Teen Health; Lifestyle Tips

Teen Health; Lifestyle Tips

Depression and Teenage Girls

Girls are twice as likely as boys to be depressed and nearly twice as likely as boys to consider suicide. But signs of depression in teens are often not obvious. So be on the lookout for:

sadness that lasts for longer than two weeks

persistent tearfulness, crying


decreased interest in activities

persistent boredom

social isolation

guilt and low self esteem

increased irritability

difficulty with relationships

frequent complaints headaches and stomachaches

thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior.

If your daughter has one or more of these symptoms and you suspect she might be depressed, talk to a health care professional as soon as possible.

Nutrition and Adolescent Girls

Girls grow faster during adolescence than at any other time in their lives except for infancy. That requires a mountain of vitamins and minerals best found in food, totaling an average of 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day, depending on your activity level. But all too often teenage-girls don’t eat a balanced diet and don’t get the nutrients they need. For instance, they often don’t get enough calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis, or iron, which can lead to anemia.

Refocus your teen’s diet to include at least one and a half to two cups of fruit, two and a half cups of vegetables, and three cups of milk a day. Keep nutritional snacks like cut up fruit, pretzels, cheese sticks, individual yogurts and butter-free popcorn, on hand. Don’t bring soft drinks into the house. Set a good example by eating nutritiously yourself at home or while dining out.

Exercise and Adolescent Girls

Life-long exercise habits are formed in adolescence, so it’s important that parents encourage their teens to be active. That means some form of activity every day, with more vigorous activity (resulting in a sustained increased heart rate) at least 30 minutes a day most days per week, more if she needs to lose weight. Whether it’s on organized teams or through individual sports or exercise programs, the main message should be to get out and move. For instance, parents should encourage their daughters’ interest in challenging activities, such as rock climbing, cycling, skiing or snowboarding. Try and make exercise a family affair. Go for a bike ride or hit the trails together. Give your teenager a pedometer and challenge her to collect at least 11,000 to 12,000 steps a day (the amount recommended for adolescents). Once she hits that figure, challenge her to more.

Tattoos and Body Piercings

If you hear that your daughter is considering body art, make sure she understands the potential risks: infections, scar tissue and draining wounds for piercings; and allergic reactions or diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS from instruments used for tattoos. Even the trendy temporary henna tattoos can result in months of pain and discomfort, and a lifelong allergy to a common chemical found in the dyes. Tongue piercing can cause swelling that closes off the airway; choking risks from loose jewelry; uncontrollable bleeding and nerve damage; or chipped or cracked teeth. If you do this, make sure the procedure is performed with sterile equipment by a certified professional whose shop is clean, much like a medical facility.

Adolescent Girls and the Sun

Remind your teen about the basics of protecting her skin from the sun. If she’s going to be in the sun, she should slather on at least two tablespoons of sunscreen at least every two hours, more often if she’s swimming or sweating. Encourage her to cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) light protection. And if she’s prone to freckles, sunburns easily or has light-colored hair or eyes, urge her to keep sun exposure at a minimum and have a health care professional examine her skin regularly. Between visits, she should examine her own skin for signs of any mole that’s changed size or shape.

Menstrual Complaints in Teenaged Girls

Your daughter isn’t just trying to get out of gym class–it’s common for teenage girls to have unusually severe cramps and heavy periods. Don’t just write an excuse note, however. Take her to see a medical professional. If there’s nothing medically wrong, your health care professional or nurse practitioner can prescribe ibuprofen for the pain, or even oral contraceptives to help with cramping and heavy blood flow. Although girls generally begin menstruating between ages nine and 13, if they’re not menstruating by 16, see a health care professional. Also check with him or her if your daughter has very heavy periods. Heavy bleeding could result in anemia or indicate a clotting disorder such as VonWillebrand’s disease.


“Teen Drug Abuse Declinces Across Wide Front.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institutes of Health. Press Release. December 19, 2003. http://www.nida.nih.gov. Last updated: July 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Results From the 2003 Monitoring the Future Study.” Office of National Drug Control Policy. http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov. Last updated: July 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Ecstacy.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institutes of Health. Press Release. December 19, 2003. Last updated July 2004. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Task Force Recommends Regular Cervical Cancer Screening but Supports Less Frequent Screening for Some Women.” Press Release. January 22, 2003; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.ahrq.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Learn About Cervical Cancer.” American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“FDA Proposes New Warnings for Over-the-Counter Contraceptive Drugs Containing Nonoxynol-9.” FDA Talk Paper. January 16, 2003. http://www.fda.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Alcohol Poisoning. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Dept. of Transportation. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol’s Effects?” Alcohol Alert. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Publication No. 46. Dec. 1999. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Keeling RP. “Binge drinking and the college environment” Journal of American College Health. Vol. 50, Issue 5. March 2002.

