Therapy MethodsSandra Brookhart2018-02-12T11:56:45+00:00
How to Help a Depressed FriendSandra Brookhart2018-02-11T00:26:39+00:00
How to Help a Depressed Friend
Do you have a depressed friend or classmate? Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects day-to-day activities and interactions. Worse, it’s a growing epidemic among adolescents. Recent studies indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. From feelings of persistent sadness to fatigue and changes in eating and sleeping habits, depression can take on different forms—especially in teens.
If you know of someone—a friend, classmate, etc.—that’s suffering from depression, it’s important that you give them the support, help, and encouragement they need on their road to recovery.
Below are five tips to keep in mind when helping a friend and what to say to someone that is depressed.
One of the first things you can do is research depression topics. There are tons of resources and information on the web to help you better understand where your friend is coming from. The more informed you are, the better help and encouragement you can provide.
Moreover, Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan explains, “The key thing is to help the [depressed] person know that you understand that they’re ill. A lot of people view depression as some sort of character flaw. To let someone know that you understand that this is an illness that needs to be treated is important.”
Besides the basics (what it is, symptoms, and treatment) it’s important that you also understand that recovery is different for each person and learn what part you can play in the treatment process. Learn about the different kinds of therapy methods.
Be there to listen
Talking to someone with depression should first involve more listening on your end. If your friend feels like talking, ask where they’re at, what you can do, and what they find helpful in treating their depression.
If you’re unsure where to start, here are some safe questions to ask:
- How can I best support you right now?
- When did you begin feeling like this?
- Have you thought about getting help?
- What makes you feel worse?
- What makes you feel better?
- How much stress are you dealing with?
Remember to be a sounding board first before offering advice. Give your friend a chance to open up so you can be more informed about their situation.
In addition to being a sounding board, offer to accompany your friend to their treatments, such as doctor appointments, therapy sessions, even tag along when they’re picking up their medications. This can show your friend just how treatable their illness is and the importance of being persistent in the recovery process. Check in with your friend every once in a while and ask what assistance you can provide. You’ll not only be a huge help but give them additional company throughout their treatment.
Do something fun
Organize a fun outing with your friend. Plan something that you both enjoy doing, whether that’s watching a movie, going out to eat, bowling, shopping etc. It’s a great way to show that you care and support your friend, which is what they need.
In addition, if your friend is up for it, try exercising together. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant—take a yoga or spinning class together, go for a hike, go to the driving range or shoot some hoops. It’s a simple way to get your friend out and about as well as create some great social and bonding time.
Help with the little things
Lastly, look for ways to help your friend out within their day-to-day activities. If they miss some school, work with your teachers to get class notes and homework assignments and deliver to them. Help pitch in if they have household chores, such as cleaning their room or taking the trash out. The little help you provide can go a long way for someone with depression. It can also give your friend extra time to focus on their personal recovery. Just remember not to take on too much, as you don’t want to suffer from burnout!
Keep these five tips in mind when helping out a depressed friend. Remember that depression varies from person-to-person and it’s important you work with your friend to see what’s best for them and provide the best support and encouragement as they recover.
Exercise Helps Reduce Teen AnxietySandra Brookhart2018-02-11T00:30:39+00:00
Exercise Can Help with Your Anxiety
Teen anxiety – over 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder. Moreover, it’s one of the most common mental health concerns found in teens. Though anxiety is a protective mechanism to help increase mental alertness, too much anxiety or anxiety that never goes away and gets worse over time can interfere with your daily function. If you’re curious or concerned about your anxiety level, take the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. The results can give immediate insight into whether you should seek help for your anxiety.
It’s vital to treat anxiety disorders as soon as possible to decrease the negative impact on your mental health, academic, and social functioning.
In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exercise is a great therapy technique for anxiety. In fact, exercise is nature’s anti-anxiety remedy. It releases endorphins, which play a role in regulating mood and relaxation. Best of all, exercise can eliminate the feelings of stress, a big factor in anxiety disorders.
