Watching your teen son or daughter go through a breakup is a heart-wrenching experience for a parent, as mom-of-two Tammy shares on Cirlce of Moms. Parents can feel powerless to help kids put their emotions into perspective and channel their feelings into positive growth. In these situations, as with most, understanding the science of what is going on in the adolescent body can help guide teens and their parents through a difficult time. Share these notes with your teen and engage in a conversation about how they’re feeling in this moment, and what they need from you.
A Note to Teens on Healthy Relationships and Love
Pheromones will clue you in that this is a person you are attracted to, but it can be hard to tell the difference from being “in lust” versus “in love.” Do you have anything in common? Anything to talk about? Or is it pure animal attraction? When you are in love, you feel at your best with the object of your affection; you feel that you can be yourself (not pretend to be someone you aren’t) and be valued for it. A “soul mate” is someone with whom it’s safe to be vulnerable; you can share your feelings and intimate thoughts without fear of ridicule or betrayal. It is someone you trust, someone who will treat you with respect all the time, not just some of the time. If some of these things are true but not all, you may be in lust, or even in love with the wrong person. Look further for the right person.
Red flags of an abusive relationship include irrational and jealous accusations, stalking behavior, threats of violence—basically, one partner exerting control over another through direct or indirect threats. Healthy relationships are ones of mutual respect. Unfortunately, many young people stay in abusive relationships because they fear being abused, think the partner will change, or even because they think they’ll never find anyone else. We know it can be difficult, but part of growing up is learning how to set boundaries.
A Note to Teens on Depression
What we really want you to be aware of is the difference between normal mood swings and some serious problems like depression. All of our emotions are really the effect of various neurotransmitters that travel in our brains. Feeling happy about winning the Irish step dance competition? It’s chemistry. Feeling sad that your family pet died? It’s chemistry. Feeling like getting cozy with your lab partner? It really is chemistry. Nevertheless, you still have the power to influence these neurotransmitters’ effects on you, through what you eat, the ways you think, and the actions you take. For example, by using cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can train your brain to short circuit the flight-or-fight response when confronted with something that causes you excess anxiety, so that eventually you no longer respond that way. Or you can counteract an onslaught of feel-bad chemicals by doing something that releases an army of feel-good chemicals to overwhelm them, such as exercise. In some cases, no matter how hard you may try to convinceyourself to be happy, your brain may not cooperate—leaving you feeling depressed. In this case, you may need to take medication to correct an imbalance in your brain’s messengers, under a doctor’s supervision.
Biochemical depression is a disease no different than any other; it just happens to affect the brain, so you don’t look sick on the outside. People with severe depression tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of the feel good chemical serotonin, leading many to believe it reflects an abnormality in the functioning of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain.
It’s good to know the signs and symptoms of depression, because if it’s something that you or a friend is struggling with, you or she doesn’t have to be stuck with it. People suffering from a mood disorder, especially depression, need the support of those who care about them, because often they’re too ill to seek professional help on their own.
A New York Times #1 best-selling author and host of The Dr. Oz Show, Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. is also professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University and the director of the Heart Institute. For more from Dr. Oz, check out You: The Owner's Manual for Teens, co-authored with Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.