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By LifeLine

September is National Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide Awareness

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. All across the US, there are education programs, mental health advocates, suicide attempt survivors and those who’ve endured a personal touch from the harsh reality that is suicide bringing to light the risks and signs of suicidal thinking.

With an average of over 120 suicides per day in the US and almost 700 suicides in Utah each year, most likely you know someone who has been affected. It’s not the most comforting suicide statistics in Utah, but more current evaluations are showing promise of better days ahead.

Suicidal behavior isn't actually its own mental illness

Suicidal behavior isn’t actually its own mental illness, but rather a serious, and potentially lethal symptom of other mental disorders. Combining any one of the following mental health conditions can create the conditions for self-harm. If your loved one has experienced the following, they may be more susceptible to suicidal expression:

  • bouts of major (prolonged) depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • any kind of borderline personality disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • substance use or abuse or
  • eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia

When searching for signs of suicidal thoughts there are a few things to consider.

  • People who have experienced the loss of a friend, acquaintance, or celebrity idol are more likely to attempt suicide themselves. Often these “copy-cat” suicides feel like they have received confirmation that suicide is an acceptable way to find release from their pain and overwhelming, and seemingly unending stress.
  • In the rough waters that are teenage life, we can often mistake severe behavior changes as common and stereotypical behavior from our teens. With changing social cliques, hormonal and growth spurts, our fickle children can flip flop on desires, activity interests, and friend groups quite quickly. Severe mood swings and episodes of either manic or depressive states that are out of character may need a qualified analysis. Lifeline For Youth offers a free consultation when you have questions and need answers.
  • As our daily life keeps accelerating we often miss the opportunities to slow down and connect with our children. We become quickly unaware of the pressures in their lives, the social strains of trying to fit in with their peers and the quickly emotional alliances and gulfs that can result when searching for values they feel define their evolving personalities
  • Often one of the best tools to prevent or deter depression or hopelessness that leads to suicide is creating a bridge of communication– a safe place to speak without fear of judgment or criticism. Being able to open up and share can release a pressure valve of emotions that can push toward bad decisions and seclusion.
  • This brings us to the next consideration- social isolation. Because humans are naturally social creatures, any time a person drastically pulls away from their common social circles our minds should start becoming alert. Social anxiety is not the same as depression, but both operate in common arenas. Depression will often result when a person feels a loss of hope for an extended period of time. Social anxiety stems from worries that occur in any variety of social situations.
  • Along with social isolation comes withdrawal from activities that once held interest and were a source of joy. When dealing with an abundance of pain the mind becomes bored with prior interests. It becomes laborious to expend energy on things that seem to give less and less return for the effort.
  • Another of the often mistaken clues to depression and suicidal leanings can be that of personal hygiene. What we may think of a “grunge fad” or “bed head” styles that are so common these days, may actually be a strong indicator of mental decline. Often when children and teens are struggling to cope with their mental states they lose a good degree of personal care. Cleanliness, odors and mismanaged hair and clothing can indicate they are in survival mode. The amount of energy it takes to care about socially acceptable appearance can fade quickly, resulting in less than pleasant personal presentation.
  • “Tying up loose ends” or making plans is another often missed cue. The more our children are let to themselves the less we are involved in their private discussions and happenings. When a child starts re-homing possessions and items that they value or things they feel they won’t be needing it is advisable to start taking action.

How do I know it isn't just teenage drama?

In reality, you don’t. Often when teens feel misunderstood, perceived that they or their values are being disrespected they will lash out. Sometimes the threats of “committing suicide” or “killing myself” are ploys used to manipulate a situation. Because the result of teen suicide is something quite permanent there isn’t any room to make a mistake.

When a child or teen outright threatens to kill themselves it should be taken seriously and medical attention should be sought- even when you are “positive” they are just taking things out of context. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. For any medical emergency, 911 is still the best option.

It may take some “official” interaction to help your child realize that empty threats don’t only take up other’s time but hurt the people who reach out with serious needs. Any time you need to consult a professional and it isn’t an emergency situation we welcome you to reach out to Lifeline For Youth at 1-855-968-8443. With our trained professional staff, we can start finding solutions to fit your family’s needs.

The upside to the most recent suicide statistics is that the trends are starting to change. Mental health counseling is treating the precursory factors that contribute to suicidal thinking. By incorporating a well-rounded approach with the professionals at Lifeline For Youth, we can identify the sources of pain and unrest in your child and equip them with tools to handle life. We educate the family and loved ones on how to create a nurturing environment that builds open lines of communication.

