Your Teen

More Teens Taking Ecstasy

2.15 to read

More than two-thirds of these ER patients were between 18 and 29 years old, but a sizable number, nearly 18 percent, were from 12 to 17, the report said, noting Ecstasy use is increasing among teens. More parents are receiving the phone call they dread the most- “this is (local hospital name here) your child is in our emergency room… please come quickly."

According to a new study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) medical emergencies relating to the illegal drug Ecstasy jumped 75% between 2004 and 2008. More than two-thirds of these ER patients were between 18 and 29 years old, but a sizable number, nearly 18 percent, were from 12 to 17, the report said, noting Ecstasy use is increasing among teens. The study said in 2008, hospital emergency rooms treated 17,865 patients for Ecstasy related medical problems. In 2004, the number was 10,200. The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action, said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in an agency news release. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is often used at parties and gatherings by teens that are unaware of its potential dangers. Its reputation as a "club" or party drug can give teens the false impression that casual use of the drug is harmless. Addiction, blurred vision, high blood pressure, heat stroke, muscle cramping and kidney failure are linked to Ecstasy use, the report said. "Amphetamine use continues to be a significant problem for adolescents and young adults. It is associated with significant morbidity and mortality," said Dr. Lewis Goldfrank, chairman of emergency medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "It remains to be determined how severe the long-term neurotoxic effects may be on the brain," Goldfrank said. "There is no reason for anyone to believe that the use of this drug is safe at some dose -- the risk is consequential at any dose." 31 percent of the ER visits involved Ecstasy use with at least one other drug, while 17.5 percent of patients had combined Ecstasy with four or more other drugs. According to the study, 50 percent of patients 21 or older had used alcohol with Ecstasy compared with 20 percent of those 20 and younger. Cocaine use with Ecstasy was also more likely among people 21 and older (43 percent) compared with those 20 and under (nearly 15 percent), the researchers found. While Ecstasy use alone can present multiple psychiatric and physical problems, the combination of Ecstasy with other drugs can present seriously ill or life-threatening emergencies. Parents are often unaware of Ecstasy use by their child, since teens and young adults tend to use the drug at locations other than at home. There are many website resources dedicated to giving parents, and caregivers, information on the symptoms of Ecstasy use, as well short and long term psychological and physical effects. http://www.educatingvoices.org offers these signs of Ecstasy use and possible long-term medical problems. Signs of Ecstasy Use - Confusion - Panic attacks - Depression - Loss of memory - Headaches - Hallucinations - Sore jaw from involuntary jaw clenching - Grinding teeth - Paranoia - Anxiety - Acne and skin rash - General fatigue Ecstasy Paraphernalia - Pacifiers, Blo-Pop suckers and Popsicle sticks are used to counteract the teeth grinding. - Candy necklaces, Altoids tins, M&M's, Skittles, Tootsie Rolls are used to conceal   Ecstasy tablets. - Glo-Sticks are used for stimulation. - Vick's Vapo Rub is smeared on the inside of a surgical mask and then worn to enhance the dilated bronchi. - Vick's Vapo Inhalers is used to blow into a partners face and eyes to enhance the effects. - Bottles of water are a common sight at parties, used to treat overheating, sweating and dehydration. - Ecstasy is used at all-night dance parties or Rave parties with techno music and laser lights, concerts and in small groups. - Users of Ecstasy have suppressed appetites, thirst and the need to sleep. EEcstasy use can result in effects similar to Alzheimer's. Research suggests Ecstasy use increase the risk of developing Parkinsonism, a disease similar to Parkinson, later in life. In these cases Ecstasy is shown to destroy dopamine neurons, the chemical messenger that is involved in controlling movement, emotional and cognitive responses and the ability to feel pleasure. Ecstasy users risk significant brain damage; damage that is evident through brain scans showing actual holes in the brain. The brain of a young person having used Ecstasy is similar to that of a 60 to 70-year old who has had a number of strokes. If you think your son or daughter is using Ecstasy, or any illegal drug, watch for the warning signs and discuss your concerns with your child. Avoid making direct accusations; instead stay calm and rational during the discussion. Ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening. Remember, the warning signs of drug use could be connected to emotional problems or physical illnesses not related to drug use. You may want to discuss the possibilities with your Pediatrician or family doctor, and consider taking your son or daughter in for a physical exam to see if a medical condition exists.

