Adolescence is a critical time when physical, cognitive, and social changes allow a teenager to develop the identity that will serve as a basis for their adult lives. Unfortunately, research indicates this is also the time when psychiatric illness develops and becomes more present. The significant impact of these illnesses in the developmental years, makes finding the right care environment even more critical.

Struggles with mental health and addiction issues can be complex and complicated, so much so that typical inpatient and outpatient assessment and treatment options may not be able to get to the root of the issues.

The Adolescent Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment and Intensive Treatment Program, which opened May 12, 2014, offers a specialized and intimate treatment setting within the Lindner Center of HOPE, focusing on intensive assessment and treatment of patients, age 11 through 17, suffering with complex, co-morbid mental health issues. As adolescence is such a tender time, accurate diagnosis, effective treatment planning, and the development of a solid blueprint for treatment success and realistic future focus is even more crucial. A 21-day diagnostic stay for adolescents results in a detailed but concise diagnostic picture, which includes the results of genetic testing for the development of the optimal psychopharmacologic treatment plan. Additional treatment weeks, beyond the diagnostic assessment, feature a strengths-based approach to treatment helping adolescents build skills readying them for next steps in treatment and life.

Serving patients ages 11 to 17 with:

  • Depression & Bipolar Disorders
  • Anxiety & Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Disorders of Thinking & Related Conditions
  • Complex, Co-morbidity
  • Eating Disorders
  • Addictive and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders

The Adolescent Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment and Intensive Treatment Program, a private pay program, features:

  • A quick and smooth referral and intake process.
  • A safe and welcoming environment that meets the adolescent where they are.
  • A highly credentialed treatment team, with access to 45 clinical consultants.
  • Specialization in complex mental health and addictive disorders.
  • An evidence-based compilation of psychological and neuropsychological testing.
  • A comprehensive assessment resulting in a detailed but concise diagnostic picture.
  • Genetic testing for developing the optimal psychopharmacologic treatment plan.
  • A structured milieu model with CBT and DBT as a foundation.
  • A strengths-based approach to treatment recommendations and development of future focus.
  • A licensed teacher collaboratively working with the treatment team and home school contacts.
  • Parent and family involvement and education.
  • Follow-up support for up to 3 months after discharge.
  • A network of HOPE for further treatment referrals for patients and families.

Everyone’s talking about bullying these days – on the playground, in cyberspace – and, yes, even in the workplace. Bullying among adults? Is the term just being overused, or does bullying in the workplace really exist?

The answer is, unfortunately, yes. According to one survey, as many as 40% or more of workers have experienced bullying during the past year. Other polls found that at least 34% of women have been bullied in the workplace and that 13% of American workers experience psychological aggression on at least a weekly basis.

The Nature of Workplace Bullying

The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:

  • Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or
  • Work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done, or
  • Verbal abuse.”

Workplace bullying is a series of repeated actions, designed to humiliate, undermine, or intimidate the targeted employee.  Examples of bullying behaviors include: giving constant unwarranted criticism, creating social isolation, excessively monitoring, giving unrealistic deadlines, or cursing or verbally humiliating an employee.

Workplace bullying usually involves a misuse or abuse of power, and most bullying is done by supervisors or managers — although work peers may “go along to get along” when a colleague is being singled out for abuse. An estimated 73% of bullies are executives, managers, or supervisors of the bullying victim. The majority are male and typically have Type A personalities, being highly competitive and driven. Workplace bullies crave power and control and become impatient and frustrated easily.

And what about the bullies’ targets? Victims of workplace bullying are often singled out because they are seen as potential threats. Unlike playground victims, the targets of office bullies aren’t the less confident or newer employees. They tend to be competent, experienced, and popular. Ironically, these qualities make them an unintended threat to insecure bosses. Accomplished, veteran employees are not easily controlled and intimidated, so bullies often escalate their negative behaviors to achieve control.

Workplace targets are likely to be non-confrontational by nature and oriented toward a desire to help and nurture others. Unfortunately, these qualities can be misperceived by as weakness or submissiveness by bullies.

