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Teen Depression

How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 09, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Depression, Teen Help

The Pandemic, Teens and Depression: How You Can Help

Help Your Teens PexelTeenDepression-194x300 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It Stuck at home for months on end and removed from their normal active social lives, many teens may have fallen into a dark period. Considering these unusual factors, a rise in instances of teen depression during the pandemic may not be unexpected. But by no means does that mean it should be ignored.

Research studies have revealed startling statistic evidence of just how much the pandemic has affected teenagers.

The three biggest mood conditions affecting teenagers between 13 and 18 years old (anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders) have been shown to have increased by 80% to 90% between the spring of 2020 and the previous year.

Substance abuse levels among teenagers increased by about 65% in March and April of 2020, and instances of intentional self-harm skyrocketed. In the Northeast of the United States, the number of intentional self-harm instances rose to 334% among teenagers in August of 2020 as compared to August of 2019. 

These statistics may be alarming, but that is all the more reason to investigate the causes of these all-too-common problems and search for solutions. In this article, we will take a deeper look at how the pandemic has caused an increase in teen depression. Then we will explore what you can do to help support your teenager.

Effects of the Pandemic on Your Teenager

In general, the teenaged years are already turbulent for most, and levels of anxiety and depression frequently begin during this 13- to 18-year-old age group. The life of a teenager is full of developmental transitions, and life transitions.

The hormonal changes of puberty coupled with the increased pressure of high school social life, applying for college, and impending adulthood can create an intensely pressurized period in any teenager’s life. 

But with the pandemic, not only were the usual pressures and anxieties heightened, but the typical releases were removed. Teenagers accustomed to venting with their friends after school, meeting with a variety of teachers and mentors, exercising during sports practice, and engaging in a variety of activities that stimulated and challenged them were now isolated inside their homes. Social activity, mental stimulation, and school all took place over the internet, and that social isolation coupled with increased time online spelled a recipe for disaster for many susceptible teens. 

Experts have not yet made direct links between the pandemic and increases in youth suicide. They have noted, however, that the pandemic has caused added stress on teenagers, and has left many teenagers feeling hopeless about the future as well. Instead of connecting with others, teens have been confronted with financial fallout and an unceasing flurry of grim news reporting which has left them stewing in negative thoughts that can exacerbate any pre-existing anxiety or depression. 

What You Can Do to Help

Allow Them Space to Breathe

Help Your Teens PexelTeenCell5-1-300x205 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It Many parents have found that their teenager has become increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative during the pandemic. Even in the face of stony silence, it is important to make clear to your teen that they are not alone. Try creating a designated time to share openly- and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

Make sure your teen knows that they can trust you, and that you are open to having frank and even difficult conversations with them. 

While they should certainly feel that their parents offer a safe space to communicate, it is also vital for your teens to have some healthy privacy and alone time. Allow them to recoup and retreat into their rooms to listen to music, be creative, read, play, or process through complex thoughts. Give them space to breathe but pay attention to any especially spiky moods and extreme downturns of behavior. You don’t want to smother your teen, but at the same time, you want to make sure they are safe. Try to strike a healthy balance between observation and trust. 

Maintain Social Connections

Particularly for teens going through intense emotional turmoil and facing down uncommon pressures caused by the pandemic, maintaining social connections is vital. Some parents have taken the approach of loosening social media restrictions, with widely beneficial results. Encourage your teens to continue connecting with their peers, even online. 

Just make sure to implement healthy boundaries and restrictions so your teenager isn’t chatting online to the exclusion of everything else- particularly exercise and sleep. Try implementing a nighttime social media curfew, so your teens are not exposed to the glaring blue light of the screen right before bedtime. You may also want to restrict social media usage to age-appropriate platforms. That can help protect your teens from cyber bullies, hackers, spam, or inappropriate content. 

You can also organize family and friend gatherings via video chat. Your teen may be reticent to attend, but these reminders of pre-pandemic life can be helpful for increasing a feeling of social connection and reminding your teen that they are not alone. 

Implement Healthy Routines

Help Your Teens PexelFamilyJogging-300x207 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It While the last thing your teenager may want to do is participate in family exercise sessions, or follow bedtime guidelines, these are some of the most important tools you can use to try to combat the effects of anxiety and depression. Because anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders have physical bases, encouraging your teenager to get exercise and regular sleep can help ease the underlying disorders. This can be a vicious cycle; the less sleep your teen gets, the worse their mood disorder may become, thus making it harder to sleep or to go to bed at a reasonable hour. 

