Teens | Kay Trotter

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All Posts Tagged: Teens

Depression Checklist

Depression is one of those heavily used terms in our culture, applied to everything from a fleeting feeling to a serious clinical syndrome. Sometimes folks who have been depressed for a while are so used to it they do not even recognize it as depression! The following checklists are two tools to get you thinking about yourself, your mood, and your physical symptoms.

Emotional Checklist:

  • A persistent sad, anxious or “down” mood?
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed?
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or weight gain?
  • Sleeping too little or sleeping too much?
  • Restlessness or irritability?
  • Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders)?
  • Fatigue or loss of energy?
  • Difficulty with concentration, decision-making or memory?
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless?
  • Thoughts of death or suicide?

Because these symptoms occur with many conditions, many depressed people never get help, because they don’t know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression. A lot of doctors miss the symptoms, too.

Physical Symptoms Checklist:

  • Headaches. These are fairly common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may seem worse if you’re depressed.
  • Back pain. If you already suffer with back pain, it may be worse if you become depressed.
  • Muscle aches and joint pain. Depression can make any kind of chronic pain worse.
  • Chest pain. Obviously, it’s very important to get chest pain checked out by an expert right away. It can be a sign of serious heart problems. But depression can contribute to the discomfort associated with chest pain.
  • Digestive problems. You might feel queasy or nauseous. You might have diarrhea or become chronically constipated.
  • Exhaustion and fatigue. No matter how much you sleep, you may still feel tired or worn out. Getting out of the bed in the morning may seem very hard, even impossible.
  • Sleeping problems. Many people with depression can’t sleep well anymore. They wake up too early or can’t fall asleep when they go to bed. Others sleep much more than normal.
  • Change in appetite or weight. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight. Others find they crave certain foods — like carbohydrates — and weigh more.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

These physical symptoms aren’t “all in your head.” Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems. Depression seems to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in your brain. Some of these same chemicals play an important role in how you feel pain. So many experts think that depression can make you feel pain differently than other people.

But make sure to tell your health care provider about any physical symptoms. Don’t assume they’ll go away on their own. They may need additional treatment. For instance, your doctor may suggest an anti-anxiety medicine if you have insomnia. Those drugs help you relax and may allow you to sleep better.

Exploring your depression treatment options:

Antidepressants aren’t a cure. Medication may treat some symptoms of depression, but can’t change underlying contributions to depression in your life. Antidepressants won’t solve your problems if you’re depressed because of a dead-end job, a pessimistic outlook, or an unhealthy relationship. That’s where therapy and other lifestyle changes come in.

Studies show that therapy works just as well as antidepressants in treating depression, and it’s better at preventing relapse once treatment ends. While depression medication only helps as long as you’re taking it, the emotional insights and coping skills acquired during therapy can have a more lasting effect on depression. However, if your depression is so severe that you don’t have the energy to pursue treatment, a brief trial of antidepressants may boost your mood to a level where you can focus on therapy.

In addition to therapy, other effective treatments for depression include exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, stress management, support groups, and self-help steps. While these treatments require more time and effort initially, their advantage over depression medication is that they boost mood without any adverse effects.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: 214-499-0396 or email Kay@KayTrotter.com

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Prevent Your Teen From Taking Drugs

As I prepare for the Youth Drug Summit “A Community Conservation on Drugs” for the Flower Mound, Highland Village and Lewisville area, I want to share these parenting tips, my thoughts on the important role parents play during the turbulent teen years, and how imperative it is for parents to  join with your teen so together both teen and parent can “Keep Them Safe.”

The single known antidote — the only secret weapon that has consistently proven capable of disarming all known triggers of substance abuse — is the artful application of PARENTING

Prevention Made Simple

The best defense against substance abuse is the creation of an intrinsic belief system, starting around age 3. Once in place, this belief system will shield your child in a way that no lecture, no punishment and no incentive based technique ever could.

All kids are different, as are all parents, but there is one identical masterpiece that every family should seek to paint together before their child reaches the age of 15. The secret masterpiece is a child who truly believes that substance abuse is wrong, and “believes” that it is a threat to their future.

