There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems such as depression, anxiety and learning disabilities can have symptoms similar to those of ADHD. Additionally adolescents, teens and even adults who have gone through life undiagnosed may minimize the severity or impact of their symptoms, perceiving as ‘normal’ or ‘just how it has always been’ for them. This is particularly true for inattentive types of ADHD. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, adolescents and teens who do suffer from ADHD can experience a marked improvement in school performance and relationships with others. In addition to medication treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy and developing better strategies to help with focus, follow-through and self-regulation can be of great support to those who have ADHD.
Anxiety disorders affect one in eight people people who are under 18 yrs of age. Research shows that untreated youth with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Additionally those who experience an anxiety disorder are more likely to also experience depression. Specific types of anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Soicial Anxietiy Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia, Agoraphobia, Selective Mutism, Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders and related Disorders such as Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) and Excoriation (skin-picking) disorder are also closely associated with Anxiety. Fortunately, Anxiety Disorders and OCD are highly treatable. Despite this, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Unlike adults, children with Anxiety Disorders or OCD may not be aware that their fears are excessive and think that being anxious is simply a part of who they are. That is why early diagnosis and treatment can be so significant to a teen’s overcoming perceived limits to what he/she can do and can have a great impact on positive development of his/her identity.
Sometimes is hard to know if your child’s emotional outbursts are within a normal range or indicative of a bigger problem. This is particularly true for adolescents and teens, who are experiencing a stage of development marked by turbulent emotions, hormonal changes, stress, individuation from parents and large variances in emotional and physical maturity. However for some, the emotional rollercoaster they experience may result in behavioral problems of greater concern. If your teen is experiencing frequent emotional distress resulting in physical violence, verbally lashing-out, withdrawing, threatening self-harm or having significant social or learning problems he/she should be evaluated by a professional. Doing so can help yourself and your teen determine if more support is warranted. Through individual and/or family counseling your teen can learn tools for emotional and behavioral self-regulation skills and you as a parent can learn how to best support him/her in this process.
A healthy body image is one important aspect to a healthy identity. Developing a healthy perception of one’s body starts in childhood should continue to be developed throughout life as a person’s body changes and grows. Influences from peers, family members, coaches, and media are integral to creating one’s body image. Additionally, personality trains such as self-criticism and perfectionism can have a strong role in body image development. Men, women, children, adolescents and teens all can experience serious struggles with self-acceptance due to a negative body image. These individuals are also at increased risk to develop eating disorders and other emotional and mental health problems. Treatment focusing on body awareness, appreciation and acceptance, along with developing a more comprehensive self-concept, can help overcome these externally based, deeper internal struggles.
Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder are three common types of Mood Disorders. An estimated 10.7 percent of US teens youth ages 12-17 have had at least one Major Depressive Episode in the last year. This is very different from a teen experiencing changes in hormones or having a few bad days because of stress, school, friends or sleep problems. Depression affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions. Depression includes symptoms of persistent sadness, hopelessness, guild, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, sleep disturbances, appetite and weight changes, irritability and thought s of death or suicide. The good new s is that Depression is treatable and such treatment can have a very positive impact on all parts of a teen’s life.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, you likely know the intense secrecy, insecurity, shame and pain that accompanies an eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses that frequently occur during teen or young adulthood, but can also develop in childhood or even later years of life. The three primary types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders are usually treated with multi-modality therapies (CBT, Family and Group), along with nutritional counseling and medication if needed. Inpatient and/or Intensive Outpatient programs are sometimes required to help an individual overcome a chronic or severe eating disorder.
Whether sudden or anticipated, grief associated with loss is an experience we all encounter at some point in our lives. Yet, experiencing loss as a teen has unique developmental factors. Amidst the already turbulent time of self-discovery, search for autonomy and navigating social obstacles, loss can overwhelm and impede a teenager’s emotional development. Whether this loss comes from death, divorce of parents, disability or disease, teens will benefit from age-appropriate support to help them understand and integrate their emotions, thoughts and experiences in the healthiest way possible.