If you need guidance or recognize any of these traits in your child or teen, please don’t hesitate to call any of the numbers listed above. For your free consultation call 1-855-968-8443 today.

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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

Social Media Addiction

Social Media Addiction

What if there were a danger that threatened the very core of your child’s being-their individuality, their self-esteem, or even their ability to be emotionally stable? What if this danger broke down the fabric of their mental well being, and their every relationship?

When we think of dangerous behavioral addictions often the things that come to mind are blatantly risky behaviors like bungee jumping, sky diving, or self-harm. Other “lesser” risky behaviors can present themselves as gambling, shopping or casual sexual relationships. 70% of today’s youth carry around a potentially lethal catalyst that can change the chemical, emotional and psychological responses of a healthy child from normal into a morbidly dangerous equation in almost no time at all.

Social Media Addictions usually center around Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and are new on the scene of internet addiction.

Less than 20 years in the making, they are found to create more dependence than even cigarettes or alcohol. Studies have found that the act of self-disclosure on social media stimulates the same pleasure centers in the brain, similar to those of sex and food responses. In short it triggers areas responsible for survival instincts. With all the click bait algorithms designed to suck them into a vortex of engagement, the draw of instant gratification can produce a significant high. So, what may have begun as a noble venture into helping your child attain a digital social life and status among their peers can turn into a consumptive nightmare.

Upon further investigation, researchers have found that all ages are using social platforms to manage stress relief resulting from anxiety and depression giving the user an anticipated “out” in avoiding real-life situations and connections. Youth and teen years bring their own set of social adjustments and more and more children are finding relief from these social anxieties among their multiple media accounts. With more than 70% of youth having smartphones or access to a smartphone, compulsive social media is creating an underestimated behavior epidemic devouring today’s younger generation.

 

Those who struggle with addictions to social media have trouble interacting with the people in the immediate vicinity often don’t understand that hiding behind a digital persona to maintain a sense of safety can often cause them to be even more socially insecure. Utah’s Lifeline For Youth has a proven track record with our qualified counselors. By understanding the nuances of social media addiction, the qualities related to them we create individualized plans to help your child cope.

Recognizing Social Media Addiction in Your Child

Recognizing obsessive and even compulsive behavior in our children’s use of computers, phones or tablets can be hard. To be frank, a lot of the reason we don’t is that, sadly, we are modeling these very actions and habits ourselves. As guardians, we need to stay alert and engaged. By placing unrestricted access to content and social interactions in our children’s hands without guidance or instruction, we tempt disaster.

These signs are strong symptoms of social media addiction:

Checking the websites at every chance

Some of the first signs you may notice is that your child may hurry to finish meals or is frequently preoccupied during meals or family occasions with constant social media involvement. I

Withdrawl

If you’ve tried limiting your child’s screen time and noticed hypersensitivity, fidgety behavior, problems paying attention or overly aggressive or emotional outbursts, your child may have a moderate to severe problem.

Making ‘friend’ , ‘follower’ , or ‘like’ counts competitive

Like every human, social acceptance is a basic necessity, we are “pack-oriented”. But when they grade themselves and their self-worth on virtual popularity and then fail to see it meet their expectations, the blow to their mental welfare can be crippling.

Revealing too many personal details

Oversharing of private information such as photos or current ‘status symbols’ by children on social media platforms displays the need for social approval and a way to receive acknowledgment by the “friends”.

Educational performance decline

One of the most significant signs of internet addiction in children is not being able to concentrate on their schooling due to constant distractions provided by social networking websites. If you find your child deviating from the normal patterns of study and grade levels in significant ways, get an opinion from one of our outstanding advisers at Lifeline For Youth.

Interference with real-life relationships

Because digital interaction is convenient and provides a way to “engage” without much effort it becomes the preferred method for many. Allowing concealment or revealing of emotional details may feel like a mental safety net that they aren’t permitted in other, more exposed exchanges.

Irritability and tiredness

Many children spend a considerable amount of time more than their caregivers realize. Hours upon hours in front of the computer screen, or handheld device, especially late into the night, without a doubt disrupts the emotional and physical well-being of the child. Considering the increased requirements of sleep for proper function and growth of the brain during the adolescent years, fatigue may be a sign that the child isn’t or can’t self-regulate their time.