3 yrs belief


  • Be there for your teen when s/he needs to get out of a bad situation. Peer pressure is hard to deal with for every teen. You can help your teen deal with saying no to drugs to their peers by being the scapegoat: “I can’t do that, my parents would kill me!” Or be the parent who will pick up your teen without repercussions if s/he finds the party they’ve gone too has drugs available or their date has been drinking.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents on a first-name basis. Want to know what your teen is up to? Ask their friends. They may not share everything, or much of anything, but you will get a general idea if there are any risk-taking behaviors going on just by how the other teen acts. This is especially true when you get to know your teen’s friends. You will also have stronger support for keeping your teen from taking drugs if you know your teens friends’ parents well enough to use their first name. Building a relationship with them, casual is fine, will give you a leg up if you ever find your teen is doing drugs.
  • Keep connected in the after school hours. If you can’t be home with your teen, call and leave notes. Have another adult supervise your teen or sign them up for an after school program. If these things aren’t possible, establish a routine for your teenager and keep them busy during this time. After-school hours are the single most important time to know where your teens are and what they are doing, as statistics show 3 p.m. through 5 p.m. is a choice time for teens to use drugs. You can prevent your teen from doing drugs at this time through supervision.
  • Talk to your teen often about drugs. Use ice breakers from television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures. And don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of drugs. Kids as young as preschool are taught about drug use in school in positives ways. Your teen knows all about them by the time they get to middle school or high school. When you open the topic of drugs up in conversation, you are letting your teen know that you are available if they need to talk, which is an excellent way to prevent your teen from taking drugs.
  • Get your teen involved in extra-curricular activities. Schools offer sports or clubs and community organizations offer classes and youth groups. These will help them mold their identity in a positive way and give them less time doing nothing and becoming bored. Studies have shown teens that have less time to just hang out and spend more time in organized activities are less likely to do drugs.
  • Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out. Who will they be with, where are they going, what will they be doing, etc. Then check up on them. Call other parents and do this together. Teens who think they will get caught will be less likely to do drugs.
  • Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly – and don’t ever use illegal drugs. You may think that your kids don’t know that you are using, but they do or they will find out eventually. If you do take drugs, seek help and show your teen that you are taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Unite your family against drugs using strong family beliefs. Establish that your family doesn’t use drugs. Not that you will shun your child should they make a mistake, but that your family believes there are other healthier ways to enjoy life and fix problems rather than escaping into a drug haze.


Always Remember

An Ounce of Prevention

is Worth More than a Pound of Cure

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Dr. Trotter at Lewisville ISD Middle School Parent University

This is an opportunity for you to learn more about topics that may affect your child!  Topics covers are: Internet, Video Gaming and Teenagers, Bullying, Eating Disorders, Cutting,  What’s in Your Teen’s Room, Drug Trends…and more. It’s never too early to be starting these conversations.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013 from 6-9 p.m.

Lamar Middle School   •   4000 Timber Creek Rd   •  Flower Mound TX 75028

[button url=”http://www.kaytrotter.com/middle-school-parent-university/” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”limegreen” ]MORE INFO[/button]


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How Do I Help My Teen Deal With the Loss of a Friendship?

Guest Author Paige Agnew, author of Starless Sky

Paige wrote her first book, Starless Sky at age 15 and Starless Sky was birthed during the time of Paige’s own grief and loss in 8th grade. Starless Sky is a genuine portrayal of grief and loss, yet comforting and filled with hope and expectation. It is a book of encouragement through following the lives of high schoolers. She was born in Michigan.  Her compassion and sense of humor is in all of her writings. When Paige is not writing, she enjoys sports, dancing, singing, playing the piano, reading and attending her brother’s college football games.

A loss of a friendship, be it via death or relocation, can be hard on a teenager just as it can be on adults.  It is important to recognize when your teenager is struggling with the loss more than what is normal.  Recognizing the symptoms is one way of helping your teenager deal with the loss.

Teenagers can experience symptoms of depression and have angry outbursts.  They can also be at the opposite end of the spectrum by showing a lack of emotions and feeling numb.  In addition, there can be problems in school with failing grades or delinquent behaviors. Further symptoms showing difficulty processing the loss might include personality changes, self-destructive behaviors (drinking, drugs, etc.), withdrawal and isolation, or even suicidal thoughts. While this is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms, it does give you an idea of how hard the loss of an important relationship can be on a teenager.
Other things that are helpful include:

  • Let your teen know you are available to discuss the feelings of loss (sadness, anger, guilt, etc.).  A school counselor may also be available too.
  • Say good-bye to the friend in some meaningful or symbolic way (i.e., a ceremony – funeral or celebration of life service, a letter, etc.).
  • Do something in remembrance of the person (i.e., a scrapbook, a video, etc.).  If the friend relocated, identify ways to stay in touch (i.e., visits, phone calls, skype, email, texting, facebook, etc.).
  • Identify things to continue doing/living (i.e., daily activities, learning, accepting new friendships and maintaining old ones, etc.).
  • Be honest with your teenager.  Maybe some details are not needed, but honesty is important.

