The 5 Best Strategies to Cope with Financial Stress

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released their Stress in America 2020 report and (to no one’s surprise, honestly) money is reported to be a significant source of stress. That is, 64% of the Americans surveyed reported financial stress — a number which jumps to 73% when looking at income levels below $50k.

That’s not good. Ok, that’s terrible. (Still an understatement). We know the past years have been full of special circumstances, but even as we live and survive through “unprecedented times,” the reality is that we will have to face the consequences of this stress. 

At first it might show up as anxiety, trouble sleeping, or headaches, but if the stress is unrelenting, research also points to chronic health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Do we have your attention yet?

Financial stress can also be a sensitive subject for a lot of people. It happens to be one of those things we don’t talk about openly, and we get it. We understand why. Some people might feel ashamed or embarrassed by the state of their finances. Others have a hard time asking for help because they’re afraid of being judged or looked down upon. And for many, trying to understand money management in itself is completely overwhelming!

Even if you feel lost, keep in mind that you’re not the only one experiencing financial stress. And if you’re facing financial stress, it’s not because you are simply bad with money. The truth is, you may not have been exposed to the world of finance before and you don’t know its language — the term we like to throw around for that is “financial literacy.” 

What Is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is a fancy way of talking about the ability to understand how money works. That sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? “There must be sooo much to know about money before you know how it works.” Yes, and no! Before you go on picturing yourself as a character in The Wolf of Wall Street, keep in mind that you can start small. Financial literacy is about learning a few principles that you can apply regardless of how much money you make.

Basically, you’re making a plan for your money. That usually starts off with budgeting, which helps you track where your income is spent to ensure all of your bills and necessities are covered. You also learn how to save money, either for emergencies or for big purchases that you’re working towards. When you’re ready, you can start setting goals for yourself, whether that is saving for future tuition, paying off debts, or investing a portion of your savings. Having a plan for your money sets you on the right path and makes you feel less uncertain about your finances. Does that mean less financial stress in your future? You bet.

How Financial Stress Harms Mental Health

It’s no surprise that dealing with financial stress can take a serious toll on your mental health. You might feel like you have no sense of control over your life or that your finances are holding you back. This can create a ton of anxiety and cause you to shut down emotionally or avoid the problem. 

Maybe you stop checking your bank account or refuse to open your mail because you don’t want to see how bad your finances have gotten. But it’s still in the back of your mind, no matter how much you try to ignore the issue.

It’s also common to cope with financial stress by turning to unhealthy habits, like drinking/smoking/etc. more than you normally would. Built-up stress can also make you irritable, moody and not like yourself. Out of shame, you might isolate yourself from the people in your life. This only makes you feel even more alone in the situation.

Financial stress can also lower your self-esteem and self-worth. Your inner critic might pipe up with negative self-talk, making you wonder why you can’t be as good with your money as other people. You might also be dealing with lower energy levels, less sleep and lack of focus. Your performance at school or work might be affected, making you feel even worse about yourself. When stress has taken over, your normal routine might feel next to impossible!

It’s scary reading about all of the negative ways financial stress can impact your mental health…but you know what we’re NOT going to do? Leave you here, on this scary and depressing note. Let’s learn some coping strategies to deal with your financial stress!

5 Coping Strategies for Financial Stress

If there was a way we could take all of your stress and make it go POOF, we would. So the best thing we can do instead is give you a few coping strategies that might make the strain of your finances and the anxiety around them a little easier to bear. Let’s dive thru them together!

1. Learn About Money

One of the best ways to tackle your financial stress is to get to the source of the problem. If your stress is related to money management and not knowing what it takes to plan your personal finances, start there. And full transparency, it might be really intimidating at first but give yourself the time and space to learn and be kind to yourself as you’re starting out. Whether you’re starting with some basic budgeting lessons or beginning to learn about methods of investing, allow yourself to not be good at it right away. The focus here is on the long term, so try to build a consistent practice and continue to reinforce your awesome new habits.

2. Reach Out for Support

If you feel overwhelmed and need some advice for your personal situation, don’t feel ashamed to reach out. Having a support system can help you achieve your goals and you get to decide who is part of that system! 

Maybe your friends and family have been through a similar situation in the past and they have some wisdom to impart. Or maybe you don’t want them involved at all, and you’d much rather talk to your therapist about the stress! What about a financial advisor? Would reaching out to an expert help alleviate some of your stress? 

Do what you think is best for you! Just keep in mind that having a support system to help you out will eliminate some of the stress and make you feel less alone.

