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Teen Depression

Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 19, 2018  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Sexting, Teen Help

Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

We’re living in an age where incivility and trolling is not only common, it’s become the new normal.

PEW Research Center recent survey found that 63 percent of teens said that online harassment and bullying was a major problem, while 59 percent reported experiencing being bullied or harassed online.

It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty and youth dying as the word bullycide has now entered our vocabulary.

Digital discourse

Generations earlier, before technology and social playgrounds such as Instagram and Snapchat, kids were teasing and mocking each other in schools, neighborhoods or on their traditional playground with monkey bars and swings.

What hasn’t changed is name-calling.

Being called offensive names is the most offensive form of cyberbullying according to teens in this survey at 42 percent, followed by someone spreading false rumors about them on the internet at 32 percent.

The difference between twenty years ago and today is that with technology, your insults are magnified by a million.

Resilience can be learned

Resilience is a word we’re all familiar with; however, with the rise of online hate and harassment, it’s imperative to discuss how to build digital resilience with our teens.

In the PEW Research survey, teens share that parents are, overall, doing a good job in helping them handle cyberbullying—however, they felt that teachers, social media platforms and others could be more involved.

Digital resilience is a tool that helps people of all ages move through the difficulties of trolling and cyber-combat.

1. Prepare them (and yourself) for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them there could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”

3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step—understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.

4. Critical thinking. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind: once it’s posted, it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.

5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

Getting schools involved

After a cyberbullying episode hit her daughter’s public charter school, parent and video producer Diana Graber developed this program based on the master’s degree she had just received in media psychology and social change. Graber still teaches the course herself, but also trains teachers to run the program at their own schools, providing video and written materials for a fee.

Since its inception, the program has grown to be offered in more than one hundred schools in 47 states and overseas, ranging from Waldorf to public schools.

Sixth graders begin with the basic concepts of digital citizenship, covering digital footprints, what should never be shared online, and antibullying behavior, such as the difference between being an upstander and a bystander. Seventh graders focus on research skills, covering concepts such as keywords, Wikipedia, fair use, browsers, search engines, and privacy protection.

By eighth grade, the students shift focus again to consuming versus producing online content, covering media literacy issues from sexting to Photoshopping to copyright protection. The final exam is a series of questions we adults would likely fail: What are cookies and how do they work? What does URL stand for? What is a spider? What are the eight tips for a secure password?

While much of the same information is on her complementary website, CyberWise.org, Graber ultimately found that approaching the students directly, instead of using their parents as mediators, works best. “Kids don’t want to talk to their parents in middle school,” she says. “The talking is with each other. If we can make safe spaces in the classroom, that is way more powerful.”

Graber knew her message was received when a new girl posted a photo of herself in a bikini, and an eighth-grade boy who’d taken the course scolded her. “You need to take that off your  Instagram,” he told her bluntly. “That was stupid.” Harsh, Graber concedes—but effective. “In a crude way, he was looking out for her. The kids start being each other’s mentors.”

This teacher seems to be making a difference with her curriculum, CyberCivics, that is now spreading throughout the country.

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Is your teen a victim or target of cyberbullying? Have you noticed them becoming withdrawn, nervous when they receive notifications on their phone, loss of appetite, drop in grades? Words can hurt and leave our young people with emotional baggage.

If you have exhausted your local resources, therapy isn’t working, maybe you tried out patient and even a hospital stay — contact us for information on how residential therapy might be able to help.

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Is Your Teen Using Drugs?

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Using Drugs

This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

Parent_Teen_TroublesThese are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.

• Evaluate the situation.

• Talk to your teenager.

• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.

• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.

• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.

• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Especially around the holiday season, keep your parent radar on high alert. Monitor your monitor medicine cabinets.

If your teen has been struggling with substance abuse, be sure to seek help. If they refuse to get help, it may be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information on this step.

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Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 25, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Teen Depression, Teen Help

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

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. 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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Dealing with Disappointment: The Best Ways to Help Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 11, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

You remember what it’s like to be a teenager trying to fit in and prepare yourself for adulthood. It’s difficult, confusing and oftentimes disappointing. Now you’re watching your teenagers go through some of the same struggles you did at their age.