Try to help your teen create and maintain a regular daily routine that can provide a structure to their days and evenings. One of the most disruptive factors of the pandemic has been the removal of regular routines, which allow teenagers to disregard normal waking hours, school times, and bedtimes. 

Create a shared calendar to demarcate when online learning should happen, when your teens are expected to complete their chores, and even family outings for exercise and a change of scenery. Encouraging regular physical activity can help increase the body’s responses against depression and anxiety and regulate the sleep cycle. 

Bring in a Professional

Help Your Teens bigstock-Female-Psychologist-Working-Wi-237972997-300x200 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It You may also want to incorporate assistance from a designated mental health professional. Bringing an extra source of support can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety for your teen and can also provide extra support for parents of teenagers struggling with emotional imbalances. 

Talk to your teenager’s teacher or school counselors, and consider trying on internet-based therapist, counselor, or psychologist. You can also look into a variety of online mental health programs that encourage teenagers to engage with their emotions and connect with others, sometimes anonymously. 

Giving your teenager a safe space to vent and process their emotions with an impartial third-party professional can help a huge amount, and can allow them to talk about things they might not feel comfortable sharing with a parent or sibling- particularly when you are all sharing the close quarters of home during the pandemic. 

Connecting with Your Teen

The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, and some of the problems that parents face can sometimes be transferred to their kids accidentally. Remember that your teenager may be able to handle more than you think. Connect with them honestly and openly up to a point, making sure they know that they are heard, seen, and respected. 

Allow them to hide away when they need to, but also make it clear that you are there for them as a strong pillar of support, no matter how difficult it may seem. Let them know that you are available to help them get through whatever they are experiencing, and that together you can help ease some of the pressure that your teen may feel.

Check out our featured book, The Teen Depression Workbook for more resources.

Are you concerned about your teen? Exhausted your local resources? Contact us for a free consultation to find out if residential therapy is right for your family.

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The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 29, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Depression, Troubled Teens

Teen Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Help Your Teens PexelsTeenAnxiety-202x300 The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated The mental health crisis with young people is extremely concerning. With almost a year of remote learning, students have become more withdrawn, isolated and dependent upon their electronics.

We have seen a rise in youth depression, stress and anxiety which is causing parents to experience behaviors such as defiance, self-harm, eating disorders, hyenine issues and possibly suicide ideation.

Is your teen struggling emotionally?

Considered our featured teen book:

The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

By Katie Hurley, LCSW

Don’t face depression alone―advanced tools for teens.

You can feel better and The Depression Workbook for Teens is going to help you do it. Drawing on the most effective and up-to-date techniques―including cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness―this depression workbook is filled with helpful exercises designed specifically for teens that will help you conquer depression. Develop the skills you need to manage your emotional well-being and bring happiness back into your life.

Get information all about depression―its symptoms, causes, and risk factors―so you can identify the differences between normal stress and depression. There is a light at the end of the tunnel―The Depression Workbook for Teens will show you the way.

Help Your Teens DepressionWorkbook The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated The Depression Workbook for Teens includes:

  • Just for teens―Tackle your depression head-on using a depression workbook filled with strategies written with your unique needs (and time constraints) in mind.
  • Useful tools―With quizzes, journaling prompts, conversation starters, and more, you’ll discover simple skill-building exercises to improve your mood and build your self-esteem.
  • Practical problem solving―Find ways to work through the challenges you’re facing―including fighting with your parents, getting up in the morning, struggling with homework, and more.

The Depression Workbook for Teens gives you the helping hand you need to get through this difficult time.

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About Katie Hurley: Katie is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer. Hurley is the author of No More Mean Girls and The Happy Kid Handbook. Her work can be found in The Washington Post, PBS Parents, US News and World Report, and Psychology Today.

During this time of uncertainty, The Depression Workbook has been a tremendous asset to many young people. Studies are revealing the impact COVID is having on mental health with our young people.

Have you exhausted your local resources?

Therapy isn’t working? Contact us to learn more about residential therapy for your teenager.

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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

Help Your Teens PexelSadTeen-300x199 Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing 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

Help Your Teens BookThrivers-196x300 Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing 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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Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help

10 Common Causes of Teen Depression

Help Your Teens BigstockSadTeen-300x199 Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know We are living in a time where teen depression is on the rise. Sadly, we are seeing suicide as the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24.

With today’s digital lives there could be so many reasons.  Are they missing the routine of a real-life social life?  Are they being harassed online?  Or are they watching their friends on social media have a blast while they believe their life is boring or they are simply missing out?

What was true a generation ago is still true today, teens are unpredictable and still difficult to figure out. However depression is a very real emotion.

