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Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

7 Tips on Dealing with Depression

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
Depression

Depression

Depression causes negative thinking, withdrawal, and inactivity. These symptoms, in turn, make you feel more depressed. The more depressed you feel, the more you think negatively, withdraw, and reduce activity. It’s a self-feeding cycle.

1. Get Real. You cannot prevent stressful things from happening in your life. However, learning to maintain balance and recover quickly when shaken puts you in control of a situation rather than a situation being in control of you. The following are a few suggestions on steps to take to refocus.

2. Get Involved. Volunteer work with a library, church or civic group. Go out with friends, or join a club (book club, knitting club, car club). Being around others rather than isolating yourself is a helpful way to resist depression.

3. Get Physical. Exercise plays an important role in your well-being and self-esteem. Join a gym or go for a walk (alone, with a friend or take the dog). Get on a bike and ride the trails. Tulsa Metro Area has over 80 miles of bicycle/pedestrian trails to keep you safely off the streets while enjoying fresh air. There are 75 free bikes to check out and use thanks to Saint Francis Health System. These are located along Riverside at 21st, 41st and 96th Streets.

4. Get Active. Learn a new skill, such as photography, cooking, gardening or woodworking. Learning raises self-esteem and makes you a more interesting person.

5. Get Relaxed. Listen to music and let your mood be uplifted. Learn yoga or Pilates from a book or DVD (stretching is relaxing!) or simply take the time to breathe slowly and deeply for several minutes.

6. Get Personal. Be aware of what you are doing and thinking that keeps depression around. Your mood is dependent on how you think, not on what happens to you, and the messages you tell yourself (your self-talk) influence your mood. Get in the habit of thinking about what you are thinking. Try changing negative thoughts into encouraging ones. Non-negative thinking is more powerful in terms of reducing depression than just thinking positive thoughts. This exercise can be difficult, however, because it is hard to concentrate when you are depressed. Your ability to minimize the negativity in situations allows you to take control away from depression and helps you feel empowered.

7. Get Help. The tips listed above are suggestions for you to try on your own. If you are unable to overcome a depressed mood on your own, call a qualified therapist to assist. There are many factors that cause depression and a therapist is equipped to help you find avenues to successfully overcome it.

Lois Trost, M.S.W.

(Click here for more articles on depression.)

Insights into Depression

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

BIBLICAL INSIGHTShead-196541_640

Christians sometimes have the mistaken notion that they are immune from depression, and that depression is a result of failure in their Christian walk. This may not be the true as there are many causes of depression as we have indicated above.

The Bible records many examples of depression in God’s people. David repeatedly experienced depression (Psalms 43, 69, 88, and 102). Job, Moses, and Jonah of the Old Testament all experienced depression. Elijah, following the greatest victory recorded in the scripture on Mt. Carmel, sat under a broom tree and prayed to die (I Kings 19:4).

Scripture indicates “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, . . . (Gal. 5:22).” It is God’s desire that we experience peace and joy, the opposite of depression. Phillipians 4:8 gives us a prescription for our negative thoughts. We are told to think on the things that are true, honest, lovely, excellent, virtuous and worthy of praise.

Comfort may be found in the scripture as clients are helped to realize that depression affects even the greatest of God’s heroes of faith. Faith and hope produce the opposite of hopelessness and contribute to recovery.

For clients experiencing separation from God, unforgiveness, or unrepentant sin, submission to Christ’s Lordship may produce healing and restore joy. For clients who have distorted notions of who God is, or what the Bible teaches, instruction and correction of faulty notions may increase a sense of hopefulness and healthy self esteem.

PSYCHOLOGICAL INSIGHTS

Psychological theories and research also give us insight into depression. We know that changes in brain chemistry take place in the person who is depressed. For some patients, those changes occur in response to medical disorders. In other cases, brain chemistry may be altered by stress, and thoughts of hopelessness, helplessness, and self-depreciation.

For the person whose depression is primarily caused by negative thoughts, cognitive therapy has been proven to be effective. Cognitive therapy is the application of behavioral and self management techniques to assist clients to change their thought-life which in turn affects emotions. The theory behind cognitive psychology is that emotions result from thoughts. As one changes their thoughts in conformity with a positive Biblical perspective, depression often disappears.

When depression is related to family and marital problems, marriage and family therapy may produce relief. This therapy may be directed at improving conflict resolution and communication skills, and may facilitate negotiation between family members. Some patients have unresolved conflicts going back to their family upbringing. Helping people look at the origins of their depression, bitterness, and anger may lead to forgiveness and reconciliation.