Depression or Social Anxiety

Ultimately the biggest problem on social sites is dealing with perceived perfectionism from other users. The majority of teens face criticism for their less than perfect looks, clothes, cliques or activities and cyberbullying takes a toll on their self-esteem. Chronic depression, anxiety often go hand in hand with oversaturation in the social media scene. This can often end up in suicidal thoughts or attempts. A growing number of clinical cases where, not only, has an adolescent considered suicide as a result of negative feedback to social media endeavors, but in some cases even attempted and completed suicide.

Personalized intercession can be the tool that changes all that. Lifeline For Youth can assess the situation and provide a practical and achievable roadmap for success.

Don’t let your child become a digital statistic. At Lifeline For Youth, we can help your child learn skills about overcoming social media addiction. Call today for a consultation.

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By LifeLine

Suicide. Attempted Suicide. Suicidal Thoughts.

Suicide. Attempted suicide. Suicidal thoughts.

All of these terms can make us quite nervous.  As parents, as loved ones, as suicide survivors. 

Nationally Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with over 1.3 million attempts in 2017 alone. In Utah youth suicide is the second leading cause of youth deaths.

As 5th in the nation for overall deaths by suicide, Utah has seen a 46.5% increase in suicide and attempted suicide since 1999. Every 14 hours someone completes the act, and 2 youth every day succumb to the black ink of statistics.

How did we get here?

Why? Always the biggest question on researchers minds. After several federally funded studies, Utah researchers have found that there is no one factor or theme that runs through every instance. In plain English coping abilities fall short in addressing the stressors of those with mental health conditions.

 

In a positive light though, the many years of study have shown that with intervention, rates can go down, and quickly. There is light, and hope for the youth of Utah!

What do possible suicide indicators look like?

Signs of suicide or suicidal thoughts can be almost nonexistent. So many times loved ones of completed suicide acts can be completely clueless, with little to no leads on why there was no indicators. Look for these most common signs of suicidal tendencies:

1. Talking about suicide or killing themselves. Even the slightest reference to killing themselves should spur an investigation. Never take these references lightly, especially when accompanied by the following:

2. Increased substance abuse, drugs or alcohol. 1 in 3 suicides involves alcohol consumption. The stats are so convincing that those who screen for suicide tendencies immediately take note especially when accompanied by #3

3. Depression/ bipolar issues. 2 out of 3 suicides also have been noted to have strong depression or recurrent bouts of manic-depressive behavior.

4. Anxiety or guilt. Guilt for causing issues within the family and anxiety in all social and home life situations can be a big instigator in suicidal thoughts. Another key clue is feeling trapped or overwhelming feelings of being a burden on others

5. Purchasing a firearm.

6. Researching different methods on how to accomplish suicide. Usually evident in browser history.

What's behind suicide?

With compounding pressures in our modern world, we often overlook several contributing components of a possibly suicidal mindset. Three main categories exist, the health aspect, environmental contributors, and historical precedence.

 

Among health aspects, we find prior or undiagnosed mental health conditions, serious physical health conditions (which often include high rates of pain endurance), and even traumatic brain injuries.

 

Environmental contributors are those things that lead to self-harm tendencies. These often present as prolonged stress, demanding workloads, and harassment. Stressful events like financial strain and crisis, dealing with the breakdown of a family through divorce and other major life transitions, including loss of a loved one, are recurrent thought initiators.

 

Overwhelming mental loads can also be caused by suicide in the family, childhood abuse, and neglect or trauma. Mental pressure is often harder to fight if there have been previous attempts in the child’s past.

Fast Facts

Suicide attempts are 3 times more likely in females but 3 times more successful in males.

Higher elevation has been proven to be a contributing factor in increased suicide rates.

Most attempts at suicide fail – at a rate of 1 successful suicide for every 10-25 attempts.

Treatments need to be customized to each individual. Successful recovery is possible with the right treatment plan like those offered at Lifeline For Youth.

Making connections with others is often one of the best things a person with self-harm thought can do. Building relationships to prevent withdrawing is powerful.

Hope in a dark time.

Lifeline For Youth wants to shed some light on a dark situation. We encourage you and those you love to seek qualified care with trained professionals. Often suicidal youth avoid condemnation and fear of judgment for having suicidal thoughts. Often the people closest to them can be ineffective because of the fact that they are too invested. Many attempted suicide survivors find confidants in strangers or good non-judgmental friends. Just knowing others have had similar thoughts gives hope that they aren’t alone.

