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By LifeLine

High Functioning Depression

High Functioning Depression

The Mystery Illness

Depression can happen to anyone, old or young, rich or poor. There are certain traits that we are conditioned to look for, expect and with help can overcome. One member of the mood disorders family is a little harder to identify and sometimes goes by other names like persistent depressive disorder or PDD and dysthymia.

Unknowns are hard to process. High functioning depression can be an elusive diagnosis, but one that is very real. Although high functioning depression or HFD isn’t a clinically recognized diagnosis, its traits are commonly found in other mental illnesses like major depressive disorder (MDD), chronic depression, and clinical depression.

Where teens are involved we see and expect acting out, rebellion, challenging the status quo for behavior. What we don’t expect is a seemingly smooth road with little to no bumps or confrontations.

And though hidden depression can be hard to detect there are several things we can look for.

• Easily irritated
• Bad mood
• Easily triggered frustration
• Overwhelmed easily
• Tearfulness
• Isolation
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Overeating or decreased appetite
• Insomnia or oversleeping
• Lethargy

Identifying persistent depressive disorder is something left to a professional because it can mimic and included other mood disorders. Things they all hold in common are the deterring from normal behaviors, social interactions, and academic or professional performance. Those who normally have involved online interactions may resort to more solitary activities like solo gaming. High functioning depression stands alone, however in that individuals with HFD are better able to mask those symptoms, especially to those who know them best. To the outside world, these teens can appear quite successful and focused, even achieving goals in school and their personal lives.

Severe depression differs from persistent depressive disorder in severity and duration. A severe depressive episode can last up to several months and impede normal functioning like certain responsibilities and personal hygiene and be accompanied by guilt, suicidal thoughts, and behavior.

HFD is usually identified by long term depression where episodes can last up to several years and though isn’t as an intense experience, can actually be more harmful in its cumulative effects.

High functioning depression may also meet the criteria for MDD or major depressive disorder as well and is also frequently accompanied by high functioning anxiety. The rate of HFD and HFA together are near twice the rate in teen girls as in boys, most likely because girls tend to be more in tune with their emotional sides.

By the time the signs of high functioning depression are apparent the extent of the depression can be vast. At this point, the loved ones can be the first line of treatment by securing a professional diagnosis of high functioning depression. In the meantime, there are several ways to treat PDD in teens at home.

Ways to treat High Functioning Depression at home:

Increased Sleep

If your teen is showing symptoms of insomnia, or struggling to get to and stay asleep, or the quality of nightly rest is lacking, improving nighttime routines to disinclude stimulation from devices and or activities that would stir them up.

Exercise

Exercise can help with mood management and reinforcing good sleeping habits. Physical activity can create natural dopamine and endorphins that encourage improved moods.

Communication

Though communication is usually on the more difficult side with teens, it is a fruitful endeavor, and well worth the effort. Learning to create an open space and comfort zone where all topics are welcome is important. Many times children worry about stressing their parents out with their depression symptoms and opt to keep those thoughts feelings and expressions to themselves.

Routines

Having specific routines give a measure of comfort and insulation against depression. Knowing they can count on regular events and tasks that are required of them helps to manage emotional waters.

Medications

Under the guidance of a professional like those at Lifeline For Youth, medications may be suitable to create stability in order to learn coping skills to better handle situations teens struggle with. Mood charting printouts and journaling can assist your teen in tracking ups and downs that may become a little more vague with high functioning depression. This can help tailor the individual program towards a high success rate and optimum outcome.

What they're feeling is REAL

Often someone who contends with the persistent depressive disorder will feel as though their symptoms aren’t serious enough to be classified as “real” depression or not severe enough to warrant intervention.

Low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness can often prevent PDD sufferers from seeking help.

