Does My Child Need a Therapist?

Has your teen been acting strange or peculiar? Are you worried they might be depressed or struggling with some form of anxiety disorder? Has your teen’s mood shifted an awful lot lately, or are you simply worried about the changes they’ve been going through? If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind, then you may be wondering, “Does my child need a therapist?”

Unlike most adults, teens are just beginning to enter the long maturation phase of their life, which involves many twists and turns, and demands a lot of patience, especially from parents. It can be difficult sometimes to differentiate between “normal teen behavior” and something strange or worrying.

Does My Child Need a Therapist? What are the Signs?

There are still clear lines drawn between signs of potential mental health problems and healthy teen behavior. Recognizing these symptoms and reacting accordingly can help ensure that your teen gets the care they need, should they need it. Here are a few signs to keep an eye out for.

Social Interaction and Isolation

Not all teens are heavily social. In fact, people, in general, find themselves on some point across a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, where some people are more naturally inclined towards becoming social butterflies, while others prefer the company of just a friend or two.

But if your teen’s social inclinations have changed drastically and rapidly – especially if they are trending towards total isolation – your teen may be going through more than just an emotional rough patch. A common sign of severe depression or a growing anxiety disorder is preferring solitude – not just occasionally, but to an unhealthy and rapidly advancing degree.

Running Away

This is another red flag and one that is obvious to most parents. Teens do sometimes dramatically announce their intentions to run or flee in the heat of the moment, but it takes an extra push and a lot more commitment to pack that bag and run.

Running from home isn’t a dead giveaway that your teen is struggling with any particular mental health issue, of course. But it is a sign that something’s gone wrong, whether it’s the crowd they hang out with or their own perspective of how life is turning out.

Kids run away to hide, to escape, or to start fresh. Working with a therapist, even without a specific diagnosis or any other symptoms, can simply help you and your teen improve your communication skills, better convey your respective issues to one another, and prevent another runaway situation.

Severe Dietary Changes

Is your teen eating a lot more? Are they barely eating anything at all? Have they become extremely picky with the food they eat – not just making a switch to veganism, but something entirely different?

Food can be a big red flag for mental health issues – eating disorders are some of the most common and most troubling mental health problems, are associated with a host of other mental health conditions (such as severe depression), and can lead to a number of dangerous, and even fatal physical health problems.

Chronic overeating, self-induced starvation, total loss of appetite, or a sudden shift towards a harsh restriction diet should clue you in on the idea that something’s wrong, whether it’s a personal response to extreme stress (sudden loss or increase in appetite) or part of a more complex issue (such as drug use, or body dysmorphia and related self-image problems).

Death and Nihilism

A casual relationship with the concepts and aesthetics of death is nothing new for teens, but there’s a difference between an interest in the macabre and continuous, disturbing references to death – particularly one’s own death and fantasies about life (for others) after dying.

Talking about your own death, making frequent jokes or references to suicide, or thinking out loud about feeling superficial or unnecessary are common signs of suicidal ideation, a major symptom of severe depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder.

If your teen has thought of committing suicide before, they might feel reluctant to tell you about it. If your teen’s thoughts about death are becoming more frequent and sounding more and more like thinly veiled cries for help, respond by getting help.

Signs of Self-Harm

Some forms of self-harm are more obvious than others, such as wrist cuts (made perpendicular to the bone) or burns. Others are more difficult to spot or more abstract, ranging from harmful levels of exercise to extreme risk-taking behavior, such as near-fatal thrill-seeking, drug use, deliberately unprotected sex with strangers, discontinuing their medication, and more.

Self-harm does not always mean a person is suicidal. However, they are more likely to commit suicide. Self-harm might be a form of emotional release or simply an outlet to feel some type of extreme emotion due to depression and anhedonia (lack of any joy).

Talk To Your Child

It could be argued that your teen should be the only arbiter of whether they should go to therapy.

However, the sad fact remains that most mental health issues continue to be stigmatized, which can keep people from seeking out the help they need, even when it is offered to them.

If you are struggling financially, your teen might also worry about the financial implications of seeking therapy and might refuse to get care because they would feel like a burden to the family.

Bringing the topic up with your teen might lead them to shut down or react irritably. But that’s no reason not to address your concerns. If you worry about your teen and feel that they should consider therapy, the simplest option is to talk to them about it. Perhaps they have an explanation for their behavior that you might not have realized. Perhaps their symptoms are entirely situational, and what they need is an intervention of a different kind, such as contacting the school board about extreme instances of victimization, assault, or cyberbullying.

When Talking to Your Teen Isn’t Enough

If they aren’t, or if your teen isn’t cooperating, there are other ways to seek help. Talk to your teen’s teachers and student guidance counselors, or consult a professional therapist and discuss your teen’s behavior and the potential for an intervention.