Lifeline For Youth knows that family can cause intense stress making depression rates 11 times higher in children. But we also know that strong social support from the family can lower depression or repeat attempts, and build confidence. With structured care, we work for total mental health recovery leading to successful and constructive futures.

How you can help.

One of the largest misconceptions about attempted suicide survivors is that after they receive help and move on in life, there are no more issues. Low times can and will still occur and its good to know how to handle them. Here is a list of things that you can do and encourage in your survivor.

1. Encourage self-care. Discovering new interests and activities that they can enjoy and use to make themselves feel good.

2. Be a proactive listener. Ask questions and really listen. Interest in what’s going on is a great deterrent. The prime objective is to be able to listen without judgment, looking at the person, not the attempt. Focus on the progress being made.

3. Avoid shame or shameful attachments. Often when “confirmed” of the wrong of their choices they will find further grounds for thoughts that they shouldn’t be there.

4. Find a counselor that fits. Not all counselors or counseling methods fit every child.

5. Give hugs. Let the child know they are valued and wanted. Human connection is a necessary and vital part of good mental health recovery.

6. Offer understanding free from blame and guilt. This is a time to focus on the survivor, make it about their success.

7. Have a success plan to help guide them from despair to safety when things get unmanageable.

Even though a sad, but very real aspect of life, attempted suicide can have a very successful outcome. With proper intervention and continued care Lifeline For Youth can help draw the pieces together and create a beautiful future with promise.

Call today for more information. If you feel you are in an emergency situation please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Safe-UT Hotline at 1-801-587-3000.

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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

7 Warning Signs Your Teen Might Be Struggling with Anxiety

7 Warning Signs Your Teen Might Be Struggling with Anxiety

Are you concerned that your teenager might be struggling with anxiety? If so, here are 7 warning signs you need to watch out for.

Teen anxiety is running rampant across the United States. In fact, one-quarter of American teenagers suffer from a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

An even more startling fact is that most kids endure the pain on their own. Only 20 percent of children and teens struggling with anxiety receive treatment.

As a loving parent, you have a desire to find out what’s going on in your child’s life. It’s also your duty to ensure they get the help they need to overcome their issues.

This article will help you spot some of the behavioral, physical, and emotional signs of teen anxiety. Keep reading to learn the key indicators.

1. Waning Academic Performance

Keep a close eye on your child’s report cards and progress reports. In some cases, low grades can indicate an issue with anxiety. This is especially the case if your child’s grades recently began plummeting.

An anxious teen may procrastinate often and miss assignments. They may eventually also begin to skip class, or even avoid school altogether.

Anxious students often have issues controlling their attention. As a result, they may not be able to reach their full academic potential.

But keep in mind that many teens struggling with anxiety still excel in school. Their academic performance often compares well to that of non-anxious teens. It usually takes them longer to complete tasks, however.

2. Difficulty Sleeping

A teenager should be getting approximately eight to 10 hours of sleep every night.

But there are many reasons why a teen might skimp on sleep. This includes the use of electronics, as blue light exposure impacts a person’s melatonin secretion. In some cases, the issue may relate to anxiety.

Not only can anxiety lead to sleep deprivation, but the reverse is true as well. Therefore, it can become a vicious cycle.

Pay close attention to your teen’s sleeping habits. Look for the following warning signs:

  • Going to bed late at night
  • Waking up late in the morning
  • Daytime sleepiness

Make sure to get all electronic devices out of the room at least half an hour before bedtime. Monitor your child’s behavior to see if it shows any improvement.

3. Social Withdrawal

Teens struggling with anxiety, particularly social anxiety disorder, often choose to isolate themselves. They do so to avoid the stress of interacting with others.

Social withdrawal often ends up feeding anxiety even more. An isolated person becomes more internalized. This causes them to focus on negative thoughts.

Anxiety can interfere with a person’s ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective. As a result, anxiety sufferers may also experience difficulty creating new empathetic bonds.

See if you notice any significant shifts in your child’s social habits. Some specific behavior to look out for includes:

  • Fewer interactions with friends
  • Skipping extracurricular activities
  • Spending more time alone than usual

Sufferers of anxiety need distractions. It’s very difficult for someone to overcome anxiety on their own.

