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Struggling Teens

Does Your Teen Have Bipolar Disorder?

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 07, 2021  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

Teen Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder seems to be a popular discussion in our society today.  It has replaced (though we still discuss) ADD/ADHD/ODD and conduct disorder, now we are hearing more teens being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder and how do you know if your teenager is struggling with it?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic or unusual mood swings between major depression and extreme elation, or mania. The mood swings can be mild or extreme. They can come on slowly or quickly, within hours to days. Bipolar disorder usually starts between 15 and 30 years of age. It’s more prevalent in those teens who have a family history of the mood disorder.

Help Your Teens TeenDepressionBipolar-300x210 Does Your Teen Have Bipolar Disorder? There are two subtypes of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II

  • With bipolar I, the teenager alternates between extreme states of depression and intense mania. With the mania, the teen might be abnormally happy, energetic, and very talkative, with no need for sleep for days. He or she might also have hallucinations, psychosis, grandiose delusions, and/or paranoid rage, all of which might require hospitalization and medications. Once bipolar I begins, it typically persists throughout the person’s life.
  • With bipolar II, the teen has depression but a lesser form of elation called “hypomania.” While someone with either mania or hypomania may have grandiose mood and reduced need for sleep, hypomania is a period of incredible energy, charm, and productivity. It’s often associated with high achievers.

While many teens can be irritable with or without bipolar disorder, the irritability that comes with mania or hypomania may be more hostile. Some believe there is a link between ADHD and bipolar disorder. Some 57% of teens who have adolescent-onset bipolar disorder also have ADHD.

What causes bipolar disorder?

Scientists don’t know the exact cause of bipolar disorder. Still, many experts believe that of all psychiatric disorders, bipolar is the most closely linked to genetics. For example, if your parent has bipolar disorder, you are about nine times more likely to get the condition than other teens.

Biochemical and environmental factors play a role in bipolar disorder, too. In fact, researchers think that imbalances in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that regulate moods) increase the chance of bipolar disorder.

What are some symptoms teens may experience?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include mania (highs), hypomania (mild highs), and depression (lows). Feeling manic or hypomanic is not the same as having super-energy and being very outgoing or highly productive one weekend. Likewise, depression is not a temporary bad mood that happens when you don’t have a date for the school dance.

The mood episodes with bipolar disorder are intense, and noticeable by friends and family. A teen with mania might be hyper-excited, silly, and have laughing fits in class that are inappropriate. In some teens, mania’s grandiosity may cause problems with defiance, as the teen refuses to comply with any authority at home or at school.

Symptoms of mania include:

  • Racing speech and thoughts.
  • Increased energy.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Elevated mood and exaggerated optimism.
  • Increased physical and mental activity.
  • Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior, and impatience.
  • Hypersexuality, increased sexual thoughts, feeling or behaviors; use of sexual language.
  • Reckless behavior, like excessive spending, making rash decisions, and erratic driving.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Inflated sense of self-importance.

Symptoms of hypomania include:

  • Exuberant and elated mood.
  • Increased confidence.
  • Extremely focused on projects at work or at home.
  • Increased creativity and productivity.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Increased energy and libido.
  • Risk-taking behaviors.
  • Reckless behaviors.

Help Your Teens Teensad-300x150 Does Your Teen Have Bipolar Disorder?

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Prolonged sad or irritable mood.
  • Loss of energy or fatigue.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Sleeping too much, inability to sleep, or difficulty falling asleep.
  • Drop in grades and inability to concentrate.
  • Inability to experience pleasure.
  • Loss of appetite or overeating.
  • Anger, worry, and anxiety.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

If your doctor determines you have bipolar disorder, he or she may prescribe one or more medications, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms.

Some drugs often used to stabilize mania or hypomania include lithium carbonate, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines. Lithium and lamotrigine (Lamictal) are standard treatments for the depressed phase of bipolar disorder. Doctors are cautious in using antidepressants alone, as they might trigger a manic mood swing.

Psychotherapy can help the patient and family learn more about the illness and how to cope with the mood changes. Because of the relapses and remissions of bipolar disorder, the illness has a high rate of recurrence if untreated.

If you have exhausted your local resources and including therapy, you may want to consider residential therapy.  Contact us for more information.

Sources: WebMD.com

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Helping Teens With Self-Esteem

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 12, 2021  /   Posted in Teen Help

Help! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

Good kids, starting to make bad choices — many times parents will point to the choice of friends.

Help Your Teens BigStockDefiantTeen-300x198 Helping Teens With Self-Esteem Your teen’s self-esteem is an important part of their self-image. It helps them feel  worthwhile and more confident in making better choices – especially when it pertains to peer groups or even deciding to skip school.

A healthy self-esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in their life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your teen’s self-esteem:

Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park.