The Effects of Bullying

Workplace bullying can have profound effects on the employee in many areas:

  • Physical – The stress of chronic bullying can create significant health problems. One study found that employees who had inconsiderate managers were up to 60% more likely to suffer heart attacks or other cardiac problems.
  •  Emotional – Victims of bullying can develop problems such as chronic anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Several studies have found that bullying can be extremely detrimental to one’s mental health.
  •  Social – Victims are often ostracized at work, experiencing abandonment or rejection by colleagues.  In one study, only 37% of co-workers were identified as providing any type of support to victims.
  •  Economic – Bullying victims often lose their jobs or are forced to resign or transfer. An estimated 40% of victims quit their employment to escape the continued threats to their wellbeing.

Bullying also creates a toxic environment for the entire workplace.  Hidden organizational costs of bullying include increased staff turnover, absenteeism, and workers’ compensation claims; decreased productivity and morale, and associated legal costs.

Dealing with Workplace Bullies

Given the huge impact of bullying on individuals and organizations, it may be surprising to learn that at least 40% of victims never report bullying to their employers. Of those who do, most feel their complaints are ignored. An estimated 81% of employers either do nothing to address bullying or actively resist taking action when requested. Such findings may be less surprising when one remembers that the majority of perpetrators work in positions of organizational authority.

So what is an employee to do when he or she is being bullied at work? Experts haven’t reached a clear consensus on the most effective way to cope with workplace bullying. In reality, most victims either continue to endure the problem or leave the organization, voluntarily or involuntarily.

But being proactive can be potentially beneficial. A few suggestions if you are dealing with workplace bullying:

  • Acknowledge the situation. Recognize when you are being bullied and realize that you aren’t the source of the problem – it’s about control, not performance.
  •  Keep a paper trail. Document the perpetrator’s behavior in detail each time bullying occurs, and keep copies of relevant documents; e.g., threatening memos by a supervisor, time sheets, etc. Such documentation may help support your claims, but it may also help you regain some sense of control in your work environment.
  •  Get the facts. Find out your company’s policy on workplace bullying or its codes of conduct.  Consider checking with your organization’s employee assistance program or even consulting with an attorney to determine your rights. If dealing with your HR department, keep in mind that it is part of management and works on behalf of the organization rather than the individual employee.
  •  Report the problem.  Once you have done your homework, be prepared to report your concerns. If you decide to talk first with the aggressor, try to have a witness with you, or put your concerns in writing. Follow any complaint policies your company provides.
  •  Hedge your bets. If the bullying does not stop or the organization doesn’t respond to your concerns, it may be time to look elsewhere. Don’t quit prematurely, but consider checking other employment options. Establish your own tolerance level, but remember that no job is worth putting your safety or health at risk.

A bit of good news: more and more organizations are recognizing the need to establish zero-tolerance policies on workplace bullying, and at least 20 states are considering legislation that would make workplace bullying illegal, much like such practices as discrimination or sexual harassment. For today’s employees, suffering in silence is no longer the answer.

To most parents, the idea of talking with their teens about suicide provokes a great deal of anxiety.  If you are the parent of a teenager, you may feel awkward about broaching the subject or wonder why you should even bring it up.

The reality is that such a discussion can be literally life-saving.  Suicide among adolescents has tripled over the last 25 years and is currently the third leading cause of death for this age group. And for every completed suicide, there are approximately 60 unsuccessful adolescent suicide attempts.

Whether your teenager shows signs of suicidal risk or not, it’s worthwhile to have a conversation about the issue.  A natural opportunity for such dialogue can occur with the suicide death of an acquaintance or public figure.  You can begin a discussion about how young people particularly find it difficult to make the best decisions when they are under stress, as their sense of perspective is still developing. Tell your teenager that you know that he or she will suffer a difficult loss someday or make what seems to be a horrible mistake. Let your loved one know that, when that day comes, you will be there for them, and that they will get over the pain.  You can even brainstorm about positive alternatives to suicide.

But what if you are worried than your own teen may be considering suicide? First, be aware of the common signs, such as:

  • Recent talk about death, suicide or “going away;”
  • Expressing thoughts of guilt, hopelessness, or extreme sadness;
  • Giving away possessions;
  • Avoiding friends, family, and favorite activities;
  • Having difficulty concentrating or thinking logically;
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits;
  • Being self-destructive; e.g., cutting, abusing alcohol or drugs.

If you are concerned that your teen may be at risk, don’t be afraid to raise the subject immediately.  It’s absolutely untrue that discussing suicide increases one’s risk – keeping silent is the greater danger. Start with a comment or two about your concern, such as: “You have seemed really sad to me lately – can you tell me what’s going on?”