4. Unhealthy Eating Habits

It’s very common for eating disorders to accompany anxiety disorders. In fact, two-thirds of people with eating disorders also deal with anxiety during their lifetime.

Stress causes anxiety, but it also affects eating choices. High levels of stress cause people to crave foods that are high in sugar and fat. As a result, overeating may occur.

Research shows that females are more likely to use food as a coping mechanism for stress. Males, on the other hand, turn to drugs and alcohol more often.

Some people respond to stress by undereating. This tends to be a more common reaction in younger people than adults.

See if you notice any noticeable weight loss or weight gain in your teen. If so, it could signal anxiety issues.

5. Low Self-Esteem

Teens with general anxiety disorder or social anxiety may suffer from low self-esteem. But low-self esteem can also lead to other issues such as teenage depression.

If your teen has low self-esteem, they may constantly doubt their skills or knowledge. He may also go out of his way to seek approval from others.

Pay attention to how your teen perceives himself. If he puts himself down or reacts poorly to criticism, he likely has low-self esteem. This could be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

6. Panic and Anxiety Attacks

A panic attack is a symptom of panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. Despite what many people think, this condition is different from an anxiety attack.

Anxiety attacks usually occur gradually as a response to a stressful situation. Panic attacks, on the other hand, occur without warning, and they’re often accompanied by a fear of death.

Still, panic attacks and anxiety attacks share many of the same symptoms. Here are a few of the most common ones you should look out for:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Throat tightness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Issues with breathing
  • Nausea
  • Fear
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling

If you notice your teen exhibiting signs of a panic or anxiety attack, get him to a doctor.

7. Mood Swings

It’s normal for your teen’s emotions to change as he reacts to different events. However, if his emotions shift in the blink of an eye, it may indicate mood swings. And mood swings can sometimes be a sign of anxiety.

Neurotransmitters and hormones both play a role in anxiety. An imbalance in these chemicals can also cause mood swings. The more severe the imbalance, the worse your teen’s mood swing can be.

How to Help a Teen Struggling with Anxiety

Finding out whether your teen has anxiety is only the first step. From here, you have to take action before it’s too late.

Avoid waiting for your child to “grow out of it.” This is a dangerous mindset, as anxiety may eventually affect his school performance and open the door for drug addiction. Both of these outcomes can have a severely negative impact his future.

Therefore, if you know your teen is struggling with anxiety, do something about it as early as possible. Talk to him calmly and offer viable solutions. Let him know that he has your support.

Are you ready to make a positive change in your child’s life? If so, contact us for a free consultation!

By LifeLine

Teenage Depression

Teen Depression

Teen depression and anxiety are very real things. We at Lifeline For Youth want to make sure you have some of the facts you need to know about how to help your teen with depression or anxiety.
 
Let’s break down some fact and fiction about these conditions and learn how to identify depression in teens and how to help your teen deal with anxiety.

"Depression is just being sad or bummed out"

FALSE!!

Recognizing teen depression isn’t only about being sad is the first step to awareness. Teen depression symptoms can often present in many ways such as lack of energy, too much or too little sleep, restlessness, irritability, change in appetite, drop in grades or attendance at school, hostility , frequent bouts of crying or tearfulness, changes in eating habits, hopelessness, and substance abuse. Because so many of these symptoms are present during adolescence, to begin with it may be harder for a parent or loved one to understand the link between these behaviors. At Lifeline For Youth, our skilled professionals have been helping teens for over 27 years and know how to recognize symptoms of teen depression.

"Depression will go away on its own."

FALSE!!

Unlike the normal ups and downs of the teenage mood swings, depression can become a battle that lasts for weeks, months and in worse cases, years. So many factors can contribute to and fuel depression in a time of life that is typified by its own precariousness. Getting help for your teen if you suspect depression is vital to overcoming it. Help is necessary, and ignoring the symptoms won’t make it go away.

"Depression can lead to suicide."

TRUE!!

Rates of teen suicide and teen depression are inseparably intertwined. In an article from Healthychildren.org, we learn that suicide is no less than the third most prevalent cause of teen death in America, extending from ages 15 through 24. We also know that studies show 90% of all suicides are among teens who suffer from one or more of: depression, anxiety issues, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or other behavioral issues.

Check out this article: Report shows Utah youth suicides jumps 141%

"Depression is a mental disorder."

TRUE!!

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.

"If you've had depression once, you'll always have it."

FALSE!!