For those experiencing reactive depression due to loss, life stress, or change, emotional support and encouragement may speed recovery. “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (1 Thes. 5:14).

– Dale Doty, Ph.D.

(Additional articles on depression.)

Causes of Depression

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Depressed womanDepression may be caused by one or more factors. One factor contributing to depression is a bio-chemical or other medical disorder. These may include a genetic predisposition toward depression as evidenced by a family history of depression. Medical disorders such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, blood sugar disorders such as hypoglycemia, cancer and hormonal imbalances have also been known to contribute to depression. Depression may result from the side affects of some prescribed medications, or from the abuse of substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs.

Cognition plays a major role in depression. Faulty thoughts, hopelessness, helplessness, and self-depreciating thoughts significantly increase vulnerability to depression.

Family factors such as marital discord, lack of intimacy, spouse abuse, problems in raising children, and unresolved conflict may contribute to depression. Learning the role in the family of being helpless and sick may also contribute to depression. Depression may result from other forms of family dysfunction such as incest, chemical dependency in a family member, neglect, or abandonment.

Misdirected anger can cause depression. Inability to manage anger, thoughts full of revenge, bitterness toward others, or a sense of feeling abused may contribute to depression. In addition, anger directed at self, self-punishment, and self-blame over past failures or sin may produce depression.

Spiritual causes of depression include separation from God, emptiness resulting from a failure to come to a knowledge of God, unforgiveness toward oneself or others, unrepentant sin, and faulty theology. Distortion in Biblical doctrine can lead a person to hopelessness, i.e. believing one has committed the unpardonable sin, salvation by works, etc.

Regarless of the cause, you don’t have to live with depression.  We can help.  Call 918-745-0095 to schedule an appointment today.

Dale Doty, Ph.D.

(Additional articles on depression.)

How Many Kinds of Depression Are There?

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

depressionThere are many different types of depression. We will look at four major categories of depression.

Brief reactive depression. This type of depression is often known as grief, and occurs in response to a variety of losses including the loss of a loved one, friend, the loss of a job, the loss of physical health, a major financial set-back, or a response to life changes such as a promotion. Reactive depression, or grief, may initially be severe with symptoms gradually lessening over time. A significant loss such as the death of a child, or unexpected divorce, may take people up to two years to recover significant levels of functioning. Reactive depression may include sad mood, anger, and any of the other depressive symptoms listed above.

Major Depression. Major depressive episodes are severe and incapacitating. During major depression people are often unable to function at school, work, or take care of responsibilities. Major depression can be triggered by stressful events or significant loss. Major depression can be categorized as mild, moderate, severe, or severe with psychotic features. During a major depressive episode the mood is significantly more depressed and there is a significant increase in symptoms over a person’s normal pattern. Generally during a major depression, clients do not experience good days. Once a person recovers from a major depressive episode, they may never experience depression again, or the depression may be recur.

Dysthymia (Chronic Low Grade Depression). Dysthymia is often characterized by poor self-esteem, self-depreciation, guilt, hopelessness, worry, and helplessness. Symptoms may also include any of the others symptoms from the checklist above. Dysthymia is generally a chronic condition lasting for many months to an entire lifetime. Generally symptoms of dysthymia are less severe than major depression. There may be good periods, but these are generally of short duration.

Bipolar (Manic-Depressive) Disorder. In manic depressive episodes there are wide mood swings that include severe symptoms of depression as indicated above, with alternating periods of manic behavior. Symptoms of a manic episode include:

  • a significantly elevated mood
  • symptoms of extremely high self-esteem or grandiosity
  • decreased need for sleep
    being more talkative than usual, difficulty being quiet
  • extreme distractibility
  • difficulty controlling extreme and excessive urges to: spend money, engage in sexual behavior, or other out of control behaviors

In order to be diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder, a person must have experienced alternating periods of severe depression and manic behavior or mood. For some people with manic-depressive disorder, the mood may switch from extreme depression to extremely elevated mood in just a few minutes. For other people with manic-depressive disorder, the mood swing from extreme low to extreme high may take months or years with periods of relative normal functioning in between.

Often the client experiencing a manic episode does not recognize that there is anything abnormal about their mood or behavior. They report “feeling good.” Family members are the most distressed and recognize that something is wrong.

Getting Help With Depression. Help starts with a clear diagnosis.  We need to understand which type of depression you have in order to come up with an effective action plan. Call today (918-745-0095) and we can help you start the process to overcome depression.

