Anxiety & Depression with Dr. Jacob Towery
The district's Speaker Series presented Dr. Jacob Towery speaking on Anxiety and Depression in Teenagers to a full house on November 8. Dr. Towery's three main takeaway points were:
- Prioritize your own mental health and model the behavior you want in your kids.
- Get enough sleep: put away screens at least nine hours before wake-up time.
- Limit screen time. Access to social media and constant information drastically increases anxiety. Get tough and consistent with your kids on limiting screens, especially before sleep.
Dr. Towery's 8-step method of creating a habit of good sleep:
- Figure out time child needs to wake up every day to shower, get ready, & meditate & get to school on time.
- Count back 9 hours. Add more time for younger children. Amount of sleep they should get + one hour.
- This is the time that technology turns off.
- Child has 30-60 min from "technology off" time until sleep time to do anything calming but NOT tech. Maybe read? Maybe connect with family?
- No negotiating or bartering. Do NOT give in. (Includes EVERY device).
- Children go to sleep after those 60 minutes (they may likely want to sleep when all the distractions are gone).
- Be consistent.
- Do this every night until 2nd semester of senior year. Release control over time but monitor how much technology kids are using and sleep they are getting.
Dr. Towery's recommended resources:
- For help practicing good sleep hygeine: Myshuti.com
- For medittion guides: Headspace.com
- For finding more joy in life: The book Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson
Anxiety is an adaptive and necessary part of being human and responding to stimuli - like a stranger jumping out, or a fire in your home - that helps us escape dangerous situations. Anxiety becomes a problem when the brain overreads situations and the same necessary system gets activated too often and to a larger degree than necessary - like feeling like a bad grade in school will cause you never to have a good job. Signs of anxiety and depression in your child that should cause you concern:
- 6 months or more of excessive worrying to the point of impairment (inability to do once-normal tasks)
- 3 months or more of muscle tension (especially headaches, neck and shoulder pain)
- 3 months or more of difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- 3 months or more of feeling restless or irritible
Depression for children under 18
- 7 days in a row feeling sad, empty, or irritible; or not enjoying things as usual
- PLUS 5 or more of these symptoms: less energy, difficulty concentrating, change in appetite, gain or loss of at least 5% of body weight, suicudal thoughts, feelings of guilt, feeling worhtless, moving slowly, changes in sleep patterns, sudden drop in grades, becoming more angry, self-isolation
See your pediatrician if your child fits into either of the above categories. There is help! Reach out to your school counselor, too. MPCSD is fortunate to have full time counselors at every campus, and they are here to help families with mental health issues.