In addition to the ways listed, using books or movies that your teen likes to read or watch is a good way to process loss. For example, if you have a teen who is a reader, my book Starless Sky, would be a good read and a way to open the discussion about similarities in feelings between the main character, Kahlen, and your teen.  Kahlen’s best friend dies and she does not know how to say good-bye or how to let others in; furthermore, her parents struggle with how to help her.  By the end, Kahlen comes to some new realizations and grows as a person who learns to live with the memories of her friend rather than avoid them.  Like many teenagers, Kahlen feels guilty because her friend died, yet she had a chance at life and graduation, and romance, and experiences, and even new friendships. While there is sadness in Kahlen’s story, there is hope and that hope will provide inspiration for any teenager experiencing the loss of a friendship.
Like Kahlen needed, it is important to validate your teen’s feelings of loss.  In validating those feelings, you make it easier for him or her to share with you stories about the friendship, the memories of happy and sad times. As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.”
Finally, remember a psychologist will be a good support person and can provide you with more suggestions and recommendations. Grief and loss is a part of living and unfortunately cannot be avoided, but hopefully knowing loss exists can help us all to love harder and demonstrate it more fully as life is fragile and meant to be lived just as Kahlen did in Starless Sky, just as I did in writing Starless Sky after the loss of my best friend.

To read more go to my website, http://paigeagnew.com/

Listen to my audio excerpt, if you are intrigued to hear more, you can purchase my book there as well.

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Effective Parenting Techniques

Before children can resist their first impulses, they must have an awareness of their behavior, a feeling of responsibility, and the experience of self-control. Dr. Garry Landreth, founder of the Center for Play Therapy, developed the A • C • T method to setting limits that provides children with an opportunity to learn self-control, the knowledge that they have choices, what making choices feels like, and how responsibility feels. According to Dr. Landreth, “when limits should be set but they are not, children are deprived of the opportunity to learn something important about themselves. †”

Your love and approval is the most important thing to your child. Because of this need for your love, your child will want to respond and meet your expectations. It is important that limit setting is a carefully thought-out procedure, one that is designed to convey understanding, acceptance and responsibility to your child.

Effective Discipline with A•C•T Limit Setting

A = Acknowledge the Feeling

C = Communicate the Limit

T = Target the Choice

“Looks like you [feel, want, wish],

but [first object] is not for [action]-ing.

[Second object] is. You can. . .”

Examples of a Limit Setting Sequence

“Looks like you want to draw,

but the wall is not for drawing.”

[point]“You can draw on the paper or

[point] you can draw on the chalk board.”


“I can see you feel frustrated,

but the doll clothes are not for tearing.”

[point] “You can tear the shoe box or

[point] you can tear egg carton.”


“Jim, I know you feel like hitting me,

but I’m not for hitting!”

[point] “You can hit the stuffed bear, or

[point] you can hit the pillow.”

Rational for Limit Setting

As a result of setting limits, children become responsible for themselves and their own behavior.

  • Limit setting is for the growth of the child
  • Limits are not punishment
  • Limits promote healthy boundaries
  • Limits help the child develop decision-making skills
  • Limits help the child develop self-control
  • Limits help the child develop personal responsibility
  • Limits promote consistency
  • Limits free the child, and with freedom comes responsibility
  • Set limits that fit within your household rules, but allow more freedom for exploration and expression
  • Determine your own limits ahead of time (e.g. toy • damage, throwing toys, pouring water on the floor, hitting another person or pet, etc.)
  • Be consistent
  • Before setting a limit, ask yourself: “Is this limit necessary?”
  • Before allowing a behavior, ask yourself: “Can I consistently allow this?”

Responsibility accompanies decision-making. Before children can resist their first impulses, they must have an awareness of their behavior, a feeling of responsibility and the experience of

Here are some real time examples of How to Effectively Set Limits:


Acknowledge the child’s feelings to diffuse the child’s emotions.

  • By acknowledging the child’s feelings, you support • the child’s intent, even if you can’t support the child’s behavior.
  • Reflect feelings, intentions, wants, and wishes FIRST, with • phrases like:

“Looks like. . .”

“I know you’d really like to. . .”

“I can tell you’re feeling. . .”

When the child’s message is clearly understood the child no longer needs to act out.


Communicate the Limit Clearly

  • Use no fault statements, but common sense statements instead.
  • Use “BUT” to emphasize the limit.


Target Appropriate Choices

Understanding the child’s intention helps in selecting alternatives.

  • Direct action away from the original object by looking, pointing, and stating alternative choices.
  • Avoid the use of “OK?”
  • Be creative in offering alternatives.
  • After saying: [second object] is.“ you can add phrases like:

“You can. . .”

“You can choose to. . . if you’d like.”

“You can pretend. . .” etc.

Point using eyes, hands or your entire arm to help interrupt the child’s focus on the object.

†Source: Landreth (2002). Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship. Burnner-Routledge, NY:NY.

Download DrKay’s 

 Effective Limit Setting @ http://www.kaytrotter.com/forms-2/


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