Moods That Shouldn’t Be Ignored


Parents of adolescents know--sometimes all too well--that the teen-age years often bring about personality changes in their kids. A child with a sunny disposition can abruptly turn surly and withdrawn, and what teen-ager hasn’t said, “I’m soooo depressed”?

Even when confronted with strange new habits--an obsession with cleanliness or a need to chew each bite of food 60 times--wise parents generally don’t make a big deal over adolescent phases. New research suggests, however, it’s good to keep an eye on some behavioral changes. The National Institute of Mental Health has discovered that several disorders long thought to begin in adulthood often start in the teens:

* Serious depression is likely to appear at one of two peak times: ages 15 to 19, or 25 to 29.

* Alcohol and drug abuse usually starts between the ages of 15 and 19.

* Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can compel sufferers to repeat meaningless rituals--say, hand washing--often first appears in girls when they’re 15 to 19.


How does a parent know when a teen-ager needs professional help?

“Any time your child significantly alters his or her regular pattern of sleeping, eating, friendships, schoolwork or relating to the family, there may be cause for concern,” says Mary Lindsay, a psychotherapist at the Menninger Clinic in Prairie Village, Kan. “A calm discussion with the child about any struggles or concerns helps both parties put things in perspective. Then, if they’re still worried, parents can consult a therapist to decide whether treatment is warranted.”

Colleen O’Callaghan has recently been appointed director of the classical dance department at the Orange County High School of the Arts in Los Alamitos.

“(She) will be a tremendous asset to serious students of dance in Southern California,” said Ralph S. Opacic, executive director of OCHSA. “I am optimistic that under her leadership, the classical dance program will increase in numbers, the quality of performance will continue to improve, and the musical experience the young people and the community will receive will be exceptional.”

O’Callaghan holds a bachelor of science degree in dance psychology from the University of Utah. She has studied with the American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey School, the Louisville Ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet and Bella Lewitsky. She has served on the faculties of the California Institute of the Arts, the Stanley Holden Dance Center, the Westside School of Ballet, Ballet West, the Repertory Dance Theatre and the Louisville Ballet.

“I love the traveling. But the business end of it is a real pain. I didn’t think it would be this involved. I didn’t want to work--that’s why I became a musician.”

--Doug Gordon, songwriter and founding member of the group Tangier