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News about death and etc.
Fear and phobias
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 4:17am (UTC)
 The roller coaster hesitates for a split second at the peak of its steep track after a long, slow climb. You know what's about to happen — and there's no way to avoid it now. It's time to hang onto the handrail, palms sweating, heart racing, and brace yourself for the wild ride down.
What Is Fear?

Fear is one of the most basic human emotions. It is programmed into the nervous system and works like an instinct. From the time we're infants, we are equipped with the survival instincts necessary to respond with fear when we sense danger or feel unsafe.

Fear helps protect us. It makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it. Feeling afraid is very natural — and helpful — in some situations. Fear can be like a warning, a signal that cautions us to be careful.

Like all emotions, fear can be mild, medium, or intense, depending on the situation and the person. A feeing of fear can be brief or it can last longer.

fear, fun
How Fear Works

When we sense danger, the brain reacts instantly, sending signals that activate the nervous system. This causes physical responses, such as a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and an increase in blood pressure. Blood pumps to our large muscle groups to prepare the body for physical action (such as running or fighting). Skin sweats to keep the body cool. Some people might notice sensations in the stomach, head, chest, legs, or hands. These physical sensations of fear can be mild or strong.

This response is known as "fight or flight" because that is exactly what the body is preparing itself to do: fight off the danger or run fast to get away. The body stays in this state of fight–flight until the brain receives an "all clear" message and turns off the response.

Sometimes fear is triggered by something that is startling or unexpected (like a loud noise), even if it's not actually dangerous. That's because the fear reaction is activated instantly — a few seconds faster than the thinking part of the brain can process or evaluate what's happening. As soon as the brain gets enough information to realize there's no danger ("Oh, it's just a balloon bursting — whew!"), it turns off the fear reaction. All this can happen in seconds.
Fears People Have

Fear is the word we use to describe our emotional reaction to something that seems dangerous. But the word "fear" is used in another way, too: to name something a person often feels afraid of.

People fear things or situations that make them feel unsafe or unsure. For instance, someone who isn't a strong swimmer might have a fear of deep water. In this case, the fear is helpful because it cautions the person to stay safe. A person could overcome this fear by learning how to swim safely.

A fear can be healthy if it cautions a person to stay safe around something that could be dangerous. But sometimes a fear is unnecessary and causes more caution than the situation calls for.

Many people have a fear of public speaking. Whether it's giving a report in class, speaking at an assembly, or reciting lines in the school play, speaking in front of others is one of the most common fears people have.

People tend to avoid the situations or things they fear. But this doesn't help them overcome fear — in fact, it can be the reverse. Avoiding something scary reinforces a fear and keeps it strong.

People can overcome unnecessary fears by giving themselves the chance to learn about and gradually get used to the thing or situation they're afraid of. For example, people who fly despite a fear of flying can become used to unfamiliar sensations like takeoff or turbulence. They learn what to expect and have a chance to watch what others do to relax and enjoy the flight. Gradually (and safely) facing fear helps a person to overcome it.
Fears During Childhood

Certain fears are normal during childhood. That's because fear can be a natural reaction to feeling unsure and vulnerable — and much of what children experience is new and unfamiliar.

Young kids often have fears of the dark, being alone, strangers, monsters, or other scary imaginary creatures. School-aged children might be afraid when it's stormy or at a first sleepover. As they grow and learn, with the support of adults, most kids are able to slowly conquer these fears and outgrow them.

Some kids are more sensitive to fears and may have a tough time overcoming them. When fears last beyond the expected age, it might be a sign that someone is overly fearful, worried, or anxious. People whose fears are too intense or last too long might need help and support to overcome them.
Phobias

A phobia is an intense fear reaction to a particular thing or a situation. With a phobia, the fear is out of proportion to the potential danger. But to the person with the phobia, the danger feels real because the fear is so very strong.

Phobias cause people to worry about, dread, feel upset by, and avoid the things or situations they fear because the physical sensations of fear can be so intense. So having a phobia can interfere with someone's normal activities. A person with a phobia of dogs might feel afraid to walk to school in case he or she sees a dog on the way. Someone with an elevator phobia might avoid a field trip if it involves going on an elevator.

