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Mental illness among teens: what parents should know

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According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, between 20 and 30 percent of adolescents experience a major depressive episode before reaching adulthood. What’s more, suicide is the leading cause of death among American teens.

Potential causes
Pressure to perform in school, stigma about mental illness, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and poor sleep hygiene can all contribute to mental health issues in teens.

Psychologists also suspect that heavy social network use may increase the incidence of clinical anxiety and depression.

Finally, it’s likely that lack of access to care plays a role in this state of affairs. Approximately 30 percent of teens affected by a mental health issue don’t get the help they need, either by choice or because they lack access to it.

What parents can do
Young people should be taught that asking for help isn’t an admission of failure or weakness. In addition, parents can do these simple things to help teens protect their mental health:

• Minimize the pressure placed on them to perform
• Spend time together as a family
• Provide a healthy diet
• Support a healthy sleep schedule
• Encourage them to get regular exercise
• Enroll them in activities that build confidence and self-esteem

Indicators of psychological distress include agitation, self-denigration, unusual moodiness, sadness and extreme fatigue. A moody teen doesn’t necessarily point to a crisis, but signs of mental illness should never be dismissed.

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Understanding acupressure

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Acupressure is a massage therapy technique that involves using the fingers, palms, and elbows to apply pressure to specific areas of the body. With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, this alternative healing practice adheres to the same principles as acupuncture but forgoes the use of needles.

The approach
Acupressure is based on the theory that invisible channels called meridians carry energy throughout the body. It’s believed that applying pressure to specific points along these pathways can promote relaxation, relieve illness, and restore systemic balance.

Though acupressure shouldn’t replace proper medical attention, it can be used to complement it. It’s most commonly performed in conjunction with massage therapy, physiotherapy, and orthotherapy.

The benefits
While there’s limited research on the medical benefits of acupressure, patients with various health concerns have reported improvements after having several treatments. Most notably, acupressure can be used to help:

• Relieve stress and tension
• Soothe muscle and joint pain
• Facilitate digestion
• Boost the immune system
• Increase energy levels
• Improve sleep

If you want to try this treatment at home, consider purchasing an acupressure mat. Lined with hundreds of plastic points, these mats can be used to stimulate pressure points on your back. However, a session with a professional therapist will offer far more effective and longer-lasting results.

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Talking to your teen about personal hygiene

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As children go through puberty, it’s normal for them to start to smell differently. Though it may involve an uncomfortable conversation, helping your teen establish personal hygiene habits is important for their health and confidence. If you’ve noticed a funky smell coming from their clothes, shoes, or bedroom, here are a few tips to help you broach the subject.

Create a safe space
There’s a time and place to bring up the matter of personal hygiene with your teen. In front of their siblings, for example, isn’t ideal. The key to having a productive discussion is to do your best to make your teen feel at ease.

Rather than having a face-to-face conversation, consider casually mentioning the topic while the two of you are cooking, washing dishes, or sitting alone together in the car. This will help your teen feel less put on the spot and more inclined to open up.

While you should be honest with your child about their body odor, make sure your tone isn’t accusatory or judgmental. Let your teen know these changes are a normal part of growing up, and they can always come to you with questions.

Give them the right tools
Outline the various ways your teen can minimize their body odor such as showering and wearing clean clothes on a daily basis. Rather than nag or plead with them, explain that taking care of their personal hygiene is a responsibility.

Additionally, you and your teen should put together a list of the products they’ll need. This includes antiperspirant, shower gel, mouthwash, shampoo, face cleanser, and shoe deodorizer. Keep in mind that your teen may be reluctant to shop for these products with their parents, so remember to give them some space at the pharmacy.

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How to help your children maintain a healthy weight

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Each year in September, National Childhood Obesity Month aims to raise awareness about the problem of childhood obesity in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 14 million American children are obese.

Unfortunately, childhood obesity can lead to heart disease, respiratory issues, joint problems, Type 2 diabetes, and a number of other serious physical and psychological health conditions. While genetics play a role, behavior and lifestyle choices are also determining factors. Here’s how parents can help children manage their weight.

Diet
A balanced diet is one of the cornerstones of maintaining a healthy weight, and fostering good cooking and eating habits starts at home. Favor fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as lean proteins like fish, poultry, beans, and meat substitutes. It’s also important to limit fast foods and sugary drinks. Instead, offer children homemade meals and plenty of water.

