Sixteen to Nineteen Year Visit
Becoming an adult is a long, complicated, sometimes painful, and exciting process. As you reach your later teen years, you have found new independence (undoubtedly after much negotiation and often with some angry exchanges with your parents) as you all try to understand each other.
You have attempted and accomplished many difficult tasks and assumed new responsibilities at home, school, and often at a job. You have wondered, worried about, and enjoyed your changing and maturing body, as well as experienced the exciting new feelings of your sexuality. You have developed friendships and established yourself within a group of friends. You no longer care so much about what everyone else thinks and does, and can make decisions in your best interest. You have had many new ideas, and tried lots of new things-some good for you and some not so good. Not everything you have done has been successful; you have tried and failed sometimes. You know now that to lose a game or to fall on your face can be an important lesson.
You may have experimented with smoking, alcohol, or drugs. These substances provide an easy, but harmful way to deal with the stresses of life situations. Not only do drugs jeopardize your health, but they fail to solve your problems. Alcohol, in particular, can inhibit clear thinking, resulting in actions which you may regret later.
Perhaps you have become sexually active; this experience arises from strong feelings but can expose you to serious sexually transmitted disease. Remember that your partner may have shared sex with someone else and you will share his or her past. AIDS is fatal. Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, and human papilloma virus (genital warts) can be treated, but must first be diagnosed. Genital warts are associated with the development of cancer.
An unexpected and unwanted pregnancy could suddenly alter plans for your future and force you to make difficult choices. Condoms help prevent sexually transmitted disease, but are only 80% effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence is an alternative which avoids all of these problems. Saving intense sexual intimacy for marriage is an idea you might seriously consider. Please feel free to talk to us if you would like advice in this area.
It is normal to have intense feelings of sadness or joy about your life. There are powerful hormones surging in your veins which motivate and at times dominate your thinking and actions. You have probably felt depressed, confused, and overwhelmed at times. At other moments, the world has belonged to you. You may need more support with this challenging task of growing up and we can help you if you will share your concerns with us. Sadness that does not lift or becomes deeper, especially if it interferes with your daily living, is a good reason to seek help.
The AAP recommends vitamin D supplementation for all children/adolescents. After reviewing the literature, it certainly looks like many people may benefit from vitamin D, although not everyone necessarily needs it. Some risk factors that might make you vitamin D deficient include: dark skin (African-americans, Indians, Hispanics), time spent indoors and not out in the sunlight (particularly in the winter months), low amount of milk consumption (less than 16 oz a day – about 2 glasses), and obesity. The recommended dose is 400 IU (international units) once daily. This can be bought over the counter in either liquid, chewable, or pill form. Another option would be a multivitamin.
You will move on to college, a job, or another career choice. Your decision will not be easy. Hopefully, you see the adult world more clearly: you have found mentors and role models you admire, and you have also discovered how imperfect and disappointing adults can be.
We hope you have grown up with a good feeling about yourself, your abilities, and your role in the world. We want you to know that we are available to help you with any aspects of your mental and physical health, and we wish you well.