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Have you noticed that you are sad, mad or stressed too much of the time?  

You are not alone.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 7% of the population, have some degree of sadness that can be called depression. 

Approximately 20% of children and adolescents are sad, mad or stressed, hyperactive, or afraid too much of the time and would benefit from some form of therapy. 

Do any of these emotions or traits keep you from getting good grades? 

There are a couple of possible reasons and solutions. 

Don’t let feeling sad, mad or stressed keep you down.

  • Stress. 

Do you have too many problems?  Are problems building up and making you worry?    A little stress is good.  It keeps us moving.  Too much stress for too long can get you down.  There are a couple of things you can do to help yourself.  Learn how to relax your mind and body.  There are plenty of books and CD’s to help you do that.  Talk to someone about what is bothering you.  A friend, parent, grandparent or teacher can help you gain another view of or help you solve your problem.

  • Trauma. 

sad, mad or stressedHave you experienced trauma in your life.  For instance, bullying, loss of a friend, or abuse can be a trauma. 

If you have too many traumas in your life, it can make you feel sad, worried, or mad.  If something happens today that reminds you of the old trauma, it can make your reaction to it twice as big as it might ordinarily be.

  Try to separate what is now from what was then and separate the emotion that belongs to each.  There’s no need to double up on the sad or mad.

See if you are over-reacting because it feels like some other really bad time in your life.  Remind yourself that the two events are not the same and you have more skills to handle the problem today than when you were younger.

  • Good Health. 

Healthy eating and exercise can improve anyone’s mood.  Make sure you are taking care of your body because your mind, body and mood are connected.  If you neglect one part, it may not be doing as much for you as it can.

  • Genetic. 

Some people’s brain chemistry makes them automatically more mad, sad, worried, afraid, or unfocused than others. 

For instance, if you have too little serotonin in your brain, you may be sad much of the time.  (Sunshine gives you serotonin and can be helpful sometimes.)  If you have tried relaxing, problem solving and talking to a friend or adult and you still feel bad, it may be time to see a doctor. 

It is no different than if you need glasses to get good grades.  You will have trouble being successful in school if you are sad, mad, worried, or unfocused much of the time.  You may need medication or therapy.  See a doctor, social worker, or psychologist to see if professional help is in order.

  • Who can you change? 

The only person you can change is sitting in your chair.  None of us have things go our way all of the time and that can be frustrating.  However, don’t waste your time trying to change another person.  You can change your behavior or how you look at things, but you cannot change other people.

  • When do you need more help? 

When you feel sad, mad, worried or unfocused and it interferes with your school or home life in any way, it may be time to get more help.  We all need some extra help when times are rough. 

If after talking to a friend, teacher, minister, or parent, you still feel bad.   If you feel bad when life is good, then something more, such as a counselor, may be needed.

  • Counselors. 

School counselors are available in many schools and you can ask for an appointment.  What you say is confidential unless you say you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.  

The counselor’s job, above all, is to keep you and others safe and then to help you solve problems and feel better.  When your school does not have counselors, ask to speak with a favorite teacher.

  • Bullying. 

When you are being bullied, Bullies are hard to stop.  You need adults to solve the problem.  Talk to you teacher, principal, or parent.  Keep talking until the bullying is stopped.

  • Negative Thinking. 

Negative thinking can contribute to sad, mad, worried or unfocused.  Is the glass half empty or half full?  It is both.  A negative thought may be, “I never have any friends.” 

Add to this thought, “Sally used to be my friend. Maybe I should go see her.” Always put a positive thought with a negative one and never say never.     

  • Suicidal Feelings. 

Suicidal feelings are always serious and need professional help.  Many people have them, so you are not alone.  They will not go away by themselves.  It is OK to ask for help.  Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem that has a solution.  If this is how you feel, go talk to an adult now.

  • Feeling like you want to hurt someone else. 

Feeling like you want to hurt someone else is also a serious problem that needs professional help.  People who want to hurt someone else usually have been hurt themselves. 

They have had trauma in their lives.  If this is how you feel, get professional help for the trauma and you won’t want to hurt someone and do something you will regret for the rest of your life.

  • Hearing voices. 

Hearing voices or seeing things that other say is not there is also a serious problem that needs professional help.  You are not alone.  Talk to an adult about getting help.  You can feel much better, usually with medication and therapy.

If you feel sad, mad or stressed too much of the time, this is a summary of the steps to take. 

If one step does not work within a few weeks, move to the next step:

  • Try to solve the problem that is causing you stress
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Talk to a friend, teacher, parent or other adult
  • Seek professional counseling or therapy

Have a great school year!! 

kathy seifert, ph.d.Dr. Kathryn Seifert , Executive Director of Eastern Shore Psychological Services, has worked for over 30 years in the areas of mental health, criminal justice, and addictions and has provided treatment and assessment services to youth and adults in community settings.

She holds a Ph.D. and is a licensed psychologist in Maryland. Dr. Seifert has specialized in the assessment and treatment of youth and adults. She has lectured both nationally and internationally and provides training on the topics of “Assessing the Risk for Violence,” “Attachment Disorders,” and “Attachment Violence & Assessment.”

Her books and CD’s include: How Children Become Violent, Youth Violence, and Relax. Her blog can be found on the Psychology Today website . She has appeared on CNN and Discovery ID.

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