If your teen doesn’t open up, you can probe further and take a more direct approach; e.g., “I’m concerned about how you’re feeling.  Do you ever feel like you just don’t want to go on?” Or: “You seem really depressed.  Are you having any thoughts of hurting yourself?”

Following are a few “DOs” and “DON’Ts” to consider when talking to your teen:


  • Encourage your teen to talk about his or her feelings.
  • Let your teen do most of the talking – be a good listener. Let them vent, cry, or emotionally unload however they need to.  No matter how negative the emotions, communicating them is a positive step.
  • Provide reassurance and hope; e.g., “We’re in this together; I know you can get through this and will help in any way I can.” Remind them of your love and support, and reassure them that help is available and they won’t always have to feel this way.
  • Develop an action plan. Try to get your teen to agree to a constructive course of action, such as seeking professional help, obtaining further information on coping with depression, etc. Ask your teen to try to hold off for just one more day or hour when they feel like they want to give up.
  • Praise your teen for opening up and having the courage to talk about their problems.


  • Make judgments about your teen’s feelings or thoughts; e.g., “What do you have to be sad about? You’ve got it made.”
  • Use unkind words or criticisms; e.g., “I always have to worry about you” or: “Why can’t you get your act together?” Avoid arguments, lectures, or moral judgments.
  • Minimize your teenager’s concerns; e.g., “You’re just overreacting. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
  • Be afraid of silence. Wait calmly and patiently for your teen to reply to your questions.
  • Offer pointless advice.  Your job at this point is not to “fix” your loved one’s problem but to provide support and a listening ear.

If your teen is in an immediate crisis, try to assess the situation. Find out if your teen has an actual suicidal plan or the means of committing suicide. If so, seek immediate help through your local crisis center, mental health center, or emergency room.  Make sure that any dangerous objects such as guns or knives are not in the vicinity, and do not leave your loved one alone under any circumstances until they are in professional hands.

Just as it sometimes takes courage to live when ending one’s life might seem less painful, it is an act of emotional courage for a parent to open up the difficult subject of suicide with their teenager. By starting the discussion, you may provide valuable support and information that will help your teen with future life choices.

Millions of Americans suffer from depression each year.  While medication and psychotherapy can provide great benefit to those suffering from the disorder, researchers have found that less traditional treatment methods are worth another look.  In particular, exercise has been found to boost mood and contribute to overall mind/body wellness.  Whether used as a supplement to traditional methods of treatment for those with clinical depression or as a quick mood booster for a case of the blues, physical activity can pay dividends in anyone’s wellness routine.

The Power of Exercise

The effect of physical activity in easing depression has long been documented, and exercise is a wellness movement cornerstone for patients with mental illness.  Exercise is considered a self-care strategy that is frequently recommended to help patients manage their depression.

There are numerous ways in which regular exercise helps reduce depression, including:

  • Releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters that boost mood;
  • Reducing chemicals in the immune system that tend to worsen depression;
  • Raising body temperature, which can have a calming effect;
  • Decreasing stress and insomnia, both associated with depression;
  • Improving self-confidence as body image improves and exercise goals are met;
  • Providing distraction from negative thoughts;
  • Creating opportunities for social interaction.

Traditional exercise, ranging from brisk walks to team sports activities, can provide psychological benefits to everyone, including those who struggle with depression. As little as twenty minutes of exercise per day can have a meaningful impact on one’s mental health.

Exercise and Mindfulness

Research points to the particular benefits of exercise that combines physical activity with mental focus. “Mindfulness” activities use such techniques as deep breathing or meditation to help clear the mind of distracting or stressful thoughts.

Mindfulness refers to a state of having open and active attention to the present, without judging one’s thoughts and feelings. It means truly living in the moment and being more awake to one’s experiences.

Today, several practices combine tools from exercise, meditation, and mindfulness principles to offer physical fitness routines that are also calming to the mind.  Two popular examples are yoga and tai chi.

Yoga therapy has long been known to provide many health benefits, including pain and stress reduction.  Now researchers and practitioners have found that yoga can help individuals who suffer from depression.  Its calming and gentle nature is appealing to many for whom rigorous physical exercise may seem more challenging.

Yoga practice emphasizes concentration, breathing, and smooth movements that may calm both the mind and body.  Participants are often encouraged to focus on positive images or to block negative thoughts, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.