 

Avoiding help may nudge teens to find their own ways of dealing with depression. This can often find them resorting to controlled substances like alcohol or recreational drug use. It is important to monitor behaviors that may indicate suicide contemplation. Very often those with hidden depression will give very little indicators that they are dealing with extreme sadness and inner turmoil and will catch people completely unaware if an attempt at suicide is made.

 

Possible Suicide Indicators

Hygiene habits and lack of self-care (including sleep habits) are a sign of a depressive state and should be monitored closely. Changes in toiletry habits can especially indicate depression, rather than just learning to care for oneself on a regular basis.

Changes in eating habits outside of fluctuations caused by growth spurts are something to watch as well. Often hidden depression can cause weight loss and weight gain without trying.

A prominent indication of suicidal thoughts in teens with depression is finding new homes and owners for their important or cherished belongings and possibly working up a type of will.

If you notice these behaviors please don’t hesitate to contact emergency services immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and can be reached by texting “START” to 741-741 as well as an online chat option at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Call us today

If you think your teen might be suffering from high functioning depression or any other type of depression, please give us a call today. Trained professionals at Lifeline For Youth can answer your questions, and provide solutions to fit every individual.

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By LifeLine

PTSD

What I Wish My Parents Knew About PTSD

“Dear Mom and Dad

            I know watching PTSD in children is hard for you. I know you’re concerned about all the changes you see. I know you want answers and signs of PTSD in children. Here are some things I want you to know about what to look for in PTSD or C-PTSD in children because, mostly, I need your help.

Mood Swings

The first thing I want you to know is that I appear to have a lot of mood swings. Trust me, it feels crazy on this end too. A lot of the time I may look happy on the outside, but inside things feel like chaos, and I use a mask to hide what’s going on. I don’t want to scare you. That’s probably why you get confused when I have oppositional behavior and I’m short tempered. My outbursts don’t mean I hate you or anyone else. I frequently get angry and I feel like I’m barely keeping it together. I don’t like feeling like I’m out of control.

Anxiety

Most of this is because of anxiety. It’s really real. Even though you may not know what it’s like, please don’t dismiss it. It affects me in many ways. Sleep can be fleeting and when I finally get to sleep it can be hard to stay asleep. Lack of sleep only contributes to my agitation and can make me extra cranky and grouchy state. Anxiety can cause me to overreact about little things that seem trivial. I then become expectant for dangerous things to happen and it’s hard to stop worrying about what-ifs. I feel like they can choke me. I don’t mean to blow things out of proportion, but my mind can’t shut off. The professionals call this “dysregulation”, and it’s simply the fact that I’ve lost the ability to self- soothe and lose my ability to cope with stress. Things that didn’t bother me before are now intolerable. Things like social situations make me want to curl up in a ball inside myself. My anxiety makes me restless some times and fatigued at other times. I’ve even had people mistake it for ADHD. But during those times of fatigue, it’s sometimes all I can do to go to school and make it through a day. Please don’t think I’m being lazy on purpose. That doesn’t happen near as much as you think it does.

Unhealthy Behaviors

Another thing I want you to know is that sometimes it is or would be really easy to resort to unhealthy behaviors in order to get away from the depression and hopelessness I feel. This can look like alcohol, drugs, and yes sometimes even self-harm. Self-medicating may be the only way I can make a connection to something that feels “normal”. Things seem to feel like there is no way out, no matter how hard I try. Sometimes there seem to be no positives to look to. I need to learn new coping skills. The things that may have worked for me before may not be working anymore.

I know its frustrating for you to see me make choices that aren’t the best. Sometimes to survive I may make poor health choices like drinking or drugs, poor spending choices like getting things I don’t need or that seem irrational at the time. Sometimes it’s just a way to make it past the hopelessness of things.

Overstimulation

Calling depression “moodiness” is like calling a landfill “messy”. Because of the complexities of the human brain, we are learning new information on its function every day. By classing depression as a mental disorder, it is differentiated from an illness or sickness in that it is simply out of the norm in terms of normal brain function.

