Ending the Stigma of Depression: How Celebrities and Social Media Are Helping Young Adults and Teens

Social media is a forum for many things in the lives of young adults and teens. While most of it’s geared toward entertainment it can also be used to bring awareness to important issues that might otherwise stay in the shadows. There is a recent trend in social media that is catching on, which may help change the conversation about depression that teens and young adults might otherwise avoid having. Celebrities like Sarah Silverman, Jared Padalecki, and Cara Delevingne are sharing their personal experience struggling with depression. By being open with their experience they are starting a conversation among their fans about what depression looks like, and more importantly that there is nothing to be ashamed of for having it.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness such as depression. The stigma that’s attached to depression is in part due to the negative thinking that goes with it leaving people feeling ashamed, which often results in it becoming a secret that goes untreated. It is estimated that 50 percent of young adults who dropped out of college due to mental health issues didn’t seek out mental health services of counseling services on campus or outside therapy. Stigmas about depression often come from not understanding how common it is and how it affects everyday people. Common stigmas about depression give rise to inaccurate stereotypes, such as the following:

“Depressed people can’t control their emotions”.
“People with depression are probably damaged”.
“Depressed people are just whiners who feel sorry for themselves and make excuses.”
“People with depression are just weak and lack any willpower to get over it.”
“People with depression are antisocial.”

While stigmas such as this may have kept depression a secret for many young people, a new awareness is being brought from celebrities who have experienced it firsthand. Television star of the show Supernatural, Jared Padalecki is leading a charitable effort to raise awareness for mental health issues, and opened up in an interview about his struggle with depression. The actor shared, “I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.” The CW actor went on to share these encouraging words, “I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here.”

The actor’s effort in raising awareness for mental health issues is fundraising a baseball T-shirt, which has the message, “Always keep fighting.” So far over 27,500 shirts have been sold and the proceeds are going to the group To Write Love On Her Arms, whose focus is helping people struggling with depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman is best known for her comedy, but her humor sprang from the battle to overcome depression on a daily basis. Silverman took a break from comedy in the recent dramatic film I Smile Back, as a woman struggling with depression and addiction. She revealed in a magazine interview that she was only 13 years old when she first became depressed and described it as “something shifted inside me. It happened as fast as the sun going behind a cloud. You know how you can be fine one moment, and the next it’s, ‘Oh my God, I f—ing have the flu!?’ It was like that. Only this flu lasted for three years.” Silverman was open by saying she also suffered from severe panic attacks and often avoided spending time with her friends, and instead staying home from school.

Silverman disclosed that she learned to take her depression one day at a time, and that rather than trying to mask her pain with heavy medications such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, she would allow herself to experience her natural emotions. “I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it, or at least to ride the waves as best I can. I’m on a small dose of Zoloft, which, combined with therapy, keeps me healthy but still lets me feel highs and lows.”

Supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne opened up about her past struggles with depression Women in The World conference in London, and disclosed that she was suicidal as a teen. “I was completely suicidal, and didn’t want to live anymore. I thought that I was completely alone,” she explained. Even having the support of her family couldn’t stop her from having depressive thoughts. Delevingne eventually sought out help in therapy, and combined with anti-depressants, has helped herself overcome her severe depression. Delevingne now hopes to use her celeb status to help young girls recognize that “depression is not something to be ashamed of. My message has always been to accept yourself no matter what, to love yourself, to embrace your flaws,”I think flaws are the things that make us special.”

Sharing personal experiences in social media can help end stigmas about depression that keep many young people suffering in silence. It is truly a sign of inner strength to speak honestly about how depression affects the way people think and feel about themselves. When celebrities share something deeply personal that connects with their fans they are also giving a voice and starting a conversation that could help young people get help. Hope is a light that shines brightest when we feel understood and supported. Hopefully this is a trend on social media that will continue.

Emotional Preparedness: What Young Adults Need to Know As They Embark on Their College Journey

Leaving home and going to college can be an exciting time that is full of possibilities, but for many it can be a rude awakening when the realty of being away from their home, family, and friends begins to set in. A recent survey for First Year College Experience found that many young adults are not emotionally prepared for college.