3. Keep Practicing Self-Care

When we feel stressed, we start to neglect self-care. That’s not ok. You could use it now more than ever! And it doesn’t have to be expensive or add to your financial stress. You can go for a walk, bake some cookies, read, stretch, you name it. There are tons of self-care ideas for stress to choose from. Find ways to de-stress and look after your wellbeing. Mark out time in your calendar for it. It makes all the difference!

4. Write Down Your Accomplishments

Journaling is a great practice to reflect and celebrate on your progress. We’ve been shouting this from the rooftops since day one because journaling has so many positive benefits for your mental health. 

When it comes to your financial stress, you can learn how to set goals with journaling. Use it as a helpful tool for tracking your accomplishments. Then when you hit a financial goal, write about how rewarding or even stress-relieving it feels.

You can also use journaling to think through and reflect on other aspects of financial stress that are completely and utterly outside of your control, like systemic barriers, racism, or other inequities that you experience. Writing it down can help you cope with some of the emotions that come up from these larger systemic factors, espcially if you don’t feel like this is something you can share with your loved ones. 

You can look back on these entries whenever you need inspiration to keep going with your goals or when you need an emotional check-in.

Better yet, you can look back on these entries yeeaarrsss from now when you’re visiting the Maldives.

5. Reward Yourself

After putting a ton of time and effort into managing your finances, you deserve to reward yourself! Whenever you meet a financial goal that you’ve been working hard towards, do something nice for yourself. It’s okay to treat yourself to a movie, dinner or buy something nice as a reward for what you’ve achieved. It wasn’t easy!

While these strategies are helpful for coping with financial stress, they’re not long term solutions and they certainly don’t address systemic issues that we as a society need to address. The best thing you can do to overcome your financial stress is to eliminate the source of the stress to the best of your abilities. Your mental health and wellbeing will thank you for it. 

Also, keep in mind that financial literacy is not a superpower that anyone is born with. You’ve got this!


The Ultimate Guide to Teen Mental Health

We like to think that we know everything there is to know about teenagers. Heck, we were teens once! It might also feel like we’re fresh out of high school ourselves, but the reality is that we are adults now. We don’t know the trends (even when we try SO hard to keep-up), and we don’t know what teens are going through these days. The landscape of school has changed dramatically — and we can’t even BEGIN to fathom what growing up with social media is like, or what its effect is on teen mental health. Many of us young adults were just on the cusp of the social media revolution! But teens these days have grown up with so much more than just AOL and MSN. 

The reality is that we know nothing about teens and their mental health. They’re more aware and open about their mental health than any generation before them! And, even though we might think that we’re hip and ‘with the times,’ we actually have no clue what’s going on. But that’s why we’re here today! We’re here to share with you the ultimate guide to teen mental health! 

Most Common Mental Health Challenges Teens Face 

Teenagers today are faced with a unique set of challenges that many of us have never had to think about when we were growing up. The internet has grown and expanded far beyond Ask Jeeves and MSN Messenger. Now, there are a billion and a half social media sites and there’s constant texting to keep up with your friends 24/7, school work that no adult knows how to do because it’s so complicated, and a planet that doesn’t stand a chance against humanity. All of that, plus the general — and social — pressures of being a teenager…it all really SUCKS! It’s seriously amazing that not every single teenager out there is struggling with their mental health!

If it’s been a few years since you were in high school…well, the world has changed, dear friend! It’s a whooooooole new landscape in those middle school and high school halls! But, if you are wanting to understand teen mental health (or if you’re a teenager looking to help yourself), you’re in the right place! We’re covering as many things as we possibly can in this article, so get ready for some reading!

Depression in Teens

Who here has been personally victimized by depression

Yep, us too! It’s no surprise that a kid between the ages of 12-17 could have a depressive disorder, because think about it — how could they not these days? Having depression as a teenager can be really scary! And, it’s difficult recognizing and managing such intense emotions, so the depression can begin impacting other parts of their life. 

Depression in teens can manifest in many different ways. Maybe they begin to pull away from their friendships. Perhaps they have become really apathetic to everything. They might run away from home as a cry for help. Or, maybe they’ve become addicted to their phone in order to escape their own reality. (And, it’s hard to cope with depression when you might not even know that you have it!)