A girl with a phobia of thunderstorms might be afraid to go to school if the weather forecast predicts a storm. She might feel terrible distress and fear when the sky turns cloudy. A guy with social phobia experiences intense fear of public speaking or interacting, and may be afraid to answer questions in class, give a report, or speak to classmates in the lunchroom.

It can be exhausting and upsetting to feel the intense fear that goes with having a phobia. It can be disappointing to miss out on opportunities because fear is holding you back. And it can be confusing and embarrassing to feel afraid of things that others seem to have no problem with.

Sometimes, people get teased about their fears. Even if the person doing the teasing doesn't mean to be unkind and unfair, teasing only makes the situation worse.
What Causes Phobias?

Some phobias develop when a person has a scary experience with a particular thing or situation. A tiny brain structure called the amygdala (pronounced: uh-mig-duh-luh), keeps track of experiences that trigger strong emotions. Once a certain thing or situation triggers a strong fear reaction, the amygdala warns the person by triggering a fear reaction every time he or she encounters (or even thinks about) that thing or situation.

Someone might develop a bee phobia after being stung during a particularly scary situation. For that person, looking at a photograph of a bee, seeing a bee from a distance, or even walking near flowers where there could be a bee can all trigger the phobia.

Sometimes, though, there may be no single event that causes a particular phobia. Some people may be more sensitive to fears because of personality traits they are born with, certain genes they've inherited, or situations they've experienced. People who have had strong childhood fears or anxiety may be more likely to have one or more phobias.

Having a phobia isn't a sign of weakness or immaturity. It's a response the brain has learned in an attempt to protect the person. It's as if the brain's alert system triggers a false alarm, generating intense fear that is out of proportion to the situation. Because the fear signal is so intense, the person is convinced the danger is greater than it actually is.
Overcoming Phobias

People can learn to overcome phobias by gradually facing their fears. This is not easy at first. It takes willingness and bravery. Sometimes people need the help of a therapist to guide them through the process.

Overcoming a phobia usually starts with making a long list of the person's fears in least-to-worst order. For example, with a dog phobia, the list might start with the things the person is least afraid of, such as looking at a photo of a dog. It will then work all the way up to worst fears, such as standing next to a person who's petting a dog, petting a dog on a leash, and walking a dog.

Gradually, and with support, the person tries each fear situation on the list — one at a time, starting with the least fear. The person works on each fear until he or she is comfortable. The person takes as long as needed to feel comfortable and isn't forced to do anything.

A therapist could also show a person with a dog phobia how to approach, pet, and walk a dog, and help the person to try it, too. The person may expect terrible things to happen when near a dog. Talking about this can help, too. When people find that what they fear doesn't actually turn out to be true, it can be a great relief.

A therapist might also teach relaxation practices such as specific ways of breathing, muscle relaxation training, or soothing self-talk. These can help people feel comfortable and bold enough to face the fears on their list.

As a person gets used to a feared object or situation, the brain adjusts how it responds and the phobia is overcome.

Often, the hardest part of overcoming a phobia is getting started. Once a person decides to go for it — and gets the right coaching and support — it can be surprising how quickly fear can melt away.
 
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Friend say about suicide
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 4:06am (UTC)
 Everyone feels sad, depressed, or angry sometimes — especially when the pressures of exams, relationships, and friends become too much to handle. Other times, though, feelings of sadness or hopelessness just won't go away. These feelings may begin to affect many areas of a person's life and outlook. Someone who experiences very intense feelings of depression or irritability may begin to think about suicide.
Warning Signs of Suicide

You may have heard that people who talk about suicide won't actually go through with it. That's not true, though. People who talk about suicide may be likely to try it.

Other warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide include:

* talking about suicide or death in general
* talking about "going away"
* talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
* pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out
* having no desire to take part in favorite activities
* having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
* experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits
* engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)

As a friend, you may also know if the person is going through some tough times. Sometimes, a specific event, stress, or crisis — like a relationship breaking up or a death in the family — can trigger suicidal behavior in someone who is already feeling depressed and showing the warning signs listed above.
What You Can Do
Ask

If you have a friend who is talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don't wait to see if he or she starts to feel better. Talk about it. Most of the time, people who are considering suicide are willing to discuss it if someone asks them out of concern and care.