While your first instinct is to make everything better, this may be doing more harm than good. Growing up is full of disappointments and failures, and that’s OK. Instead of shielding your children from every minor setback, here are a few positive ways to help your teens deal with disappointment:

Hear Them Out

Your teen just tried out for the school basketball team and didn’t make it. He’s upset, embarrassed and disappointed. Let him come to you to vent his frustrations. Try not to speak first or jump in to make him feel better, but rather let him rant and tell you all about what happened without any judgment. The more you listen, the more you can narrow down how your teen is feeling about not making them team and find ways to help him move forward.

Help Them Take Responsibility

Once you’ve heard everything your teen has to say about the situation, you can start asking some questions. For example, if she didn’t pass her driving test, ask her why she thinks that happened. Many teens’ first reaction is to start pointing fingers, such as at the driving instructor, but steer her away from this negative reaction to something she can control. If she says the test was unfair because the questions were too hard, you can ask her if she studied her driver’s permit booklet enough. Ask if those same questions were on the practice tests and if she could have prepared more. Gently explain that the test may not have been unfair but a consequence of her not being ready, and then help her come up with a plan to do better next time.

Come up With a Plan

One of the best ways to deal with disappointment is to come up with a plan for success. Have your son ask the basketball coach what he needs to do to make the team next year, and have your daughter go over the parts of her driving test she struggled with. Then, help your teen come up with ways to improve on these skills.

For example, you could sign your son up for a local basketball league where he can get a lot of playing time. Have him work with a private trainer or coach to work on his skills, and set aside time for him to practice on his own. For your daughter, help her study for the written part of her driving test with practice tests online and create a schedule for driving on your local streets, on the highway and in parking lots. While you can help your teens come up with this plan, make sure they know that they are responsible for following through and working hard to achieve success.

Through every up and down that adolescence presents, it’s important that your children know that you love them unconditionally. Whether they get the lead role in the play or get into college, you love them for who they are, not what they’ve accomplished. Be supportive and helpful in any way you can, but let your teens know that it’s okay to fail every once in awhile because that’s part of growing up. Let them be disappointed, and then help them find a way to succeed.

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Teens and Yoga: Balancing the Benefits and Improving Teen Depression

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 04, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

 No matter how mature teens may look, the truth is that they’re still kids in some way. They lack experience adults have, they don’t have enough freedom to make decisions on their own, but most importantly, they are way more vulnerable than grown ups. That’s why certain situations and issues that may seem like not a big deal for people in their 30s or even late 20s, oftentimes is the end of world for teens.

If you have kids and they’re already old enough to be called teenagers, then you’re likely to know how emotionally unstable and thin-skinned they sometimes can be. It takes very little to make them angry or sad, and it’s likely to give you hard times staying calm and balanced when they act this way.

Is there any solution to help teens handle all the hurdles happening to them on their way to adulthood? Sure, there are plenty of them. But the goal of this article is to focus on one of the most effective yet commonly undervalued methods – yoga practice.

So what are the biggest benefits? 

Gentle Physical Activity  

Those who say that yoga is not a serious physical exercise have never practiced yoga professionally. Some static asanas, which might look like an easy thing to do, require a great level of endurance, physical strength, and mental focus. And while it’s true that 30 minutes of yoga do not equal 30 minutes of running or swimming in terms of energy spending and calories burn, it doesn’t mean yoga may not be considered as sport. And, as experts suggest, yoga can bring in health benefits that otherwise would be out of reach.

Powerful Mental Practice  

According to a Harvard-based research, yoga is so powerful that it can improve depression, anxiety, and overall well-being by 50, 30, and 65 percent accordingly. No matter what the root causes of your teen’s emotional and psychological problems are, yoga can help manage and sometimes even completely eliminate the problem. For instance, if your teenager is going through the very first romantic breakup or is trying to improve self-confidence and social skills in college, yoga can be of great help. 