Dale Doty, PH.D.

(Additional articles on depression can be found here.)

TEENAGE SUICIDE: PREVENTION: HOW TO ASK YOUR TEENAGER ABOUT SUICIDE (PART 4)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I NOTICE SOME WARNING SIGNS?
(part 1; part 2; part 3)

Many parents fear asking their child about suicide thinking that by asking they might give their teenager some ideas or perhaps plant a thought in their head that may be acted upon later. As result they never ask and end up surprised! Don’t be that kind of parent, ask your teenagers about suicide. Questions never killed anyone, if anything the question will let your teenager know you care. However, don’t forget that relationship is always the key to getting good information. So if you want to get the truth from your child you will need to approach them with great care and loads of respect. Chances are you will have earned the right to ask them about suicide because you have been working hard to connect with them over the past few weeks and months by meeting them right where they are and taking the time to really listen (without judgment and without pressure) to what has been going on in their life.

HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN ASKING ABOUT SUICIDE:
First, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Of course there is a chance that when you ask them if they have ever thought about suicide that they will say yes. This “yes” may be one of the scariest “yes’s” you have ever heard and you will need to be prepared for the emotional impact this has on you. No parent ever wants to hear about their child having considered suicide, but don’t forget that you are not alone; many other parents have gone before you and survived.

Second, once you have calmed down you will need to try your best to ask about the following 4 things (White, 1999): (Remember, you are not a mental health professional and no one expects you to be, however, having more information is going to be really helpful when trying to help your teenager cope with this stuff both now and in the future).

STUFF TO ASK ABOUT:
IDEATION: Thinking about suicide and planning your death are two different things. Studies have found that 20-30% of teenagers will report experiencing thoughts of suicide at some point during their teenage years (Brener, Krug, Simon, 2000; Kandel, Raveies, & Davies, 1991). While these numbers are alarmingly high, it would seem that thoughts about suicide are fairly common during the teenage years, so you will need to be ready to deal with them.

INTENT: As stated above thinking about suicide and wanting to die are two different things, however they always need to be assessed together. When your teenager tells you that they have thought about suicide your next question needs to be about motivation; do they want to die?

MOTIVATION: By asking about their intentions you are attempting to figure out if they really want to die, are attempting to manipulate, are crying out for help, or have some other reason for wanting to die (White, 1999). Remember, that just because they maybe attention seeking or manipulating does not mean that they are not a serious risk! In most cases they will say “no” when asked about motivation, however its fairly common for someone who has experienced thoughts of suicide to be somewhat ambivalent about their desire to die; a part of them wants to die, yet another part of them doesn’t. Helping them resolve this conflict may be the key to keeping them safe.

Here are some questions you could ask to assess INTENT (White, 1999):

“Why do you want to die?
“What are the contents of your thoughts?”
“What does death mean to you?”
“How long have you been thinking about hurting yourself?”
“How frequent and persistent are the thoughts?”
“Are you pre-occupied or obsessed with the idea of killing yourself?”
“Can you control your thoughts?”

PLAN:
Having a plan is often the most important part of determining what is going on with your teen. Suicide can occur without a well thought out plan, however most individuals experiencing thoughts and intentions will often very quickly arrive at a plan. Some will spend days, even weeks, planning their attempt without telling a soul.

Questions to ask yourself in addressing your teenager’s plan (White, 1999):

How far has the adolescent developed the plan?
When is the proposed plan going to occur?
How specific is the plan? (place, time, method)
Is the plan effective and feasible?
Is the adolescent’s chosen method lethal?
Will he/she have access to the chosen means when he/she needs it?
Does he/she know how to use the means?
Has he/she rehearsed his plan?
Has he/she taken precautions to avoid rescue?

METHODS AND MEANS:
When asking about your teen’s plan you will want to try and figure out just how plausible their plan appears to be. While every suicidal thought, intent, and plan should be taken very seriously and properly addressed by a competent mental health professional, some plans need to be taken much more seriously than others. The more lethal the means the more dangerous your teenager might be.

The 4 most common means of teenage suicide are:

Guns: Firearms typically account for about 60% of all completed suicides in the United States and any suicidal thought or plan that incorporates their use needs to be taken very seriously!
Cars: While there does not appear to be any statistics regarding teenager’s use of cars as a means of suicide, it is safe to say that not every death by auto accident is an “accident.”
Drugs: Drug overdose is very common in western culture and many, if not most, of the suicide attempt victims I have worked with decided to kill themselves by taking a handful of pills, or combine pills with alcohol.
Combination of all three

When asking about METHODS and MEANS you need to ask about two things:

ACCESS: Does your teen have access to the tools they are planning to use? Consider guns, knives, explosives, belts, ropes, sheets, medications (prescription and over the counter), drugs and of course alcohol.
KNOWLEDGE: You will need to find out how much your teen knows about the means they have mentioned. Do they even know how to use a gun? Do they know how to hang themselves? Etc.