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage.

After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

Help Your Teens TeenStress55-300x240 Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress –(Especially if your teen is applying to colleges). Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. Help Your Teens FamilyDiscussion-300x180 Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know Family Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional well-being, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression.

Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. You can also try the The Depression Workbook for Teens for insights and more information on mental wellness.

If your teen continues to struggle with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to local help such as a counselor (therapist). If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them (your teen refuses to engage in the session), contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option. Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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Dead Serious: Breaking The Cycle of Teen Suicide

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 24, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide Rates Are Rising

Help Your Teens BigstockSadTeenBoy-300x201 Dead Serious: Breaking The Cycle of Teen Suicide A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows over the last 20 years, 1.6 million kids ages 10 to 24 called poison control centers after attempting suicide; using prescription pills, street drugs and other household poisons.

By Jane Mersky Leder

My brother took his own life on his thirtieth birthday. My life has never been the same.

Thirty plus years after publishing the first edition of Dead Serious, this second completely revised and updated edition covers new ground: bullying, social media, LGBTQ teens, suicide prevention programs, and more.

Help Your Teens BookDeadSerious-200x300 Dead Serious: Breaking The Cycle of Teen Suicide Scores of teens share their stories that are often filled with hurt, disappointment, shame–yet often hope. Written for teens, adults and educators, Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide explores the current cultural and social landscape and how the pressure-filled lives of teens today can lead to anxiety, depression–suicide.

Leder’s own journey of discovery after her brother’s suicide informs her goal of helping to prevent teen suicide by empowering teens who are suffering and teens who can serve as peer leaders and connectors to trusted adults.

The skyrocketing number of teens who take their own lives makes Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide more relevant and important than ever. “Talking about suicide does not make matters worse. What makes matters worse is not talking.”

Order Dead Serious on Amazon today.

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Are you concerned about your teen? Have they been struggling with depression? Becoming withdrawn? Have you exhausted your local resources — local therapy isn’t working? Contact us if you want to learn more about residential therapy.

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Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 25, 2018  /   Posted in Teen Depression, Teen Help

Teen Stress

Reduce Stress and Promote Healthy Mindsets: 3 Self-Care Tips for Your Teen

Help Your Teens HYTStartTodayPic-300x200 Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset

Stress does not discriminate, and it certainly knows no age limits. In fact, data collected by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that stress is significantly common among teenagers and actually “rivals that of adults.”

Teenagers are confronted with demands or expectations to perform well in school and make important decisions about their future, all while combating peer pressure and even cyberbullying, which is a frequent occurrence in the age of social media in which they grew up.

To have some degree of stress in life is normal, but if stress intensifies for extended periods of time, it can cause both emotional and physical ramifications that can affect teenagers’ mental health. The APA also reported that many teens (30%) who suffer from stress reported feeling depressed. Among other things, chronic stress can also cause anxiety and other negative thoughts and behaviors.

“To break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health-care professionals,” says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.

Parents can play a significant role as support systems by acquainting their teenagers with self-care strategies that will help them manage stress and address possible mental health conditions. These three self-care ideas can help teenagers deal with life’s everyday demands in a more enlightening and  productive way:

  1. Start the conversation. Begin showing your teen support by addressing one of the most concerning aspects of stress: the development of a possible mental health disorder. Mental illness is so often poorly understood, which can add to the challenge of living with such a condition and actually affects how one handles stress. It can be difficult for many teenagers to talk to their parents, let alone about mental health. But the reality is that there are variations of mental health resources like podcasts, comics, blog posts and discussion guides that provide a great understanding of conditions in a relatable and intriguing manner, making the subject of mental health much more comfortable.
  1. Help Your Teens HYTteenbreathing-224x300 Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset Be prepared with “on-the-go” techniques. During high-stress situations, the body may respond physically through increased heart rate, quickened breathing, muscle tightening, and elevated blood pressure. To regulate the nervous system and bring calmness to the forefront of focus, it can be particularly helpful to know a few calming or grounding techniques. Be that as it may, it might not always be possible to remove oneself from an environment when physical symptoms arise, especially teenagers who may be in in the middle of a class, for instance. Thus, it’s even more important to find exercises for your teen that can be done anywhere. Breathing exercises are beneficial for achieving quick and discrete relaxation from stress and anxiety.
  1. Hobbies can be an overlooked tool. It’s no shocking revelation that teenagers are busy, but it seems as though any and all of their free time is placed in front of a screen these days. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, or texting, so much of their extra time to unwind is occupied by mindlessly looking at a screen. Instead, introduce your teen to a new hobby or even engage in one together. Hobbies can still be relaxing and are great for the body’s overall well-being, particularly in developing teenagers. Regularly participating in a hobby can provide structure that in turn can translate into good time management skills, ultimately decreasing stress. Personal connections and improved social skills can also be an added bonus of taking up a hobby because you never know who your teenager might have something in common with. Whether it’s a sports league, book club, rock band, or an art club, your teenager will be actively engaged in a mindful activity (and off their phones) which is important for both their physical and mental well-being.