I Have My Own Symptoms

That brings me to another thing. I need you to learn and educate yourself on PTSD. There are reasons behind the things I do that look like they’re out in left field. If you’ve known someone else that had PTSD, you have to realize that I am my own person and that I may not have the same symptoms and I may cope with similar situations in a very different way than they did. Don’t try to fit me into someone else’s mold. I’ll work through them in my own time and my own way. Sometimes that may require help.

Talk to Me

So I’ll need you to talk to me. It’s so reassuring to hear your voice. Anything, everything! When in doubt, ASK! I need you involved in my life and talking is the easiest way to do that. But please don’t be pushy if I don’t want to. It never helps to force things. Knowing that you have my back even when you don’t understand why is something I cherish- even if I say I hate it. I remember what you say to me, good and bad. Please don’t criticize me. Please be generous and forgiving. Normal and consistent connections mean a lot to me and I can relearn what that “normal” should look like. Sometimes that means knowing when to call a mental health professional. I don’t expect you to know how to fix me, but providing help for me shows me you care even when you are confused.

We Can Do This Together

I understand that you love me and that I love you. And nothing will change that. Although I may not act like the child you once knew, I’m still me and I still need your guidance. No one stays the same forever, and I need the wisdom you have to help. No one is to blame. Not you, not me. I’ve heard that early intervention can work and that with time and good treatment I can live a great life. And I want that, but I need direction. We can do this. Together.”

Let LifeLine Help

If you feel like your child needs help with unexplained behaviors, radical changes in interests, academics and social settings, we invite you to call Lifeline For Youth today. Indeed with a large range of traditional and modern methods tailored to each child’s’ needs, we can stem the flow of more destructive habits and behaviors down the road. We specialize in getting your child on track to a productive and healthy life. You aren’t in this alone, call today!

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By LifeLine

Gaming Addiction

Gaming Addiction

Technology is unavoidable in today’s world. Without it you wouldn’t be here reading this article. The most popular subset of the growing concerns of technology obsession is the widespread gaming addiction in teens and young adults.

 

Though the debate continues on whether gaming addiction parallels gambling or alcohol addiction, the effects are none the less the same types of effects we see in those more serious addictions.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

What science can tell us is that gaming can trigger pleasure centers in the brain, releasing a dopamine storm. What science isn’t definitive about yet, is whether or not gaming is the cause or the effect of these overactive reward centers in the brain.

Unlike drug or alcohol addiction where there are abused substances taken into the body, Gaming is in the category of Behavioral Addictions. Other comparative behavioral type dependencies could include sexual addictions, extreme sports addictions, gambling or even shopping addictions. Really its anything that allows the participant to experience a natural, body-induced, chemical “high”. This can result in excessive amounts of time, around 20-30 hours and even up to 50 hours a week (that’s as much as a full-time job!) spent in virtual fantasy worlds.

 

Gaming disorders often affect males significantly more than females. Over 41% of gamers admit to using games to alter their moods and self-perceptions. Of that, 7 % were diagnosed as being “dependent” on gaming.

How Does Gaming Addiction Start?

It’s not unusual to see a younger population enjoying games in their time off. So what is it that causes gaming to become a life-altering obsession?

Before we tackle that question we need to identify two types of gaming styles.

1. Standard Single-Player games...

Standard single-player games are the type where the player has a clear and defined mission or goal. Commonly called a PVC or Player Vs. Computer games, these games center around completing missions or beating a high score.

2. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or MMORPG's

The second type of gaming is known as MMORPGs or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. In these games, a player can create or assume a character identity in which they develop interactions, relationships, abilities, and powers by completing quests, mini-missions, or outlined tasks of various kinds. These fantasy role-playing games continue to develop even when the gamer is not participating. Called PVP, or Player Vs. Player games, these can be the more addictive of the alternate gaming realities.

What's the big deal?