Find exercises you will enjoy
When incorporating exercise into your daily/weekly routine, it should be one that you enjoy. If you don't know what you like, then try out a few. From team sports such as baseball, basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse to individual sports such as tennis, swimming, running, and yoga—there are many options to choose from. In addition, try finding sports and/or clubs offered at the school so that the exercise is also a social experience.
Yoga is a great exercise routine to help you decrease anxiety levels. Yoga can help you develop meditation, focus, and deep breathing techniques. In addition to building a strong and flexible core, yoga can help you learn relaxation techniques. Studies have shown that those who participate in yoga have significant reductions in anxiety, depression, anger, and neurotic symptoms. There are many types of yoga classes you can choose, or search the web for at-home yoga videos to do in the living room.
Getting active outside is another great way to help boost your mood. From day-long hikes to an hour-long trail loop, there are many ways to get off of the couch and out exploring nature. This helps give you a much-needed break from the stress of school and social life.
If you’re looking for an exercise to help improve muscle strength, consider swimming. Like running, you can set your own pace as well as build up your endurance. Plus, it’s a change of pace and a different exercise environment.
In addition to improving your cardio health, biking is a great option to build self-esteem. A study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that when people with sedentary lifestyles started biking and exercising, their self-esteem improved after just 10 sessions. Plus, biking in nature has the added benefit of boosting your overall mood. Research local areas where you can take your next bike ride. Remember to wear a helmet!
Dancing is another great exercise to reduce anxiety! There are many forms of dance you can participate in—from ballroom to hip-hop, see what classes your local community center is offering. Other health benefits of dance include: better coordination, increased aerobic fitness, improve heart and lung conditions, weight management, increased physical confidence, improved mental functioning, and better social skills.
If possible, try to participate in exercise activities with friends or participate in activities where you can be social. The connection you build can often help to counter the anxiety you feel. Regular exercise not only helps you with anxiety but can also help you sleep better at night, which directly impacts your anxiety levels the next day.
Teens with Anxiety DisordersSandra Brookhart2018-02-11T00:58:03+00:00
Living with Anxiety
Anxiety is a common feeling that we all experience at one time or another. Anxiety actually serves as a protective mechanism that can either prevent us from entering into a dangerous situation or help us escape from one –”fight or flight.”Anxiety can come out of nowhere and take over. When you’re feeling worried or stressed, it’s hard to concentrate or accomplish things like school work, making friends, or participating in events.
Whether you’re moments away from participating in a sports game, about to take a final exam, or going on a first date, feelings of anxiety are to be expected. However, when you experience anxiety frequently, it becomes a problem. If anxiety is holding you back in daily activities and preventing you from living your life, you could have an anxiety disorder. If you are having symptoms of anxiety on a fairly regular basis, you might want to consider the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. The results will give you some insight into whether you should be seeking help.
What is an anxiety disorder? According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders “differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety.” This anxiety directly impacts your ability to function normally. Anxiety disorders affect 25 percent of all teens and 30 percent of all teenage girls.
In teenagers, the most common types of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, generalized anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, and phobias.
Causes of Teen Anxiety Disorders
What are the causes of persistent anxiety in teens? Though there is no single cause for teenage anxiety disorders, there are many internal and external factors that can affect a teenager’s anxiety levels. From social situations to hormonal shifts, bodily changes, isolation, parental disapproval and more—many factors play into teenage anxiety. Be sure to talk with your doctor and parents about the anxiety you feel on a daily basis and what treatment options and plans are available to you.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents
What are anxiety symptoms in teenagers? There are two categories of symptoms when it comes to anxiety: emotional symptoms and physical symptoms.
- Feeling of dread, fear or worry
- Trouble focusing and finishing tasks
- Jumpy and/or tense
- Upset stomach
- Shortness of breath/trouble breathing
- Muscle tension
- Lightheadedness/dizziness—feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling detached
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek treatment, the less negative impact you’ll have on your mental health, academic and social functioning. It can also help with your transition into adulthood.