Additional Social Interaction 

Although remarkably social and easy-going teenagers do exist, the majority of teens find it hard making new friends and building relationships in the new surrounding. As a result, some of them feel lonely and lack vital social life that make our lives so interesting, valuable, and meaningful. For those teens who are naturally shy and uneasy, attending yoga classes might help establish new bonds or even make friends. In nearly all cases, people attending yoga are friendly and open-minded. Now add to that a common interest to yoga, and you get a perfect environment for practicing communication skills. 

Unobvious Educational Benefits

It might sound a little counterintuitive, but yoga practice is linked to improved academic performance and cognitive function. Since teenagers are living in a high-pace lifestyle, desperately trying to balance between education, personal life, family, and extracurricular activities, it makes their lives a big mess. Under the circumstances, it might be really hard to stay focused on learning a poem by heart or getting ready for an upcoming math test. Regular yoga practice is what trains our mind to be resistant to noises and other forms of distraction when there is a need to concentrate, which is a great skill for those who need to spend plenty of time studying.

So what’s the bottom line? 

It takes time and wisdom to master the art of stress management. That’s why young and open-minded people, our teens, might find it really hard to deal with daily hardships happen every now and then. The role of adults, in this regard, is to help teens train their psychological skills and resistance to stress, and yoga seems to be up for the task. The list of benefits it has is too long to be published in an article like that, but even the four advantages described above are enough to give yoga classes a try.

Contributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.  You can follow Amy on Twitter.

 

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5 Steps to Take When Your Friend is Suicidal

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

As a teenager, navigating a depressed friend can be tricky. Maybe your friend doesn’t have understanding parents, perhaps the administration doesn’t preserve privacy, or maybe your friend is simply in a very delicate situation. However, you should not be the sole support for a depressed friend. Here are a few steps to get your friend the help they need.

  1. Be Open and Talk

FriendshipOne of the best things you can do for a depressed friend is to acknowledge how they feel. Express concern but be sure to avoid sounding selfish. Phrases like “How could you do this to me?” make the scenario seem as though it is about you rather than them. When you recognize their feelings and their situation, ask them how you can help and what they need from you. Don’t beat around the bush; be upfront about your concerns.

  1. Speak to an Adult

Find an adult that can be trusted. Many teens struggle with confidentiality and prefer to suffer in silence than have their parents be told what is going on. Whether it be a school counselor, a teacher, or your own parent, you need to find someone who has access to professional help and advice. Be sure this person will not break your trust. A trustworthy adult will not go straight to the parents. They will take the time to understand the entirety of the situation and find the help your friend needs.

  1. Refer Friend to Support Groups

Given the teen suicide rate, a number of teen suicide support groups exist both in reality and online. Whichever option works best for the friend should be taken advantage of. They need to speak with people who understand and have overcome the position they are currently in.

Another good source of support is the Suicide Hotline. The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. The people on the other end are trained in crisis prevention and can be anonymously reached 24 hours a day. You may want to provide this number to your friend or keep the number for yourself in the event your friend has a crisis.

  1. Know the Warning Signs

Though your friend may be depressed, you should only begin to truly worry if they start to exhibit the warning signs of suicide. Some of these signs can include outlining plans for suicide, talking about feelings of hopeless or feeling trapped, giving away possessions, withdrawing from loved ones, or an increase in addictive behavior.

Addiction is very strongly linked to suicidal tendencies and anyone with an addiction should be closely monitored. This can include a self-harm addiction though most people who self-harm are often found not to be suicidal. However, any addiction should be treated as soon as it has been identified.

  1. Contact Necessary Authorities

It can be extremely daunting to call the emergency line when you are afraid for your friend’s well-being. They may have told you they will hate you if you call the police or maybe you’re worried about outing them to their parents. However, your friend’s safety is the top priority. If you genuinely feel your friend is at risk of taking their own life, call 911 and send them to your friend’s home. An angry friend who is still alive is better than a dead friend.