PLEASE REMEMBER…Any person who is experiencing thoughts of suicide needs to be assessed by a mental health professional as soon as possible!

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

REFERENCES:
Brener, N. D., Krug, E. G., Simon, T. R. (2000). Trends in suicide ideation and suicide behavior among high school students in the United States, 1991-1997. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 30, 304-312.
Kandel, D. B., Raveis, V. H., & Davies, M. (1991). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Depression, substance use, and other risk factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 289-309.
White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by Joe James, Psy.D.
other articles on teens

Is My Child Depressed?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

It is difficult to know how many children (pre-teens) suffer from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that, at any given time, 11% of children under the age of 18 meet the diagnostic criteria for Depression. We know that girls are more likely than boys to suffer from depression and that the risk increases as the child becomes older. But these numbers include teenagers; it is hard to find statistics for children from pre-K through age 12.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode include:

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities.
  • Significant weight loss weight gain.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness guilt.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), suicidal thoughts either with or without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt.

Adults and teens can talk about how they feel. The younger the child, the less they are able to verbalize feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness. Instead, children act out their feelings instead of talking about them.

The depressed child may be more irritable and angry than sad. They may be clingy, sulky, or grouchy. It was once thought that all depressed children hid or masked their depression with anger, but we now know that some kids do indeed look sad and blue.

The main things to look for are:

1. Changes in social activities.
2. Loss of interest in school.
3. Changes in academic performance.
4. Physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches that don’t respond to treatment.
5. Crying spells for no or little apparent reason.

Treatment options for depressed children are the same as for adults – counseling and medication. For children, we are more likely to recommend family counseling than individual counseling. Medications may be helpful but generally we want to try counseling first and are slower to refer to a physician for medication.

written by G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.
www.BowdenMcElroy.com
more articles on depression

 

TEENAGE SUICIDE: PREVENTION: WHAT TO LOOK FOR (PART 3)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

WARNING SIGNS!! LOOK FOR WARNING SIGNS!
(part 1; part 2)

SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN “NORMAL” BEHAVIOR:
While there are occasions when someone may significantly hurt him or herself “out of the blue”, most cases involve warning signs. The problem is that most of us don’t notice them! There are a few things you can be looking for. First, and foremost is a significant change in behavior, such as increased drug use, moodiness that appears to be over and above “normal”, withdrawal from either friends or family, and an increase in impulsive high-risk behaviors (Debski et al., 2007).

Perhaps most common is the proverbial “change in friends.” Rather than spending time with the friends your teenager has had since the 5th grade, he or she may begin to bring some “new” kids over to the house. While it is good for your teenager to branch out, meet new people and make new friends, most often this group of friends is the one your parents told you about when you were a teenager. They look and act in a manner inconsistent with your values and will often result in you making statements like “I just don’t like his friends” and “things really started to change when ‘so and so’ started coming around.” While a significant change in friends does not mean your teenager is thinking about suicide, this change often comes with many of the other warning signs such as doing drugs, the onset of a depressed mood, a drop in school performance, and run-in’s with the police.

SUICIDAL STATEMENTS:
Second, making statements about suicide or expressing some type of preoccupation with death should be taken seriously. For some these types of behaviors can become so common that you may begin to ignore them. If you find this to be the case, please consult a mental health specialist immediately. Suicidal statements, even those that are passive in nature (ie. “you guys would be better off without me”), need to be taken seriously and addressed directly. Some studies have found that as many as 83% of teenagers who successfully killed themselves made a verbal threat to do so during the week prior to completion (Brent, 1995, as cited by Rubin, Wainrib, & Bloch, 1998).