The high school experience is often looked at by many as time spent preparing students for college courses. While there is an intense amount of energy devoted to prepping for college by taking AP classes, studying for the SATs, and visiting college campuses, there is a big part missing, which is what type of adjustments in life there will be when being away at college. A recent survey from the Jordan Porco Foundation has discovered that 60 percent of young adults wished they had more help in being emotionally prepared for college and described their first year experience as being terrible/poor. Students who participated in the survey reported that they felt stressed most or all of the time, and also felt anxious and not being able to handle the stress of everyday college life.

The college experience can be misrepresented in the media with comedies such as Animal House, Van Wilder, Old School, and Neighbors, as a period with little responsibility. Many of the freshmen surveyed shared that they felt that social media, television, and movies had led them to think that college would be more fun than they actually experienced. Parents often tell their kids in their senior year of high school that college will be the best years of their lives, and can unknowingly idealize college, leaving their teens with high and possibly unrealistic expectations for succeeding as they leave home. To make a long story short, they had a big reality check.

So what is college actually like?

While the media portrays college as being a carefree fun learning experience with parties and friends, over half of the freshman college student’s survey reported what sounds like high school all over again, which is having a hard time making new friends and feeling a struggle to fit in and feel that they belong. It can be difficult for people to connect while at college if they came to college from out of state, or from a smaller community where they knew most of the people they went to school with from an early age. It sounds very similar to the metaphor of a little fish being dumped from their fishbowl into the sea, which can feel overwhelming. It’s human nature to like and be drawn to things that feel familiar and similar to what you had back home, and anything different can sometimes be exciting, but also scary at the same time.

How can young adults become emotionally prepared?

Being emotionally prepared for leaving home and going to college is something parents need to discuss with their kids. A part of developing emotional intelligence as a young adult requires learning and applying skills to manage and cope with stress. As teens enter their late teens in their junior and senior year of high school, they need a greater level of independence and responsibility in managing their school schedule, part-time job, and going out with friends. Parents can use their teen’s junior and senior year of high school to teach them important life skills such as how to manage their bank accounts, the connection between sleep and learning, and going to college with people from diverse backgrounds. This can be tricky for some parents not to minimize or dismiss their teen’s experience, who may not realize the importance of being emotionally prepared. Adolescence is the development stage of identity vs role confusion, which is the point in their life that they are developing a sense of who they are, which can often continue into college. Parents can communicate with their kid that they are there to support them and discuss possible stressors that may come up at college, which can help them feel more confident and emotionally prepared.

Adjusting to college and being emotionally prepared requires that young adults step out of their comfort zone and make new connections. As easy as it might be to hang out in their dorm room, spending time in student centers and commons can increase the chances of spontaneous interactions with people who understand what you’re going through. Research on developing healthy relationships and friendships found that spontaneous and repeated interactions help cultivate relationships that can help young adults manage their anxiety and stress by confiding in each other and sharing their experience.

Preparing for life after high school can be exciting and filled with optimism for anything that may be possible when young adults step into a larger world. Preparing for the next step in this journey can help them think about how they can handle stress, anxiety, and be emotionally prepared for the differences they find in their new home. Seeking support from people around them and getting assistance from a mental health professional such as a therapist can help many young adults learn how to deal with the multitude of issues that can come up. If you are planning to go to college or know of someone who is going to college in the near future, then take the time to talk about what it means to them personally to be emotionally prepared.

Recovering From Past Trauma: 8 Things Parents of Young Adults Can Do to Be Supportive

People who have experienced a traumatic event in their childhood such as a natural disaster, assault, or childhood abuse are survivors who often struggle in recovering during their adolescence and young adulthood. Surviving trauma is not the same as recovering, and if you talk to trauma survivors, then you may find that there is an underlined desire for healing. Healing from a traumatic event is an individual process that is different for everyone. Recovering from a childhood trauma is being able to live in the present without being overwhelmed and distressed by thoughts and feelings of the past. It’s normal for parents of young adults and teens hold onto the hope that their child will be okay and able to move forward in a loving and respectful relationship, a stable career, and on the path of starting a family. It’s possible for young people to heal from past trauma if they are ready to begin their healing process, and there are important things for parents to know.