Coping With Anxiety
Acknowledge Your Feelings
All these scary thoughts are running through your head. Your body feels weird, you can’t concentrate. These are all real feelings. Stop and take a minute to acknowledge them. Is your heart beating fast? Are negative thoughts running through your head? Are your hands sweaty? Do you feel dizzy? Can you concentrate? Are you feeling irritable or scared? Ask yourself these questions and if some answers are yes, you're probably feeling anxious.
Set Some Goals and Expectations
Once you acknowledge that you are feeling anxious, you can make some goals and expectations for yourself. Let’s say you are nervous about hanging out with a new friend after school. You are thinking negative thoughts about yourself, you are scared they might not like you. You are starting to feel hot, and your heart is racing. Ask yourself, what can I do to control my situation and help me calm down? You can make positive self-statements like “I am fun to be around,” research where you are going with this friend so you can feel prepared, and think of five things you can talk about with your new friend. Just make sure that you are not expecting too much of yourself. Keep your goals realistic.
Face Your Fears
Avoiding your fears actually gives them more power over you. You have plans to hang out with a new friend after school, but you are feeling anxious. If you decide to cancel the plans last minute to avoid feeling scared, you are allowing the anxiety to take control. Being scared is a normal part of life, but you are capable of overcoming it. If you let the anxiousness take control, those thoughts can get bigger and scarier. Acknowledge the anxiety, make some realistic goals to overcome it, and conquer it.
Talk to Others About Your Fears
Having anxiety is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Over 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder. It’s one of the most common mental health concerns found in teens. Find someone to talk to who may relate to how you feel. A classmate, teacher, parent, sibling, or a friend. Find a therapist to help you manage your anxiety. They can help you feel normal and supported, all while helping you better understand your thoughts and feelings.
Take Care of Yourself
Maintain a healthy diet. Eliminate junk food and caffeine and work on eating well-balanced meals. But, don’t skip any meals! At the same time, be sure you are getting enough sleep so you have the energy for the following day. When you feel stressed, schedule some relaxation time where you can rest, listen to music or meditate.
Along those same lines, make sure to incorporate exercise into your daily/weekly routine. Did you know that exercising is nature’s anti-anxiety remedy? When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which play a role in regulating mood and relaxation. Best of all, exercise can eliminate the feelings of stress, which is a big factor in anxiety disorders. More importantly, don’t exercise just to exercise. Through trial and error, find an exercise or sport that helps eliminate stress and is something you enjoy. Some great exercises for teenagers include club sports, yoga, biking, hiking, and swimming.
Teens and ADHDSandra Brookhart2018-02-11T00:59:44+00:00
Teens and ADHD
What is ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects over 11% of school-age kids in the United States. Teenagers with ADHD can struggle with attention, focus, hyperactivity, and controlling impulses. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes ADHD as a brain condition that makes controlling impulses and behavior difficult. Symptoms of ADHD are linked to many specific areas of the brain. Teenagers don’t outgrow ADHD, but it is something that can be managed through long-term treatment plans.
Causes of ADHD
There is no single cause of developing ADHD and leading scientists continue to research causes and factors associated with ADHD. However, risk factors for ADHD can incl e: family history, genetics, changes in brain chemistry, traumatic brain injuries and nutrition/diet.
According to CHADD, factors such as low birth weight, prenatal complications, and prenatal maternal smoking can contribute to some cases of ADHD. It’s also important to note that while parenting styles do not cause ADHD, parenting relationships and interactions can either help reduce ADHD symptoms or can make the symptoms worse.
Signs & Symptoms of ADHD in Teens
Some common symptoms of ADHD include:
- Making careless mistakes
- Feeling the urge to move
- Getting distracted easily
- Interrupting others when speaking
- Unable to talk to others calmly
- Difficulty making or keeping friends
- Making poor choices that can lead to serious consequences
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in addition to the symptoms above, teens with ADHD typically show the following behavior symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If you think you might have ADHD, try the Heads Up Checkup symptom checker and get immediate results sent to your email.