One way in which yoga appears to impact depression is through the increase of serotonin, an important brain chemical that is often deficient in individuals with depression.  Higher levels of serotonin in the brain can boost mood – a principle utilized by many modern antidepressant medications.

Tai chi is another type of workout that has been found to ease depression.  While this Chinese practice was originally developed centuries ago as a form of self-defense, tai chi is now used as a particularly gentle and graceful form of exercise.  It is often utilized for stress reduction and many health conditions.

Tai chi is designed to promote serenity through its flowing, stretching movements, which are performed in a focused and slow manner.  Deep breathing accompanies the movements. Classic tai chi combines elements of meditation, exercise, and focused breathing, all of which are associated with reductions in depression and anxiety. Numerous research studies support the mood benefits of practicing tai chi.

The practice of tai chi is often promoted among older adults because it is such a gentle, low-impact exercise.  Tai chi has been found effective in reducing depression in older adults with major depression, as well as improving cognition.

Almost any form of exercise can be a valuable part of a wellness routine for those who suffer from depression.  But exercises which also incorporate mindfulness activities may offer superior benefits for both physical and mental health.

Evening to feature a screening of Boys and Men Healing, a Big Voice Pictures Production, and Howard Fradkin, PhD, LICDC-CS, author of Joining Forces:  Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive


Mason, OH – March 21, 2014 – Lindner Center of HOPE at 4075 Old Western Row Road in Mason is hosting Dare to Dream: An Evening of Public Awareness about Male Sexual Victimization on Thursday, April 24, 2014 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in its gymnasium/conference center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The program and parking are free.

One in six men in the United States are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The April 24th event will feature a screening of the transformational documentary Boys and Men Healing, directed by Kathy Barbini, a Big Voice Pictures Production. A community conversation will follow to discuss healing and the resources available for male survivors and their loved ones. The discussion will be led by Howard Fradkin, PhD, LICDC-CS, co-chairperson, MaleSurvivor Weekend of Recovery and author of Joining Forces:  Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive.

This evening is an opportunity for male survivors, their partners and family members, professionals from diverse fields who work with male survivors, and interested community members; to join forces to increase public awareness about male sexual victimization. Again, 1 in 6 men have a history of sexual victimization before the age of 16, and 1 in 8 rape victims are men, but it is still a silent epidemic for many men. The program is intended to break the silence and help audience members understand the complex and often misunderstood dynamics of being a male survivor and some of the unique challenges that can hinder recovery. Most of all, this event is about offering healing, hope and support for survivors and their families. The audience will be introduced to local, statewide and national resources that can empower men to heal with the support they have always deserved. Again, the program includes viewing the film, Boys and Men Healing, directed by Kathy Barbini, a Big Voice Pictures Production, and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Fradkin and three courageous male survivors who will share their experience of recovery and hope. Audience members will have ample time to share their own experience and ask questions which will help them better understand the problems and the solutions.

Two continuing education credits will be available for psychologists, therapists and social workers.

Attendees should register by April 11 by contacting Pricila Gran at [email protected] or 513-536-0318.

Lindner Center of HOPE  provides excellent, patient-centered, scientifically-advanced care for individuals suffering with mental illness. A state-of-the-science, mental health center and charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers, the Center provides psychiatric hospitalization and partial hospitalization for individuals age 12-years-old and older, outpatient services for all ages, diagnostic and short-term residential services for adults, intensive outpatient program for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders for adults and research. The Center is enhanced by its partnership with UC Health as its clinicians are ranked among the best providers locally, nationally and internationally. Together Lindner Center of HOPE and UC Health offer a true system of mental health care in the Greater Cincinnati area and across the country. The Center is also affiliated with the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is one of the most difficult and frustrating mental disorders to understand, experience and treat. Its name comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus, a handsome young man who saw his reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with it.

We all have known individuals who seem to be snobbish, are self-important, or patronizing with others. In its extreme, such behaviors may be symptomatic of a narcissistic personality. This article will help with understanding narcissistic personality disorder.

The Nature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD is a condition characterized by an overwhelming need for attention and admiration, a heightened sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy toward others. For all their boastful and entitled behavior, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have problems with self-esteem.Their self-importance hides a deep, underlying sense of insecurity.

