Gifted Teen Depression | Parent Treatment AdvocatesThere has been an increase in youth suicide in recent years, including suicides and suicidal ideation among gifted adolescents. Although there is no direct evidence linking suicide with the unique population of these children, many researchers in the mental health field are beginning to explore this connection and recognize that additional research is needed.

It is only recently that mental health professionals are becoming more aware of the unique psychological and emotional concerns of gifted children and teens compared to non-gifted children. Some of the specific impairments that a gifted teen might experience include: Read more!

Teen ADHD Treatment | Parent Treatment Advocates

Everyone, regardless of whether they have a mental illness, needs to learn to manage their strengths and weaknesses. However, with a mental illness, weaknesses might be a bit heftier to contend with.

With teen Attention Deficit Disorder, there are typical symptoms that an adolescent experiences that can begin to get in the way of functioning well as school. In fact, when a teen starts to show signs of impairment in their academic activities, often ADD is explored as a diagnosis. It is common to diagnose children with behavioral concerns with teen Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, which is essentially ADD with hyperactivity added in the list of symptoms. Because ADD teens do not typically display hyperactivity, their symptoms are not usually recognized until later in adolescence when academic responsibilities increase. Read more!

Teen Bipolar Disorder Treatment | Parent Treatment Advocates

There are many benefits to group therapy. It is a form of support that is unlike traditional psychotherapy in that the stories of others in the group become a significant form of support.

Group therapy includes the presence of a therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional who is facilitating the group experience. Also in the room are others who are all experiencing the same diagnosis or life problem. For instance, adults who were sexually abused as children might make up a group in therapy. Typically, everyone in the room, aside from the therapist, is experiencing the same life challenge. Group therapy for teens with Bipolar Disorder can be incredibly supportive and healing. Read more!

Drug Rehab For Boys | Parent Treatment Advocates

If you are a parent of a male adolescent who is in need of treatment for an addiction, mental illness or both, there is good reason to bring your son to treatment that is gender specific.

Your teen will obviously have a different experience at a boy’s rehab center than he would where both males and females were participating. When females are not attending the same treatment center, boys can keep their thoughts and attention on their recovery without having romantic or erotic distractions. In addition to this obvious benefit, being with other boys undergoing the same process can be supportive. For example, rooming with another adolescent male, attending group therapy with other boys with the same concerns, and working with issues that are specific to the male gender can support the emotional and psychological growth of your child. Read more!

Adolescent Self Harm | Parent Treatment Advocates

Often parents are at a loss when it comes to self-harm and self-injury. At first glance, the behavior of harming oneself seems incredibly foreign and to discover that their child is participating in some form of adolescent self-harm can be difficult to accept.

However, recovery is possible. Yet, the road to get there can be challenging. One parent admitted that it was incredibly difficult to allow her daughter to set the pace of recovery, which is a typical suggestion offered by a therapist or psychologist. She admitted that giving her daughter the space to vent her feelings was frightening. This mother was afraid that when her daughter returned to reflecting on challenging emotions that the self-harm would return.

Yet, this is far from the truth, especially for teens who are using self-harm as a means to cope with intense feelings. Having an outlet to articulate feelings, to get them out of the bag, so to speak, prevents the need to find another way to cope with them. Talking about emotions and expressing them is a healthy form of emotional release.

This mother also had a challenge with trusting the levels of support from friends, family, and the therapist, especially when things got rough. She admitted that learning to trust the process was difficult, especially when it looked like things were getting worse. She learned not to always question her daughter about the self-harming pattern; instead, she eventually allowed her daughter to open important conversations herself.

Once you know that your teen wants recovery as much as you do, trusting her becomes easier. The following are other tips to remember when supporting your teen through the self-harm recovery process:

  • Hold on to the belief that recovery is possible
  • Remember that there will be ups and downs.
  • Know that there will be occasional setbacks.
  • Don’t lose hope when it looks like your back to the drawing board.
  • Make sure your child knows that she can direct the pace of recovery.
  • Make sure your child is choosing recovery because she wants it and not to please others.
  • Help your teen stay focused and motivated, yet still be sensitive to her emotional mood.
  • Encourage the rest of the family to be sensitive.
  • If you’re unsure about how to help your teen in recovery, ask her.
  • Let your teen explore with healthy techniques that might reduce harming.
  • Make time for your teen and invite her to share about her process.
  • Discuss any setbacks calmly and safely explore the reasons behind them.
  • Discuss various ways of coping with emotions versus self-harm.
  • Facilitate the exploration of consequences of her choices, not only self-harming ones.
  • Provide extra support when it appears that circumstances might get in the way of recovery, such as spending time with certain friends, or an unexpected emotional challenge that might further self-harm.

Self-harm is in most cases an outer reflection of an inner experience. Once that inner experience is recognized and healed, self-harm will typically no longer be an unhealthy pattern in your teen’s life. As a parent or caregiver, your presence and support, although she won’t always rely on it, is essential in your teen’s recovery.

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Adolescent Grief and Loss | Parent Treatment Advocates

Adolescence is an already challenging time. The amount of stress from psychological, emotional, and physical changes can be overwhelming for some teens. Add to this breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, parents divorcing, or the loss of a close friend to death and adolescence becomes that much more challenging. Read more!