Your Teen

Sports Drinks May Damage Teeth

Those sports drinks that your young athlete sips on may be eroding their teeth a new study suggests.040509healthlines1 Those sports drinks that your young athlete loves to sip on may provide an energy boost, but they could also be eroding their teeth a new study suggests. Findings by New York University dental researchers show many popular energy drinks contain levels of acid that can cause tooth erosion, hypersensitivity and staining. The beverages can also cause excessive tooth wear and may damage underlying bone-like material, causing teeth to soften and weaken the researchers say. They also say the drinks may possibly trigger conditions leading to severe tooth damage and loss. "This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear," says Mark Wolff, DDS, professor and chairman of the department of cardiology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry. He says people who use sports energy drinks for energy should brush their teeth immediately after drinking the beverages. Softened enamel, he says, is highly susceptible to the abrasive properties of toothpaste. The five sports drinks tested were Vitamin water, Life Water, Gatorade, Powerade and Propel Fit Water. The study involved cows' teeth that were cut in half. Half of the specimens were immersed in a sports drink, the other half in water. Cows' teeth were used because of their close resemblance to human teeth. All the teeth immersed in a sports drink softened, but Gatorade and Powerade caused "significant" staining, according to an abstract of the study. Craig Stevens, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, says such studies are unfair and do not present "an accurate or actual picture of the way sports drinks are consumed." "The testing procedures they used are outside the realm of what happens in real life," he says. "Beverages pass right through the mouth, and these beverages have a purpose, and are proven to enhance physical performance. To use them like this is simply providing unhelpful information to consumers." He adds: "To suggest that sports drinks are a unique cause of dental caries or tooth erosion is overly simplistic. Oral health is determined by a variety of factors, including types of food consumed and the length of time foods are kept in the mouth."

Your Teen

More Teens Fall Victim to Dating Violence

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The teenage years are supposed to be filled with laughter, fun and testing the boundaries of parental control. It’s also a time when many boys and girls will start dating. For some teens, the beginning of couple relationships is about as far away from fun as it could possibly be.

Some teenagers may think that teasing and name-calling are somehow linked with a fondness for someone, and that might have been true when they were six or seven years old. However, by the time a young girl or boy reaches their teenage years, that kind of behavior can take on a much different tone. What was once an awkward attempt at gaining someone’s attention can turn into physical and sexual abuse.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is happening more than you might think.

Twenty-one percent of high school girls have been physically or sexually assaulted by someone they dated -- a figure twice as high as previously estimated.

Ten percent of high school boys also reported being physically or sexually assaulted by someone they had dated.

The authors of the new report noted that the CDC has changed the way it phrases its questions about teen dating violence, leading more students to report assaults.

Sadly, teens that have experienced dating violence are at risk for other serious problems as well. Research has shown that they are more than twice as likely to consider suicide. They are also more likely to get into fights, carry a weapon, use alcohol, marijuana or cocaine and to have sex with multiple partners. Not the kind of life any parent would want for their teenager or the one that they would truly want for themselves.  

Researchers don't know if any of these events causes the others. While it's possible that dating violence could cause thoughts of suicide, it's also possible that children who are depressed are more likely than others to fall into abusive relationships, says Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston who was not involved in the study.

Assaults by romantic partners often aren't isolated events. Many teens reported being assaulted multiple times, according to the study, based on the CDC's Youth Behavior Risk Surveillance System using questionnaires answered by more than 13,000 high school students.

"If there is violence once, there is likely to be violence again," Spinks-Franklin says. "It has to be taken very seriously."

Spinks-Franklin says she has seen violence even among relationships between 10- and 11-year-olds.

"If a parent is concerned that a child is in an unhealthy relationship, they need to address it, but do it in a way that doesn't make the child shut down," she says. "They need to feel safe telling a parent."

Teens often hide the abuse from their parents, Spinks-Franklin says. Teens may not be able to confide in friends, either, because abusers sometimes isolate their victims from loved ones. Teens are sometimes more willing to talk to doctors, especially if their parents are not in the room.

Some schools have taken the lead in promoting awareness of and education on teen dating violence. Pediatricians can also discuss this important topic with their patients and parents. If time is limited, brochures in the waiting room can offer information and open the door for questions.

"This study makes it even more important for parents to ask lots of questions and get to know their teen's friends and significant others, and not ignore anything that makes them uncomfortable," says McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital. "They also shouldn't ignore any changes in their teen's behavior."