For all their feelings of superiority, individuals with NPD have great difficulty with relationships and managing life’s everyday problems. Friends and loved ones also find it difficult to cope with the selfish and showy behaviors that are part of the disorder.

NPD is classified as a “dramatic” personality disorder, characterized by a distorted sense of self and unstable, intense emotions. Typical symptoms include:

  • Exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Preoccupation with fantasies of power, success, beauty, etc.
  • Belief that one is unique or special;
  • Need for excessive admiration from others
  • Strong sense of entitlement
  • Exploitative behavior, such as taking advantage of others to achieve one’s own goals
  • Lack of empathy or ability to identify with others’ needs or feelings
  • Feelings of envy or belief that others are envious of them
  • Regular displays of haughty or arrogant behavior

An individual must meet at least five of these symptoms to be diagnosed with NPD.

Who Does NPD Affect?

NPD is believed to occur in over 6 percent of the general population. It usually emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in males than females. Its cause is unknown, but most professionals subscribe to a bio-psychosocial view, believing that a combination of biological, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors lead to the disorder. 

Early interactions with family; e.g., lack of affection or over-indulgence, may partially shape narcissistic behaviors. There is also a somewhat increased risk for the disorder in children of those with NPD.

Coping with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD symptoms tend to peak in early adulthood. By middle age, many people experience fewer intense symptoms. But waiting out the progression of the disorder is not an ideal solution for individuals or their families.

Although there is no known cure for NPD, individuals can respond successfully to long-term psychotherapy. The most beneficial therapies for patients include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, to identify negative, unhealthy beliefs and replace them with healthier ones.
  • Family therapy, to explore interpersonal conflicts and communication problems and better manage family relationships.
  • Group therapy, to facilitate communication with patients with similar conditions and promote listening skills and support for others.

In addition to the therapies listed, a doctor may also prescribe medication to help with the symptoms of NPD.

Self Help for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

There are several “self-help” methods that can be used to manage narcissistic personality disorder actions. 

  • Identify the actions you want to change. Naming actions you want to change makes them easier to control.
  • Learn to set goals. Start small at first, setting goals that are easily achievable. For example, say a certain action triggers you to lose your temper. Make a goal to react differently in those specific situations. 
  • Practice. Think about those actions you want to change. Envision it happening again but this time you’re reacting in a way that you can control.
  • Track your success. It can take time to overcome NPD so it’s important to celebrate the positive steps you make on your journey.

Committing to NPD Treatment

Personality traits are difficult to alter, so therapy can take several years. Short-term treatment goals focus on reducing damaging effects of narcissistic personality disorder as substance abuse, depression, and shame. Long-term therapy strives to reshape the individual’s personality and develop a more realistic self-image.

Family Members: A Key NPD Treatment Partner 

Family membersmay also need assistance in coping with the effects of NPD. Suggestions include:

  • Learn about the disorder. Understanding the nature of narcissistic personality disorder can make it less mysterious and frustrating.
  • Adjust your own mind-set. You may need to change your own way of dealing with the person, as it is not likely they will make changes for you.
  • Have realistic expectations. Don’t ask for more than a loved one with NPD can give.
  • Avoid emotional dependence. Don’t try to constantly please a loved one with NPD. Maintain your own self-worth.
  • Set clear boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no, or to cut unproductive conversations short.
  • Practice effective communication. When talking to someone with NPD, suggestions are more effective than requests. Offer praise when warranted. (Remember that people with NPD have poor feelings of self-worth deep inside.)
  • Rely on a support system. Opening up to others will help you be more objective and reduce your emotional reliance on the person with NPD. Formal support can also be obtained through counseling and family support groups.

Lindner is Here to Help

Understanding and dealing with NPD can be frustrating to all parties. But with proper treatment and support, the disorder can be managed as individuals learn to function more effectively and become more emotionally stable.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of NPD, the experienced medical professionals at the Lindner Center of HOPE can help. For more information and resources on understanding narcissistic personality disorder, or for treatment options, contact the Lindner Center of HOPE

Remember, there is hope, and seeking help is the first step toward a brighter future.

If you are the parent of a teenager, dealing with moodiness may seem like a fact of life.  But for many teens, something more serious than moodiness is affecting their behavior. Today, at least one in eight teenagers may experience depression. Severe depression in teens can even lead to suicide, the second leading cause of death among adolescents.

