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Teen Pregnancy

Mental Health and Teen Pregnancy

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 18, 2021  /   Posted in Mental Health, Teen Depression, Teen Help

How Teen Pregnancy Can Affect Mental Health

Help Your Teens UnSplashTeenPreg-300x202 Mental Health and Teen Pregnancy Life as a teenager in modern America is, to put it mildly, a difficult endeavor. Not only do teens struggle with a torrent of hormones that are simultaneously changing them physically while changing the way they think about and view the world.

Most teens had a year of in-person schooling taken away from them due to the pandemic, meaning they missed out on important social interactions that previous generations benefitted from.

The situation alone is enough to affect a teen’s mental health; however, for teens who are pregnant, it is just that much harder as they have more on their plates than most will have in their lifetimes at such a young age.

How Pregnancy Can Affect Mental Health

Both boys and girls will experience serious physical changes to their bodies during puberty. While many young people are excited by the prospect of “growing up”, others may find it upsetting as they are dealing with a rush of hormones that they are not yet used to. Teens feel their emotions much more strongly than they did when they were younger, both those of elation and sadness.

As soon as a teen begins ovulating, their body is prepared to become pregnant whether that teen is emotionally prepared to make the life-changing decision or not. About 750,000 teenage girls become pregnant annually in the United States, many of whom are not ready to take on the emotional, physical, and financial responsibility that comes with motherhood at that age. For teenage girls, even the act of telling their parents that they are pregnant can be a serious stressor on their mental health.

While more research needs to be conducted, a correlation between teen girls who are diagnosed with mental illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder and the increased likelihood that they will give birth versus their counterparts without diagnosed mental illnesses has been found. The stresses caused by pregnancy while a teen is still developing can compound mental health issues, increasing the likelihood that they will suffer from depression, anxiety, or increased intensity of a previously diagnosed mental illness.

Struggling Postpartum

The effects of teen pregnancy on mental health do not begin and end during the pregnancy itself. Teen mothers are much more prone to depression than older mothers and non-pregnant teens at a rate of 16-44%. There are a few different factors that play into this, from inadequate social support to poverty and lower education levels.

It doesn’t help their mental health that teen mothers should avoid taking antidepressants during their pregnancy as they can cause several birth defects like spina bifida, cleft lip, and heart defects. Even after pregnancy, teen mothers should take caution when looking into starting a prescription for antidepressants as there is a link between antidepressant use and an increase in suicidal ideology in teens

Despite the risks, antidepressants can be an effective method to treat depression in teen mothers. Teen moms are a uniquely vulnerable population, and due to the social stigma of teen pregnancy, the conversation around their mental health isn’t as widespread as it ought to be. The best approach is a holistic one, combining the services provided by clinicians, schools, primary care providers, and obstetricians to develop an appropriate plan for each mother. 

How to Get Help

If you have a child or loved one experiencing teen pregnancy or you are a pregnant teen, there are ways to help prevent the negative mental health effects that pregnancy can bring about for teens. First and foremost, find a qualified family nurse practitioner who you can trust to help you develop a plan of action in dealing with depression and other mental health issues. Having a skilled medical professional explain everything clearly can be enough to relieve a huge amount of stress and pressure.

Help Your Teens PexelSadTeen2-300x204 Mental Health and Teen Pregnancy Learn to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression along with signs of depression during pregnancy. A sense of detachment and disconnection, unfounded feelings of guilt, loss of interest in hobbies once held dear, and extended periods of sadness can all be signs of depression or postpartum depression. In severe cases, postpartum depression can result in thoughts of self-harm or harming the infant, so it is important to be able to catch things before they become worse.

Finally, be open to having frank discussions regarding pregnancy. Asking questions never hurts, and the more that a teen knows about safe and healthy sex, the less likely it will be that any additional unexpected pregnancies occur. Additionally, when we shed the stigma of talking with teens about sex, it can help them to become more confident in themselves and more likely to reach out should they find themselves at odds with what they want to do and what they know that they should do.

Teens get pregnant. We are living in an era where we need to accept that fact and start to work collectively on making sure that teen mothers land on their feet, regardless of what decisions they make.

Guest contribution.

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Why Teens Are Having Sex

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 30, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Teens and Sex

Help Your Teens TeenLove1 Why Teens Are Having Sex Teens are having sex, however the the pregnancy rate has declined dramatically since the 1990’s.

After peaking in the early 1990s, the nation’s teen pregnancy and birth rates have declined dramatically—teen pregnancy is down 51%; teen births have plummeted by 61%. Since the federal, evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) was established in 2010, the teen birth rate in the U.S. has declined 29%, a drop about twice as large as the decline in any other four-year period.

This is good news, but pregnancy is only one of the issues that teens need to be concerned about.  Having sex also leaves you at risk for contracting sexual transmitted diseases (STD).  Using the appropriate protection is imperative.

Help Your Teens teen-relationships Why Teens Are Having Sex Why do teens have sex?  Here are some common answers:

  • I’m curious – I want to experiment/ get experience.
  • I just want to get this first time out of the way.
  • Sex is no big deal. Everyone is doing it.
  • Every one of my friends has had sex – I’m the only hold out. I feel like a wierdo.
  • The popular kids in my school are the ones who have sex – I want to fit in with them.
  • My partner really wants me to do it – he/ she says that it’ll bring us closer together/ prove my love/ show my commitment.
  • There’s nothing to do in this town but have sex.
  • I won’t really know how compatible we are until we’ve had sex.
  • My parents are so controlling and strict – they’d freak out if they knew I was having sex.
  • We’ve already had sex once – I can’t very well say no now.
  • It’s just a “friends-with-benefits” thing – what’s the big deal?

We spend a lot of time today talking about technology and cyberspace.  It’s important to discuss digital citizenship with our teens, but we can’t neglect the basics.  Like before technology, the birds and the bees are still a very important topic that needs to be a priority with digital citizenship.

Help Your Teens TeenSTD-300x169 Why Teens Are Having Sex According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey of high school students from 34 states:

  • An estimated 48% had sexual intercourse before graduating from high school.
  • Approximately 15% had sexual intercourse with four or more partners before graduating from high school.
  • Nearly 62% of currently sexually active students used a condom during last sexual intercourse.
  • Approximately 90% of the students said they had been taught about AIDS and HIV infection in school.

In a Seventeen  magazine survey of boys and young men, almost half said they were virgins and one in four said he had lied to other kids about not being a virgin. According to the survey of 1,200 boys and young men, age 15 to 22, 60% said they lied about something sexual, 30%  lied about “how far they had gone,” and 78%  said that there was too much pressure from society to have sex.

Nearly two-thirds of teens that have had sexual intercourse say they regret it and wish they had waited, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The campaign also found that when it comes to making a decision about sex, 30% said that friends influenced their decision the most.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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