
  • Use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Withdrawal from activities they  used to love

canstockphoto19322711Teen Anxiety

The lesser known relative of depression, anxiety, afflicts people of all ages and can be especially detrimental for teenagers. It is completely normal and even common for individuals to experience anxiety, particularly during stressful periods, such as before a test or important date (think Prom). For many, this is beneficial, serving as motivation to study hard and perform well; however, for many, anxiety goes beyond standard high-stress periods. While occasional stress is nothing to worry about and can even be healthy, many people experience anxiety on an ongoing basis. People, especially teenagers, who suffer from anxiety disorders, find that their daily life can be interrupted by the intense, often long-lasting fear or worry.

Anxiety disorders are not fatal; however, they can severely interfere with an individual’s ability to function normally on a daily basis. The intense feelings of fear and worry often lead to a lack of sleep as it makes it very difficult for people to fall asleep. Those with anxiety disorders also commonly suffer from physical manifestations of the anxiety.

The anxiety can cause headaches, stomach aches, and even vomiting. In addition stress can cause individuals to lose their appetite or have trouble eating. One of the more difficult aspects for students to deal with is difficulty concentrating.

When one is consumed with worry, his or her mind continuously considers the worrisome thoughts, making it considerably harder for teenagers to concentrate on school work and other mentally intensive tasks. These affects of anxiety can make it difficult for teenagers to simply get through the day, let alone enjoy life and relax.

While there seems to be no single cause of anxiety disorders, it is clear that they can run in a family. The fact that anxiety disorders can run in families indicates that there may be a genetic or hereditary connection. Because a family member may suffer from an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you will. However, individuals who have family members with this disorder are far more likely to develop it.

Within the brain, neurotransmitters help to regulate mood, so an imbalance in the level of specific neurotransmitters can cause a change in mood. It is this imbalance in a neurotransmitter called serotonin that leads to anxiety. Interestingly, an imbalance of serotonin in the brain is directly related to depression.

For this reason, SSRI medications, more commonly referred to as anti-depressants, are often used to help treat an anxiety disorder. Medication can provide significant relief for those suffering from anxiety disorders; however, it is often not the most efficient form of treatment.

In addition to medication, treatments for anxiety disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy, other types of talk therapy, and relaxation and biofeedback to control muscle tension. Talk therapy can be the most effective treatment for teenagers, as they discuss their feelings and issues with a mental health professional.

Many teens find it incredibly helpful to simply talk about the stress and anxiety that they feel. Additionally, in a specific kind of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy teens actively “unlearn” some of their fear. This treatment teaches individuals a new way to approach fear and anxiety and how to deal with the feelings that they experience.

Many people attempt to medicate themselves when they suffer from stress or anxiety. While individuals find different ways to deal with the intense worry that they may experience, self medication can be very detrimental to their body.

It is not uncommon for people who suffer from anxiety disorders to turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the anxiety. While this may provide a temporary fix for the afflicted, in the long run it is harmful. By relying on these methods, individuals do not learn how to deal with the anxiety naturally. Reliance on other substances can also lead to alcohol or drug abuse, which can be an especially significant problem if it is developed during the teen years.

Statistics on teen anxiety show that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental disorders among adolescents:

  • 8-10 percent of adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder
  • Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include: anger, depression, fatigue, extreme mood swings, substance abuse, secretive behavior, changes in sleeping and eating habits, bad hygiene or meticulous attention to, compulsive or obsessive behavior
  • One in eight adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder totaling 19 million people
  • Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men
  • Anxiety sufferers see an average of five doctors before being successfully diagnosed

Source: WedMD.com

Teen depression and anxiety is treatable. It’s imperative you seek help for your child. As many parents know, sometimes your teenager can be stubborn and refuse to get help. It’s a parent’s responsibility to do what is best for them.

Finding the best therapist that specialize with adolescent’s and connects with your son or daughter may take a few tries. Sometimes outpatient therapy works and typically finding a good peer support group is always beneficial.

If you come to a point where you have exhausted all of your local resources and you find your teen is still hitting rock bottom in darkness, you may want to consider residential therapy. This gives them a second opportunity at a bright future. It doesn’t say you or they are failures – opens up many doors for them.