How Trauma Affects Young Adults

What’s often misunderstood about trauma is that everyone who experiences a traumatic event will have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Truth be told, while many young people will experience stress following the aftermath of trauma, few develop the full range of symptoms that include hypervigilance, and a significant decline in functioning in everyday life. While there is truth to the old saying that “time heals all wounds”, healing from painful emotions of the traumatic event often requires working actively to address what happened in therapy and process it emotionally.

Young adult and adolescent survivors of trauma are often deeply affected long after the traumatic event, and distressing feelings and memories of the event can be replayed over in their minds. Issues that arise from unresolved trauma can be having difficulty with setting boundaries with others, which can either prevent them from developing close relationships out of fear of being hurt, or beginning a relationship with anyone who shows them interest. Survivors of early childhood trauma can often experience episodes of depression that are marked with difficulty in sleeping, and possibly blaming themselves for what happened to them.

Their Reaction is Normal

Young adults can sometimes feel as though their lives are out of control, and they can feel ashamed that they are struggling for months, or even years after a traumatic event because they may feel as though they should get over it. Messages from people around us (often well-intentioned) support that belief and feeling of shame. Some may even desire to put it behind them and get back to how things were in life before their trauma. Acknowledging what happened is something that can give young people a sense of relief that they are not crazy, but rather experiencing something real.

There are 8 things that parents of teens and young adults need to know in being supportive in the healing process of past trauma.

1. Get Informed

Becoming informed about how trauma affects people will not only give you a better understanding of what symptoms of PTSD look like, but also a greater amount of compassion and connection. Having information about what types of treatment are available can also strengthen your role as their support system.

2. Acknowledge What They Share

When the time comes for your loved one to share their story with you about what happened, the most important thing you can do is to acknowledge and validate how they feel about the experience. What this means is to listen attentively without judging how they feel about it, or giving advice with how they should feel. Sometimes you don’t need to say much of anything, but rather assure them that it’s okay to feel however they are feeling in that moment.

3. Learn the Virtue of Patience

Patience for a loved one comes from understanding and compassion. People with traumatic experiences can often have other issues they struggle with such as substance abuse and problems having stable relationships. So many parents become burned out by how their teen or adult children act out. Self-destructive behavior can result in parents unintentionally becoming enablers or shutting out their loved ones out of their lives. Being patient and firm with boundaries is something that can help someone with trauma and other co-occurring issues to seek professional help.

4. Prepare for Crisis

People who struggle with past trauma will most often also struggle with depression. If your teen or adult child talks about having thoughts about killing themselves, then be ready to take immediate action to get them help. Getting connected with a mental health professional early can help to reduce the chances of suicidal ideation.

5. Expect and Accept Change

Accepting that with working through trauma issues, there are likely to be changes in the relationship that you have with your loved one. Establishing boundaries in family relationships and talking about how they feel and think about their lives can change how they see themselves, others, and the choices they make.

6. Allow Your Loved One to Work through the Process

It can be very frustrating for a parent wishing for their loved one to be okay and free from the distress of painful memories and emotions. If your teen or adult child is actively involved in treatment for their trauma, then trust in them being a survivor who is taking control of their lives and their ability to heal, and respect that it will take time to heal. There is no time-table for how long it can take for someone to work through past trauma, and they will get there when they are ready.

7. Don’t Push Your Loved One Before They Are Ready

Pushing your loved one to do something or feel something before they are ready can backfire and create distance. Parents of teens and young adults can sometimes project their own feelings onto their loved one. Make sure that while you are being supportive of their healing process, that you are tending to your own emotions and taking ownership of it. If your loved one was physically or sexually abused, it’s normal to feel anger, but keep that away from them having to deal with it.