Regardless of type, games are designed by their creators to become addictive by new offerings of “patches” and upgrades, enlarging the gamer’s fantasy realm with new levels, missions, and conquests.

 

Not unlike adults, children and teens can and often use gaming as a go-to distraction and stress reliever from difficult circumstances in their real lives. Often a teen that is struggling socially, academically, or experiencing stressful home-life interactions will retreat to a world where he or she can feel accepted by peers with similar goals and interests while feeling like they have control over their lives and environment.

 

With games set up to offer instant gratification through achievements, attained powers, and admiration from gaming peers in their groups (called guilds or clans) the dopamine and feel-good feelings of accomplishment run amok begging repeat performances to achieve or maintain these virtual honored statuses.

Symptoms of Gaming Addiction

Gaming disorders often will manifest in both emotional, academic, and physical ways, much like any other addiction or disorder.

Emotional Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Restlessness and Irritation when not actively playing a game. Because of hyper-focusing, an otherwise occupied gamer will be distracted by thoughts of gaming or anticipating the next gaming engagement.
  • Emotional outbursts of frustration, anger or rage when not allowed to play or from being restricted or having access revoked.
  • Lying about the amount of time spent gaming to friends, parents and other authorities like teachers.

Academic Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Decline in grades due to avoiding homework to make more time for gaming.
  • A decline in extracurricular activities that take time away from gaming.
  • Becoming socially reclusive as peer groups shift from real life friends and acquaintances to online gaming social circles.

Physical Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Lack of sleep or disrupted sleeping patterns.
  • Avoiding proper eating or hastened eating in order to get back to gameplay.

Gaming & Addiction

What’s very important to note is that statistically, gaming addiction has a very close relationship with depression and other substance abuse. If you notice any symptoms of depression or suspect substance use please seek help from the professionals at Lifeline For Youth today.

How Do I Know When It's Gone Too Far?

First, we want to tell you that there is always hope. With Lifeline For Youth, our experienced staff can help children and teens establish healthy mechanisms to deal with life’s challenges and reduce and control or completely eliminate gaming. Give us a call today!

 

When gaming disorders aren’t addressed in a timely manner there can be long-term effects. What started as a lack of sleep or disturbed sleeping patterns can turn into serious sleeping disorders. With such upside-down schedules school attendance and work, performance can suffer to the point of dropping out or losing employment.

 

By avoiding proper and timely eating the child can experience diet-related health issues that can affect them for years. Missing smaller social engagements can turn into complete “real world” isolation, regardless of their circle of cyber-friendships.

What Can I Do to Help My Game Addicted Child?

Sometimes seeing a problem and knowing what to do about it can be quite a difference. It would seem that simply removing the gaming access or devices should be an easy fix. However, when obsessions turn to addictions, the playing field is a lot different. Intense emotions and rash actions can make your child act out of character. This is the time to call the trusted professionals that you’ll find at Lifeline For Youth. By equipping your child with self-management tools and increasing communication its possible to see the unsocial become social again, the academically lacking to academically excel. With one call you can turn the tide. Make that call today!

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By LifeLine

How to Tackle Common Teenage Behavior Problems

5 Common Problems

Let’s face it: being a teenager is hard.

We’ve all been there, and sometimes we forget just how tough things got from time to time. Because of the hormonal changes that your teen is going through, they may begin to act out on occasion.

It’s one thing to occasionally be argumentative, and it’s another to begin skipping class and engaging in illegal activity.

As a parent, it’s important to notice any changes in your teen’s behavior so that you can find the root of the issue and address them as quickly as possible.

Not sure what to keep an eye out for? Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of five common teenage behavior problems.

Let’s take a look.

1. Anger Issues

Everyone gets mad sometimes. It’s completely normal. What isn’t normal, however, is anger that’s excessive or unwarranted.

For example, it’s common for a teen to be stressed about upcoming tests or projects and express those feelings. However, if your teen consistently displays anger and refuses to discuss their issues, you may need to have them sit down and talk with you.