It’s important that parents keep an eye out for any problems at school that might come up. This can include problems with concentration, attendance, or a drastic and sudden drop in grades. Teenagers also might try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. It’s normal to expect teens to experiment with this (ahem…we may or may not have), but keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t become an unhealthy way to cope. Reckless behaviour like sex, drugs, alcohol and self-harm are all ways that teenagers might try and manage their depression. 

Depression can impact so many other aspects of a teen’s emotional health. It can play into lowering their self-esteem, make them more violent and reactive, aggravate eating disorders and encourage suicidal thoughts. It’s so much more than just feeling sad! So, don’t be afraid to do the “un-cool” thing and ask to see a doctor for help.

Anxiety in Teens

Coping with anxiety as a teenager is not even remotely easy! The body’s fight-flight-freeze response is so visceral that it can be terrifying to even just FEEL anxious! Think about it, your body reacts in such new and intense ways that it’s only normal for a teen to have a hard time coping with it. 

Anxiety in teens can manifest in a number of different ways. And, to be fair, how could it not? Think about everything that teenagers have to face! They have the pressure of school, they have to cope with the environment slowly collapsing, AND they worry about university or the future, they might develop health anxiety and might struggle to understand intrusive thoughts. Not to mention trying to cope with family struggles AND (to top it all off) school. 

This anxiety can interfere with a teenager’s ability to socialize, impact their attendance and grades, and impact their sleeping schedule. As a teenager, it can be intimidating to tell your parents, friends, teachers or anyone you trust about your anxiety. It can feel like you’re losing your mind, you’re on edge constantly and feels like your heart might drop out of your butt at any moment! Okay, maybe not that EXACTLY, but you know what we mean. 

Other Symptoms:

Here are some things that adults, teachers, parents and teens can look out for to help recognize anxiety: 

  • Irritability
  • Apathy
  • Feeling on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Avoiding social interaction 
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Aches and pains with no source
  • Sleep problems 
  • A drop in grades
  • Panic attacks

Okay, so that’s a lot to look out for, but anxiety can manifest soooo many different ways in the body. Unfortunately, people with anxiety can also turn to substances to numb the fear and intense symptoms they experience. So if you’re a parent, adult, guardian, or loved one of a teen that has anxiety, keep a close eye on any substance use in order to make sure that they don’t put themselves in harm’s way. 

Anxiety can also impact other areas of one’s mental health, so be sure to keep an eye out for anxiety’s two common companions: depression and eating disorders. These three seem to like travelling together (which is very rude in our opinion).

Eating Disorders in Teens

Eating disorders aren’t easy to manage on your own. They also don’t manifest only to lose weight. While that is a primary motivator for many people, it’s not always the case. They’re hard to break down and hard to recover from! Did you know that more than 90% of people with an eating disorder are girls? That’s not to say that people of other genders and ages don’t experience them — eating disorders affect everyone. But, here are some common eating disorders to watch for in teens:  

  • Anorexia nervosa 
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge-eating disorders

Anorexia is when people restrict their food intake so severely that they lose weight. Bulimia is when a person binges on food and then vomits after eating. And, binge-eating disorders are when a person overeats with little control. Additionally, there are other ways that someone might maintain an extreme diet. For example, someone can use laxatives or hours of intense exercise to hide (and foster) their eating disorder with more secrecy. 

Signs To Look For:

The thing about eating disorders is that they’re easy to hide. People trying to cope with them often deny that anything is wrong! They hide it soooo well that it’s hard to detect when someone is in distress and facing difficulties with food. But there are some common signs of eating disorders that you can look out for: 

  • Body image struggles
  • Frequently skipping meals
  • Binging
  • Frequent weight checking 
  • Drastic and extreme weight change
  • Constipation 
  • Poor dental health (cavities, erosion of tooth enamel) 
  • Hair loss 
  • Dry skin/rash 

If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to serious health conditions. People can suffer from early bone loss, kidney disease, heart disease and even death.

Imposter Syndrome

Welcome to the section that may or may not make you feel like you’re being #attacked. Jk — but also not really because this applies to us too. Imposter syndrome is when you feel like you’re not worthy of all of your success, or that your accomplishments are deserved. 

This isn’t something that just impacts career-focused individuals who feel like they’re faking their way to the top. This can also be true for students who have a lot of accomplishments academically and in extracurricular activities! They might feel like they are unsure of their decisions, feel self-doubt related to their work, or even feel like their rewards for their work were because of some kind of mistake. All of these emotions and feelings can lead to, or be influenced by, depression and anxiety. 