8. Encourage Your Loved One to Work with a Therapist

Finding a mental health professional that specializes in trauma, and who your loved one feels comfortable working with can be a big step in addressing past trauma. There are many evidenced based approaches that therapists use in assisting clients in working through trauma. One approach is Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), that focuses on the wide range of emotional and behavioral problems associated with single, multiple and complex trauma experiences. Another effective approach in particular is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which uses a person’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements to reduce the intensity of emotionally charged memories of the traumatic experience.

Parents of teens and young adults can feel helpless in not knowing how to help their loved ones. Becoming informed about how trauma affects people and what they can do to be supportive in their healing process, can make a big difference. If you know someone who is living with a past or recent trauma, then reach out and talk with them about it and encourage them to seek professional help.

Dental Health Is a Direct Connection to General Health

Not that long ago oral hygiene was not considered anything important to one’s overall general health. Dental health and oral hygiene is as important as other things in our body. Their proper functioning can avoid lots of complications and if a problem occurs, then many of the tasks be stopped.

Apart from adding up to your beauty and smile by maintaining your teeth, it is also important for your health as dirty and pale teeth can result in many complications like intestinal problems, stomach problems and more.

They can also look good and smell good, likewise if you have maintained them well. In order to look after your teeth well, your teeth be clean of germs and debris that can make them look faded and yellow. Your gums along with your teeth if perfectly healthy they should not bleed while brushing as unhealthy gums bleed as well as hurt. So, if your gums and teeth are in perfect health they won’t bleed, hurt or have any bad breath.

Brushing and Cleaning

Proper brushing is the fundamental step to take to have clean and healthy teeth. There are many people who are not aware of the basic steps in cleaning and brushing teeth. Brushing requires 2 minutes time and it is important that at least this amount of time is given. You should reach with the toothbrush all areas of your mouth and brush all the teeth, paying special focus on back teeth, corner teeth, around the gum-line teeth etc.

Teeth cleaning and brushing helps you to clean your teeth off debris, plaque and bacteria and to make them look shiny, sparkling and white. Brushing the teeth right means brushing up and down and not long site of teeth and gums. The up and down movement with the brush will allow the bristles of the brush in between the teeth to remove any food particles. This will prevent many teeth ailments like gingivitis, cavities or dental caries, periodontal ailments etc.

Toothpaste!

Selecting toothpaste at random is a problem and a health concern. Chemicals in toothpaste make many people sick, most of the time not realizing the connection. There be hardly any toothpaste you can find of the shelf that are chemical free.

To find a toothpaste that is one hundred percent free of artificial flavor, color, sugar, sweetener, and toxic chemicals would be almost as hard as picking the winning lotto numbers. There is one well-known brand name made in China; this one is even worse than most of the others. Stay well clear from it. Most people are not aware of chemical sensitivity and those with allergies, diabetes etc. what effect this can have.

Dental Health Does Affect General Health

Most of us understand that poor dental health can cause gum disease, gingivitis, mouth sores, buildup of plaque and tooth loss. It doesn’t stop here; bad oral hygiene can lead to many other serious health issues. We should not underestimate, oral health is about much more. It can cause cardiovascular disease and blood disorder. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the blood stream, cause infection spreading throughout the body. Infection of the gum can interfere with brain cells and lead to memory loss.

Because of inflammation caused from gum disease, this can trigger rheumatoid arthritis, which is painful and is a debilitating inflammatory disease. As well it can affect kidneys, blood pressure, bones and weaken the immune system. As bacteria travels through the bloodstream, it can cause respiratory infection and infect lungs causing bronchitis and pneumonia.

Some other studies and information claim that cancer is also triggered by root canal. Evidence shows when cancer patients get the root-canal removed the recovery rate, when treated for cancer, is by far greater and the patient gets better. Although, the cause of the problem shouldn’t be ignored and treated first, before treating the symptom. As with oral health, it’s a well-known fact that oral health affect’s much more than just your mouth. Inflammation in the gums or toxic pockets in the jaw can destroy the immune system almost completely.

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