Some people (both teens and adults) are reluctant to ask teens if they have been thinking about suicide or hurting themselves. That's because they're afraid that, by asking, they may plant the idea of suicide. This is not true. It is always a good thing to ask.

Starting the conversation with someone you think may be considering suicide helps in many ways. First, it allows you to get help for the person. Second, just talking about it may help the person to feel less alone, less isolated, and more cared about and understood — the opposite of the feelings that may have led to suicidal thinking to begin with. Third, talking may provide a chance to consider that there may be another solution.

Asking someone if he or she is having thoughts about suicide can be difficult. Sometimes it helps to let your friend know why you are asking. For instance, you might say, "I've noticed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead. Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?"
Listen

Listen to your friend without judging and offer reassurance that you're there and you care. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, stay close — make sure he or she isn't left alone.
Tell

Even if you're sworn to secrecy and you feel like you'll be betraying your friend if you tell, you should still seek help. Share your concerns with an adult you trust as soon as possible. If necessary, you can also call a local emergency number (911) or the toll-free number for a suicide crisis line (you can find local suicide crisis numbers listed in your phone book or check out the ones listed in the Resources tab).

The important thing is to notify a responsible adult. Although it may be tempting to try to help your friend on your own, it's always safest to get help.
After Suicide

Sometimes even if you get help and adults intervene, a friend or classmate may attempt or die by suicide. When this happens, it's common to have many different emotions. Some teens say they feel guilty — especially if they felt they could have interpreted their friend's actions and words better. Others say they feel angry with the person for doing something so selfish. Still others say they feel nothing at all — they are too filled with grief.

When someone attempts suicide, those who know that person may feel afraid or uncomfortable about talking to him or her. Try to overcome these feelings of discomfort — this is a time when someone absolutely needs to feel connected to others.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a friend or classmate's suicide, it's best to talk to an adult you trust. Feeling grief after a friend dies by suicide is normal. But if that sadness begins to interfere with your everyday life, it's a sign that you may need to speak with someone about your feelings.
 

Getting over a break-up
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 4:04am (UTC)
 If you've just had a break-up and are feeling down, you're not alone. Just about everyone experiences a break-up at sometime, and many then have to deal with heartbreak — a wave of grief, anger, confusion, low self-esteem, and maybe even jealousy all at once. Millions of poems and songs have been written about having a broken heart and wars have even been fought because of heartbreak.
What Exactly Is Heartbreak?

Lots of things can cause heartbreak. Some people might have had a romantic relationship that ended before they were ready. Others might have strong feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way. Or maybe a person feels sad or angry when a close friend ends or abandons the friendship. Although the causes may be different, the feeling of loss is the same — whether it's the loss of something real or the loss of something you only hoped for. People describe heartbreak as a feeling of heaviness, emptiness, and sadness.
How Can I Deal With How I Feel?

Most people will tell you you'll get over it or you'll meet someone else, but when it's happening to you, it can feel like no one else in the world has ever felt the same way. If you're experiencing these feelings, there are things you can do to lessen the pain. Here are some tips that might help:

* Share your feelings. Some people find that sharing their feelings with someone they trust — someone who recognizes what they're going through — helps them feel better. That could mean talking over all the things you feel, even having a good cry on the shoulder of a comforting friend or family member. Others find they heal better if they hang out and do the things they normally enjoy, like seeing a movie or going to a concert, to take their minds off the hurt. If you feel like someone can't relate to what you're going through or is dismissive of your feelings, find someone more sympathetic to talk to. (OK, we know that sharing feelings can be tough for guys, but you don't necessarily have to tell the football team or your wrestling coach what you're going through. Talk with a friend or family member, a teacher, or counselor. It might make you more comfortable if you find a female family member or friend, like an older sister or a neighbor, to talk to.)
* Remember what's good about you. This one is really important. Sometimes people with broken hearts start to blame themselves for what's happened. They may be really down on themselves, exaggerating their faults as though they did something to deserve the unhappiness they're experiencing. If you find this happening to you, nip it in the bud! Remind yourself of your good qualities, and if you can't think of them because your broken heart is clouding your view, get your friends to remind you.
* Take good care of yourself. A broken heart can be very stressful so don't let the rest of your body get broken too. Get lots of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly to minimize stress and depression and give your self-esteem a boost.
* Don't be afraid to cry. Going through a break-up can be really tough, and getting some of those raw emotions out can be a big help. We know this is another tough one for guys, but there's no shame in crying now and then. No one has to see you do it — you don't have to start blubbering in class or at soccer practice or anything. Just a find a place where you can be alone, like crying into your pillow at night or in the shower when you're getting ready for the day.
* Do the things you normally enjoy. Whether it's seeing a movie or going to a concert, do something fun to take your mind off the negative feelings for a while.
* Keep yourself busy. Sometimes this is difficult when you're coping with sadness and grief, but it really helps. This is a great time to redecorate your room or try a new hobby. That doesn't mean you shouldn't think about what happened — working things through in our minds is all part of the healing process — it just means you should focus on other things too.
* Give yourself time. It takes time for sadness to go away. Almost everyone thinks they won't feel normal again, but the human spirit is amazing — and the heartbreak almost always heals after a while. But how long will that take? That depends on what caused your heartbreak, how you deal with loss, and how quickly you tend to bounce back from things. Getting over a break-up can take a couple of days to many weeks — and sometimes even months.