Social media has us playing the comparison game each and every frickin’ day! UGH! This is especially true for teens because they’ve grown up in a world where their appearance online is everything. How many followers do you have? How many likes? Or how many views? How hot do you look? There has NEVER been a time in their lives where comparison wasn’t a thing. 

Comparison, especially online, has been shown to decrease a person’s mental well-being. This can lead to a decreased sense of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence. Social media — and comparing oneself to others — can begin to feel more like a competition (rather than time mindlessly scrolling to catch up on your friends’ lives). This can lead to anxiety and depression in teenagers who spend significant amounts of time online and on social media. 

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Try saying neurodevelopmental disorders ten times fast! It’s definitely a mouthful…but what does it mean? Neurodevelopmental disorders are disabilities related to brain function that impact a person’s behaviour, memory, or ability to learn or retain information. ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia and other learning deficiencies fall under this umbrella. 


ADHD (a.k.a. attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a struggle to manage on its own. Signs and symptoms of ADHD typically begin appearing in early childhood but can change as a person grows! The core symptoms of inattention and impulsivity (and sometimes hyperactivity) remain but often change in presentation as children age. They become more subtle and less noticeable to those around them, but other symptoms related to executive functioning may appear.

Annoyingly, ADHD doesn’t like to run alone. Ohhh no! It likes to hang out with other mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Sadly, 10-40% of teens with ADHD also have anxiety, and many have depression as well. It’s not uncommon for teens with ADHD to also struggle with learning and communication, as well as the levelling of emotional responses. Soooo, basically, they have to deal with a lot going on in their heads. Oof! 

Because of this, kids with ADHD are 2-3 times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than kids without it. Their brains are working overtime ALL the time, so when something comes along that calms them down it feels sooooo amazing. But that’s the exact problem. Unfortunately, this makes a teen with ADHD so much more susceptible to addiction.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A person with autism used to be labelled as either ‘high-functioning’ or ‘low-functioning.’ ‘Aspergers’ was used to identify high-functioning patients. And, low-functioning patients were often just identified as ‘autistic.’ Today, the concept of high-functioning vs. low-functioning is no longer valid, and instead Autism is now treated as a spectrum disorder. So, a person with ASD can live anywhere on the spectrum, which means that their symptoms and coping strategies can differ greatly from another person with ASD.

Here are just a few (but not all since they differ for each person) defining features of ASD: 

  • Difficulties with communication and socialization 
  • Deficits with nonverbal communication and actions (like not making eye contact)
  • Struggling to understand and develop relationships
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Hyperfixation on interests
  • Preference for stability in scheduling and being reluctant, or extremely averse, to changes
  • Sensitivity to sensory things like sounds, lights, noises, textures

There are many mental health issues that can accompany a diagnosis of ASD. Unfortunately, it’s a disorder that comes with a lot of extra friends that want to come along for the ride including, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and ADHD.

People with ASD face a unique and difficult problem compared to many of us, so caring for their mental and physical wellness on a regular basis is super important!

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

While it is normal for teenagers to defy their parents and rebel to some extent, this isn’t what we’re talking about. If you’re a parent reading this, don’t automatically go and take your kid’s phone away and lock them up in a tower Rapunzel-styles as a way to keep them out of trouble. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (or ODD for short) is characterized by: 

  • Extreme defiance 
  • Struggle to maintain healthy relationships 
  • Angry or resentful attitude
  • Argumentativeness
  • Vindictiveness

It can be difficult to know the difference between a strong-willed, or stubborn, teenager and one that has ODD. The best course of action is to talk to your doctor or mental health professional about the struggles your teenager is having so they can help to balance some things out. 

5 Ways to Help Your Teen 

Chances are that you’re not a mind reader. (You might be! We don’t know. We’re just rolling with statistics here!) And, if you’re not a mind reader, you likely don’t KNOW what your teenager is thinking or what they need. You can guess…but you’ll never for sure know. 

If you don’t know where or how to start connecting with your teenager about their mental health, here are some initial steps that you can take…

1. Foster Open and Honest Communication

A lot of teens have a hard time coming to their parents to talk about the hard things. Remember having to talk to your parents about something you were anxious about? You were probably scared shitless! And, did you feel like they created an open and caring environment for you to express yourself within? Probably not!

Be the parent/guardian to your child that you (maybe) never had and always wanted. Create a space that allows your teenager to feel safe talking to you about really scary and hard things! They don’t know how to navigate all of this on their own. They’ll need guidance, love and non-judgemental help. Be the one to do that for them.

