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Teen In Crisis

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The gray area between childhood and adulthood known as being a teenager is one of the most fascinating and difficult periods a human being will go through. The impishness of the early years fades as the body and brain grow with capabilities. Feelings of sexuality emerge for the first time. The ability to take care of the self gets stronger. With this growth comes responsibility, but the teenager is yet unequipped to deal with it.

More often than not, being a teenager feels like an uncontrollable experience. It is. Hormonal changes alone dictate that teenagers will be difficult. They themselves will not know what they're feeling from one minute to the next. Inevitably, this leads the teenager to a crisis.

The crisis is natural. Feelings of restlessness, identity problems, and difficulties responding to peer pressure are to be expected. The question is how the internal crisis manifests itself, and this is where the danger arises. Drugs, alcohol, depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, self-mutilation, violence, disinterest and hopelessness are all possibilities.

Cause and Manifestation
The manifestation should not be confused for the cause, however. The manifestation is a teenager's way of telling the world they are struggling. It will have to be addressed, of course, but more importantly, a parent, guardian or counselor should be trying to help the teenager discover the cause of his problems. Sometimes they are hormonal and will pass in time. Other times they can be related to a difficult home life or an undue pressure for success.

How the teenager handles the crisis depends on the individual, his family, school and support system. More often than not, if the crisis escalates to a level that the child cannot function, or is hurting others, it is time to take action, possibly with professional help. There should be no shame in this. These are difficult years and we as a society are still trying to understand them.

The Anti-Hero
The teen in crisis is often a romanticized anti-hero given a free pass. Films like "Rebel Without a Cause" and "The Outsiders" turn the struggling teen into the rational hero in an otherwise mad world. Sociologists will debate the merits of this caricature for years to come. But whatever the case, the issues that a teenager faces are no joke, especially to the teenager. A child can do serious damage, to himself and others, very quickly, often irreparably.

A certain amount of depression and experimentation in teens is to be expected, as it is in adults. The world is a difficult place. Things don't always go the way we want them to or necessarily make sense. Finding our way through the maze will always involve struggles and trial-and-error. The difference with the teenager lies in his inability to monitor himself, or see the big picture.

Caring For a Teen in Crisis
While there are distinct steps a parent or guardian can take, and there are professionals to help understand them, the most important element in helping a troubled teen is care. Letting a teenager in crisis know that they are loved is essential to helping them find a solution. Without support, the problems could deepen, as the teenager will feel further guilt and anger.

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