Some people feel that nothing will make them happy again and resort to alcohol or drugs. Others feel angry and want to hurt themselves or someone else. People who drink, do drugs, or cut themselves to escape from the reality of a loss may think they are numbing their pain, but the feeling is only temporary. They're not really dealing with the pain, only masking it, which makes all their feelings build up inside and prolongs the sadness.

Sometimes the sadness is so deep — or lasts so long — that a person may need some extra support. For someone who isn't starting to feel better after a few weeks or who continues to feel depressed, talking to a counselor or therapist can be very helpful.

So be patient with yourself, and let the healing begin.
 

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Death
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 4:00am (UTC)
 
Newsflash: we're all going to die. But here are 20 things you didn't know about kicking the bucket.
by LeeAundra Temescu

1 The practice of burying the dead may date back 350,000 years, as evidenced by a 45-foot-deep pit in Atapuerca, Spain, filled with the fossils of 27 hominids of the species Homo heidelbergensis, a possible ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans.

2 Never say die: There are at least 200 euphemisms for death, including "to be in Abraham's bosom," "just add maggots," and "sleep with the Tribbles" (a Star Trek favorite).

3 No American has died of old age since 1951.

4 That was the year the government eliminated that classification on death certificates.
5 The trigger of death, in all cases, is lack of oxygen. Its decline may prompt muscle spasms, or the "agonal phase," from the Greek word agon, or contest.

6 Within three days of death, the enzymes that once digested your dinner begin to eat you. Ruptured cells become food for living bacteria in the gut, which release enough noxious gas to bloat the body and force the eyes to bulge outward.

7 So much for recycling: Burials in America deposit 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid—formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol—into the soil each year. Cremation pumps dioxins, hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide into the air.

8 Alternatively . . . A Swedish company, Promessa, will freeze-dry your body in liquid nitrogen, pulverize it with high-frequency vibrations, and seal the resulting powder in a cornstarch coffin. They claim this "ecological burial" will decompose in 6 to 12 months.

9 Zoroastrians in India leave out the bodies of the dead to be consumed by vultures.

10 The vultures are now dying off after eating cattle carcasses dosed with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory used to relieve fever in livestock.

11 Queen Victoria insisted on being buried with the bathrobe of her long-dead husband, Prince Albert, and a plaster cast of his hand.

12 If this doesn't work, we're trying in vitro! In Madagascar, families dig up the bones of dead relatives and parade them around the village in a ceremony called famadihana. The remains are then wrapped in a new shroud and reburied. The old shroud is given to a newly married, childless couple to cover the connubial bed.

13(*) During a railway expansion in Egypt in the 19th century, construction companies unearthed so many mummies that they used them as fuel for locomotives.

14 Well, yeah, there's a slight chance this could backfire: English philosopher Francis Bacon, a founder of the scientific method, died in 1626 of pneumonia after stuffing a chicken with snow to see if cold would preserve it.

15 For organs to form during embryonic development, some cells must commit suicide. Without such programmed cell death, we would all be born with webbed feet, like ducks.

16 Waiting to exhale: In 1907 a Massachusetts doctor conducted an experiment with a specially designed deathbed and reported that the human body lost 21 grams upon dying. This has been widely held as fact ever since. It's not.