Teen Bipolar Disorder

When some people think of mindfulness, they might think of religion or spirituality. Although mindfulness is sometimes a part of religious or spiritual practices, it alone is not a religion. Nor is it really all that spiritual.

Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. Today, it is often used as a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologists. Read more!

Teen Substance Abuse | Parent Treatment Advocates

There’s a clear benefit to taking medication: you feel better. Whatever ailment you might be experiencing goes away and you can return to a normal level of functioning. If a headache or migraine is keeping you in bed, for instance, you can take a pill designed to take the pain away.

However, there’s a point when relying on medication or other substances to relieve symptoms goes too far and in fact becomes an addiction. For example, when a person wants to calm down and believes that in order to do so medication is necessary, the medication becomes a crutch. The sense of relief, happiness, or relaxation experienced with the medication is not authentic. Finding a sense of calm is not sourced from one’s own power to relax. Read more!

Teen Dissociative Disorder | Parent Treatment Advocates

Psychopathology is the study of mental disorders. Yet, to break it down further, pathos means suffering in Greek. Pathology means the study of diseases or disorders, and psychopathology is the study of mental suffering or mental disorders.

Teen Mental illnesses that have the symptom of dissociation in common are known as teen Dissociative Disorders. Dissociation is a break in conscious awareness, memory, a sense of identity or a combination of these. Dissociative Disorders is a group of disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standardized text used by clinicians across North America. These disorders range in severity with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) being the most severe. The following is a list of the dissociative disorders listed in the most recent edition of the DSM.

  • Dissociative Amnesia
  • Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder or MPD)

Although not all traumatic events cause dissociation, it is the common cause for dissociative mental illness. An experience that is considered traumatic is one that threatens the injury, death, or physical integrity, and is usually accompanied by terror and helplessness. A traumatic event could be the death of a friend or family member, sexual or physical abuse, an automobile accident, domestic violence, school violence, experiences of war, the effects of natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than 2/3 of children report experiencing trauma before the age of 16. As a result of experiencing such an intense ordeal, along with feeling powerless to do anything about it, psychological symptoms often result. Although, each adolescent will respond to certain experiences differently, there are common indications that point to whether a mental illness exists. For instance, the symptoms that develop after experiencing trauma include:

  • Feeling numb, detached, or emotionally unresponsive
  • Amnesia of parts or all of the traumatic event
  • De-realization, a symptom in which the environment seems strange or unreal
  • De-personalization, a symptom in which thoughts and feelings do not seem real
  • Flashbacks or recurring images of the trauma
  • Feelings of reliving the traumatic event
  • Feeling high levels of stress when an object or person reminds you of the event
  • Avoiding people, objects, and places that stimulate reliving the trauma
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Chronic tension
  • Easily startled
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to sit still

Dissociate Amnesia

This is a mental illness in which a teen has lost or blocked critical pieces of personal information due to the experience of a traumatic event. However, the DSM makes clear that this illness should not be made a diagnosis if there is a medical cause, such as injury to the head. The amnesia that occurs can be specific to the trauma; localized to a specific period of time, such as forgetting everything prior to the traumatic event; generalized, as in forgetting large parts of one’s life, and systematic, such as losing a specific category of information. The experience of dissociative fugue is now considered a symptom of dissociative amnesia; previously it was its own diagnosis. Dissociative fugue is when an individual takes off on a journey of some kind without later recalling how he or she arrived at a foreign place.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

This disorder is characterized by feelings of detachment to one’s experience, body, or self. These feelings tend to be recurrent and chronic. Specifically, de-realization is a symptom in which the environment seems strange or unreal. De-personalization is a symptom in which thoughts and feelings do not seem real. Of all the dissociative disorders, this is the one that tends to be the most easily recognized and diagnosed frequently to those who have experienced trauma.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve are popular movies with characters having multiple personalities. However, what was once called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is now clinically known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

The dissociation in DID is seen as a disturbance in an individual’s identity, where two or more distinct personalities become evident and where behavior with each is clearly recognized and distinct from other personalities.  DID in teens often get misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. Treating DID usually includes psychotherapy that attempts to establish a therapeutic relationship with the alter that is self-harming. Attempts to reduce this behavior are a focus in therapy as well as trying to establish communication among the various personalities. Establishing dialogue between alters helps with retrieving memories of trauma that are then worked with to help the client heal from these early difficult experiences.

Treatment for Dissociate Amnesia and Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder include a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Because dissociative disorders are often the result of trauma, they typically co-occur with depression and anxiety. For this reason, anti-anxiety and anti-depressants are used for treatment. Additionally, psychotherapy includes a safe exploration of the trauma in order to bring to light and heal the intense, trauma-related emotions.

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Parenting Teens | Parent Treatment Advocates

Often when a member of the family is suffering from an addiction, a common dysfunctional pattern of the other family members is to enable that addiction. When the relationship is between a parent and teen, the parent is often the lead enabler.

To enable means to assist, facilitate, or make possible. However, the pattern of enabling in families with an addict can be indirectly harmful and unhealthy. Instead of helping the one who is addicted to alcohol or substances, a spouse or sibling might do things for the addict that he could be and should be doing for himself. To help someone is to assist in a task that he or she cannot do alone, such as calling the pharmacy when your spouse has lost his voice from strep throat. Enabling is completing a task that he can do on his own, such as paying the bills for an addict who hasn’t or can’t work because of his addiction.  Read more!