As a parent, you may wonder what you can do to determine if your own teenager has problems with depression.  Learn more about the nature of depression and how to respond if your teen exhibits warning signs, and you may make a difference in the life of someone you love.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression can affect people of any age, and it often first strikes individuals in adolescence.  The disorder crosses all gender, racial, and socioeconomic lines.  Depression in young people is of particular concern because of the increased impulsivity adolescents often display, as well as the lack of a mature, grounded sense of self.

While most people tend to associate depression with sadness and tearfulness, teenagers often exhibit different symptoms than adults or express feelings in different ways. For example, depressed teens often:

  • Demonstrate rebellious behavior, such as skipping school, sexually acting out, or shoplifting. Rather than showing sadness, teens tend to demonstrate anger, frustration, and irritability.
  • Have many somatic or physical complaints, such as frequent stomachaches, headaches, or fatigue. Other physical changes can include sleep problems, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping, as well as changes in eating habits, often associated with sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Engage in underage drinking or abuse drugs. While teens may use alcohol or drugs to dull their negative feelings, their effects often have the opposite effect.
  • Spend increased time alone, behind closed doors. Teens normally enjoy time with peers and busy schedules, so loss of interest in friends and activities should be of concern.

In addition to the above behaviors, watch for any of the following in your teen:

  • Sudden drops in school grades
  • Restlessness or difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and/or excessive guilt
  • Frequent sadness, crying, or anxiety
  • Increased sensitivity to criticism

While any symptoms of depression or other sudden behavior changes should be taken seriously, parents should be particularly alert to warning signs of suicide, such as:

  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Giving away possessions to others
  • Talking as if no one cares about them
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness about the future
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts or threats

How Parents Can Help

The most critical way a parent can help a depressed teen is by recognizing the above symptoms.  By knowing signs and symptoms and by maintaining regular communication with your teen, you can potentially identify depression in its early stages.

If your teenager displays any of the symptoms of depression for an extended period, or if symptoms seem severe, don’t be afraid to intervene.  Begin by talking with your teen. Don’t let depression be the elephant in the room. Explain what you have observed, acknowledge that you are concerned, and explain why.  Make sure you talk in a non-judgmental and caring way.  Encourage your teen to open up to you or another respected adult about his or her feelings.

If your teen is reluctant to talk to you, it may be time to consider professional help. The experience may be less threatening if you begin with a visit to the pediatrician or family physician.  Your doctor can conduct a depression screening, which may include a physical examination and an interview with your teen.  You may then be referred to a mental health professional for follow-up.  Include your teen in the decision-making process so that greater buy-in will be achieved. Treatment may include psychotherapy and/or medication.

While depression can be a confusing and frightening experience for both teens and their parents, prompt treatment is generally successful. A depressed teenager today can go on to live a normal adult life and learn to cope more successfully with both his or her own moods and life’s challenges.

To the general public, psychotherapy is often seen as a mysterious treatment process — a type of therapeutic “mumbo jumbo.” Understanding the true nature and benefits of psychotherapy can help individuals who might benefit most to consider this valuable clinical treatment option.

Millions of Americans of all ages and walks of life have undergone psychotherapy and learned ways to better cope with life’s problems or with mental illness.

The Nature of Psychotherapy

Often referred to as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is a type of treatment that relies on the patient and therapist talking together about the patient’s problems and concerns. During the course of psychotherapy, individuals learn more about their problems, as well as their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Psychotherapy can be used with a wide variety of behavioral health problems, from depression to phobias, addictions, and serious mental illnesses such as bi-polar disorder. Whether issues are acute or chronic, psychotherapy is frequently a primary component of an individual’s treatment program.

A major element of psychotherapy is the therapeutic relationship that develops between the patient and the therapist. Trained, licensed professionals can create a safe and non-judgmental climate for helping individuals confront and deal with their innermost problems.  Trust and respect are critical for effective psychotherapy to take place.

In addition to individual therapy, patients can receive psychotherapy in group or family settings.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

One of the major values of undergoing psychotherapy is the development of increased understanding of one’s problems and improved self-awareness.  Patients may be better able to manage their emotional problems, for example, if depression or anxiety is de-mystified for them.  Understanding the underlying motivations for dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be very beneficial.

However, research indicates that gaining insight alone is not the most effective strategy for improved mental health.  Contemporary forms of psychotherapy also place an emphasis on helping patients learn new skills for coping with problems or managing their mental illness. The primary benefit of psychotherapy may be in showing individuals how they can learn to take control of their own lives.