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The Truth About Teen Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 13, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression

Teen Vaping: Be An Educated Parent

Help Your Teens PexalVaping-300x203 The Truth About Teen Vaping More and more parents are contacting us about their teenager vaping.

Is Vaporizing Safer Than Smoking?  Why Vaping Isn’t Healthy for Teens?

Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it’s still bad for teens according to Sandra Gordon in her article for YourTeenMag.

First, the good news: Teen smoking isn’t as cool as it once was. Over the past 40 years, smoking rates among teens have fallen nearly 23 percent.

The not-so-great news? More than two million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes (vape). E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”), turning it into an aerosol that the user inhales. E-cigarettes don’t produce the same mix of tar and carcinogens as conventional cigarettes, but they’re far from harmless, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center in San Francisco.

The juice in e-cigarettes is available in enticing flavors like mint, mango, tobacco, or crème brûlée. Most of the time, it also contains nicotine, but research shows that only a quarter of high schoolers know this. Juice may also contain other chemicals known to be toxic to humans, such as ethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze; formaldehyde; volatile organic compounds; and heavy metals, like lead and diacetyl.

First, the good news: Teen smoking isn’t as cool as it once was. Over the past 40 years, smoking rates among teens have fallen nearly 23 percent.

The not-so-great news? More than two million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes (vape). E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”), turning it into an aerosol that the user inhales. E-cigarettes don’t produce the same mix of tar and carcinogens as conventional cigarettes, but they’re far from harmless, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center in San Francisco.

The juice in e-cigarettes is available in enticing flavors like mint, mango, tobacco, or crème brûlée. Most of the time, it also contains nicotine, but research shows that only a quarter of high schoolers know this. Juice may also contain other chemicals known to be toxic to humans, such as ethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze; formaldehyde; volatile organic compounds; and heavy metals, like lead and diacetyl.

Is Vaporizing Safer Than Smoking?

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, six out of 10 teens believe that using e-cigarettes causes only “a little” or “some” harm, as long as they don’t vape daily. But that’s not true, and the risks range from the physical to the psychological. Nicotine in any form isn’t healthy for a teen’s lungs or brain, which is still growing until around age 25. According to a recent study in the Journal of Physiology, nicotine exposure in adolescence can make the brain sensitive to other drugs and prime it for future substance abuse.

Just as with regular cigarette smoking, the nicotine from vaping gets into the lungs and bloodstream, and keeps the smoker coming back for more. “You can get addicted to an e-cigarette,” says Bill Blatt, director of Tobacco Programs for the American Lung Association.

In teens, nicotine is more addictive and can mess with the brain’s hardwiring, leading to mood disorders and permanent impulse control. Plus, e-cigarette smokers are four times more likely to become traditional cigarette smokers. On top of these concerns, e-cigarettes can also be used as a delivery system for marijuana and other drugs.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but teens still find ways to get them. Even if you don’t think they are vaping, it’s worth discussing—e-cigarettes are easy to hide. Because the smoke isn’t as noticeable as it is with regular cigarettes, a teen can take a draw from a vaping pen and put it in their pocket without an adult seeing it. “They can even smoke in class,” Blatt says.

How to Convey to Your Teen That Vaping Isn’t Healthy

Initiate an ongoing conversation instead of a lecture.

Start casual conversations about the dangers of e-cigarettes, such as when you see an ad on TV or come across an e-cigarette shop while driving together. (E-cigarette stores are fairly common now, and usually have some form of the word “vape” or “vapor” in their names.) Or, to get your teen talking, ask them what they think about e-cigarettes. As the conversation gets going, mention that vaping can be as addictive as smoking regular cigarettes and that it’s bad for your brain, making it harder to concentrate and control your impulses. Texting is another great way to communicate your message. Your teen can read the info at the timing of their choice without feeling lectured.

Read the full article on YourTeenMag.

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      Young people spend much of their lives in front of a screen, and with the pandemic, that time has increased substantially. Yet, few young people are taught how to be good citizens online, let alone how to balance the time they spend online with all the other parts of life—like sleeping, mealtimes, exercise, and face-to-face […]

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