Learning that a friend is suicidal, particularly in your teenage years, can be overwhelming and alarming. Too many teens internalize that they need to be the supporter and that using outside help is off limits. Most teens are not equipped to handle a suicidal person. You need to reach out and use whatever resources you have available. Don’t be afraid to call a hotline, call the police, or speak to a reliable adult.

Contributor: Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public. He created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow student to act as a resource for people’s overall health inquiries and as an accurate and extensive source of health information. When he isn’t hard at work in his studies, Steve enjoys playing tennis and listening to his vintage record collection.

Image via Pixabay by cherylholt

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7 Signs Your Teen Is Suffering From Depression

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 19, 2016  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeenSuicide3Every day there is an average of 5,400 suicide attempts among young people grades seven through 12. One in ten teens develop a depressive disorder before the age of 16.

One of the top signs of depression among teens is addition to the Internet, which leads to more isolated screen time, especially with the Internet being so accessible via mobile phones.

Below is a roundup of signs a teen may be suffering from depression, as well as visual representation through this infographic:

Seven Signs Your Teen Is Suffering From Depression

  1. Addicted to the Internet – Kids may go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer/mobile use and screen time only increases their isolation, making them more depressed with feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  1. Jokes About Committing Suicide – Kids who talk or joke about committing suicide may be suffering from depression. Your teen may be writing comments on social media saying things like “I’d be better off dead.”
  1. Has Violent Outburst – Violence is most common in kids (especially teenagers) who are victims of cyberbullying. Their self-hatred can develop into homicidal rage.
  1. Skips School – Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork.
  1. Becomes Reckless – Depressed teenagers may engage in dangerous or high-risk behavior, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking and unsafe sex.
  1. Loses Interest in Activities – Kids and teens who are depressed may lose interest in sports or activities they used to enjoy, because they have the reduced ability to function in events and social activities.
  1. Critical Comments – Depressed kids are overly sensitive to rejection and may make harsh critical comments about themselves. These feelings of worthlessness can stem from trouble in teenage relationships.

7SignsDepression
A smartphone in the hands of a teenager or young child can encourage impulsivity, TeenSafe, one of the most popular parental monitoring technology services, provides the tools necessary to assist parents in detecting issues before they turn into serious problems.

TeenSafe aims to empower parents with the tools to monitor and manage a child’s online activity in order to help know when they need to open up a dialogue and start a conversation.

If you suspect your teen is struggling with teen depression and you have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy or a therapeutic summer program. Contact us today for more information.

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Bullying and Cyberbullying: The Effect It Has On Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 02, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

cyber-bullying55Bullying and cyberbullying is a major concern today. When we read headlines of youth taking their lives and read more about their life — what they experienced, what they felt, was the end of the world. Especially cyberbullying that can spread so fast and furious – their entire school campus and community feels like it was closing in on them.

They soon feel like there is no way out. The shame, the humiliation, and peer cruelty can be overwhelming.

Experts have discovered the majority of kids and teens don’t tell their parents when they are being harassed or teased for fear of further embarrassment or the parent may remove their life-long, the Internet.  Keep in mind, the technology is not the issue — it’s the people using it.

Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.

Kids Who are Bullied

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

Kids Who Bully Others

Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood.

Kids who bully are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
  • Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults

CyberBullying_5Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online

Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Sources: StopBullying.gov

If your teen is struggling with issues from being bullied or cyberbullied and has become withdrawn, be sure to reach out and get them help. If you have exhausted all your local resources and they are continuing to shut-down, it may be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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The Highs and Lows of Bipolar Disorder

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 28, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help

Does your teen go through intense mood changes? Does your teen get too excited or silly sometimes? Do you notice he or she is very sad at other times? Do these changes affect how your child acts at school or at home?

Some children and teens with these symptoms may have bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness.

Learn more.

Bipolar Disorders
Source: TopCounselingSchools.org

If you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for information on residential therapy that can your teen.

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Teen Depression, Anxiety and Sadness

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 24, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens, Uncategorized

teens 8We hear this a lot, especially as school has just opened.

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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