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION:
Because depression is so closely related to suicide, the symptoms of depression and teenage suicide should be closely monitored. Symptoms include (Debski et al., 2007):

Major changes in eating or sleeping habits (too much or too little of either)
Expressions of hopelessness, guilt, shame, or worthlessness
Intense anger toward self and/or others
Drop in school performance
Loss of interest in usual activities (ie. quiting the football team)

SELF-HARMING OR CUTTING:
Studies have shown that teenagers who deliberately hurt themselves (i.e. cutting) are 4 to 10 times more likely to die (Goldachre, & Hawton, 1985; Hawton & Harris, 2007, both as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009) and as many as 70% of teenagers who reported an act of self-harm also reported at least one suicide attempt (55% reported multiple attempts) (Nock, Joiner, Gordon, Lloyd-Richardson, & Prinstein, 2006, as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009). That is pretty alarming! You should take self-harming behaviors very seriously.

Significant changes in behavior, making suicidal statements, symptoms of depression, and cutting/self-harm are all behaviors that can very easily get “lost” in the day to day busyness of life. That is why it is so important for you to do what you can to connect with your teenager on a regular basis. Your teenager doesn’t need you to breath down their neck (and most likely will let you know this on regular basis) but they most definitely need and want the adults in their life to show them that they care.

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

REFERENCES:

Debski, J., Spadafore, C. D., Jacob, S., Poole, D., & Hixon, M. D. (2007). Suicide intervention: Training, roles, and knowledge of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(2), 157-170.

Hargus, E., Hawton, K., Rodham, K. (2009). Distinguishing between subgroups of adolescents who self-harm. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviors, 39(5), 518-537.

Rubin Wanrib, B., Bloch, E. L. (1998). Crisis intervention and trauma response: Theory and response. Springer Pub, NY.

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by  Joe James, Psy.D.

(more articles on teenagers)

TEENAGE SUICIDE: PREVENTION: WHAT TO LOOK FOR (Part 2)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: LOSS OF A BOYFRIEND OR GIRLFRIEND
(part 1 can be found here)

Chronic health problems or long-term personal issues often trigger adult suicide attempts. Teenage suicide attempts are often triggered by problems in relationships; especially significant “break ups” or major disruptions in relationships with close friends or family members. When relationships end it can be very difficult, even under the best of circumstances, so when your teenager looses their boyfriend or girlfriend it can be very traumatic, especially if they have emotionally invested a lot of themselves in the relationship. For many teenagers their relationship with their significant other is viewed as the “best thing that ever happened” to them. Consequently, when this relationship is lost you may need to treat it as such. This may be really hard to understand as an adult because so often we are tempted to see these relationships as “childish” or “just a phase.”

Parents of suicidal teenagers often overlook the loss of this kind of relationship. For some it is because the teenager has kept the relationship a secret. For others it is simply because parents often underestimate the power of these young relationships over their child. The answer to this problem is awareness. Parent getting and staying connected with their kids; parents earning the right to talk with their teenagers about their “love life” by meeting and loving their child as they are, listening well, and communicating a genuine sense of love and care that transcends the felt need to lecture and coerce.

BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: LOSS OF FREINDS
Problems in school seem to be a pretty common theme with teenagers and suicide attempts; problems with grades and performance, of course, but perhaps more are their relationships with friends (White, 1999). As a parent you send your kids to school to get an education, but an education is only half of what they receive. Peer relationships are vital to your child’s development, however; as you may already know, teenage peer relationships can be very complicated. Social blunders often overlooked in the adult world are exploited by teenagers and used as a means of singling out certain individuals and targeting them for social punishment. Time and again I have worked with teenagers who made a mistake, made someone else angry, or hurt a specific person’s feelings and subsequently were socially destroyed; targeted, attacked and essentially “kicked out” of their group of friends. As a result many teenagers will begin to feel rejected, lonely, hopeless, and worthless.

BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: FAMILY FIGHTS
A significant breach in the relationship between a parent and a child can be devastating at any age. Family fights are often the trigger of suicide attempts and need to be handled with care (White, 1999). May of the parents of suicidal teenagers I work with often appear surprised when I inform them that abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) is often associated with suicide attempts. Perhaps this is due to the dramatic nature of abuse as a very “messy subject” and inability to cope with their child being abused. However, abuse, in all its forms, is often a trigger of suicidal thoughts and cannot be overlooked. Also the loss of a significant family member, especially a parent, through death, divorce, or abandonment can be a major trigger. Many times teenagers (and children) will begin to think that they were the reason their parent is gone, blaming themselves for their situation in a manner in which they will begin to struggle with feelings of self-hatred and self-destruction.