Depression is very treatable and comes with a good success rate with proper professional intervention. While sadly, up to 75% of teens that experience depression will experience it later on in their lives, treatment is available.

Treatment for teen depression includes and depends on a support system that will teach your child how to overcome and prevent thinking that could lead to relapses. At Lifeline for Youth, we have a 97% satisfaction rate with our teens and their families.

"Depressed teens are still social."

TRUE!!

Although teens are more commonly noted for their highly un-social personas, it’s actually false. Because parents see a withdrawal and separation from a lot of the authority figures in the child’s life, it is assumed that teens adopt a uniformly solitary introverted existence. In reality they are more likely to remain friends with peers they feel comfortable with and simply become more selective in their associations. This is one of the significant differences between adult depression and teen depression.

"Depression is just something adults get."

FALSE!!

Most adults tend to forget the struggles of childhood because they’re busy navigating adulthood, and specifically adulthood with teens. National statistics put 3 million teenagers from 12-17 on the map for experiencing a depressive episode in 2015, with a staggering 2 million that experienced a serious depression that affected their daily functionality.

We are sadly mistaken if we think that only adults experience stress levels that lead to struggles with depression or mood disorders.

"Anxiety comes from worrying too much."

FALSE!!

Anxiety is a complex issue and experts warn about putting anxiety into a cause and effect statement. While it includes many triggers, anxiety can often have no apparent trigger at all. Exercising, being dehydrated, and sometimes just thinking about having a panic attack can bring one on.

"Anxiety and Depression are pretty much the same things."

FALSE!!

While the symptoms of anxiety and depression in teens are similar and include many of the same traits, they are separate. People who suffer from depression often have a history of anxiety issues. To say that one causes the other would be inaccurate, but many people including teens often struggle with both.

"Anxiety is made up. It's just in their head."

FALSE!!

Anxiety involves neurotransmitters, hormones, and results in physical problems. Because the brain can be over-sensitized to stimuli that trigger adrenaline, the fight or flight mechanism, and the subsequent bodily reactions are very real. If treating anxiety were easy as responding to triggers with logical thought processes, there would be no need for professional intervention.

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"Anxiety symptoms can include dizziness, chest pains, and diarrhea."

TRUE!!

Because we don’t see a psychological disorder the same way we would see and recognize a physical disorder, we tend to diminish its significance in a person’s life. This is what makes recognizing teen anxiety difficult because most of the symptoms of teen anxiety are internal. The effects of anxiety may be silent, but they are a very real response to the chemical, emotional, and thought imbalances in your child.

"The only way to deal with depression and enxiety is medication."

FALSE!!

There are many times when medications can be very helpful, and they certainly have their place. Because some medications can offer serious long-term side effects, including triggering and over sensitizing to attacks of anxiety and even addiction later on, a large array of treatment options are considered. Rest assured that LifeLine for Youth will work with you to treat your loved one with the utmost care and respect, including alternatives to medications.

Bottom Line...

If you suspect your teen is struggling with anxiety and/or depression call Lifeline For Youth today. With our caring and committed staff we can help with targeted teenage depression treatment, present relevant teenage anxiety, and depression solutions, and help prevent turning back to old thought and habit patterns. Your loved ones deserve it. Call for your consultation today!

By LifeLine

Connecting with your teen

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Connecting with your teen can be difficult...

…We can help! Look, sometimes connecting with your teen can seem as fun as saying ‘thank you’ for a root canal, but it is a very important and vital component of their well being, and integral to the fabric of your family life.

We all know that bonding with your teenager starts way before they reach adolescence. Ideally it should start when they were new and full of promise and potential, back when it was easy and you were their hero.

But here in the present, things are quite different. You might feel like you’ve been through a rough simulation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and are now forced to conduct your life around someone whom only faintly resembles that cherub you once swaddled.

Before you go file a missing person report, let’s summarize the importance of connecting with your teenage son or daughter. Being aware of challenges we face in today’s world, and learning to adjust our expectations and form habits that are conducive to good communication are vital. Your offspring will thank you. When they’re 25…but still. 

--You might feel like you've been through a rough simulation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

Momma's boys and Daddy's girls...

A healthy connection is crucial to your developing child, even into the precarious teen years. Children that have regular interaction with a father are found to have greater success socially, academically, emotionally and run a lower risk of being overweight. These benefits also follow children who are more likely to be at a higher risk for behavioral issues, into the educational forum. They are found to have better reading scores, less behavioral issues, and if the father is active with school volunteering the statistics for A+ grades increases significantly.

