All posts in Teenagers

Diet and Depression

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

A world-first trial to test if a healthy diet can improve the mental health of people with depression is being conducted by Deakin University researchers.

“With depression predicted to become the second-most common cause of disability in the world by 2020, there is an urgent need to look at new ways of treating this illness”, said Associate Professor Felice Jacka, who is leading the study. “While there is now compelling new evidence to suggest that diet plays an important role in the risk of developing depression, there is no existing information on the impact of an improved diet on existing depressive illness. Through this study we want to answer the critically important and frequently asked question ‘If I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?’” Associate Professor Jacka said.

The research team from Deakin’s School of Medicine is now calling on people in Melbourne aged over 18 years with major depression to sign on for the trial which is funded for three years by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The trial will involve taking part in either a three month diet program or social support program. Each program comprises seven 45—60 minute sessions at the research base in Collingwood. In the near future, the trial will also commence at Barwon Health in Geelong.

This trial builds on previous research that has looked at the connection between diet and mental health, including previous studies by Associate Professor Jacka. “I have been involved in five large-scale studies that have examined the connection between aspects of diet and mental health. The results of these studies have linked a healthy diet with a reduced likelihood of having depression,” she said. “It is now time to test whether improving someone’s diet makes them feel better if they are already depressed.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the trial can call 03 8415 0944 or email diet@barwonhealth.org.au

More

Skin Conditions

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Everyone gets the odd spot, but longer-term skin conditions can affect your level of self-confidence, especially if they are on your face. If you are suffering from acne or dry skin, don't worry. There are lots of easy treatments around that can help. Seeing a dietitian like Nastaran to improve your diet may also help with Skin Conditions.

Spots

Most people get spots, and they do always seem to break out when you really don't want them to. They're caused by your glands producing too much sebum – a substance that your body produces naturally to stop your hair drying out. Too much sebum makes your skin oily and causes spots.

Spots usually go away, but there are some things you can do to make them disappear a bit quicker:

  • wash with an anti-bacterial face wash, instead of soap or shower gel, until the spots have gone
  • don't squeeze them, as this can spread the infection and cause more spot outbreaks
  • drinking a couple of pints of water a day can help

If your spots don't seem to be clearing up, you may be suffering from acne. Acne can be a more serious condition, so you should make an appointment with your doctor who can give you a check-up.

Acne

Acne is different from getting a few spots. It can appear on your back, shoulders and chest as well as your face and can sometimes be painful. Whether or not you suffer from acne doesn't depend on your level of personal hygiene; it can sometimes run in the family or it can be caused by high levels of stress.

Some people can get relatively mild forms of acne, where outbreaks are months apart. Others can get quite serious forms of the condition that can lead to scars. Although some sufferers get rid of acne by their early 20s, some people with very sensitive skin can still have the condition a number of years later.

Acne can also affect you emotionally. Sufferers of the condition can often get teased or bullied in school or college. It can also affect someone's self-confidence or body image and can cause stress – which in turn can make acne outbreaks even more severe.

Although special face washes and creams can help some people, serious acne usually needs to be treated with specialist medical treatments. These treatments are only available with a prescription. Make an appointment to see your doctor who can diagnose how serious the acne is decide the best course of action. Your doctor will also be able to talk to you about how to deal with any emotional distress you've suffered.

Dry skin

Patches of dry skin can affect anyone, especially when the weather turns colder and the wind starts to gust. Dry skin can form anywhere, but it's most common on your face, as that's the area that exposed to the cold air.

Using a moisturiser can help, as can using a lip balm if your lips are chapped. If your dry skin lasts for a long time and is itchy or feels hot when you touch it, go and see your doctor. They may be able to prescribe special creams that help more serious forms of dry skin like eczema or dermatitis.

Shaving rash

Teenage boys who shave may find that they get a rash on their chin or neck after shaving. Although it's not painful, you may find it becomes itchy and irritating.

Using moisturiser after you've finished shaving stops your skin from drying out. Using an aftershave that doesn't contain any alcohol can also help if you've got particularly sensitive skin.

Source: Directgov. Reproduced with permission.

More

Taking exams: revision tips

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

By making a plan and organising your time, you can divide your revision into manageable chunks. This will increase your chances of remembering the important facts, and help you avoid last-minute stress.

Find out what you need to know

Make your revision plan as early as possible. This will allow you to work out how much time to spend revising each day and, just as importantly, when to take breaks.

The first step is to get organised: find out when your exam is, and work out how much time you have until then.

Write a revision checklist

Start by dividing the number of days you have until the exam by the number of topics you need to revise. Ask your teacher for a list of topics, or make your own by going through your notes.

Think about any topics that will need more revision time – perhaps you covered them in more detail, or you found them more difficult.

Make a revision plan

When you know how many days you need to spend revising each topic, you'll be able to make revision part of your daily routine. However, you need to be realistic:

  • set aside time on your plan for things you need to do, like going to school and mealtimes
  • split the remaining time into half-hour slots
  • break each topic on your revision checklist down into chunks that you can cover in 30 minutes, and fill your slots with these chunks

Reading your revision notes

When going over your notes, keep in mind what you're looking for:

  • read for detail when you need to a good understanding of the text – take it slowly and ask yourself questions while you're reading
  • 'skim' to get the general idea of a large piece of text – read each paragraph quickly, and identify the main ideas in each one
  • 'scan' to look for a specific piece of information – move quickly through the text, homing in on sub-headings, names, numbers, dates and quotes

Look after yourself

Regular breaks are important if you're going to stay alert while revising. A five-minute break every half-hour is better than a 30-minute break after five hours. Get up, make a drink, tidy your room, check your email – you'll come back refreshed and ready to carry on. Breaks will also help you absorb the information and avoid overload.