They will be with others that feel the same feelings they do – they are not alone. It’s not any different when adults have feelings of sadness and want to talk to people that feel the same way – they can bring each other through their difficult times. Contact us for more information.

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RESET: Summer Digital Detox Program for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 28, 2020  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Mental Health, Summer Camps, Teen Help

RESET SUMMER CAMP

Serious Help for Technology Addiction

Looking for a summer digital detox program that is both affordable and effective?

Welcome to Reset.

Digital Addiction

Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are isolating themselves – completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Symptoms:

-An obsession with being online
-Frustration, anxiety, and irritability when not able to get online
-Abandoning friends or hobbies in order to stay digitally connected
-Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as failing grades, deteriorating relationships, and even health issues)

Getting Help

Reset Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy.

Life Skills

The Life Skills program cultivates responsibility and builds self-confidence, so campers will be prepared to handle their real-world obligations. Everything from healthy meal-prep and laundry skills to basic vehicle upkeep and a healthy sleep schedule.

Therapeutic Setting

Their staff includes experienced youth-development professionals, clinical interns, registered nurses, and private-practice mental health PhDs who work daily with those suffering from problematic use of technology, including gaming addiction and other unhealthy screen-time habits.

With 4-weeks of intensive therapeutic intervention, a full Family Workshop weekend and 12-weeks of individual follow-up with every camper, Reset Summer Camp stands alone as the leader in summer digital detox programs.

Aftercare

Reset Summer Camp isn’t done when your teen goes home. What sets them apart from others is their therapeutic after-care. Counselors will be available to help you, your teen and your family find a healthy relationship at home with technology.

Dates and rates

Click here.

RESET also offers kid sessions (8-12 year-old) at their Santa Barbara location for two weeks.

Contact RESET at 1-775-771-3171 to learn more or email at info@resetsummercamp.com and visit them on Facebook.

Apply now.

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P.U.R.E. is not compensated by RESET Summer Camp.

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Should I Read My Teen’s Text Messages?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 19, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

When should parents snoop rather than monitor their teen’s online behavior?

This has been a debate for years and the answer comes back to when safety trumps privacy.

Especially now as technology is in the hands of every teens and many tweens, as well as COVID has locked us online more than ever — parents need to be in tune with how are teens are dealing with peer pressure, friendships and most of all, digital school life.

Teenagers earn their trust with their parents. Respecting each others privacy should always be priority, however if you fear your teenager is heading down a dark path, and is not willing to talk to you or a third party (therapist, guidance counselor, relative or adult friend), you may have to cross the line of trust.

Warning signs it might be time to investigate:

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a “gut feeling” something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line. There is nothing stronger than a parents intuition.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line. The pandemic has caused a rise in stress, anxiety and defiance in many teenagers. Parents are struggling to keep up with the challenging behavioral changes.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? Are they hanging with a less than desirable group of friends, even virtually? Have they started joining risky chatrooms? Possibly meeting strangers? Sneaking out?
  • Is your teens eating habits changing? Eating more or less? Binging? Especially during this pandemic, families need to try to have meal times several times a week.
  • Is their sleeping patterns changing? Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries or house rules?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?
  • Are you snooping or are you legitimately monitoring your teens?

Should you read your teen’s diary? Scroll through their text messages or even befriend them on their social networking sites? That is a personal question only you can answer.

Remember writing can be very healthy for teens (and adults for that matter), so if your teen isn’t giving you any valid reasons to “invade their privacy” – respect it.

When safety trumps privacy –is the time to pry – but every day you should be monitoring your child’s online activity – it’s called parenting.

The latest trend with online behavior that have many parents concerned, is their teen’s that are meeting unsavory people online and attempting to meet-up offline. Or their teen is spending an enormous amount of time on sexual sites (porn) or possibly engaging in sexual activities online (such as sending sext messages) to people they don’t know.