When a child gets badly hurt, our first instinct is to seek professional help – urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, and nearby medical assistance. The same should go for any crisis of mental health, as well. The mind can get hurt or sick just like the body, and there’s often no one to blame for it. Get help as soon as you can. Visions Treatment Centers is here when you’re ready.


Transparency in Parenting: Talking About Your Past

There are tons of us parents in recovery, I’m sure, who have children who will eventually want to know the whats, whens, and hows of our pasts. It does bring up some interesting questions, though: What should I say, how much should I share, et cetera, and bodes the ultimate question: If we expect our children to be honest with us, doesn’t it behoove us to do the same? Granted, a full drunk-alogue or drug-alogue is certainly not okay, but an honest sharing of our trials and tribulations while maintaining healthy parent-child boundaries can have some real value. Allowing our children to glimpse our fallibility shows them that we are human, imperfect, and capable of making mistakes; it provides them with a sense of transparency about our lives and creates a natural teaching moment. In the end, it will provide a basis with how they’ll interact with us as they enter adulthood.
Some key do’s and don’ts of talking about your teens about past experiences:
Don’t avoid or change the subject.
Don’t lie or fabricate the truth.
Do keep communication lines open whether your teen is acting appropriately or not.
Do always tell them the truth.
Do talk about your past with appropriate boundaries and common sense.
None of this is easy, but if we take the gauntlet of honesty and integrity and provide an open door of communication for our teens, we can foster stronger, deeper, more meaningful parent-child relationships, especially during the tough times.
If you are a parent of a teen in trouble, or know someone who is, an adolescent treatment facility may be the best step to opening the door to healing and rebuilding the parent-child bond.


Adolescent Prescription Drug Abuse

The Center for Disease Control has issued an urgent call for action over the abuse of pain medication, which has risen over 111% from 2004 to 2008. According to documentation from ER visits, abuse of oxycodone has risen 152% and hydrocodone abuse has risen 123%. Teen Prescription-drug-abuse now rivals marijuana abuse in this country. Pills like xanax, oxycontin, adderall, and klonopin are frequently abused by teens, who obtain them from friends, their parents medicine cabinets, and online.
The non-medical use of prescription drugs is an epidemic equal to the abuse of illegal drugs in this country. Parents should take prescription drug abuse seriously and provide teens with the tools necessary to fight drug addiction. Teens lives don’t have to be ruined by prescription drug abuse. There are places that offer a long-term solution for teens and their families by providing individual, group, and family counseling, sober high school, and long term aftercare solutions, such as intensive outpatient programs. Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem and teen drug rehab offers a serious solution.


Teen Binge Drinking

Teen binge drinking is sometimes only regarded as a “phase” in a teen’s life, but many factors indicate that teen binge drinking is something to be taken seriously. In a recent study of teens headed to college, teens who had consumed alcohol at early ages were more likely to have drinking problems in college, and their class ranking in high school had an inverse relationship to how much they would drink.
Teen binge drinking is something to be taken seriously, as it is often a precursor to more severe problems down the road. Teens who drink often abuse prescription medication, which can be a deadly combination. Teens drinking at early ages are at risk for having a lifetime of alcohol and drug related problems. Teen rehab works to stop the problem in its tracks and offers teens a chance to find healthy tools to deal with emotional and behavioral challenges. Teens with alcohol problems aren’t damaged, or worse than teens that don’t have alcohol problems, but they do need help in finding ways to deal with their personal challenges.


New Drug Meow Meow Hits the UK

The UK is witnessing a new drug taking over the country and it can be bought at a local card shop, says Dr. Pemberton of the Telegraph. Mephedrone, or “Meow Meow” as it is called on the street, is advertised and sold as plant food, but is being abused by teens and adults alike, as there is currently no restriction on sales in the United Kingdom. Meow Meow is under scrutiny though, following the recent deaths of two teenagers in England, thought to have overdosed on the drug.
The effects of the drug are similar to ecstasy but the comedown is abrupt and painful, often prompting users to re-dose immediately. The fact that the drug is not currently illegal is misleading many to think that the drug is safe. Meow Meow is still a drug and many teens are developing problems around its abuse. A teen drug rehab should understand that drug abuse is not substance specific, but demands treatment of the whole teen. Mephedrone may be legal at the moment, but so are prescription drugs and no one can ignore how drugs like Oxycontin and Xanax are plaguing teens today. Rehab can help teens no matter what the substance. What matters most is finding a safe and long term solution for teens crying out for help. Legality of a drug does not make it less harmful or less of a problem. Teen drug addiction is a serious issue and teen drug treatment is a serious solution.