Remaining calm during these times of increased tension is your best option, as acting aggressively toward them may make the situation worse. Furthermore, encourage them to express the source of their frustration rather than keeping it inside and letting it simmer.

The more the two of you communicate, the better off you both will be.

2. Mood Swings

Mood swings are common in teenagers simply due to the fact that their bodies are undergoing so many changes at once.

They may be happy and full of laughter one moment, and then feel gloomy the next.

As with increased aggression, a teen’s mood swings may seem to arise out of nowhere. Unlike anger issues, though, these are often more unpredictable and may have no apparent cause.

The best thing to do in this situation is to understand how volatile they are in these moments and try your best to listen. Validation is often the key to calming distraught teenagers down.

3. Increased Time with Questionable Friends

Socializing is a crucial part of teenage development. As your teen cultivates friendships and romantic relationships, they’ll begin to develop the necessary communication skills and self-awareness that will help them succeed in the professional world.

Furthermore, friend groups are often used as a way for teenagers to discover their own identity. People of similar interests often naturally congregate together.

However, problems can quickly arise when your teen starts hanging out with the wrong crowd. While you may not always understand your child’s friends and why they act the way they do, there are certain types of friends they need to avoid.

These include those that pressure your teen into sex, illegal activity, or making poor life decisions (such as skipping class).

When confronting your teen about the people they hang out with, it’s important not to make any assertions about their appearance. It’s common for people of that age to appear crass but still be great companions for your child.

Voice your concerns with their behavior and not so much who their friends are. If you feel like your child has completely changed since joining a particular group, try your best to make them realize how they’ve been behaving.

4. Decreased Communication

As your kid enters their teenage years, it’s common for them to tell you less and less about what’s going on in their lives. They might start locking their doors more often, going over to friend’s houses, or otherwise not communicating with you as much as they used to.

This in itself isn’t an issue, as teenagers need more privacy as their personalities and social networks develop. The time to be concerned is when your teen seems to barely talk to you about anything.

If you make it known to your teen that you’re concerned about their behavior and they still won’t open up to you, there may be another reason for concern. However, until they tell you, all you can do is let them know you’re available if they need to talk.

5. Risky Behavior

The other four behavioral issues are reasons to be concerned, but none of them require immediate intervention in your teen’s life.

Risky behavior, however, is a teenage behavior problem needs your immediate attention.

As your teen gets older, it’s normal for them to try new activities. They will often want to attend parties or other social gatherings, especially once they start driving.

The time to step in is when if you find out your teen is consuming drugs, alcohol, or having unprotected sex. These behaviors are extremely easy to become addicted to and can leave your child with consequences that vastly complicate their future.

Some drugs can lead to overdose and death. Alcohol can cause liver damage and even result in a DUI. Unprotected sex carries the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STDs.

As you can see, the only good thing about this type of behavior is that it’s preventable by educating your teen about the dangers.

If you discover your teen is indulging in risky behavior, you need to schedule a time where you sit down with them one-on-one and tell them how you feel about it. You should also aim to discover the root of the problem, whether it be experimentation or peer pressure.

If that doesn’t work, though it may be time to seek treatment.

Teenage Behavior Problems Aren't the End of the World.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned. You can accomplish a lot by just talking to your teen, and that’s something you should strive to do if you feel concerned about their attitude or actions.

Want to learn about other behaviors you should watch out for in your teen? Check out our blog!

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By LifeLine

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Raising a teenager is extremely hard because of all the hormone and life changes that your kid is going through. It can be difficult to tell if your child is acting strangely, or if they’re just going through normal teenage struggles.

The teenage years are not only difficult for the parent but of course for the child. High school is a stressful time of growth which can be really scary for some kids.

Unfortunately, the adolescent years are when many kids will turn to drugs as a coping mechanism for all the change going on inside of them.