Whether old or young, a person’s sense of self is an integral component to his/her well-being. While some individuals have an inflated sense of self, frequently expecting admiration and praise, others have an insecure or weak self-view. A healthy, stable, realistic identity is a building block to a person’s happiness, independence, accomplishments and relationships with others. One’s ability to develop a strong identity, inclusive of strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to grow one’s identity throughout life is a challenging and rewarding experience.
Expectations and potential stressors for our children reach record high levels as they enter high school, but in fact have already begun a rapid increase during middle and junior-high school. Many of these school struggles are not exclusively learning or academic in nature. Other variables such as academic performance pressures, standardized and college entrance exams, social struggles, past school experiences, comparison to peers, relationships with teachers, and a host of potential mental/physical issues such as mood, anxiety, emotions, attention, fatigue and physical health all effect how a teen learns at school. Helping your child understand his/her complete academic experience and addressing gaps in his/her comprehensive educational needs can result in a more satisfying educational journey throughout high school and beyond.
Separation and Divorce are inherently stressful, emotional and conflictual experiences for all those involved. Adolescents and teens who parents are separating or divorcing encounter this significant change in their family unit during a time when they are experiencing their own adjustment and identity obstacles. Because the adolescent is at a more detached and even rebellious stage with parents, divorce can intensify their relational struggles with a parent. Adolescents more than younger children tend to pull away and may feel betrayed by the broken parental commitment to family and may become angrier and less communicative. For the adolescent who is more concerned with friends, divorce tends to energize more independence from family. It is for these reasons that counseling during separation/divorce is truly important for most teens, even those who claim they are ‘fine’ and don’t need any help dealing with their parents’ separation.
What is more associated with adolescent and teen development than sexuality? And for parents this means concerns about your child’s safety, maturity, and emotional and physical wellbeing in the process of his/her sexual development. Simultaneously, teens are experiencing greater autonomy, differentiation from parents and connection to their peers. So parents are left imparting information and hoping that what they share is resonating with their teen child. Even teens to ‘talk about everything’ with their parents usually limit what they share about sexual interest, questions and experiences. For this reason having a safe and confidential place to openly discuss sexuality can be of immense value to a teen.
Adolescents and teen years are largely defined by social experiences. As a teenager grasps for more independence and gains greater self-awareness he/she also is trying fit into to his/her social world. Many teens begin to spend more time with friends than they do with family members and it is within these peer groups that they practice relationship skills. In these peer groups teens frequently encounter challenges for which they are not adequately equipped and feelings of inadequacy arise. Youth who are dissatisfied with their social relationships report greater dissatisfaction with school and a more insecure self-concept. There are many factors that can coexist and contribute to social problems, including ADHD, learning disabilities, mood disorders, anxiety, insecure family relationships, trauma and self-esteem. Because of this, addressing social needs through counseling includes comprehensive assessment of a teen’s experience and needs.
Stages of Life
Stages of life are loosely defined according to age ranges that involve similar developmental and situational experiences. Each stage of life is marked with cultural, social, gender and economic influences, along with corresponding expectations and stressors. How a person experiences and responds to these stressors varies between individuals, but for teens this if often a time of exceptional self-doubt and insecurity thereby causing the teen to even greater turbulence during this stage of his/her life. That is why support to help in this understanding and responding can be of tremendous benefit.
Stress is a very real and normal part of life for most everyone. However, excess levels of stress or stress sustained over a long period of time can lead to significant health issues, problems in relationships, mood changes and destructive behaviors. There are a variety of positive ways address both temporary and long-term stress. Exercise, meditation, social activities, hobbies, relaxation and many other behaviors can help us recover from the stress we experience. However some stress is more acute or pervasive in nature and requires additional attention. Counseling can help a person achieve better stress management in his or her life.
Trauma and PTSD symptoms can develop following any traumatic event that makes one feel helpless or threatens one’s safety. PTSD affects people differently. Some people develop PTSD very soon after the traumatic event while others may not develop symptoms formonths or years (delayed onset). Some experience symptoms for several weeks or a few months (acute), while others’ symptoms last for many months or years (chronic). PTSD can affect those who experience a direct traumatic stressor as well as those who learn about or witness a severe or life threatening event that involves a close family member or associate.