2. Watch For Changes in Behaviour

As we’ve discovered together, mental health issues can manifest and present in a number of different ways. Unless you’re an actual mental health professional, we don’t expect you to recognize all the behavioural changes that come with each and every mental health issue. But just watch for abnormal behaviour. It’s okay for your kids to have an off day! But if it’s something that you’re noticing consistently, it might be time to gently and lovingly step in.

3. Don’t Shame Them 

Kids often don’t tell their parents what they’re going through because they don’t want to hurt them or feel ashamed for what they’ve done. For example, many teens hide self-harm practices from their parents because they don’t want them to get angry and find out. Self-harm is often a way to create physical pain that mirrors the psychological pain someone is dealing with because physical pain is easier to understand and much more accepted by society.

You want your kid to be safe, understood and accepted, right? Right! So, even if they are using self-harm as a coping mechanism, don’t get mad at them or make them feel ashamed for what they’ve done. Tell them that it’s okay, you love them, and that you’re there to help. Maybe that means finding a safe way to cope with what they’re going through! Just don’t make them feel shitty about it because they’re already going through so much.

4. Counselling 

It’s never a bad idea to get on the counselling bandwagon. (Heck — a few of us at DiveThru have been in and out of counselling/therapy since elementary school. Those developmental years are CRUCIAL.) Mental health professionals can often be the guide that teenagers need when they’re first navigating their mental health. They can be the neutral third-party to your family discourse, or a safe (and confidential) sounding board for your teen in private sessions.

5. What To Say When Your Teen is Struggling

It’s hard to know what to say when someone is going through some hard shit in general. But if it’s a teenager that you have a strong love and connection to, knowing what to say might feel as tricky as walking on eggshells.

Here are some things that you can say to help your teenager when they’re facing a challenge with this mental wellness.

Validate their feelings:

“That sounds really hard.” 

“What you’re feeling is okay.” 

“Ya, that does sound really hard!”

“You’re trying really hard and I’m sorry that it’s not working out well.” 

“I see how much effort you’re putting in. I understand that you’d be upset by that.” 

“Don’t apologize for how you feel! I’m here to help you. Let’s get it out together.”

Offer support:

“Do you want me to listen or do you want my advice?” 

“I’m here for you — always.” 

“How can I help you?” 

“What can I do for you to help you in this moment?” 

Show that they can trust you:

“Thank you for telling me.”

“Thank you for sharing that with me. That must’ve been really hard.” 

“This can stay just between us if you want.”

5 Ways to Help Yourself If You’re A Teen

Hello fellow teenager! Just kidding. We’re not kids anymore. Maybe we are in our minds but we have definitely been out of the game for a while now. But, we DO know that it’s hard to know where to start helping yourself with your mental health. So, that’s why we’re hereeeee! Here are 5 ways to support your mental health and ask for the help you need…

1. Talk to your parents

This is probably the hardest step you’ll have to take. You might be hesitant and afraid to talk to them for a number of reasons and we totally get it! But talking to your parents is the first step towards getting help for your precious brain. 

It’s important to be honest with them about how you’re really feeling. You can start this conversation with something like “Hey, can we talk right now? I could really use your help.” That helps set the tone for the rest of your conversation to come!

2. Talk to school counsellors

If you don’t feel comfortable, or safe, talking to your parents then you can talk to a school counsellor (or a teacher that you really trust). Sometimes teachers can be the guiding light that you need when you’re in the midst of your mental health struggles. They’ll be to help you find resources and help.

3. Call a crisis line

If you’re in serious need of help and don’t know where to turn, a crisis line might be your best option! There are trained professionals on the other end of the phone that are there to help you. And a lot of the organizations have text and/or instant messenger options if you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone on the phone. 

Linked here is a list of international suicide and emergency hotlines for you to call based on where you live in the world.

4. Journal

You face a lot of stress day-to-day. Okay, that’s a massive understatement! Teenagers and stress are basically two things that go hand in hand. Your world (and body) is constantly changing and it’s a ton of pressure to handle! 

Soooooo, if you’re one of the many teenagers facing a crap ton of stress and don’t know where to put all of your emotions, journal it out! It can be so cathartic to have a safe and private space to put your thoughts and feelings. It can also help you explore your emotions and better understand yourself.

5. Therapy 

Accessing therapy can be hard. There can be a lot of barriers that keep someone from taking care of their mental health, and being able to afford therapy is one of them! If you feel comfortable, talk to your parents, a teacher, counsellor, or another adult you trust to help you find therapy options that you can access. 

