ROBERT M. NEWELL, PH.D.
FORENSIC AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
Specializing in Behavioral Healthcare for Children &
Adolescents, Families, Couples, and Adults.
INFORMATION FOR TEENAGERS
Life starts to get really complicated when you become a teenager. Sometimes it seems like you’ve got stress coming at you from every direction—from your parents and family, from school, from friends, from your boyfriend or girlfriend—from everyone. See if any of the following problems sound familiar to you:
· You have problems with your grades and school work
· You aren’t getting along with you mom and/or dad
· You have problems with friends and other children at school
· Your parents fight and argue a lot
· Your parents are separated or divorced
· Someone in your family is seriously ill
· Someone you love died recently
· Your family is having financial problems
· Your boyfriend or girlfriend broke-up with you recently
· Your mom and/or dad has a problem with alcohol or drugs
· You recently moved or changed schools
Any one of these problems can cause a lot of emotional stress. And when that happens, if a teen doesn’t have adequate ways to cope with the stress, it can lead to problems like depression, anxiety, physical illness, or having a lot of negative thoughts about oneself. Sometimes teenagers start to use alcohol or drugs as a way to help them feel better.
Are You Depressed?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you might be depressed and in need of some help dealing with the stress in your life. How many of the following symptoms apply to you?
· Do you constantly feel sad or “empty” inside?
· Do you have feelings of guilt, that you are worthless, or that things will never get better?
· Has there been any recent change in your sleep pattern—are you sleeping a lot less or a lot more than you usually do?
· Has there been any recent change in your appetite—are you eating a lot less or a lot more than usual? Have you gained or lost a lot of weight recently?
· Have you lost interest in doing things that you used to enjoy?
· Do you experience physical symptoms that don't seem to respond to treatment such as headaches, stomach aches, or chronic pain?
· Do you often feel restless and/or irritable?
· Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering to do things, or making decisions?
· Do you often feel really tired and that you don’t have much energy?
· Do you think about death or suicide?
If you have thought about suicide, or about hurting yourself in some way, there are a few things you should know. First, you are not alone. LOTS of children experience those kinds of feelings at times. Second, you need to get some help—you don’t have to keep feeling this way, and suicide is not the answer. If you are one of the many teenagers who has thought about suicide, please do one thing right away—tell a responsible adult. Please. It’s important. You are important. Here are some numbers you can call to talk with someone who will understand:
► National Suicide Hotline 1-800-784-2433
► Teen Crisis Hotline 1-866-427-4747
What You Should Do if a Friend is Struggling with Thoughts About Suicide
Do you have a friend who might be thinking about suicide? If so, you need to help your friend get help. Here’s what to say to a friend who you think may be thinking about suicide:
· "I really care about you, and I want to help you."
· "Let's talk and figure out how to make things better."
· "Things may be bad now, but they won’t stay that way. I’m your friend, and I will help you if you let me.”
· "I don’t want you to kill yourself. I care about you.”
· "We will get some help together.”
· "No one and nothing is worth taking your life."
What You Should Do if a Friend is Depressed or is Suicidal
· Do not ignore the warning signs
· Find a time to let your friend know privately that you are concerned he/she might be thinking about suicide
· Ask your friend specifically about suicidal thoughts—don’t be afraid to ask
· Stay calm and simply listen. If you are right, your friend most likely will be relieved that you noticed and care enough to say something
· If your friend tells you he/she is suicidal, find out if he/she has a specific plan for how to hurt themselves
· If your friend tells you he/she has a specific plan, you need to get help for him/her right away
· Ask your friend how he/she handled things that last time he/she felt this badly
· Remind your friend that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
· Reassure your friend that many people think about suicide, but never actually do it.
· Share a time when you felt depressed, and then assure your friend that things will change
· Find out if your friend recently took any drugs or drank alcohol—drugs and alcohol seriously impair judgment and allow people to do things they would not do if they were sober
· Remember that you cannot make your friend choose to live. You are not responsible for your friend’s life, but you can give him/her support and possibly insight into other choices
· Give your friend a hotline number and make sure he/she calls
· Stay with your friend—do something together
· Make specific plans to see your friend the next day
· If your friend is suicidal and refuses to get help, tell a responsible adult as soon as possible. Make the call in front of your friend so that he/she won't wonder what you said.
DR. ROBERT M. NEWELL
Copyright © 2004-2007 Robert M. Newell, Ph.D. All rights reserved.