Exercise
In addition to helping kids regulate their weight, regular physical activity can reduce anxiety and improve self-esteem.

Children between the ages of three and five should spend at least three hours per day engaging in some form of physical activity. Children aged six to 17 should exercise at least 60 minutes per day. Limiting screen time can help young people foster an active lifestyle.

Sleep
Multiple studies have established a link between poor sleep and a higher risk of obesity. The CDC recommends that children between the ages of six and 12 get nine to 12 hours of sleep per day. For youth aged 13 to 18, the recommendation is eight to 10 hours per day.

If you’re worried about your children’s weight, be sure to consult a health-care professional. By working with a physician, you can help your kids manage their health.

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Minor mishaps get your attention?

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What’s been happening to you of late?

If you’ve been having close encounters of the accidental kind, it’s time to give some personal attention to the causes.

While many ordinary people seldom suffer a mishap, others seem to trip over things, cut their fingers, barely miss a pedestrian on the road, or get hit by something falling off a shelf.

According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, there is no such thing as an accident-prone personality. It can’t be blamed on genetics.

Doctors at the Center, a part of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, say reasons can be found for minor mishaps and near-miss accidents.

When a rash of unfortunate incidents begins, they say, it’s up to the individual to uncover the causes.

They suggest that you note each time you have an accident and see if you can identify a common theme. For instance, maybe you are more likely to trip when you are rushing to get to an appointment. Or perhaps minor mishaps could be more likely to occur on days when you have not had enough sleep. Or you could be more likely to suffer a near-miss when you and your mate are on the outs.

You could find, as one subject did, that some trouble is rooted in your work environment and in circumstances you can control.

As an example of a small job-related injury, one person related the story of how she was cut near her eye. A file folder was stuck in the drawer and struck her when it finally gave in to her pulling.

The cure for this one is obvious: Reorganize file drawers, so they aren’t so crowded.

Wisdom dictates that each near-miss be examined.

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Required pre-school shots for rising seventh-graders available from Lord Fairfax Health District

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Shots are still required for rising seventh graders this fall, even for those who will attend school virtually. The Lord Fairfax Health District will offer these shots on a walk-up basis this Thursday, August 27. The location will be the Our Health Campus, on the grassy area bordering the 300 block of N. Cameron St. in Winchester.

“Being up to date on shots is still required,” says Lord Fairfax Health District Director Colin Greene, MD, MPH. “COVID-19, hybrid classes, and distance learning do not remove the need to be immunized against the more common diseases, especially tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and the HPV virus. Tdap is required and covers the first three. HPV is strongly recommended since the virus it prevents is the main cause of cancer of the cervix in women, and of certain throat cancers as well.”

No appointment is necessary; the hours will be from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day. In case of rain, a tent will be set up to allow immunizations to continue.

These immunizations are also available from your healthcare provider. Proof of vaccination will be needed in order to enroll in seventh grade.

Additional information on school immunization requirements is available from VDH at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/immunization/requirements/.

The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.

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Skin care after 60

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Skincare is important regardless of age. As you get older, however, your skin changes significantly. Here’s a brief guide to choosing the skincare products that best meet your needs.

Signs of change
Everyone’s skin ages differently depending on their lifestyle and genetics. Here are the most common ways your skin can change as you get older:

• Lines and wrinkles appear

• Your skin begins to sag
• The upper layer dries out
• Age spots form
• Your skin tone dulls

Additionally, external factors such as air pollution and sun exposure can affect the health of your skin and exacerbate signs of aging.

Focus on hydration
A key component of your skincare routine should be helping your skin retain moisture. Here are a few crucial ingredients to look for in products for mature skin.

• Hyaluronic acid. As you age, your skin loses the ability to produce this moisture-retaining molecule. Hyaluronic acid makes your skin more resistant to dehydration and gives it a healthy glow.

• Ceramides. These natural fats help seal cracks in the epidermis that water would otherwise evaporate through. Additionally, ceramides create a barrier that keeps out harmful microbes and pollutants.

For advice on the best products for your skin, speak with a local cosmetician. If you’re concerned about your skin health, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist.

Anti-aging vs. anti-wrinkle
Anti-wrinkle creams specifically target the lines and creases in your skin. Anti-aging products, however, help reduce various signs of aging including wrinkles, dryness, age spots, and saggy skin.

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