Dating violence may never be eliminated one hundred percent, but can be considerably lessoned when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.

One of the best strategies for prevention is for parents and teens to be able to communicate about serious topics without judgmental attitudes or closed-minded opinions. Your teen wants your help even if he or she doesn’t know how to ask. They'll appreciate you being there before and when they need you.

The new study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Sources: Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/03/02/teen-dating-violence-study/24127121/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html

Your Teen

Stop Yelling at Your Teenager!

2.30 to read

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who has a child has yelled at him or her at one time or another. As parents, we’ve all lost our patience when we believe our child is misbehaving. If ever there is a time when parents and kids are standing at the crossroad of “Listen to me” and “I don’t need to”, it’s during the teenage years.

Tempers often ignite with harsh words being said.  

While you may be trying to make an important point, aggressive yelling and screaming only pushes your child away and may be doing much more harm than good according to a new study.

An analysis involving nearly 1,000 two-parent families and their adolescent children suggests that such harsh verbal lashings not only don't cut back on misbehavior, they actually promote it.

The end result: an uptick in the kind of adolescent rage, stubbornness and irritation that escalates rather than stops or prevents disobedience and conflict.

"Most parents who yell at their adolescent children wouldn't dream of physically punishing their teens," noted study author Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. "Yet, their use of harsh verbal discipline -- defined as shouting, cursing or using insults -- is just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents," he said.

"Our findings offer insight into why some parents feel that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers do not listen," Wang added. "Indeed, not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavior problems in youth, it actually appears to increase such behaviors."

Wang and his co-author, Sarah Kenny of the University of Michigan, report their findings in the current issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers were particularly interested in kids between 13 and 14 years old so they focused on 976 primarily middle-class families in Pennsylvania with young adolescent offspring, all of whom were already participating in a long-term study exploring family interaction and adolescent development. A little more than half the families were white, while 40 percent were black.

The teen participants were asked to disclose recent behavioral issues such as in-school disturbances, stealing, fighting, damaging property or lying to their parents.

Their parents were asked how often they used harsh verbal discipline such as yelling, screaming, swearing or cursing at their child. Most importantly, if they called their child names like “dumb” or “lazy.”

The teens were also asked to what degree they felt “warmth” in their relationship with their parents. Researchers inquired about the amount of parental love, emotional support, affection and care the kids felt like they received from their parents. Both teens and parental depression were tracked.

The study points out that the children who were on the receiving end of the harsh verbal attacks experienced an increase in anger and a drop in inhibitions. Those two reactions prompted an intensification of the very things that parents were hoping to stop – such as lying, cheating, stealing or fighting.

"Parents who wish to modify their teenage children's behavior would do better by communicating with them on an equal level," Wang said, "and explaining their rationale and worries to them. Parenting programs are in a good position to offer parents insight into how behaviors they may feel the need to resort to, such as shouting or yelling, are ineffective and or harmful, and to offer alternatives to such behaviors."

Parents get frustrated with their children and vice versa. None of us behave perfectly all the time. Raising your voice because you are frustrated is one thing, name calling and screaming is quite another.

Imagine if you were at work and your boss screamed at you, called you names and cursed at you because he or she didn’t like how you did something. That may have actually happened to you – remember how you felt, or think about how you would feel. Humiliated, angry and sad are the most common reactions people have.  

Children are trying to find their way in life; parents are their guides. The next time you feel you’re on the verge of screaming or saying hurtful things to your child - walk away. Give yourself time to cool down and find a better way to communicate.

People say kids are resilient and get over things quickly. Many are able to bounce back when bad things happen, but that saying is too often used to excuse bad behavior on a parent’s part. If you’ve crossed the line with your child, say you’re sorry and come up with better ways to handle your frustration and anger.

Words and tone matter and the best teaching method is by example. You can help your child learn what love, patience, tolerance, compassion and respect are by being an example of those very qualities.

Source: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/yelling-at-insulting-teens-can-backfire-on-parents-study-679863.html

Your Teen

Studies: Smoking and Students

1.45 to read

Everyone knows that smoking is really bad for you. But, how do you help kids keep from starting the expensive and nasty habit in the first place? Peer pressure seems to help. And for young adults who are already smokers, what will it take to break the habit? Perhaps being able to breathe better is a key motivator.