17 Buried alive: In 19th-century Europe there was so much anecdotal evidence that living people were mistakenly declared dead that cadavers were laid out in "hospitals for the dead" while attendants awaited signs of putrefaction.

18 Eighty percent of people in the United States die in a hospital.

19 If you can't make it here . . . More people commit suicide in New York City than are murdered.

20 It is estimated that 100 billion people have died since humans began.
 

Depresion
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 3:58am (UTC)
 Depression is very common and affects as many as 1 in 8 people in their teen years. Depression affects people of every color, race, economic status, or age; however, it does seem to affect more girls than guys.
How Do People Respond to Someone Who's Depressed?

Sometimes friends or family members recognize that someone is depressed. They may respond with love, kindness, or support, hoping that the sadness will soon pass. They may offer to listen if the person wants to talk. If the depressed feeling doesn't pass with a little time, friends or loved ones may encourage the person to get help from a doctor, therapist, or counselor.

But not everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know.

Some people don't really understand about depression. For example, they may react to a depressed person's low energy with criticism, yelling at the person for acting lazy or not trying harder. Some people mistakenly believe that depression is just an attitude or a mood that a person can shake off. It's not that easy.

Sometimes even people who are depressed don't take their condition seriously enough. Some people feel that they are weak in some way because they are depressed. This is wrong — and it can even be harmful if it causes people to hide their depression and avoid getting help.

Occasionally, when depression causes physical symptoms (things like headaches or other stress-related problems), a person may see a doctor. Once in a while, even a well-meaning doctor may not realize a person is depressed, and just treat the physical symptoms.
Why Do People Get Depressed?

There is no single cause for depression. Many factors play a role including genetics, environment, life events, medical conditions, and the way people react to things that happen in their lives.
Genetics

Research shows that depression runs in families and that some people inherit genes that make it more likely for them to get depressed. Not everyone who has the genetic makeup for depression gets depressed, though. And many people who have no family history of depression have the condition. So although genes are one factor, they aren't the single cause of depression.
Life Events

The death of a family member, friend, or pet can go beyond normal grief and sometimes lead to depression. Other difficult life events, such as when parents divorce, separate, or remarry, can trigger depression. Even events like moving or changing schools can be emotionally challenging enough that a person becomes depressed.
Family and Social Environment

For some teens, a negative, stressful, or unhappy family atmosphere can affect their self-esteem and lead to depression. This can also include high-stress living situations such as poverty; homelessness; and violence in the family, relationships, or community.

Substance use and abuse also can cause chemical changes in the brain that affect mood — alcohol and some drugs are known to have depressant effects. The negative social and personal consequences of substance abuse also can lead to severe unhappiness and depression.
Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect hormone balance and therefore have an effect on mood. Some conditions, such as hypothyroidism, are known to cause a depressed mood in some people. When these medical conditions are diagnosed and treated by a doctor, the depression usually disappears.

For some teens, undiagnosed learning disabilities might block school success, hormonal changes might affect mood, or physical illness might present challenges or setbacks.
What Happens in the Brain When Someone Is Depressed?

Depression involves the brain's delicate chemistry — specifically, it involves chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Certain neurotransmitters regulate mood, and if they run low, people can become depressed, anxious, and stressed. Stress also can affect the balance of neurotransmitters and lead to depression.

Sometimes, a person may experience depression without being able to point to any particular sad or stressful event. People who have a genetic predisposition to depression may be more prone to the imbalance of neurotransmitter activity that is part of depression.

Medications that doctors use to treat depression work by helping to restore the proper balance of neurotransmitters.
Types of Depression

For some people, depression can be intense and occur in bouts that last for weeks at a time. For others, depression can be less severe but can linger at a low level for years.

Doctors who treat depression distinguish between these two types of depression. They call the more severe, short-lasting type major depression, and the longer-lasting but less severe form dysthymia (pronounced: diss-thy-me-uh).

A third form of depression that doctors may diagnose is called adjustment disorder with depressed mood. This diagnosis refers to a depressive reaction to a specific life event (such as a death, divorce, or other loss), when adjusting to the loss takes longer than the normally expected timeframe or is more severe than expected and interferes with the person's daily activities.

