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Self help Information

Self help Information

Signs of Depression
Dealing with Stress
Raising emotionally healthy children
How do you know if your teen is using drugs?


Signs of Depression

Everyone gets down from time to time, but sometimes it's more than just "the blues." Clinical depression affects millions of people each year. It is a real illness that can be treated effectively.

The signs and symptoms of clinical depression are:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Change in appetite (and weight loss or gain)
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Irritability
  • Physical symptoms that do not respond to medical treatment, such as chronic pain or digestive problems
  • Increased forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you experience five or more of these symptoms and they persist for two weeks or longer, you could have clinical depression. See a doctor or qualified mental health professional for help, right away.


Dealing with Stress

Chronic stress can increase your likelihood of developing serious illnesses like diabetes and cancer and can also increase your risk of heart attack. Whether the stress originates at work or at home, we take it with us wherever we go. The good news is that taking care of ourselves can help to reduce stress and keep us healthier, happier and more productive.

Here are some simple but effective strategies you can use to better manage the stress in your life.

They will help if you use them!

Take care of yourself. Eating right and exercising can increase your ability to manage stress.

Get enough sleep. Most adults need an average of 7-9 hours per night.

  • Set realistic goals. Do what's possible and carry on.
  • Set and re-set your priorities. Take care of important and difficult tasks first, and eliminate tasks that are not necessary.
  • Take one task at a time. Divide large projects into smaller tasks, and make "to do" lists.
  • Take five. Taking breaks can help slow down your mind and improve your ability to handle stress.
  • Learn to relax. Yoga or Meditating are great ways to relax.
  • Give yourself and others a break. You may be expecting too much.
  • Learn to say "no." Be honest about what you are realistically capable of doing.
  • Learn to compromise.
  • Avoid excessive competition.
  • Try not to feel frustrated when your expectations are not met.
  • Manage your anger. Retreat and give yourself a chance to calm down before you lose control.
  • If you're unhappy about something, make suggestions for improvement.
  • Limit complaining.
  • Talk problems out with friends and family when they occur.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.

Raising emotionally healthy children

Good emotional health helps children to think clearly, develop socially, learn new skills, and develop a positive self-esteem.

Following is a list of general strategies to help ensure a child's healthy emotional well being:

  • Give children unconditional love. Children need to know that your love does not depend on their accomplishments or behavior.
  • Praise children and focus on their strengths and accomplishments to build their confidence and self-esteem.
  • Encourage children to achieve, but be sure the goals are realistic.
  • Be supportive when children fail. No one fails on purpose.
  • Be honest about your own mistakes. It's important for children to know that everyone makes mistakes and to learn how to be accountable for ones mistakes.
  • Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm hurts. If you are angry, take a time out to gain your composure and choose a more effective approach.
  • Encourage children to play. Play helps children be creative, develop problem-solving skills, improve self-control, and learn how to get along with others.
  • Enroll children in an organized program or activity such as scouts, sports, or church activities. This is a great way for kids to stay active, learn new skills, gain confidence, and be a part of something that gives them a sense of accomplishment and team work.
  • Provide a safe and secure environment. Fear can be very real for a child. Try to find out what is frightening him or her. Be loving, patient and reassuring, not critical.
  • Give guidance and discipline when necessary. Be firm, but kind and realistic with your expectations. The goal is not to control or belittle the child, but to help him or her learn self-control.
  • Enforce appropriate consequences. Let children know what the consequences are for inappropriate behavior. Be fair and calm and reasonable when giving consequences, and always follow through.
  • Limit the amount of time older children spend alone. If they are home alone after school, enroll them in an after school program or activity if possible.
  • Check in on children if they are home alone. Let them know that you're thinking about them even when you're not there.
  • Be consistent. Children feel more secure and are better able to succeed when they know what to expect. Rules, expectations, and consequences should be predictable and logical.
  • Communicate! Make time to listen to your children and talk with them about what is happening in their lives. Show them that you are interested. Share emotions and feelings.

If you're concerned about your child's mental health, consult with teachers, a guidance counselor or another adult who may have information about his or her behavior. If you think there is a problem, seek professional help.


How do you know if your teen is using drugs?

Teens may try alcohol and other drugs for many reasons (peer pressure, curiosity, to reduce stress, to feel grown up or to fit in).

It is hard to determine which teens will experiment, stop using drugs and which teen will end up with a serious drug or alcohol problem.

There are some common characteristics of teenagers who are more likely to develop a serious problem:

  • Teens that come from a family with a history of substance abuse
  • Teens that are depressed
  • Teens that lack confidence, and
  • Teens that have difficulty fitting in with other kids their age

Teenagers abuse a variety of both legal and illegal drugs. Legally available drugs include alcohol, prescription medications, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols, and solvents) and over-the-counter medicines such as cough syrup, sleeping pills, and diet pills. Commonly used illegal drugs include marijuana (pot), cocaine, crack, and speed, LSD, PCP, and ecstasy. The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young teens. First marijuana use often occurs in middle school, and alcohol use can start before age 12. Marijuana and alcohol use in high school has become quite common.

There are many signs to look for that may indicate your teenager is abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Physical warning signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Health complaints
  • Red and glazed eyes, and
  • Persistent cough.

Emotional warning signs:

  • Changes in personality
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Irresponsible behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal, and
  • Lack of interest in things that were once important.

Social/behavioral warning signs:

  • Becomes involved with peers that use drugs and alcohol
  • Has problems with the law
  • Dramatic change in dress and appearance

Interactions within the family that may be warning signs:

  • Argumentative with family members
  • Breaks the rules, or
  • Withdraws from the family

Attitude and performance at school that may be warning signs:

  • Decreased interest in school
  • Negative attitude about school
  • Drop in grades
  • Increase in absences, and
  • Getting in trouble

Parents can help their child by teaching them about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol at an early age, maintaining open communication about issues and pressures that children may face, and by being a positive role model for children.

If you have concerns that your child may be abusing alcohol or other drugs, seek help. Early recognition and treatment is important for successful outcomes.


 

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