OTHER TRIGGERS TO BE AWARE OF:

  • Use and/or abuse of drugs and alcohol (some drugs can trigger this kind of stuff)
  • Feeling hopeless, alone, or alienated
  • Recent suicide of a friend, family, or role model
  • Legal problems
  • Moving
  • Failure
  • Access to a weapon (White, 1999)

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

REFERENCES:

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by Joe James, Psy.D.
other articles on teens

TEENAGE SUICIDE: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Unfortunately teenage suicide is relatively common. It is the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers (White, 1999), with thoughts of suicide occurring in as many as 29% of teens, 19% having made a plan, and as many as 8% having attempted (Brener, Krug, Simon, 2000; Kandel, Raveis, & Davies, 1991). Dealing with teenage suicide can be very difficult because it is affected by many factors that can change quickly making prediction very, very difficult. Adults and parents tend to downplay self-destructive behavior stating “its normal”, “I did the same thing when I was a kid”, and “they don’t mean it, they just want attention.” This kind of thinking can be a big mistake (White, 1999).

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BE LOOKING FOR?
TEENAGE DEPRESSION
First and foremost, you need to be on the look out for symptoms of teenage depression. Teenage depression often looks a little different; irritability and aggression appear to be more common, especially in boys. Also a depressed teen may struggle with acting without thinking first. Depression accounts for up to ½ of all serious suicide attempts and needs to be taken seriously (Fergussion et al., 2003).
Depression often shows up in teenagers as:

  • Sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Change in eating habits (eating too much or too little)
  • Hyperactivity or loss of energy
  • Serious risk taking
  • Change in school performance
  • Thoughts of suicide or other morbid preoccupations
  • Adolescents may also present with significant irritability, sexuality, and physical symptoms (stomach pain, headaches etc.) (White, 1999)

Many of these symptoms of depression may come and go, that’s normal, however when a few of them come around and seem to have trouble leaving for a week or two something is up and action may need to taken to protect your child. Also, please know that prior suicide attempts place your child in a very high-risk category and you will need to speak with a mental health specialist regarding enacting an adequate Safety Plan to ensure your teenagers safety.

FAMILY PROBLEMS
Second, you need to be looking for problems in your family that may be upsetting your teen such as:

  • Teenage or family history of abuse (physical, emotional, and especially sexual)
  • Low levels of family connection (ie. poor relationships with parents, severe conflict with siblings)
  • Significant changes in the family such as a parental divorce or separation, a major move to a new location, or the death of a loved one
  • Family violence
  • Parental drug and alcohol abuse
  • Parental contact with the law
  • Family history of suicide (Debski et al., 2007)

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

REFERENCES
Brener, N. D., Krug, E. G., Simon, T. R. (2000). Trends in suicide ideation and suicide behavior among high school students in the United States, 1991-1997. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 30, 304-312.

Debski, J., Spadafore, C. D., Jacob, S., Poole, D., & Hixon, M. D. (2007). Suicide intervention: Training, roles, and knowledge of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(2), 157-170.

Fergusson, D. M., Beautrais, A. L., & Horwood, L. J. (2003). Vulnerability and resiliency to suicidal behaviors in young people. Psychological Medicine, 33, 61-73.

Kandel, D. B., Raveis, V. H., & Davies, M. (1991). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Depression, substance use, and other risk factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 289-309.

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by  Joe James, Psy.D.

(more articles on teenagers)

What Causes Depression

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of a number of factors. Psychology textbooks like to talk about “nature versus nurture”: are people’s problems the result of genetics and brain chemistry (nature) or the result of family environment, life experiences, and choices (nurture)? The truth is that nearly all of human experience is some combination of both.

 

Depression is no different. If you ask your family doctor, she might tell you that depression is a “chemical imbalance”: there are not enough serotonin or dopamine molecules hanging around in your brain waiting to be used. The solution for a chemical imbalance is – medication.

A counselor might tell you that depression is the result of distorted or negative thinking. If you want to change how you feel, you have to change how you think.

The best research indicates that depression does affect the way the brain works. New technologies have shown that the brains of people who are depressed look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior appear to function abnormally. We also know that people who are depressed view the world in globally negative terms.

So which came first?  Did brain chemistry create negative thinking?  Or, did negative cognitions change the chemical make-up of the brain?  How we think – what we say to ourselves – can lead to a chemical imbalance. Likewise, not enough neurotransmitters in the brain can cause us to see the world as completely negative.

The best thing one can do for mild or moderate depression is to work on changing perceptions and self-talk. For severe depression, a combination of anti-depressant medication and counseling may be in order.  If I had to choose one or the other, I would pick counseling… medication may help me function more effectively, but – in the end – it won’t change what I say to myself.

G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.

(for additional articles on depression: click here)