How to Help Your Friend

If you have a friend who is struggling with their mental health, we’ve got you covered. If you’re a teenager looking to help your friend, it can be difficult not knowing where to start or what to do. 

Here are some things that you can do to help a friend who is struggling with their mental health… 

1. Listen 

If your friend comes to you saying that they need help, listen to what they have to say. It’s taken a lot of courage for them to come to you and ask for help. They might be telling you stuff that they’ve kept to themselves for months, or feel uncomfortable finally sharing the shit they’re going through. You don’t know what they need, so take the time to listen with intent and love (no judgement). They could especially use a lot of that love that only friends know how to give!

2. Validate their feelings 

Tell them that what they’re going through is really hard. It sucks! It’s not easy! Tell them that they have nothing to be ashamed about and that you’re right by their side to help them every step of the way. 

Sometimes, being told that it’s okay to feel a certain way can feel like a warm hug. It’s reassuring and caring, and most importantly, tells them that how they feel in this moment is valid. 

3. Ask how you can help 

Sometimes people just want someone to talk to and other times they want your help with a situation. They might not know what to do about their situation or where to start looking for help. Your friend might be in the middle of a panic attack and not be able to get what they need to calm themselves. Asking how you can help shows that you’re there to support your friend and be there for them when they need you most. Sometimes they might just need you to physically be there (sitting beside them) for support when they sit down with their parents to have a hard conversation. 

4. Have the hard conversations

If you’ve noticed your friend has been abusing substances in an unhealthy way, talk to them about it. Don’t call them out in a nasty way or anything, but gently mention that you’re worried about how much they’re smoking or drinking to cope with whatever is going on. 

These kinds of conversations can help save a person’s life. And even though it might be hard in the moment, talking about a person’s self-harm, drinking, or drug usage can help them live a long and happy life. 

5. Help them find resources

When people are in the midst of a mental health struggle, even Googling resources can feel extremely overwhelming. Be their Google!!! You can help them by searching for resources they need and then doing the legwork to call and book the appointment for them (and maybe even come with them to the appointment).

Obviously, don’t do this without your friend knowing. Take the time to sit down with them and discover together the options that they can take. 

Where to Find Mental Health Help and Resources

It can be difficult to know where to start looking for mental health resources if you’ve never been to therapy before! Google can seem like an endless amount of information that does and doesn’t give you the kind of information that you need. But we’re here to make your life just a liittle bit easier by giving you some resources to use as you begin your mental health journey! 

For Parents:

  • What You and Your Child Need To Know About Anxiety: Anxiety can be scary and difficult to navigate if you don’t know what the heck is going on in your body! This guide from Anxiety Canada is a great educational resource. 
  • Parents Medication Guides for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and Depression: These medication guides are designed to help parents learn about treatment options for kids and teens with differing mental health struggles. 
  • Jed Foundation: This foundation works to promote mental wellness to help prevent suicide amongst college and university kids. It was created to help parents recognize signs and symptoms of mental health struggles. 
  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Center: This website has numerous resources for both adults and teens relating to mental health and wellness. 

For Teens:

  • Teen Mental Health: This website is designed for teenagers to access information and tools on different mental illnesses (and includes videos and resources for parents and caregivers). 
  • National Eating Disorder Association: NEDA has resources for those with eating disorders, their parents, friends, and wider family members.
  • Teens Health: This site provides a safe place for teens who need (and deserve) honest and accurate information. Teens health has many resources for several health-related issues including mental wellness. 

OOF! Was that enough information to help fill up every nook and cranny in your brain? Whether you’re a parent or a teen, we’re proud of you for taking the time to read up on how to help yourself or someone you love. Learning to navigate the world of mental health is difficult when you’re so young and don’t know where to look for help. So, we’re proud of you and excited for your next steps in the mental health journey that’ll take you to better and brighter days! Because you deserve all the love and happiness in the world!


Do Antidepressants Work? What Do They Do?

The decision to take medication can be a tough one to make. If you’ve never taken psychiatric drugs, it can be a scary thing! There’s a lot of stigma associated with taking them — we’ve been there and totally understand! And you might choose to first try working through your mental health struggles with therapy and grounding techniques before trying antidepressants. Or, maybe you’re afraid of how you’ll feel while you’re on them. Whatever the case is, there’s a lot of worries that end up running through your head. But there’s one BIG burning question on your mind…do antidepressants work?

