Dealing with self destructive behaviors in tweens is an extremely challenging job. Struggling with body image, adolescent hormonal changes, and peer pressure, parents and children often do not know where to turn. They don’t want to be controlled by their parents, and they are embarrassed to tell anyone. There are many researchers, however, who are dedicated to solving this problem, and parents or children do not need to face it alone.
Self destructive behaviors include drug and alcohol abuse, and cutting themselves. “Cutting with razors and other sharp objects is a troubling trend among women, especially teenagers,” says psychiatrist Mark Rapaport, M.D. (“People who cut themselves and why” www.lifescript.com/health/centers/depression/articles. ) Dr. Rapaport is the chairman of the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He explains that when actress/singer Demi Lovato was eighteen, she admitted publicly that she has had cutting and bulimia since she was eleven years old. She told 20/20 that it was a way of expressing her shame on her body, and that her “emotions were so built up, (cutting was) the only way I could get an immediate release.”
Lovato went through treatment at an Illinois rehabilitation center, was also diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, and seems to have conquered her problems. Why should someone harm themselves with addiction or cutting?
Dr. Rapaport thinks it can be due to pressure or distress, that the destructive behavior releases those feelings, and that some adolescents simply outgrow it.
Change in the following need be noted: School performance, change in sleep, eating patterns, withdrawn or aggressive behavior, or angry outbursts or tears. Parents should understand that these are disorders of the brain circuitry.
Open communication is essential, but a combination of intervention, psychotherapy, and medication is best.
www.thestir.cafemom.com talks about another study (Janelle Harris, “How Can We Help Self Destructive Teens?” This study tells us that teens with eating disorders are more likely to us drugs and alcohol and to think about suicide. What is the root cause of these disorders? Kids are crying out for help.
www.voices-yahoo.com tells us “How to Help your Teen Manage Feelings of Self Destructive Behavior” in an interview with psychologist Brette Genzel-Derman, specialist in Woodland Hills, California, and consultant to Children’s Institute, Inc. in L.A. He finds that this behavior manifests itself in kids that have been neglected, abandoned, or separated from primary caretaker, or do not feel able to express themselves at home. The cutting makes them feel more alive. Food issues may become control issues. Binging expresses the need to be filled up “emotionally,” while purging is tension reducing. Dr. Genzel-Derman advises parents to speak opening with child, explaining that this can be related to anger, sadness, or other upsets. Get immediate professional help, and find different ways to deal with stress. Try physical release, listening to music, lighting candles, bubble baths, or journaling.
There are many good therapeutic resources available in Southern California. The Promises Treatment Center (for addiction) is located at 2045 S. Barrington Ave, L.A. (310)390-2340.
Tarzana Treatment Center www.tanzanatc.org (800) 996-1051.
Insight Treatment (outpatient) (800) 599-8820.
Visions Adolescent Treatment Center(866) 889-3665.
Wilshire/Valley Therapy Centers (outpatient) : Wilshire/Los Angeles (323) 651-5828. Valley/Encino or Valley/Burbank (818) 906-0406. Wilshire/Ventura (805) 267-0881. Email: email@example.com