Being engaged with their father finds teens better in social situations, and boosts their confidence and self-esteem. So dad, set up some one on one time with your son or daughter. Go on a date, play catch, or just get goofy together. You’ll find that not only will your relationship become more powerful, but your kids will be more confident and feel better about themselves. Power on Dad!

One study showed that boys with a closer relationship with their mothers found a multitude of benefits. Among them was better performance in school accompanied by better articulation, less likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, better self-image, friendships and less inclination towards anxiety and depression.

Connecting with your daughter is equally important and can prevent risky and dangerous behaviors by showing her she doesn’t need to look outside of the home for affirmations of worth and care.

--Children that have regular interaction with a father are found to have greater success socially, academically, emotionally and run a lower risk of being overweight.

What Does A Good Relationship with My Teenager Look Like?

We all have ideals of what it would be like to live in the “perfect family”. Yeah, you saw those little quotation marks. Obviously, life can greatly differ from what we imagine, and what we really end up with. Gone are the days of Wally and the Beaver and the familial Hollywood utopia. Suddenly you find yourself Googling “staying connected to your teenager” while you’re waiting for them to come in after curfew, yet again.

Here are a few tips that might help:

Relaxed Openness

If a teen suspects criticism or condemnation there’s going to be a shut down faster than a bank on a national holiday. So what do you do? Well, if you feel like you are nagging, you probably are. No one (not even you) feels like producing their best behavior when motives, energy level, and priorities are always called into question to be picked apart like a frog in biology class.

A  no-pressure platform can help build trust that you are still a safe haven and an emotionally secure place to fall back on. Even though they might not use the opportunity to talk as often as you’d like, being able to talk if they feel the need is a great comfort in this jumbled time of sorting through themselves.

Bottom line: let them know you are open to listening.

Physical Touch

Throughout your child’s younger years, hugs and kisses and snuggles were a prime source of reassurance when they needed boundaries or attention. Even though it can seem awkward to express affection for the teenager before you, who is now more man or woman than a child, touching and affirming that you’re there for them if they need it, is just as important as ever.

Because each child has his or her own personality, the amount and type of touching may be more or less, but should always be noted. Monitoring could be necessary as well for the giver if you are not naturally inclined to touch, or perhaps are more of a giver than the child is comfortable with.

Boys, in particular, are harder hit when it comes to the famine of physical touch. Believing it is childish, they pull away in an effort to define themselves as “manly” or mature. This can also be why a breakup of a first love is harder on young men. Sacrificing physical touch with their parents have created a physical and psychological need – and thus a body or touch-hungry individual.

You don’t need to go overboard and smother your child. Anything from a shoulder squeeze to a goodnight kiss, pats on the head or a full-on hug….Just be aware of the physical needs of your teen. If you are there to supply it whenever it’s needed and every chance you get, you can dramatically change how you relate to your teen.

Quality (and Quantity!) Time With Your Teen

It’s often said that quality is better than quantity. Well we say, make the most of what you have! 

Find natural times to spend time with your son or daughter. You don’t have to insert yourself into your teen’s life against their wishes or make outrageous demands on their time. Especially if you want great results.

Finding different ways to spend time with your teen may be as easy as taking advantage of the normal activities of everyday life. Some examples could be:

  • Cooking and eating together
  • Chores or volunteering for a shared cause.
  • Go shopping! Let them know the spending limit and make sure it is something they want, not you.
  • Learn something together. Ask them, “What have you always wanted to learn how to do?” or “Is there something you’ve never done, but would like to?”
  • Letting your teen have you for an unplugged hour or afternoon for whatever they want to do (cue the relaxed openness!)

Spending time with your child can open up a new avenue of shared interest and create meaningful communication with your teen and a connection that they aren’t quick to put aside.

Bottom Line:

Bonding with your son or daughter involves a decent amount of communication as well as quality and quantity family time. One-on-one activities teach you and your child about who they are and where they fit into this great chaos we call life.

Though suggestions given here are best seeded when children are young, don’t give up hope! They are still applicable to today and all the gnarly situations you find yourself wading through with your ever-changing teenager.

Lifeline For Youth stands behind families and aims to educate and help families heal. For more suggestions and tips give us a call at 1-855-968-8443 today.