If you’ve never taken antidepressants before, there’s a lot to think about and it’s only natural to be a bit worried. 

What Do Antidepressants Do?

If you’re wondering if antidepressants actually work, the short answer is YES! Okay, now for the long answer: antidepressant medications are awesome at balancing out your brain chemistry and making your depression an easier monster to tackle. Instead of your depression looking like that massive spider from Lord of the Rings, with the help of medication, it turns into a small baby spider that you can just flick off of your arm. 

Different depression meds have different functions, but we’re going to give you a general scientific overview of how antidepressants work. 

There are these things in your brain called neurotransmitters. These little babies have some names that you’ve likely heard before: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters increase with the help of antidepressants, helping to make you feel soooo much better!There is growing evidence that these medicines also decrease inflammation, protect the brain, and promote new connections between brain cells. We don’t know for sure how much of a role neurotransmitters play in the mechanism of antidepressant action. All that to say, maybe it would be best to make a note that we still don’t know exactly how they work but think they play a few different roles.

But even with the knowledge that scientists and doctors have studied these medications for decades, it can be a hard pill to swallow (lol puns) when you aren’t sure if taking antidepressants is the right move for you. Here’s a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision! 


Relieve depressive symptoms: Basically, you won’t feel as shitty! TAKE THAT, DEPRESSION! Your depressive symptoms will decrease and, one day, you’ll have a lightbulb moment where you realize just how much better you feel. 

Improve your motivation and increase energy: When you’re depressed, it can be difficult to perform even the most basic self-care tasks. Shower? No thank you. Washing dishes? Absolutely not! But when you’re taking antidepressants, it can help bring back your motivation and drive! Look out, dirty dishes! Here we come! 

Helps balance out chemicals in your brain: The brain is a complicated thing! Antidepressants are there to help balance out the chemicals and neurotransmitters that are running around in your noggin so that you can take in the chemicals you need and start feeling like a million dollars! 

They’re safe to take: Antidepressants were first developed in the 1950s. So there are DECADES of science and studies that have gone into making sure that they work. Yes, there are possible side effects, but these meds aren’t inherently dangerous. 


Some might not work for you: Finding the right medication is like finding the right partner — you might have to try a couple of different ones before you find one that fits well into your life. And you know what? THAT’S OKAY AND COMPLETELY NORMAL! So, don’t be discouraged if one antidepressant doesn’t do the job for you right away. 

There are side effects of antidepressants: Every medication comes with a list of different possible side effects. Some of the common side effects for these are nausea, drowsiness, decreased sex drive, weight gain, dizziness, dry mouth and trouble sleeping. You won’t always experience all of these side effects and you might not experience any at all. Make sure that you look at the side effects of the medication your doctor or psychiatrist has prescribed you to be aware of all of the possible outcomes. 

Coming off them can be hard: Your doctor might recommend slowly transitioning off of your antidepressants if your depression was short-term or situational. It’s important to do this slowly and under the supervision of your doctor/psychiatrist because your body gets used to the meds and goes through withdrawals when you stop taking them. This can leave you feeling like a pile of poop if done too quickly or if you stop them cold turkey. Always have a plan with your doctor to make the transition off of them as easy as possible. 

Side note: it’s also totally normal if your doctor does NOT recommend decreasing or stopping your medication. If you have a long-term condition (like severe clinical depression, PTSD, CPTSD, or OCD for example) then you might be on medication for the rest of your life. And that’s okay.

They take time to work: Doctors will usually wait an average of 4-8 weeks to see if your antidepressants are working effectively. Unfortunately, they’re not an immediate fix and do take some time to kick in. So don’t get discouraged after only a week of taking them! 

Common Antidepressants 

There are two common types of antidepressants: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). 

SSRIs are there to help combat an imbalance of serotonin in the brain and help reduce the serotonin reuptake function that your brain performs. This then leaves more serotonin to float around and be available in your brain — how cool is that???

SNRIs perform a similar function but reduce the reuptake of serotonin AND norepinephrine. This helps balance out the chemistry in your brain and helps you feel a heck of a lot better! SNRIs can also be used to help treat pain and anxiety.

These are the most common SSRIs and SNRIs: 


  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)


  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Just remember that taking medication for your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of! There is still a stigma around taking antidepressants, so we toooootally understand why you might be hesitant to take them. But taking meds is super normal! We’re willing to bet that you have some friends who are taking antidepressants too and you just don’t know it. It’s okay to be hesitant or afraid, but know that your doctors or psychiatrists just want the best for you! YOU’VE GOT THIS!