Kids as young as 10 admit to sneaking a smoke every once in a while, while 17 percent of high-school students and 5.2 percent of middle-school students admit to being daily cigarette smokers. Many college students bring their habit with them when they enroll.

What helps kids keep from starting to smoke? A new study suggests that kids who are involved in team sports with teammates, who do not smoke, are less likely to start. 

Interestingly, the study showed that girls involved in sports with teammates who do smoke, are more likely to give it a try. Peer pressure seems to have more of an impact among girls.

"This result suggests that peers on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," study leader Kayo Fujimoto, who conducted the research while at the University of Southern California, said in a journal news release.

Researchers questioned 1,260 sixth through eighth graders about their smoking behavior. The children were middle class, lived in urban areas and ethnically diverse. The study, appearing Feb. 8 in Child Development, found that the more sports the kids played, the less likely they were to smoke.

The authors of the study believe that these findings may be helpful in improving anti-smoking campaigns aimed at children.

"Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," said Fujimoto. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."

Another recent study focused on college students who smoke.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 327 college students- ages 18 to 24 years old- who participated in a program to help motivate them to quit smoking. More than half the students smoked five to 10 cigarettes a day and had smoked for one to five years.

Participants who quit smoking for two weeks or more reported substantially fewer respiratory symptoms, especially coughing, than those who failed to kick the habit.

"That the benefit of stopping smoking starts in days to weeks -- not years or decades -- is important. Now health care providers can counsel young smokers that their breathing can feel better soon after they stop. This can help to motivate young adults to stop smoking before the severe damage is done," journal editor Dr. Harold Farber, an associate professor of pediatrics in the pulmonology section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a journal news release.

Smoking has continued to decrease on college campuses, perhaps due to stricter smoking policies. Many colleges prohibit smoking anywhere on campus, and others do not allow smoking within a certain amount of feet from doorways. Cigarettes are expensive as well. Many college students are barely getting by with the increase costs in tuition. Something has to give, and cutting out cigarettes can save a pretty tidy sum. Also, smoking has lost a lot of its “cool” factor. Many students just find it annoying. 

Health professionals are always looking for ways to impress upon young people that smoking isn’t only a social nuisance, it can also become a serious long-term health problem.

Perhaps these studies can offer counselors, parents and friends, new discussion points in the battle to help kids avoid smoking or to help them quit. 

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=66152 /  http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/26596

Your Teen

Teen Marijuana Use Could Have Lasting Effects on Mood, Anxiety

Marijuana use among teens could trigger neurological changes in the developing brain that lead to increased anxiety and stress levels that could persist into adulthood, new animal research suggests.  

Although the finding stems solely from work conducted with adolescent and adult lab rats, the work suggests that certain troublesome changes in levels of the key brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine may linger long after marijuana use ceases. "Here, the goal was simply to understand the neurological mechanism that could be underlying the specific phenomenon of depression and anxiety observed in previous studies among adolescents chronically exposed to cannabis," explained study author Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a psychiatric researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. "And what we found with the animals we worked with is that when those that were exposed to cannabis as adolescents became adults they had low serotonin activity, which is related to depressive behavior, and high norepinephrine levels, which is related to an increase in anxiety and stress," Gobbi continued. "This means," she cautioned, "that cannabis exposure when young seems to cause changes in the adult brain. And these changes could perhaps be irreversible, even if you stop consuming cannabis." The study appears in Neurobiology of Disease. The authors say that the main ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has previously been identified as having an impact on receptors in the brain that regulate cognition and emotion. In addition, they point out that the adolescent brain is perhaps particularly sensitive to both drug use and related stress, given that this is the pre-adult period during which the brain and its neurochemical composition undergoes extensive reshaping and reorganizing. "We were a little bit surprised by our findings because we didn't expect to see such a strong effect on the adult brain from adolescent usage. It was a very significant effect," said Gobbi. "So, in general, I think that what people should take away from this work," she advised, "is that just because it's a plant it doesn't mean that marijuana is harmless. It's a pharmacologically active drug, and it must be used with awareness."

Your Teen

Study: No Health Risks for Kids From Mobile Phones

A new study conducted by the German government shows that radiation from mobile phones has no short-term health impact on children and teenagers. The study, which measured radiation levels in over 3,000 children aged eight to 17 over a 24-hour period, showed there was no direct link between exposure to radiation and health complaints such as headaches and dizziness.