Bipolar disorder (also sometimes called manic depressive illness) is another depressive condition that involves periods of major depression mixed with periods of mania. Mania is the term for abnormally high mood and extreme bursts of unusual activity or energy.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Symptoms that people have when they're depressed can include:

* depressed mood or sadness most of the time (for what may seem like no reason)
* lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
* inability to enjoy things that used to bring pleasure
* withdrawal from friends and family
* irritability, anger, or anxiety
* inability to concentrate
* significant weight loss or gain
* significant change in sleep patterns (inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get up in the morning)
* feelings of guilt or worthlessness
* aches and pains (with no known medical cause)
* pessimism and indifference (not caring about anything in the present or future)
* thoughts of death or suicide

When someone has five or more of these symptoms most of the time for 2 weeks or longer, that person is probably depressed.

Teens who are depressed may show other warning signs or symptoms, such as lack of interest or motivation, poor concentration, and low mental energy caused by depression. They also might have increased problems at school because of skipped classes.

Some teens with depression have other problems, too, and these can intensify feelings of worthlessness or inner pain. For example, people who cut themselves or who have eating disorders may have unrecognized depression that needs attention.
How Is Depression Different From Regular Sadness?

Everyone has some ups and downs, and sadness is a natural emotion. The normal stresses of life can lead anyone to feel sad every once in a while. Things like an argument with a friend, a breakup, doing poorly on a test, not being chosen for a team, or a best friend moving out of town can lead to feelings of sadness, hurt, disappointment, or grief. These reactions are usually brief and go away with a little time and care.

Depression is more than occasionally feeling blue, sad, or down in the dumps, though. Depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair, or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer. It interferes with a person's ability to participate in normal activities.

Depression affects a person's thoughts, outlook, and behavior as well as mood. In addition to a depressed mood, a person with depression can also feel tired, irritable, and notice changes in appetite.

When someone has depression, it can cloud everything. The world looks bleak and the person's thoughts reflect that hopelessness and helplessness. People with depression tend to have negative and self-critical thoughts. Sometimes, despite their true value, people with depression can feel worthless and unlovable.

Because of feelings of sadness and low energy, people with depression may pull away from those around them or from activities they once enjoyed. This usually makes them feel more lonely and isolated, making the depression and negative thinking worse.

Depression can be mild or severe. At its worst, depression can create such feelings of despair that a person thinks about suicide.

Depression can cause physical symptoms, too. Some people have an upset stomach, loss of appetite, weight gain or loss, headaches, and sleeping problems when they're depressed.
Getting Help

Depression is one of the most common emotional problems in the United States and around the world. The good news is that it's also one of the most treatable conditions. Therapists and other professionals can help. In fact, about 80% of people who get help for their depression have a better quality of life — they feel better and enjoy themselves in a way that they weren't able to before.

Treatment for depression can include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Talk therapy with a mental health professional is very effective in treating depression. Therapy sessions can help people understand more about why they feel depressed, and ways to combat it.

Sometimes, doctors prescribe medicine for a person who has depression. When prescribing medicine, a doctor will carefully monitor patients to make sure they get the right dose. The doctor will adjust the dose as necessary. It can take a few weeks before the person feels the medicine working. Because every person's brain is different, what works well for one person might not be good for another.

Everyone can benefit from mood-boosting activities like exercise, yoga, dance, journaling, or art. It can also help to keep busy no matter how tired you feel.

People who are depressed shouldn't wait and hope it will go away on its own because depression can be effectively treated. Friends or others need to step in if someone seems severely depressed and isn't getting help.

Many people find that it helps to open up to parents or other adults they trust. Simply saying, "I've been feeling really down lately and I think I'm depressed," can be a good way to begin the discussion. Ask your parent to arrange an appointment with a therapist. If a parent or family member can't help, turn to your school counselor, best friend, or a helpline to get help.
When Depression Is Severe

People who are extremely depressed and who may be thinking about hurting themselves or about suicide need help as soon as possible. When depression is this severe, it is a very real medical emergency, and an adult must be notified. Most communities have suicide hotlines where people can get guidance and support in an emergency.

Although it's important to be supportive, trying to cheer up a friend or reasoning with him or her probably won't work to help depression or suicidal feelings go away. Depression can be so strong that it outweighs a person's ability to respond to reason. Even if your friend has asked you to promise not to tell, severe depression is a situation where telling can save a life. The most important thing a depressed person can do is to get help. If you or a friend feels unsafe or out of control, get help now. Tell a trusted adult, call 911, or go to the emergency room.

