House Calls

FAL 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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h o u s e c a l l s { fall 2018 } 27 they're "very worried," notes another Pew Research Center survey of Americans aged 13 to 17. Although such incidents are relatively rare, the current generation of teens has grown up with school shooter drills and media images of children fleeing gunfire, triggering rampant fear. Though teen mental health struggles cut across all demographics—race, ethnicity, geography, and gender—a strong common thread is the presence of "Adverse Childhood Experiences," or "ACEs," potentially traumatic events that can have lasting negative effects, says Bethany. ACEs include bullying, all forms of abuse, illness in a parent, parental substance abuse, divorce, and more. "These big events correlate with depression and other mental illnesses and seem to be a lynch pin," he says. Overall, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2016, and 31.9 percent of teens have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. So how do you tell the difference between typical sullen teen behavior and something more serious? "Parents may sometimes minimize or rationalize behavior that they see, thinking, 'Every kid gets moody,'" says Bethany. "But real depression is different. If you're thinking that a kid is just suffering the usual adolescent strife, it could be easy to overlook true depression." Some warning signs to watch for include increased irritability and volatility, lower frustration tolerance, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, social withdrawal, and loss of energy and interest in activities they used to enjoy. "Major depression is unrelenting," Bethany says. "I think of it as a deficit of optimism; you interpret whatever happens in a negative light, as opposed to being able to shrug it off or think of solutions." Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities can coincide with simply maturing and changing focus, but when a teen loses interest in everything and also experiences declines in school performance, that's worrisome. "Kids who are going through Adverse Childhood Experiences often have difficulty at school," adds Bethany. "Adolescents experience enormous developmental milestones and tasks from ages 15 to 20. They are not only developing an ability to conceptualize the world, they are also just starting to integrate abstract thinking and WARNING SIGNS Worried that something may be amiss with your teen's mental health? Be on the lookout for the following cues: Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so Exhibiting out-of-control, risk-taking behavior that can cause harm to oneself or others Possessing sudden, overwhelming fear for no reason Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or gain Suffering severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships Using drugs or alcohol repeatedly Drastically changing behavior, personality, or sleeping habits Having extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school Showing intense worry or fear that gets in the way of daily activities "If you're thinking that a kid is just suffering the usual adolescent strife, it could be easy to overlook true depression." —DR. DAVID BETHANY

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