Teens and risky behavior

November 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Do you really know how your teenagers deal with stress? What they are doing to their bodies may shock you. Dr. Leah Millheiser shares some important information.

WHAT IS CUTTING?

  • Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object. Cutting is a type of self-injury. Most people who cut are girls.
  • Cutting is a way to cope with the pain of strong emotions or pressure.
  • People who cut or self-injure sometimes have other mental health problems. They may have trouble controlling their impulses and may engage in risk-taking behaviors.
  • Most people who cut aren't attempting suicide.

    TIPS FOR ADDRESSING AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS CUTTING:

    Don't

  • React with anger.
  • Go into denial about the problem.
  • Assume this is a phase your teen will outgrow.
  • Say "What did I do wrong for you to do this to yourself."
  • Ask "Why are you doing this to yourself?"
  • Try to hide sharp objects. It's an ineffective deterrent. If your child wants to self-injure, she'll find a way.

    Do

  • Admit you and your child need help.
  • Take the problem very seriously. This is not just attention-seeking behavior.
  • Be completely supportive.
  • Immediately seek treatment for your child

    RITALIN:

  • Intended to treat ADD/ADHD
  • Possible side effects: increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and insomnia
  • Students use the drugs to help them study longer with greater focus and efficiency.

    EATING DISORDERS & BOYS:

  • 10% of people with eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are male
  • Eating disorders rose significantly among American boys between 1995 and 2005
  • The increased weight control behavior noted in males suggests growing social pressure for males to achieve unrealistic body expectations
  • Males have negative attitudes toward treatment-seeking and are less likely than females to seek treatment
    (Source: Chao et al. International Journal of Eating Disorders)

    WARNING SIGNS OF AN EATING DISORDER:

  • Won't maintain a normal body weight for height and age
  • Terrified of becoming fat
  • He or she feels fat even when he or she is not


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