Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Why are the hours from 3pm-6pm important

We’re all busy… we work, we parent, we try to have a bit of time for self-care. Teens are busy too! Most get up early, go to school, then come home, work on homework and get ready for bed just to start the day again. Over the past few months, I’ve heard multiple times about the importance of a few key hours in a teen’s day: the hours of 3pm-6pm. What is so different about this small part of the day? Read full post »

Preventing Teen Marijuana Abuse

MarijuanaEvery time I meet with a teen for the first time I ask a series of questions. Most are open ended inquiries about their hobbies, their friends and family, and what motivates them to do their best. I also ask a few screening questions to get a sense of whether or not they’re engaging in risky behaviors. A trend I’ve noticed over the past 5 years is that more and more teens are telling me they’ve tried marijuana.

A new documentary called “Marijuana Documentary – Northwest Trees” was created and produced by Ben Grayzel. It features one of our guest bloggers Dr. Leslie Walker and offers commentary from teens and young adults in the Pacific Northwest on marijuana. While I may not condone some of the behaviors featured, I definitely admire the candid responses. Teens talk about availability of marijuana, perceptions of peer use, and discuss whether or not they think it’s helpful or harmful. Read full post »

Should my teen get a job?

I was reminiscing about my first job recently. Though my parents had provided an allowance for completing certain chores, the first time I worked outside of the home and received pay from a non-relative was at the age of 12. Our neighbors had young children and needed a night out every once in awhile. As the responsible oldest sibling (out of 4) they felt safe enough to allow me to put their kids to bed and go dinner. My reward for playing with kids and putting them to bed was $10. I was then hooked on earning money! Read full post »

Teens and risk of DUI

A recent article in the Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was one of the first to look over time at teens’ risk of driving under the influence (DUI) or riding with a drinking driver (RWDD). Motor vehicle accidents are one of the top 3 leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the US. We have written about the dangers of driving while texting & driving while using drugs in the past.  At the same time, we’ve emphasized that parents are crucial in setting expectations, boundaries, and consequences for teen drug use. This article provides even stronger evidence for characteristics and perceptions that are risk factors for teen DUI. Read full post »

How do we teach compassion?

iStock_000014694151XSmallFor many of my friends and colleagues the holiday season from the months of November through January is their favorite time of year. We have family gatherings, time off of work to spend with our kids, great meals, and exchanging of gifts. However, I just drove into a parking lot of a large home improvement store and saw numerous people waiting for the opportunity to do work. Others who had holes in their jackets and looked like they hadn’t eaten in days, and some who simply held signs asking for any help a person could spare. Seeing all of these people was a blunt reminder that not everyone has all of their basic human needs met. I drive by this store routinely, but I’ve become desensitized to the people in the parking lot. It made me ask, “Where has my compassion gone?” Read full post »

Mental Health in Teens: What to expect at the Doctor’s Office

Mental health disorders afflict many teens (nearly 1 in 3 will have thoughts of sadness). In this post, guest Dr. Laura Richardson provides information on making the diagnosis of depression and what types of treatment your doctor may discuss.

How will my teen’s doctor diagnose depression?

The diagnosis of depression is usually based on the symptoms that your teen reports feeling such as depressed mood, loss of interest in doing things, low energy and difficulty concentrating. Some doctors make this diagnosis based on talking with your teen and you and some might use tools, like paper questionnaires, to help them make the diagnosis.

How common is depression in teens?

Depression is one of the most common health issues in teenagers. Estimates of how many teens have depression at any given time range from 5-8%. Over the course of adolescence (up to age 18), about one in five teens will experience an episode of major depression. Read full post »

My teen just came out, now what

young loveI have the privilege of working with teens around many aspects of their lives including sexuality and reproductive health. While my professional focus is on the health and well-being of teens, adolescents live with and are accompanied by parents. My day to day encounters often include a significant amount of conversation with parents. Now most parents are a bit uncomfortable discussing their teens reproductive health. Add in sexuality that differs from the majority, and the conversation becomes even more challenging. These terms may change, but all of them mean their teen is disclosing they are a sexual minority. Read full post »

Preventing Gun Violence: Don’t Ignore the Signs

teeninjailThis week marks the one year anniversary of the tragic Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting. As I reflect on the events of the previous year, gun violence comes up in multiple settings: The school shooting in my own state, the shooting of people gathering at a church in the South, and other incidents that occurred around the nation with less media coverage, but with equally devastating consequences for families and friends. As a provider in Snohomish County, I also think about many of my patients who were affected by this tragedy. My patients and their parents have described the feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, and fear that something like this will happen again. This reflection leaves me with a sense of urgency that we as a community need to do more. We must answer questions to understand what brings a youth to the breaking point, how do we know if someone is having homicidal and/or suicidal thoughts and, most importantly, how can we prevent future tragedies? Read full post »

The Impact of Implicit Bias

Think about the encounters you have with strangers every day. When you stop by the grocery store and notice people in the check out line, what comes to mind? Does the young parent with multiple very small children bring up any emotions or thoughts? What do you think of the food items being purchased by the person who is underweight or overweight? How do you react when a group of teens with darkly dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos is standing in the doorway? Now consider a group of clean-cut teens? Everyone has biases: those subconscious perceptions of people around us. They shape our actions and judgements. But, biases are often incorrect. They are generalizations about a group based on our cultural norms or expectations, but may have no actual basis in reality. For example, the parent with multiple young children in the check out line may be a nanny not a single parent. The clean-cut teens in the doorway may be waiting for a peer who is stealing alcohol while the pierced and tattooed teens are trying to advocate for ending childhood hunger. Read full post »

Powdered Caffeine Dangers

Coffee cup illustrationIt’s the Fall. With this season comes the return of cable knit sweaters, closed toed shoes, pumpkin spice, and early mornings as school starts again. Oh those early mornings! Getting up for school is hard and teens may be tempted to use some outside help to not only wake up in the mornings, but to stay up late to finish homework projects. One substance that is making headlines (again) is caffeine. It’s in our coffee, tea, chocolate milk. Adults use this substance quite a lot (just look at all the coffee carts, cafes, & break rooms that are bustling by 8am!) and companies have found a new way to supply consumers with their daily fix of the substance. Unfortunately, the new product can be dangerous. Read full post »