Make sure you include a leisure activity in your revision plan twice or three times a week. It's important to set aside time to take your mind off exams.

A healthy mind needs a healthy body, so look after yourself. Lots of sleep and regular exercise will help you stay alert. Your body needs fuel, so eat plenty of easily digestible foods – fresh vegetables and fruit will help keep your energy levels up.

Getting support

If you have any personal problems – for example, with relationships or bullying – there's help available. Try to get support before your revision suffers.

Source: Directgov. Reproduced with permission.

More

Teen Nutrition, Health and Exercise

Teen Nutrition, Health and Exercise
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

fotolia_20436251_s

Dietitians and other health professionals have long recognized the importance of establishing healthful nutrition practices during teenage years. Diet and exercise patterns adopted during these prime developmental years set the stage for life-long habits that can mean the difference between vitality and infirmity in later years.

Your calorie needs vary depending on your growth rate, degree of physical maturation, body composition, and activity level. However, you do need extra nutrients to support the adolescent growth spurt, which, for girls, begins at ages 10 or 11, reaches its peak at age 12, and is completed by about age 15. In boys, it begins at 12 or 13 years of age, peaks at age 14, and ends by about age 19.

In addition to other nutrients, adequate amounts of iron and calcium are particularly important as your body undergoes this intensive growth period. From ages nine to 18 years, both males and females are encouraged to consume a calcium-rich diet (1,300 milligrams daily) in order to ensure adequate calcium deposits in the bones. This may help reduce the incidence of osteoporosis in later years. The recommended calcium intake can be achieved by getting at least three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk daily or the equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese. For those who don’t wish to consume dairy products, a variety of other calcium sources are available such as green, leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified soy products, and other calcium-fortified foods and beverages.

Meal Patterns

To meet energy needs, teenagers should eat at least three meals a day, beginning with breakfast. Studies show eating breakfast affects both cognitive and physical performance; that is, if you eat breakfast, you may be more alert in school and better able to learn and to perform sports or other physical activities.

Snacks also form an integral part of meal patterns for teenagers. You often cannot eat large quantities of food at one sitting and often feel hungry before the next regular mealtime.Healthy mid-morning and midafternoon snacks may be appropriate for you you.

Fast-growing, active teenagers may have tremendous energy needs. Although your regular meals can be substantial, you may need snacks to supply energy between meals and to meet your daily nutrient needs. If you are less active or who have already gone through the growth spurt, you may need to cut out the snacking.

Eating Disorders

Teenager’s food choices are often influenced by social pressure to achieve cultural ideals of thinness, gain peer acceptance, or assert independence from parental authority. These factors may increase your risk for developing eating disorders. An eating disorder is an emotional and physical problem that is associated with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. A teenager with an eating disorder diets, exercises, and/or eats excessively as a way of coping with the physical and emotional changes of adolescence. The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Each type has its own symptoms and diagnosis.

According to the National Mental Health Information Center, as many as 10 million girls and women and one million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (a disorder causing people to severely limit their food intake) or bulimia (a disorder in which people binge and purge by vomiting or using laxatives). Both anorexia and bulimia can lead to convulsions, kidney failure, irregular heartbeats, osteoporosis, and dental erosion. Those suffering from compulsive overeating or binge-eating disorder are at risk for heart attack, developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis, bone deterioration, and stroke.

Seeing a dietitian like Nastaran for medical nutrition therapy as well as seeing a medical specialist for psychotherapy are two integral components in the treatment of eating disorders. These are such complex illnesses that the expertise of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals is required.

Overweight and Obesity

Adults are not alone in the concern about weight management. In addition to the increase in the prevalence of adults who are obese or overweight, adolescent and childhood obesity and overweight are also on the rise.

Data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2004), indicate that 14 percent of two to five year olds and 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 12-19 years in the United States are overweight. The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents has quadrupled and tripled, respectively, in the last 30 years. Only a small percentage of overweight children may attribute their problem to endocrine disorder or other underlying physical problems. Overweight and obesity can be determined by Body Mass Index (BMI).

If you are overweight, you need to reduce the rate of weight gain while still allowing for growth and development. Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Therefore, health professionals emphasize healthful eating and the importance of physical activity as a life-long approach to weight management and to overall good health and quality of life. Before going on a diet, a healthcare provider and/or dietitian like Nastaran should always be consulted.

Physical Activity

Strong bones, good muscle tone, and lower risk of developing chronic diseases are some of the key benefits derived from regular physical activity. Furthermore, being physically active promotes psychological well-being and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Adolescent and School Health, 77 percent of children aged nine to 13 years participate in free-time physical activity and only 39 percent engage in organized physical activity. Among high school students, 63 percent participate in vigorous physical activity and just 25 percent engage in sufficient moderate physical activity. Twelve percent engage in little or no physical activity at all.

Participation in physical activity tends to decline as you get older. The long-term consequences of physical inactivity include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and premature death. To maintain good health status you should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week

Source: International Food Information Council

More