While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty. Obviously this is an example for younger children – however the New York Time’s best seller by Jessica Lahey, The Gift of Failure, is an excellent example of over-praising a child and especially a teenager can actually hinder them, rather than help them.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help with the housework. It means we have more time to go to the mall this weekend.” or “I’m so proud of how you tried new activities at school. It’s a great way to find out what your passionate about.” Will help your teen feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or care giving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Help Your Teens BigStockFatherSon2-300x201 Helping Teens With Self-Esteem Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster.

When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.  In the same way – your teen need to turn off their phone and electronics to listen to you too.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices.

If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

Help Your Teens TeensOnBeach-300x200 Helping Teens With Self-Esteem 11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  1. Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.
  2. Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are attempting to lose weight.
  3. Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks. Brighten someone’s day by posting encouraging messages on your school’s bathroom mirrors. Sign up for Mirror Messages.
  4. More than 40% of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass.
  5. 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. This compares to 25% of girls with high self-esteem.
  6. About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  7. Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later.
  8. The top wish among all teen girls is for their parents to communicate better with them. This includes frequent and more open conversations.
  9. 38% of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6% admitted to experimenting with steroids.
  10. 7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.
  11. A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight, than how much she actually weighs.
Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self-worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate.

Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. Contact us for more information.

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Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 31, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Help

Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence

Help Your Teens bigstock-Teenage-Girl-Victim-Of-Bullyin-120053000-300x200 Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety

By Dr. John Duffy

Parenting is more difficult and complicated than it has ever been. Our kids today are psychologically and emotionally burdened by social media, unreasonable academic and social stressors, and an unprecedented stream of information.

They are exposed to the harshest elements of the world much too soon. The upside is that they have this thoughtful, compassionate worldview and sense of justice that we may have lacked. The downside is that our kids are in an undue degree of psychic pain. They suffer far more anxiety, depression, attention issues, and suicidal ideation than any generation preceding them.

More than ever, our kids need us to help them make sense of, and integrate, all they take in, starting at a very early age. To do that, we must know and truly understand their world.

This book is a complete guide to all of the issues that your child, teen and young adult will face.

So when your kid is overwhelmed (and your kid is going to feel overwhelmed), when you kid is exposed to too much (and your kid will be exposed to too much), she will know: I have mom and/or dad, and they are my constant, they are my solid. I can go to them and they are going to hear me out, without judgment. I know that. I know that I can talk to them and they are going to be there for me unequivocally. In their complicated world, with all of this stimuli, with all of this identity traffic, kids need some compass. They need you to be that compass.

Help Your Teens BookParentingAnxiety Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety Inside Parenting Inside the New Teen In the Age of Anxiety:

Learn about the “New Teen” and how to adjust your parenting approach. Kids are growing up with nearly unlimited access to social media and the internet, and unprecedented academic, social, and familial stressors. Starting as early as eight years old, children are exposed to information, thought, and emotion that they are developmentally unprepared to process. As a result, saving the typical “teen parenting” strategies for thirteen-year-olds is now years too late.

Urgent advice for parents of teens. Dr. John Duffy’s parenting book is a new and necessary guide that addresses this hidden phenomenon of the changing teenage brain. Dr. Duffy, a nationally recognized expert in parenting for nearly twenty-five years, offers this book as a guide for parents raising children who are growing up quickly and dealing with unresolved adolescent issues that can lead to anxiety and depression.

Unprecedented psychological suffering among our young and why it is occurring. A shift has taken place in how and when children develop. Because of the exposure they face, kids are emotionally overwhelmed at a young age, often continuing to search for a sense of self well into their twenties. Paradoxically, Dr. Duffy recognizes the good that comes with these challenges, such as the sense of justice instilled in teenagers starting at a young age.

Readers of this book will:

  • Sort through the overwhelming circumstances of today’s teens and better understand the changing landscape of adolescence
  • Come away with a revised, conscious parenting plan more suited to addressing the current needs of the New Teen
  • Discover the joy in parenting again by reclaiming the role of your teen’s ally, guide, and consultant

Order today on Amazon.

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Summer Flings: Teens and Healthy Relationships

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 23, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Teens, Sex and Summer Relationships

Help Your Teens PixabaySummerLove-300x225 Summer Flings: Teens and Healthy Relationships Whether it’s a summer romance or puppy love, teenagers are bound to experience relationships they believe will last forever. In reality, I’m sure there are some of you reading this that have actually married your high school sweetheart.

Like generations earlier, having the sex talk with our child is always that dreaded conversation for many parents. Today it’s not only conversations about sex, you must also be chatting frequently about their tech activity — as predators linger in their virtual playground, teens will flippantly send nudes without a second thought, and oversharing has become as common as eating ice cream.

The Missing Piece.