Depression doesn't mean a person is "crazy." Depression (and the suffering that goes with it) is a real and recognized medical problem. Just as things can go wrong in all other organs of the body, things can go wrong in the most important organ of all: the brain. Luckily, most teens who get help for their depression go on to enjoy life and feel better about themselves.
 

Cutting
thedeathclock on 04/10/2008 at 3:57am (UTC)
 What Is Cutting?

Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object — enough to break the skin and make it bleed — is called cutting. Cutting is a type of self-injury, or SI. Most people who cut are girls, but guys self-injure, too. People who cut usually start cutting in their young teens. Some continue to cut into adulthood.

People may cut themselves on their wrists, arms, legs, or bellies. Some people self-injure by burning their skin with the end of a cigarette or lighted match.

When cuts or burns heal, they often leave scars or marks. People who injure themselves usually hide the cuts and marks and sometimes no one else knows.
Why Do People Cut Themselves?

It can be hard to understand why people cut themselves on purpose. Cutting is a way some people try to cope with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure, or upsetting relationship problems. They may be dealing with feelings that seem too difficult to bear, or bad situations they think can't change.

Some people cut because they feel desperate for relief from bad feelings. People who cut may not know better ways to get relief from emotional pain or pressure. Some people cut to express strong feelings of rage, sorrow, rejection, desperation, longing, or emptiness.

There are other ways to cope with difficulties, even big problems and terrible emotional pain. The help of a mental health professional might be needed for major life troubles or overwhelming emotions. For other tough situations or strong emotions, it can help put things in perspective to talk problems over with parents, other adults, or friends. Getting plenty of exercise can also help put problems in perspective and help balance emotions.

But people who cut may not have developed ways to cope. Or their coping skills may be overpowered by emotions that are too intense. When emotions don't get expressed in a healthy way, tension can build up — sometimes to a point where it seems almost unbearable. Cutting may be an attempt to relieve that extreme tension. For some, it seems like a way of feeling in control.

The urge to cut might be triggered by strong feelings the person can't express — such as anger, hurt, shame, frustration, or alienation. People who cut sometimes say they feel they don't fit in or that no one understands them. A person might cut because of losing someone close or to escape a sense of emptiness. Cutting might seem like the only way to find relief or express personal pain over relationships or rejection.

People who cut or self-injure sometimes have other mental health problems that contribute to their emotional tension. Cutting is sometimes (but not always) associated with depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive thinking, or compulsive behaviors. It can also be a sign of mental health problems that cause people to have trouble controlling their impulses or to take unnecessary risks. Some people who cut themselves have problems with drug or alcohol abuse.

Some people who cut have had a traumatic experience, such as living through abuse, violence, or a disaster. Self-injury may feel like a way of "waking up" from a sense of numbness after a traumatic experience. Or it may be a way of reinflicting the pain they went through, expressing anger over it, or trying to get control of it.
What Can Happen to People Who Cut?

Although cutting may provide some temporary relief from a terrible feeling, even people who cut agree that it isn't a good way to get that relief. For one thing, the relief doesn't last. The troubles that triggered the cutting remain — they're just masked over.

People don't usually intend to hurt themselves permanently when they cut. And they don't usually mean to keep cutting once they start. But both can happen. It's possible to misjudge the depth of a cut, making it so deep that it requires stitches (or, in extreme cases, hospitalization). Cuts can become infected if a person uses nonsterile or dirty cutting instruments — razors, scissors, pins, or even the sharp edge of the tab on a can of soda.

Most people who cut aren't attempting suicide. Cutting is usually a person's attempt at feeling better, not ending it all. Although some people who cut do attempt suicide, it's usually because of the emotional problems and pain that lie behind their desire to self-harm, not the cutting itself.

Cutting can be habit forming. It can become a compulsive behavior — meaning that the more a person does it, the more he or she feels the need to do it. The brain starts to connect the false sense of relief from bad feelings to the act of cutting, and it craves this relief the next time tension builds. When cutting becomes a compulsive behavior, it can seem impossible to stop. So cutting can seem almost like an addiction, where the urge to cut can seem too hard to resist. A behavior that starts as an attempt to feel more in control can end up controlling you.
How Does Cutting Start?