The methods and focus of psychotherapy may vary depending upon the nature and cause of an individual’s presenting problems. An individual who has developed a mental illness due to a genetic predisposition, for example, might benefit from different strategies than an individual who has recently undergone a traumatic experience.

For individuals seeking assistance, a mental health professional will first perform an evaluation to assess the problem or disorder and determine the best course of action.  A treatment plan will then be developed to establish goals and therapeutic strategies, and the type, frequency, and duration of psychotherapy will be determined. Psychotherapy may also be used in combination with medication or other treatment modalities.

Patients can develop a sense of peace in their lives by reaching the goals set in psychotherapy.  Through better insight, perspective, and coping abilities, individuals can achieve greater hope for the future.

An estimated one third of all children are bullied at some time, and with the advent of online or cyber-bullying, that percentage will only rise. Parents can take action to both help prevent bullying and help children cope with abusive behavior when it does occur.

Follow these ten tips to make a difference in your child’s life:

(1) Take bullying seriously. Bullying is more than harmless teasing.  It is the intentional tormenting of another through verbal, physical, or psychological means. It can have long-reaching effects on a child, including damaged self-esteem and a reduced sense of safety.  Severe cases of bullying have occasionally been associated with suicide, school shootings, and other violent responses.

(2) Know the warning signs. Kids are often reluctant to let their parents know when there are being bullied.  Be a vigilant parent and watch for such signs of trouble as increased anxiety or moodiness, changes in eating or sleeping habits, unexplained loss of possessions or money, avoidance of certain social situations, or poor performance in school.

(3) Create anti-victimization/ anti-bullying habits in your child. To some extent, you may be able to “bully-proof” your child by teaching habits that make someone less likely to be the target of abusive behavior.  Some of these include:

  •  Treat friends and classmates with respect; e.g., take turns in games and engage in fair play.
  • Avoid pushing, hitting, or teasing other children.
  • If someone bullies you, immediately tell him or her to stop, then walk away and tell someone.
  • Avoid known bullies.

(4) Teach your child how to respond to a bullying episode. If your child is being bullied, these pointers may help diffuse the situation:

  • Use a buddy system. Hang out with a friend when you are on the bus, in hallways, or going to your locker – anywhere you might run into the bully.
  • Don’t show negative feelings.  Hold back anger or hurt feelings in front of the bully.  Count to 10 or take deep breaths; learn to show a “poker” face.
  • If confronted, firmly say, “Stop,” then walk away and ignore the bully; e.g., pretend to text someone on your phone.
  • Tell an adult you trust.  Seek out a teacher, principal, or other adult, and let your parents know what is happening.
  • Talk about your feelings.  Confide in someone, such as a friend, counselor, or sibling.  Express your feelings, and listen to any helpful advice.

(5) Create an atmosphere of respect. Children learn how to respect themselves and others first by what happens in their own homes. Make sure you model respectful but assertive behavior with others, whether family members or other people with whom you and your children come in contact; e.g., sales clerks, neighbors or other drivers. Don’t lose your cool when conflicts occur, and don’t quietly accept aggressive behavior from others. At home, teach siblings to play fairly with each other.

(6) Listen to and talk with your child every day. Regular, positive communication creates a home atmosphere that makes children more likely to share when they have a problem.  Find time each day to talk with your children about what is going on in their lives.

(7) Help your child open up.  Children are often hesitant to share that they have been bullied, due to embarrassment or fear of the parent’s reaction. If you suspect your child has been victimized, broach the subject by talking about an experience you or another family member may have had.  Or use movies or TV shows that depict bullying as a way to begin the conversation.  Ask, “Has something like this ever happened to you?” Get problems out in the open so they can be dealt with.

(8) Provide comfort and support. If your child reports a bullying incident, keep calm, listen, and offer support and reassurance.  Understand that your child may feel ashamed or embarrassed that this has happened, concerned that you will be disappointed in them, or afraid that you will over-react. Instead, praise your child for confiding in you. Provide reassurance that you will figure out what to do together.

(9) Enlist other adults. If bullying occurs within the school environment; e.g., in classes, on the school bus, or at a sporting event, let school personnel know what has happened. Someone in authority can monitor the situation and take steps to prevent further incidents. In severe cases, you may need to contact legal authorities.  Many states and communities have anti-bullying laws.  Don’t be afraid to invoke them if bullying is persistent or severe.