“Trends in College Binge Drinking During a Period of Increased Prevention Efforts: Findings From 4 Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study Surveys: 1993-2001” Harvard School of Public Health. March 2002. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Wechsler H, et al, “Underage college students’ drinking behavior, access to alcohol, and the influence of deterrence policies.” Journal of American College Health. Vol. 50, Issue 5, March 2002.

“A Message to Teenagers–How to Tell When Drinking Is Becoming a Problem.” Alcoholics Anonymous. Copyright 2005. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org. Accessed June 2005.

“Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder: What is an Eating Disorder?” National Eating Disorders Association. Copyright 2002. http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Blackstone, Margaret, and Elissa Haden Guest. Girl Stuff: A Survival Guide To Growing Up. San Diego: Gulliver Books (Harcourt). 2000.

“Public Lice Infestation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Parasitic Diseases. http://www.cdc.gov. Reviewed October 21`, 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Trichomonas Infection.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Parasitic Disease. http://www.cdc.gov. Reviewed September 29, 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Jukes, Mavis. Growing Up: It’s a Girl Thing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1998.

“How is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Treated?” pmddfactsforhealth.org. http://www.pmdd.factsforhealth.org. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Premenstrual Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com. Published January 23, 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Eating Disorder Info and Resources. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. http://www.anad.org. Published 2000. Accessed June 10, 2005.

The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. “Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol.” http://www.health.org. No publication date. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Fact Sheet: Human Papillomavirus and Genital Warts.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov. Published July 2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“Sexually Transmitted Infections.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov. Accessed June 10, 2005.

National Women’s Health Resource Center. “Bacterial Vaginosis.” http://www.healthywomen.org. Reviewed 2005. Accessed June 10, 2005.

National Women’s Health Resource Center. “Chlamydia.” http://www.healthywomen.org. Reviewed 12/2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

National Women’s Health Resource Center. “Gonorrhea.” http://www.healthywomen.org. Reviewed 1/2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

National Women’s Health Resource Center. “Trichomoniasis.” http://www.healthywomen.org. Reviewed 1/2004. Accessed June 10, 2005.

National Women’s Health Resource Center. “Yeast Infections.” http://www.healthywomen.org. Reviewed 12/04. Accessed June 10, 2005.

Trends in Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students–United States, 1991–2001, MMWR, September 27, 2002 / 51(38);856-859

TeensHealth (The Nemours Foundation). “Body Image and Self-Esteem.” http://www.kidshealth.org. Accessed June 10, 2005.

“FDA Licenses New Vaccine for Prevention of Cervical Cancerand Other Diseases in Females Caused by Human Papillomavirus. Rapid Approval Marks Major Advancement in Public Health.” June 8, 2006. Press release. http://www.fda.gov.

“Annual pap smears may not be necessary.” The American Cancer Society. September 11, 2000. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed June 2006.

Adolescent Wellness and Reproductive Education Foundation. 2004. http://www.awarefoundation.org. Accessed June 2006.

“Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002 A Fact Sheet for Series 23, Number 24.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2002. http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed June 2006.

“Statistics: Eating Disorders and their Precursors.” The National Eating Disorders Association. 2005. http://www.edap.org. Accessed June 2006.

Faden, VB. “Trends in initiation of alcohol use in the United States 1975 to 2003.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006 Jun;30(6):1011-22. Accessed June 2006.

“Dietary guidelines for Americans 2005.” The Department of Health and Human Services. January 2005. http://www.healthierus.gov. Accessed June 2006.

Wecshler, H et al. “Underage College Students’ Drinking Behavior, Access to Alcohol, and the Influence of Deterrence Policies: Findings from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study.” Journal of American College Health, Vol. 50, No. 5. Accessed June 2006.

“Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth.” 2006. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org Accessed June 2006.

“Trends in Lifetime Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Graders.” The Monitoring the Future Study, the University of Michigan. 2005. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org. Accessed June 2006.

“Child and Adolescent Health: Selected U.S. National Research Findings.” The Office of Women’s Health, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 10, 2006. http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed June 2006.

“Adolescent Smoking Statistics.” The American Lung Association. November 2003. http://www.lungusa.org. Accessed June 2006.

“Teens’ Drug Use Decline Dramatically, According to MTF Results.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse. April 2004. http://www.nida.nih.gov. Accessed June 2006.

Keywords: Debilitating,bipolar disorder,Fibroids,Protriptyline

COPYRIGHT 2005 National Women’s Health Resource Center

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group