Teen Prescription Drug Treatment

Twenty percent of high school students say that they have taken prescription medication without consulting a doctor, and that male and female students were equally likely to abuse oxycontin, xanax, or vicodin. Researchers also found that 72% of high schoolers had consumed alcohol and 37% had used marijuana. Substance abuse is a growing problem that can devastate teens and their families, but fortunately there are solutions.
Of these teens who have abused prescription drugs, alcohol, and illegal substances, some of them have developed real and life-threatening addictions. Drug addiction isn’t voluntary and many teens are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and need help. Teen prescription drug treatment helps teens deal with drug and alcohol problems but also with underlying issues that can accelerate substance abuse, like low self esteem, eating and mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Sober high school recognizes the unique challenges of each teen and like rehab, respects individual needs. There is no blanket solution to teen drug problems. Adolescent drug treatment treats individual teens with unique needs, creating personalized treatment plans to help each teen get on their own personal road to success.


Dealing With Stress In Recovery

Penn State researchers in Harrisburg Pennsylvania have concluded that young recovering addicts who dealt with stress well were more likely to stay in recovery, and those overwhelmed with stress were more likely to experience cravings for drugs and alcohol. Teens experience stressors on many levels, including academic pressures, social stress, and family responsibilities. A good rehab recognizes the multiple stress factors present in teens’ lives before and after entering treatment and provide them with the tools to effectively deal with stress and stay on the road to recovery.
Adolescent treatment centers are an effective way to help teens dealing with mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse, but a “soft landing” aftercare approach is important in helping teens maintain sobriety upon transitioning back to the “real” world. Soft-landing approaches include an intensive outpatient program with continued group and individual counseling, 12-step support groups, sober high school, and sometimes sober-living transition housing. The life of a teenager is stressful for many reasons, and adding addiction into the mix doesn’t make it any easier. An assisted transition from teen residential treatment back to the world is intensely helpful in continued sobriety.

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Teen Ecstasy Abuse On The Rise

Ecstasy abuse has rose 75% from 2004 to 2008, says the Center for Disease Control and overdoses of the drug cluster around raves- all night dance parties where abuse of the drug is common, and often encouraged. Teen rave attendance and ecstasy abuse rose from 2008 to 2009 and teen perception of the drug’s risks fell during that time period.
Ecstasy overdoses usually cause overheating of the body, muscle breakdown, and kidney failure. The drug is often cut with other substances unknown to the user, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin, which can contribute to overdoses. Alcohol consumption can increase the toxicity of ecstasy. Many users overdose because they are impatient for the drug to take effect and take more. Also, raves are often very hot, which can contribute to hyperthermia. Ecstasy abuse in teens is a very big problem and teen drug rehab addresses all facets of teen ecstasy abuse through intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment. Proper intervention and drug treatment for teens can mean a completely different future for those struggling with ecstasy abuse.


California Teen Rehab Center

The anonymous author for the Daily Mail’s “Confessions of a Fashionista” article has found that her criticisms of her colleagues’ bizarre behavior surrounding food have shown up on a pro-ana website (a site supporting and encouraging eating disorders) as tips. The author was horrified to find that her words had been used as advice for teens wishing to eat less rather than their intended purpose, to point out the insanity of the fashion industry’s relationship to food.
Teen eating disorders are a major problem and attitudes from pro-ana websites are leaking into everyday society. Both Perez Hilton and Urban Outfitters have received flack regarding their pro-ana shirts. Urban Outfitters recently released a shirt that simply said, “Eat Less”. Is your teen showing signs of an eating disorder? Adolescent treatment centers are finding that many teens are using drugs and alcohol as a way to manage their weight. In most cases, treatment is essential for recovery. Eating disorders and drug abuse can go hand in hand, as they often spring from similar root issues. A good California rehabilitation center works to heal the whole teen, offering them a life of freedom from the pain of drugs, alcohol, and eating disorders.


Fun In Recovery

The New York Times recently documented a group of men and women who have participated in sober time shares on New York’s notoriously booze-filled Fire Island. The trend demonstrates a growing interest in pursuing exciting lifestyles without the pain and dangers of alcoholism and drug addiction. The sober folk interviewed in the article were all recovering alcoholics who still wanted to enjoy dancing and partying without the consequences of their former alcoholic lifestyle. They said that by surrounding themselves with other recovering people, they didn’t feel inclined to use or drink.
I found this piece to be especially encouraging to young recovering teens trying to have fun. In teen drug rehab, the major fear among my peers was that we would never have a good time again- that we had essentially been sentenced to lives of boredom and monotony. How wrong we were! Rehab showed us that having a good time is a huge part of having fun in recovery, and that recovering from drug and alcohol addiction was actually a gateway to a new and exciting life and that the lives we had been living were desperate, painful, and dead-ends. Since I’ve been clean and sober I’ve participated in sober campouts, ski trips, and fishing trips, traveled in sober packs to clubs to go dancing, and tons of other sober functions. Participating in these activities with other recovering teens has proven to be a really great way to have fun while celebrating life and recovery. In treatment, we learned the power of surrounding ourselves with like-minded, supportive friends– real friends. Sober activities for teens reminds those of us coming out of rehab that life doesn’t end when you get clean– it’s just beginning.

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