However, the study did say that radiation may still result in longer-term health risks for children as their nervous and immune systems are not fully developed. As a precautionary measure, researchers urged caution in the use of wireless technology, especially for children.

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Your Teen

Parents Bullying Their Child to Lose Weight

2.30 to read

We’ve all read about, maybe even experienced it ourselves, children being teased, harassed and bullied if they are overweight. The heavier the child, the more intense the negative trifecta becomes. This topic often comes up when discussing classmate and peer bullying, but a new study also looks at obese or overweight children who feel bullied by adults in authority (coaches, gym instructors, teachers,) and their own parents.

Researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, gave 350 teens that had enrolled in two national weight loss camps, questionnaires to fill out. The teens were questioned about weight-based victimization including duration, location where the abuse occurred, who the perpetrators were and what kind of abuse they suffered.

Not surprisingly, results showed that a high percentage of bullying and teasing occurred at school (64%.) Most participants reported weight-based victimization for at least one year (78%) and 36% were teased and or bullied for 5 years.

The teens also noted who was responsible for the bullying. 92% said peers (classmates) and friends (70%.) Then the groups switched to the adults in their lives. PE teachers / sport coaches came in at 42%, followed by parents at 37% and teachers at 27%.

The types of teasing and or bullying were verbal teasing (75-88%), relational victimization (74-82%), cyber-bullying (59-61%) and physical aggression (33%-61%.)

Looking at these statistics, the saddest one of all is parents at 37 percent.

“What we see most often from parents is teasing in the form of verbal comments,” says Rebecca M. Puhl PhD, the study’s lead author.

Some of the remarks made to teens about their weight come from well-meaning parents who are actually trying to encourage their child to lose the extra pounds. But other studies have shown – and former teens who are now adults can verify – that teasing, harassing and bullying by parents and relatives can lead to eating disorders and psychological problems such as disordered eating (bulimia, anorexia), use of laxatives and other dangerous weight-control practices (extreme exercising), as well as depression.

Puhl advises adults to lend a supportive hand to overweight children, especially those who are already suffering from bullying at school and by friends. 

She and other experts agree that overweight children need supportive, not punitive, guidance. “Don’t blame your child for his weight. Dinner-table comments like, “Do you really need another piece of bread?” will make your child feel badly about himself, which will undermine his efforts toward health.

“Powerful biological forces maintain weight differentially in people,” explains Dan Kirschenbaum, president of Wellspring, an organization that runs weight-loss camps and boarding schools. Some people find it more difficult to lose weight because of their genetics. This applies not only to adults, but children too. It is going to require more effort and a change in how weight loss is perceived. Losing weight to fit in or to try and copy an unrealistic body type is eventually doomed to fail. Losing weight to be healthier has a much better chance of succeeding.

Tying nutrition and health to weight is a more realistic approach. You may not achieve the current “ideal”, but you will feel better and be able to be more active.

Puhl and several other experts offer parents an outline of dos and don’ts for helping their overweight or obese children in losing weight.

-        Don’t engage in “fat talk,” complaining about weight and appearance, whether it’s your own, your child’s or a celebrity’s. Saying “My thighs are so huge!” teaches your child it’s acceptable to disparage herself or himself and puts way too much emphasis on appearance, says Puhl.

-       Don’t promise your child that if only he or she loses weight, the bullying or teasing will stop. Another published study showed that the stigma around obesity often persists even after someone loses weight.

-       Don’t treat your child as if he or she has — or is — a problem that needs remedying. “This will make him feel flawed and inferior,” says Ellyn Satter, a dietitian and therapist in Madison, Wis., and author of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” Do focus on a child’s other good qualities, and encourage traits like common sense, character and problem-solving skills.

-       Don’t ignore or dismiss bullying. If you suspect or know your teen is being stigmatized, talk to her or him about it. “Questions as simple as ‘Who did you sit with at lunch?’ can open a dialogue and help determine if she has allies or support at school,” says Puhl.

-        Do explore your own biases around weight. “If parents can get past their own inner bigot and be accepting and supportive, they can be of great help to children,” says Ms. Satter. “I’ve seen kids with that secure foundation come up with their own effective solutions to the teasing.”

-        Do focus on health, not weight. “Promote a healthy environment for everyone in the home,” says Puhl, not just the child who is overweight. Serve delicious, well-balanced meals, and encourage everyone in the family to be active in ways they enjoy. Emphasize the value of healthy behaviors rather than looks.