10. Consider professional assistance. If your child appears frequently depressed or anxious and faced severe bullying, consider professional help. Children may internalize what has happened to them and believe that it’s their fault or that they are not worthy of positive treatment. While parental support can go a long way, some children may benefit from mental health intervention.

By following these tips, parents can better equip their children to handle bullying more effectively and build positive peer relationships.

By its very nature, adolescence is a time of volatile moods.  Hormonal changes, social pressure, and the move toward greater independence can make navigating the teenage years a minefield for both teens and parents alike.  But how can a parent know when a teen is experiencing more than just routine moodiness?  The alarming suicide rate for adolescents – it is the third leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds — makes it imperative that parents recognize the signs and symptoms of suicidal risk.

Risk Factors

While suicide and suicide attempts often seem unpredictable, there are some known risk factors associated with suicide among young people.  They include the following:

  • History of previous suicide attempt(s);
  • History of suicide by a family member or friend;
  • Family history of depression;
  • Presence of a mental disorder or substance abuse;
  • Presence of a physical illness;
  • Sexual orientation issues in an unsupportive environment;
  • History of abuse, bullying, or other mistreatment;
  • Social isolation or lack of social or parental support;
  • Recent loss; e.g., break-up with boyfriend/girlfriend, death of family member;
  • Access to means or methods of suicide.

Some risk factors are biologically or genetically based; e.g., up to 95% of people who commit suicide have a psychological disorder.  However, environmental risk factors can often be addressed directly.

Warning Signs

Regardless of underlying risk factors, teenagers are considered most at risk for a suicide attempt after a particularly stressful life event, such as a relationship break-up, death of a loved one, parental divorce, or school bullying.

If a teenager displays any of the following, particularly following a major stressor or trauma, it may be an indication of suicidal thoughts:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness;
  • Increased agitation, impulsiveness, aggression, or risk-taking;
  • Poor concentration;
  • Confused thoughts;
  • Frequent talk about death or suicide;
  • Hints about not being around much longer;
  • Giving away treasured possessions;
  • Avoiding family or friends;
  • Losing interest in school, sports, or favorite activities;
  • Significant changes in eating or sleeping habits;

Reducing Suicidal Risk

While all suicides cannot be prevented, parents can take practical steps to help reduce adolescent risk:

Be watchful.  Parents should keep a close eye on a teenager who has recently experienced a loss or major stressor.  They should watch for warning signs of depression, in particular. NOTE: Symptoms of depression in adolescents often include irritability, sleep disturbance, or withdrawal, rather than crying and sadness.

Increase communication.  Even if they don’t show it, adolescents need parents’ concern, love, and support. Parents should encourage teens to confide in them and show that they deserve their trust. Minimizing concerns, making fun, or avoiding serious discussions will only increase a teen’s frustration. If unwilling to talk with a parent, teens should be encouraged to talk with another relative or a trusted adult such as a school counselor, physician, or minister.

Parents should not be afraid to ask if a teen is having suicidal thoughts.  Asking the question will not plant the idea in someone’s head, but may open the door to honest communication. If a teenager directly expresses suicidal intent, the threat should be taken seriously. While only 1 in 25 suicide attempts by teens are successful, those odds are not ones with which any parents should be comfortable.

Seek professional assistance.  If warning signs are present and parental intervention is not sufficient, it’s time to reach out for professional help.  Assistance is available through mental health centers, doctors’ offices, or clinicians such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or counselors.  Emergency assistance is also available by telephone; e.g., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Both professionals and parents can assist teens in learning important life skills such as problem solving.  The more effectively a teenager can navigate through conflicts and social problems, the more resilient he or she will become. School counselors or healthcare professionals can direct parents to relevant training materials.

Restrict access to means and methods.  Suicidal risk increases dramatically with access to reliable means and methods. Almost 60% of suicides in the U.S. are committed with a gun, so any guns in the home should be locked up and out of reach. Prescription and non-prescription medicine overdoses are also common, so parents should monitor all medications in the home.

By being more aware, practicing reasonable precautions and seeking professional help when needed, parents can significantly reduce suicidal risk in their teenagers.  One impulsive act can have fatal consequences, but one act of parental concern can have far ranging and positive effects on a loved one’s future.