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Depression Among Teens

9 Apr

There are a lot of times during the teenage years when teens become moody, overwhelmed, or really sad.  While these feelings are not necessarily depression, they can certainly lead to it.  Depression is a very serious problem for teens, affecting all aspects of their life and can lead to other very serious problems.

Untreated depression in teens can lead to problems at school, running away, substance abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, internet addiction, self-injury, reckless behavior, violence, and suicide.   It is important for adults to be involved in their teens lives and to recognize the signs and symptoms of teen depression so that they can help them get help.  To find out more about teen depression visit Helpguide.org.  These are some signs and symptoms their website lists for depression:

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION IN TEENS
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Probably the most heartbreaking effect of teen depression is suicide.  It is very important to address issues of depression that teens may be feeling (no matter how mild they may seem) to avert this tragedy.   To learn more about suicide prevention and warning signs visit here.

For parents:

If you think your teen is suffering from depression it is important to take action immediately and share your genuine concern for them.  Four things to keep in mind while talking to your teen are: (1) offer support, (2) be gentle and persistent, (3) listen without lecture, and (4) validate their feelings. After talking to your teen you next step should be to set up an appoint with a doctor and consider treatment options.  While medication is valid and sometimes needed, it is important to consider all options and to avoid relying on medication alone.  Especially with teens, antidepressant medication can be very dangers.  While your teen is in treatment for their depression it is very important to be understanding and help them also understand their own depression.  Encourage your teen to participate in physical and social activities, these can help your teens find something to focus their energy on.

Stop Cyberbullying

9 Apr

With the promise of anonymity, the internet can empower teens (or anyone for that matter) to harass or bully another person without feeling the seriousness of their actions.  One website reported that 43% of teens say that they have experienced online bullying.  This is way too high a number.  Online bullying is a very serious phenomena that should be stopped.  Each of us have a responsibility to fight to stop cyberbullying.

If you are the one being bullied, it is suggested here that you:

  • Act quickly
  • Don’t erase any electronic evidence (email, blog or Facebook posts, chat room dialogs, etc)
  • File a complaint with the Internet Service Provider, social network site, or cell phone company
  • Contact the school if the cyberbullying may be school related
  • If a threat is made, contact law enforcment
Teens in general are encouraged here to:
  • Not to put yourself at risk online.  Be careful who your online “friends” are and don’t hang around online places where people could treat you badly.
  • Say “No” to bullying.
  • Report bullying. If you watch and do nothing, it is the same as condoning the bully’s actions. Tell an adult.
  • Treat others with respect. Be careful how you communicate online so you are not insulting others.
  • Good Friends Don’t Keep Deadly Secrets! If someone you know is thinking about suicide, tell an adult.
  • Spread the word. Tell your friends that bullying is not cool, it’s cruel. Get involved in your school or community to make others aware of the consequences of bullying.
The same website suggests that parents:
  • Know the signs of suicide. Pay attention to sudden changes in your child’s behavior. Treat all clues seriously and seek professional help immediately if your child exhibits signs of suicide.
  • Teach your children to treat others with respect and kindness.
  • Get involved. Tell your friends and neighbors about the risks of bullying/cyberbullying and its connection to teen suicide.

Educators have a unique responsibility to be the first line of defense when they see a student who they suspect is being bullied.  Educators are responsible for:

  • Respond to ALL instances of bullying. Just responding with “that is not acceptable” will go along way toward ending bullying. Ignoring bullying is the same as condoning it.
  • Know the signs of suicide. Watch students for abrupt changes in behavior. If you think a student is considering suicide, he/she probably is thinking about it. Report all concerns to the school counselor, administrator and parent immediately.

Cyberbullying is all too common in schools today and can lead to serious health problems for teens including depression and suicide.

Tell me what you think. Respond:

  • Why do you think teens participate in cyberbullying?  Is there someone or something to blame?
  • Do you think cyberbullying is a bigger issue than regular bullying?  Should it receive more attention, or are we missing the point?
  • What do you think schools/parents/teens could be doing more to help prevent and stop cyberbullying

Soapbox: Planned Parenthood

23 Mar

I stand with Planned Parenthood and I encourage all of you to do the same.

For me, Planned Parenthood is a place where I feel comfortable getting birth control.  Even as a married woman, getting birth control can be uncomfortable and I can’t imagine what it is like for unmarried women (especially in Utah) who are looking for safe and on-going access to birth control.  We can preach abstinence until we’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t change the fact that some young people are still going to choose to participate in sexual activity prior to marriage.  With that being said, it is critical for them to have access to birth control in a safe and welcoming environment, and that is exactly what Planned Parenthood is.

Not only can teens (and anyone for that matter) access birth control they can also receive screenings, STD testing, and other exams at a reduced cost depending on their financial circumstance.  There will always be teens that hide their sexual activity from their parents no matter what we do or say, the least we can do is give them access to these essential health services.  Here is a quote from the Planned Parenthood website:

“Planned Parenthood believes that all people deserve access to preventive health care, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception. In fact, more than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers offer nationwide is preventive, helping women and families make responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, their lives, and their futures.

As the nation’s leading reproductive health care provider, educator, and advocate, Planned Parenthood is dedicated to ensuring access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care and information in order to build strong, healthy families and communities.” (Bold added)

Aside from their services Planned Parenthood also provides a ton of educational information.  Any one that has ever walked into one of their clinics knows this.  The walls are plastered with posters and pamphlets full of quick, useful, and factual information and resources.

I feel like a lot of the debate I’ve heard on the other side of the argument is dealing with the fact that Planned Parenthood provies abortion services.  And it’s not that I agree with abortion, but the fact of the matter is, just as their website says, 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is prevention! With all that Planned Parenthood offers, think about this–how many abortions does Planned Parenthood prevent with the rest of their services?

To find out what you can do to stand with Planned Parenthood, visit their website or the Planned Parenthood Truth Tour blog.

Share your opinion, leave a comment.