Watching for Mental Health Distress in Adolescence
- Friday, 13 March 2015 10:00
Family Guidance Center
During the years of adolescence everything, it seems, is in a state of upheaval for the young person. There are outward changes in size, stature and shape. There are inward changes in thinking, feeling and relating. This personal storm can be traumatic enough on its own, but if it combines with other stressors adolescents may experience some form of a mental health disorder as a result.
What to Watch For
Since there is so much changing in an adolescent’s life, how can parents know if their child is in trouble? With teens it will usually mean keeping an eye on the degree of change. Most of the mental health warning signs could be considered normal adolescent changes in one degree but become flags of concern at a greater degree. Some common things to keep an eye (or ear) on are:
Sleep changes – many adolescents love to sleep, but excessive sleep can be a symptom of depression
Low self-worth – most teens struggle with their self-image, but in excess it is problematic
Sudden academic struggles and problems at school
Anger or aggressiveness – adolescents often have more family conflict but unexplained outbursts are not normal
Eating changes – this can be more or less, but markedly less could flag an eating disorder.
What Parents Can Do
The most common mental health disorders faced by adolescents are depression, substance abuse and eating disorders – all of which are treatable. Parents should do their best to be approachable and keep lines of communication open. It is helpful to offer meaningful and frequent encouragement and reassurance about the pressures and fears that go along with adolescence. The stormy period is less frightening if they know that most people have a bumpy passage. Finally, don’t hesitate to bring an adolescent in to Family Guidance for evaluation or treatment. A stormy youth is normal, but mental health should be monitored and cared for just like physical health.
Signs of Depression You May Not Recognize
- Tuesday, 10 March 2015 10:00
Family Guidance Center
While the media has certainly elevated the visibility of depression, there are obvious symptoms which get frequent mention. There are also more subtle signs that you may not realize signify depression.
Common Signs of Depression
The classic signs that most people now know to look for are hopelessness, a continued state of gloominess or sadness and a lack of joy or pleasure in life’s activities – even ones which used to be enjoyed greatly. These telltale signs are well known signs to look for. The less obvious signs are just as indicative, but a person might attempt to explain them away as something else.
These less obvious symptoms might be harder to connect to depression but can still be cause for concern:
Sleeping and eating changes – more or less of either
Body aches – unexplained headaches and joint aches
Excessive tiredness – this can include a low libido
Difficulty with focus or concentration
Hypersensitivity to rejection
Life appears as a drab and unsmiling grey
Other less-recognized signs of depression include irritability, aggression and anger. This is important to recognize since unexplained anger could be linked to anxiety and often signals a more serious kind of depression. If you or someone close to you seems inexplicably irritable, take a closer look. Adolescents often experience depression as undirected anger.
It’s hard to admit to yourself or others that you may be struggling with depression. However, whether or not you are ready to admit depression, it will manage to find cracks in the façade. Whether you know you are depressed or just worry that you might be, it’s a good idea to talk with someone else about how you are feeling. Family Guidance can help you sort through the symptoms and find the truth. Call us or stop by.
Healthy Diet Makes an Important Impact on Mental Health
- Tuesday, 03 March 2015 10:00
Family Guidance Center
A poor diet has been linked to any number of physical health problems from high cholesterol to diabetes to stomach and skin ailments. Experts also believe diet also has an effect on mental health.
Mental illness is often the result of a combination of factors. Heredity, environment and biochemical factors all play a part. Diet too can affect mental health symptoms. This truth has led to a push for nutrition-based treatment as a part of comprehensive treatment for mental disorders. Eating nutrient-rich foods is one way to improve mental wellness. Taking vitamins supplements can also help make a difference. Those vitamins which have been shown to aid brain function are believed to be particularly beneficial. Fish oils and Omega-3, B12, D, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc and choline can all be added to the diet with positive results.
While, making healthy diet choices at any point in life will help, experts point out the tremendous value of a balanced diet during pregnancy. Providing the still-developing brain with necessary building blocks can impact mental health throughout life. The same goes for the importance of sound nutrition during childhood. Childhood nutritional deficiencies have long been associated with certain mental health conditions.
We at Family Guidance subscribe to a whole-person approach to treating mental health issues. We understand the importance of different tools that can help: behavioral change, counseling, medication, exercise and diet. People are complex beings and nothing happens in isolation. Sometimes improvements can be realized from making minor changes – like eating a more nutritious diet with your comprehensive mental health treatment. If you’ve been struggling with mental health concerns stop by and see how small steps in the right direction can work together in your overall mental health treatment.