This is exactly when safety trumps privacy. If you’ve exhausted your local resources and the behavior is not ending, it might be time to consider the next step. Residential therapy can be an option to steer your teen down a healthy path.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

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Study: How COVID Is Impacting Teen’s Mental Health

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 07, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

Parenting Teens During Challenging Times

Many of us won’t dispute, 2020 has been a difficult year. The pressures that the ongoing pandemic have placed on all of us have been challenging, especially for students who have had to adapt to online learning overnight.

During this uncertain time, it’s not only school that have our youth concerned. The rise of mental health issues among children and teens since the beginning of the pandemic have many parents and health professionals worried.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) we are now seeing children and adolescents with higher rates of depression and anxiety resulting from the required isolation and loneliness of COVID-19.

The latest findings in a new survey released by ParentsTogether, of hundreds of kids and parents are very troubling.

The majority of kids, 70 percent reported feeling sad, overwhelmed and worried — while nearly half the parents (44 percent) are saying that their kid’s are struggling with mental wellness since the pandemic started.

Although almost half (47 percent) are worried about their child’s mental health, 45 percent are experiencing more challenging behavior from their kids since the pandemic.

In another study from the National 4-H Council, it concurred that the pandemic is having a great impact on teen’s mental wellness.

Some of the key findings:

  • 81% of teens say mental health is a significant issue for young people in the U.S., and 64% of teens believe that the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation’s mental health.
  • In this stressful climate, 7 in 10 teens have experienced struggles with mental health.
  • 55% of teens say they’ve experienced anxiety, 45% excessive stress,  and 43% depression.
  • 61% of teens said that COVID-19 pandemic has increased their feeling of loneliness.
  • Teens today report spending 75% of their waking hours on screens during COVID-19.
  • 82% of teens calling on America to talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues in this country.
  • 79% of teens surveyed wish there was an inclusive environment or safe space for people in school to talk about mental health.

Rise of teen defiance

There’s no shortage of parents crying out for help. If you were struggling with your teenage prior the pandemic, chances are you are at your wit’s end now. From social distancing to wearing masks, teens are not making life easy for parents.

As an Educational Consultant for 20 years I’ve helped families of struggling teens. In the past 6 months the numbers have spiked of moms and dads are walking on eggshells with their teenagers. Defiance, rage, depression, anxiety, rebellious – teens that runaway for days only to come back and put their family at risk of COVID.

Some recent comments from parents over the past several months have been:

  • His poor emotional regulation has gotten worse since Covid-19 and he is now depressed feeling like nothing ever works out for him. – parent of 16 year-old boy
  • He has been stealing repeatedly and it has only gotten worse with lying as well during COVID. – parent of 15 year-old boy
  • Depression and lack of motivation due to COVID pandemic. – parent of 18 year-old boy
  • With COVID she’s acting out aggressively, defiant and always seems depressed. – parent of a 14 year old girl

Sharing this information is to help parents understand, they are not alone.

Helping teens emotionally handle these trying times

Everyone is suffering during this pandemic on some level. The ParentsTogether survey concluded that families that made $50,000 a year or less, their children were twice as likely to struggle with anger issues, sadness, loneliness and fear.

Rich or poor, parents are equally concerned about their child’s mental wellness – and searching for answers.

Michele Borba, PH.D., educational psychologist, created a series on Helping Kids and Teens Thrive in Uncertain Times, during this pandemic to educate parents on understanding the emotions their children and teens are facing.

“The pandemic has added stress to how teens are feeling. They were already stressed before COVID-19, now it has just doubled because of their concerns and worries for the future,” said Dr. Borba, “A change in behavior, such as acting out, defiance and tantrums can all be signs your teen or child emotionally is suffering,” she continues.

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to depression and other mental health challenges. If you suspect your child is suffering from depression, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to provide you with a referral to an appropriate mental health professional. “No one knows your child or teen better than you. If you suspect something is wrong, chances are you’re right,” says Borba.

3 Ways to improve teen wellness:

  1. Exercise: Download a yoga app or exercise with your friends (virtually).
  2. Music: Listening to certain music is the 2nd popular answer to what teen’s said helped them cope with the stress and worry of the pandemic.
  3. Journal: Writing is very therapeutic and helping young people express their emotions.

If you have exhausted your local resources, learn more about residential therapy to find out if it could help your teen. Contact us today.

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