A new report from Harvard Graduate School of Education Making Caring Common Project, The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young Peoples Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment reveals that a high percentage of teens and young people want guidance from their parents and educators through meaningful conversations to nurture healthy relationships and more.

The Misconceptions of the Hook-up Culture.

In an interview with Radio Boston, Richard Weissbourd, Director of Making Caring Common, shared the findings of how the young people viewed the hook-up culture;

“Only about 4 percent said they were interested in hooking up. About 8 or 9 percent said they were interested in having casual sex with a friend. It’s very consistent with other data too … About 8 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are dating casually, the rest are in a serious relationship or not dating at all. We have big misconceptions about this.”

The Opportunity We Have.

This report is opening doors for today’s parents to have an opportunity to TALK early.

70 percent of young people (18- to 25-year-olds) surveyed wished they had more guidance from their parents about the emotional aspect of relationships including these following topics. I’m confident most of us struggled with these in our teen years:

· 38 percent – how to have a more mature relationship

· 36 percent – how to deal with break-ups

· 34 percent – how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship

· 27 percent – how to begin a relationship

65 percent in the same age group wished their school taught the above in health or sex education class.

The Harsh Reality of Being A Girl.

In an earlier study from PEW Research, they shared the extreme forms of online harassment that females (18-24 years-olds) experience.

According to Harvard University’s The Talk research, 87 percent of females also reported negative and humiliating experiences.

· 55 percent – being catcalled

· 52 percent – having a stranger say something sexually to them

· 47 percent – insulted with sexual words (slut, ho, bitch) by a man

· 41 percent – touch without permission by a stranger

Sadly 76 percent of the respondents said their parents never had conversations with them about how to avoid or handle sexual harassment or forms of misogyny.

Being a Caring Partner.

Many parents have had the talk about safe-sex, abstinence, or whatever their preference is for their family — but are you remembering to discuss with your child about being a caring and respectful sexual partner?

The Talk report uncovers that although statistics reveal that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during college, parents and adults don’t seem to be having constructive conversations with young people (teens) about consent.

· 61 percent – being sure their partner wants to have sex and is comfortable doing so before having sex.

· 62 percent – the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you after they said no.

· 56 percent – the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you.

· 49 percent – assuring your own comfort in engaging in sex.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Talk research offers tips for parents to help young people develop healthy relationships. What’s important to understand is although they are only kids [teens], they — like us — want to have caring and meaningful friendships too.

We constantly talk about being role models with our behavior, from texting and driving to using foul language to our online behavior, but when was the last time you chatted with your teen about your summer flings or any romantic engagement? Your mistakes? What did you learn from it? Sometimes your teen needs to know you are human too. This isn’t about hooking-up, having sex or fifty-shades of whatever you’re into — it’s about “hey, I’ve been where you are, I had my heart broken too. Let’s go have ice cream and talk about it.”

Takeaway tips:

· The Talk research is your door-opener to start conversations about relationships with your teenager.

· Divorce, sadly, is common, however it’s how you handle it that effects your kids and their future relationships.

· Single parents that date is great, but be respectful to your partner. Your children are watching.

· Parents online, use discretion with your digital sharing. Teens will model your behavior.

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Missing Medicine? It Could Be a Sign of Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 26, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens

Does the scenario highlighted in the video below seem familiar?

I hope not, but the reality is that missing medicine could be a sign of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse. It’s common to hear about teens abusing illegal drugs, alcohol and even prescription medication to get high, but many parents don’t realize that teens may also abuse OTC cough medicine.

If this is news to you, you may be wondering, why would teens abuse OTC cough medicine?

Teens often abuse OTC cough medicine because it’s affordable and easy to access. They may also mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse than illegal drugs.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent your teen from abusing OTC cough medicine.

Educate yourself.

The first step is education. Learn about dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Learn how to identify which products contain DXM by looking for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon. Become familiar with what DXM abuse looks like.

Monitor.

In addition to being on the lookout for missing medicine, it is also important to monitor your teen’s behavior for warning signs and side effects including:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Hostile and uncooperative attitude
  • Use of slang terms
  • Changes in friends
  • Declining grades
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, slurred speech and disorientation

Communicate with your teen.

Have a conversation with your teen about the risks of medicine abuse. Ask your teen if he or she has ever been exposed to DXM abuse or whether it’s something that’s discussed amongst peers. The reality is that one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get high. That’s scary to think about, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

Share what you’ve learned.

It’s also important to communicate with other parents, teachers and community members to spread awareness. These conversations can be had at sports games, school activities or parent events to help inspire other parents to become vigilant against cough medicine abuse.

Parents can’t protect their teenagers from all the dangers of the world, but with education, close monitoring and a supportive community… parents can prevent OTC medicine abuse.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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