How are teens diagnosed with ADHD? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends performing an ADHD evaluation in teens who present academic and/or behavioral problems plus symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. In some cases, rating scales are used as evaluation tools. These various scales assess the symptoms in long and short form evaluations. Often, information will be gathered from your teachers at school, parents, and mental health clinicians during the evaluation process.
Effects of ADHD in Teens and Adolescents
Common struggles in living with ADHD are not only about paying attention in school, but also with making friends, having a messy room, losing things, or feeling isolated.
It’s easy to see the impact of ADHD symptoms at school – poor grades, inattention in class, difficulty sitting still, and missed assignments – but it’s not so easy for others to see some of the other issues you may be dealing with. Many teens report struggling to make friends, remembering important events like a friend’s birthday, and staying organized. Teenagers often have a more difficult time with ADHD symptoms because of an increase in responsibility and expectations. You are expected to be more independent, make good choices for yourself, contribute to household chores, or have an afterschool job – all while getting good grades and making lifelong friends. It’s a lot of pressure. Many teens struggle with self-esteem, but over 50% of teens with ADHD state that they have low self-esteem and think that they are a burden on their friends and family. They feel broken and unable to do what’s expected of them.
There are other mental health concerns that can go along with ADHD. According to CHADD, up to 60% of children and teens with ADHD have been found to have at least one additional disorder. Some struggle with depression, anxiety, communicating their feelings with friends or family and getting a good night's sleep. If someone with ADHD feels nagged, harassed, or bullied, they may resort to defiant behaviors known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder (CD). With appropriate treatment, these negative and painful issues can be lessened or controlled completely.
How can we make ADHD work for us?
ADHD does not mean you are broken. It might mean you have a superpower if you can manage it properly. Many successful celebrities and athletes like Justin Timberlake, Jim Carey, and Michael Phelps talk openly about their struggles with ADHD as a child and how they were able to channel their energy and focus on their successes. Behavioral support can help you take your “symptoms” and turn them into valuable skills like:
Being great in a crisis
An ability to multitask
Although there is no known “cure” for ADHD, good treatment can lessen the negative impacts. The two most commonly used interventions are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Medication for ADHD
In behavioral therapy, an individual management plan is made that can include talk therapy, education for parents, and behavioral support to help you turn ADHD into a superpower. You can learn more about different therapy methods here. Medications are often prescribed by physicians to help regulate ADHD symptoms. Some physicians recommend making changes to your diet. Cutting back on caffeine and sugar and replacing those with protein and vegetables are often recommended in addition to behavioral support and medication.
Additional Tips On How Teens Can Cope With ADHD
In addition to maintaining and refining your treatment plan, below are some additional tips for teens with ADHD.
- Establish a healthy diet. Foods with artificial colors may increase ADHD symptoms. Eliminating junk, fatty, and sugary foods and replacing them with healthier options will give you the natural energy to help you power through the day. It can also help you think more clearly.
- When you feel stressed out, find ways to incorporate relaxation. From exercising to seeing a movie with friends or reading a good book—do something that will put you in a good mood.
- When you’re with your friends, whether you’re hanging out or are at school, make an effort to listen, show engagement and not interrupt. This can help strengthen your relationships as well as help you focus on your friends.
- When driving, eliminate distractions, such as loud music, phones, or even passengers. If possible, try to plan your trips ahead of time and have a general idea of where you’re traveling to.
- Find a good listener. It’s important that you express yourself in a healthy way to someone who wants to support and help you. From your own family to school counselors and therapists, there are many outlets to choose from.
- Get the accommodations you need in school. Tutors can help you stay on track with homework and test preparation as well as give you the extra help you need with a specific subject.
- Lastly, as mentioned above, find activities/hobbies that you are passionate about and channel your energy into them. Make goals and work towards achieving them.