-        Do speak directly and matter-of-factly about your child’s weight if he or she asks. Don’t try to avoid the issue with euphemisms like stocky or solid, says Ms. Satter. Instead, she advises, tell the truth but re-frame the issue, saying something like “Yes, you do have fat on your body. Why, do people tease you about it?” Children are looking for information and guidance. “You can neutralize a message that’s often meant in a derogatory way,” she says.

Some parents may believe that “tough love” is the answer. They may have been overweight when they were young, or are overweight now, and do not want their child to experience what they’ve been through. So they “remind” their child constantly about their weight. Tough love is very subjective. What I may think is tough love, may be perceived as abuse by the person I practice it on. Adults are one thing, but children may simply not have the life experience to put it in perspective. Even teens – who often think they already know everything - are dependent on adults to guide them in the right direction.

Childhood obesity is a health problem that can be reduced through family understanding, healthy and nutritious meals and shared activities. Nagging, trickery and bullying doesn’t accomplish anything positive.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Harriet Brown – New York Times

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/feeling-bullied-by-parents-about weight/?ref=health

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/19/peds.2012-1106.abstract         

 

 

Your Teen

4 in 10 College Students Depressed

A new poll shows that pressure about grades, student loans, relationships and school work is taking a toll on American college students. The Associated Press-mtvU poll shows more than 42 percent of those surveyed at 40 colleges said they had felt down, depressed or hopeless several days during the past two weeks, and 13 percent showed signs of being at risk for at least mild depression, based on the students' answers to a series of questions that medical practitioners use to diagnose depressive illness.

Eighty five percent of those surveyed reported feeling stressed in their daily lives in recent months. The poll looked at over 2,000 undergraduate students ages 18-24 at four-year colleges. It was conducted April 22 to May 4 by Edison Media Research. To protect privacy, the schools where the poll was conducted are not being identified, the students who responded were not asked for their names. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The TV network mtvU is operated by the MTV Networks division of Viacom and available at many colleges. MtvU's sponsorship of the poll is related to its mental-health campaign "Half of Us," which it runs with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit group that works to reduce suicide among young people. Many of those coping with feeling depressed complained of trouble sleeping, having little energy or feeling down or hopeless - and most hadn't gotten professional help. Eleven percent had had thoughts that they'd be better off dead or about hurting themselves. Mental health disorders like depression typically begin relatively early in life, doctors say, and college is a natural time for symptoms to emerge. The AP-mtvU poll explored the students' state of mind and the pressures they face, including strains from the tough economy. Among the poll results:

  • Nine percent of students were at risk of moderate to severe depression. That's in line with a recent medical study that found 7 percent of young people had depression.
  • Almost a quarter of those with a parent who had lost a job during the school year showed signs of at least mild depression, more than twice the percentage of those who hadn't had a parent lose a job. More than twice as many students whose parents had lost a job said they had seriously considered ending their own life, 13 percent to 5 percent.
  • Among those who reported serious symptoms of moderate depression or worse, just over a quarter had ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
  • More than half of those who reported having seriously considered suicide at some point in the previous year had not received any treatment or counseling.
  • Just a third of those with moderate symptoms of depression or worse had received any support or treatment from a counselor or mental health professional since starting college.
  • Nearly half of those diagnosed with at least moderate symptoms weren't familiar with counseling resources on campus.

Anne Marie Albano, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, said college is a "tender age" developmentally, a period when young adults start taking responsibility for their lives. They're selecting careers, moving toward financial independence, establishing long-term relationships, perhaps marrying, and having children. The most troubling thing coming out of the AP-mtvU poll and other studies of young adults dealing with depression, she said, is that "they don't get help" at a time when they're just venturing off on their own. "They have to learn to become their own monitors about their mental health and yet they have no training to do that," she said. The poll also found that 84 percent of students said they'd know where to turn for help if they were in serious emotional distress or thinking about hurting themselves. Most said they'd go first to friends or family. Twenty percent said they'd try school counseling. Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute for Mental Health, said students need to understand that depression is "a very treatable illness." Campus counseling centers are a good resource, he said, although they're not all set up take care of serious mental illnesses. "There should be somebody there who could at least assess this, and in some cases offer reassurance that 'I'm sure you'll feel better after exams are over,'" he said. Serious cases can be referred for treatment, he said - "and treatment works."

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