In this blog, we’ll discuss warning signs of substance abuse in teens so that you can get your kid the help he or she may need.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Teens

It can be difficult to tell if your kid is acting strangely due to hormonal imbalances or because they are abusing drugs. It’s important to know what kinds of changes are abnormal for teenagers to display.

There are three main areas of change that can be related to substance abuse in teens: behavioral, psychological, and physical changes.

Behavioral Changes

There are a ton of behavioral changes that your kid may start displaying if he or she is using harmful drugs. These will likely be the first signs that your child is suffering from substance abuse.

If your teen starts missing school, performing below normal academic levels, or is getting into frequent trouble, these are signs that they could be abusing drugs.

If you notice your child is changing their peer group from people who were positive influences, to other teens who seem to not care about school or get into frequent trouble with the law, this is a common sign your child is using drugs.

Another warning sign that your kid is hiding their drug use is if they start acting very secretive and seem to be avoiding you. If they are demanding more privacy than normal, they may be hiding something from you.

If your child starts defying your rules, not coming home by curfew or disrespecting you, this could also be a warning to you. However, it is also common for teens who are going through a rebellious stage and doesn’t necessarily mean your kid is using drugs.

Psychological Changes

Changes in your teen’s personality or mood are a symptom of drug abuse. These changes may not be apparent right away, but over time your kid’s brain will become more and more affected by the drug use.

If your child starts displaying frequent mood swings, this could be due to drug abuse. Also, extreme highs and lows are a common sign of opiate addiction.

Anxiety is another symptom of drug use, especially if your child is going through withdrawals. If your teen hasn’t had anxiety before, and suddenly starts experiencing it regularly, this is definitely a warning sign.

Loss of concentration, motivation, or interest in things they used to enjoy are all common signs of drug use. Your kid may only care about getting high and doesn’t have any interest in other things anymore.

Drug addicts often use manipulation to get what they want. They tend to have less regard for other people and will feel okay taking advantage of them to gain access to more money or drugs.

Issues With Health

Drug use can cause a ton of different health problems, ranging from mild to severe.

Changes in appetite or sleep pattern are the two major health changes associated with drug use. If your kid is eating or sleeping excessively, or maybe not at all, then they could be addicted to drugs.

They will try to hide these symptoms from you. If you notice a significant increase or decrease in weight, you should know something is going on.

Headaches, sweating, nausea, and vomiting are common signs of opiate withdrawal to watch out for.

If your kid is experiencing these symptoms, followed by an absence and return to an elated state, they may be using drugs.

Additional Warning Signs

If your child is using drugs, there’s a good chance they are either stealing the drugs from you (such as your prescription painkillers or anxiety medications), or they are stealing cash from you to pay for drugs.

Keep a close eye on your medication and make sure they are stored where your child cannot access them. If you notice medication or money frequently going missing, it’s definitely time to confront your child.

If your teen starts wearing long sleeves, or you notice track marks on their arms, they may be using intravenous drugs and will need your intervention immediately.

If you find drug paraphernalia, residue, or your child comes home smelling like drugs, then this is an obvious sign you need to speak with your child.

What to do for Substance Abuse in Teens

Before approaching your teen, make sure you are certain they are using drugs. Look in their car and room for any signs of drug use, and if you find the proof, it’s definitely time to confront them.

If you discover your teen is using drugs, it will be difficult to find a way to approach him or her about it.

Instead of getting angry and yelling at them, try to understand what has led them to use drugs. There’s a good chance your child will become defensive and deny any drug use, and get very angry with you.

Remain persistent, and try to discuss different recovery options with your son or daughter.

There are a ton of fantastic addiction programs catered to adolescents. You will need to completely support them along the way and understand that addiction can last a long time.

If your kid has decided it’s time to get clean and stop using drugs, contact us today. We’ll discuss what treatment options are available for substance abuse in teens.

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