Cutting often begins on an impulse. It's not something the person thinks about ahead of time. Shauna says, "It starts when something's really upsetting and you don't know how to talk about it or what to do. But you can't get your mind off feeling upset, and your body has this knot of emotional pain. Before you know it, you're cutting yourself. And then somehow, you're in another place. Then, the next time you feel awful about something, you try it again — and slowly it becomes a habit."

Natalie, a high-school junior who started cutting in middle school, explains that it was a way to distract herself from feelings of rejection and helplessness she felt she couldn't bear. "I never looked at it as anything that bad at first — just my way of getting my mind off something I felt really awful about. I guess part of me must have known it was a bad thing to do, though, because I always hid it. Once a friend asked me if I was cutting myself and I even lied and said 'no.' I was embarrassed."

Sometimes self-injury affects a person's body image. Jen says, "I actually liked how the cuts looked. I felt kind of bad when they started to heal — and so I would 'freshen them up' by cutting again. Now I can see how crazy that sounds, but at the time, it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I was all about those cuts — like they were something about me that only I knew. They were like my own way of controlling things. I don't cut myself anymore, but now I have to deal with the scars."

You can't force someone who self-injures to stop. It doesn't help to get mad at a friend who cuts, reject that person, lecture her, or beg him to stop. Instead, let your friend know that you care, that he or she deserves to be healthy and happy, and that no one needs to bear their troubles alone.
Cutting — A Way to Be Cool?

Girls and guys who self-injure are often dealing with some heavy troubles. Many work hard to overcome difficult problems. So they find it hard to believe that there are some teens who cut just because they think it's a way to seem tough and rebellious.

Tia tried cutting because a couple of the girls at her school were doing it. They pressured her. "It seemed like if I didn't do it, they would think I was afraid or something. So I did it once. But when I walked away, I thought about how lame it was to do something like that to myself for no good reason. Next time they asked I just said, 'no, thanks — it's not for me.' "

If you have a friend who suggests you try cutting, say what you think. Why get pulled into something you know isn't good for you? There are plenty of other ways to express who you are. (Not giving in to peer pressure is one of them!)

Lindsay had been cutting herself for 3 years because of abuse she suffered as a child. She's 16 now and hasn't cut herself in more than a year. "I feel proud of that," Lindsay says. "So when I hear girls talk about it like it's a fad, it really gets to me."

Getting Help

There are better ways to deal with troubles than cutting — healthier, long-lasting ways that don't leave a person with emotional and physical scars. The first step is to get help with the troubles that led to the cutting in the first place. Here are some ideas for doing that:

1. Tell someone. People who have stopped cutting often say the first step is the hardest — admitting to or talking about cutting. But they also say that after they open up about it, they often feel a great sense of relief. Choose someone you trust to talk to at first (a parent, school counselor, teacher, coach, doctor, or nurse). If it's too difficult to bring up the topic in person, write a note.
2. Identify the trouble that's triggering the cutting. Cutting is a way of reacting to emotional tension or pain. Try to figure out what feelings or situations are causing you to cut. Is it anger? Pressure to be perfect? Relationship trouble? A painful loss or trauma? Mean criticism or mistreatment? Identify the trouble you're having, then tell someone about it. Many people have trouble figuring this part out on their own. This is where a mental health professional can be helpful.
3. Ask for help. Tell someone that you want help dealing with your troubles and the cutting. If the person you ask doesn't help you get the assistance you need, ask someone else. Sometimes adults try to downplay the problems teens have or think they're just a phase. If you get the feeling this is happening to you, find another adult (such as a school counselor or nurse) who can make your case for you.
4. Work on it. Most people with deep emotional pain or distress need to work with a counselor or mental health professional to sort through strong feelings, heal past hurts, and to learn better ways to cope with life's stresses. One way to find a therapist or counselor is to ask at your doctor's office, at school, or at a mental health clinic in your community.

Although cutting can be a difficult pattern to break, it is possible. Getting professional help to overcome the problem doesn't mean that a person is weak or crazy. Therapists and counselors are trained to help people discover inner strengths that help them heal. These inner strengths can then be used to cope with life's other problems in a healthy way.
 

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