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Are you at a crossroad? And, maybe that road doesn’t just have 2 or 3 turn-offs but, like, a whole lot more? And you have no idea which path to take? There are just so many things to consider before you make your decision! How are you supposed to know what to do when you don’t know what to do?! (Insert Rachel and Phoebe: “They don’t know that we know they know we know!)

Sometimes having too many choices can feel more overwhelming than having zero choices. It’s totally natural. And if you’re having problems trying to figure out what to do, you are totally not alone. Think of the show Say Yes To The Dress… Some brides try on close to 100 dresses and just end up making themselves more and more confused because there are now too many options to choose from. 

Maybe you’re like one of these brides with just TOO much to consider. Or, maybe you’re lucky (unlucky?) enough to have your options simplified — there’s just option A or option B. However many options you’re facing right now, you’re probs stressed to the max because you don’t want to make the “wrong” decision. First of all…we feel inclined to say something along the lines of “there’s no such thing as a wrong decision. Whatever happens, you’ll learn from it.” BUT, you know and we know it’s just not that simple. 

So, whether you’re trying to make a decision on your outfit or a much bigger life plan, we’re here to help you with some tips to ease the decision-making process. 

How Uncertainty Affects Mental Health 

First of all, we HAVE to touch on this. Uncertainty is more than just annoying and frustrating. It can actually be hard on your mental health. 

If you’re on the fence about taking a job offer, or moving out of your current home, or planning a trip…or anything in between, you may be thinking, “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know what I want.” These are totally valid feelings! Making a decision can be suuuper tough because it can make your anxiety go haywire. Worries about your decision negatively impacting others might be seeping into your brain and you might’ve been procrastinating making a decision for a while now. You probably just wish someone would come in and make the choice for you. 

Well, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But we’re gonna try to make the process more bearable for you! 

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

If you’re currently struggling and don’t know how to make a decision, try these tips. They will help you trust your gut and take charge of that voice in your head that’s saying “I have no idea what I’m doing.” 

1. Leave It Up To Chance

Whether you flip a coin or play “eeny, meeny, miny, moe,” your gut feeling will ultimately give you the answer that you’re looking for! Maybe you choose to flip the coin and it lands on heads, but your stomach sinks a little bit. That’s a good sign that you should go with whatever option you had riding on tails! Your gut feeling and intuition are much smarter than you might give yourself credit for, so don’t be afraid to listen to them whenever you’re making a decision.

2. Sleep On It

When you take time to relax and take a break from the thing causing you stress (in this case it’s decision making), you actually calm down your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS responsible for your body’s fight or flight response. It elevates your heart rate, slows your breathing and triggers the release of adrenaline. So, this decision might seem like a life-or-death decision if you’re so stressed and anxious that the SNS is in full gear. Taking a beat to relax will give the SNS time to deactivate, allowing your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to take back control so that you can think with a clear, rational mind. 

Katie Miles, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, recommends trying these 4 habits to rewire your brain for stress relief

  • Use moderate activity regularly to regulate your nervous system response (fight/flight/freeze).
  • Practice mindfulness meditation to improve your brain’s resiliency.
  • Journal to release worries, replace unhelpful narratives, and gain realistic perspectives.
  • Engage in regular joyful, energy-producing activities to create a stress ‘buffer.’

It sounds super cheesy, but sometimes the right decision literally does come to you in a dream! So, take a night to sleep on it, giving yourself the opportunity to just sit with your feelings and reflect on the choice you truly want. Things should be clearer once you’ve relaxed and let the anxiety settle a bit! Plus, it doesn’t count as procrastination because sleeping on it will help you make that decision faster.

3. Think About The Future

Ask yourself, “Will this decision matter in 10 years?” For the little decisions, like whether or not to cut your hair a certain way, the answer is probably not. And that just means that the decision doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time and energy. The bigger decisions, like taking a new job or moving to a new city, probably will matter in the long run! So, those deserve a bit more of your time and energy — but not to the point that it makes you incredibly anxious to think about. 

4. Talk It Out With Someone You Trust 

Sometimes it just feels really good to get a second opinion from a friend or a family member. They’ll be able to give a different perspective and help you see the pros and cons of your options more clearly (especially for those really BIG decisions). You might even notice yourself subconsciously make a decision before the other person even says a thing. How cool is that?!  

If you don’t want advice or opinions and just need to say everything you’re thinking about out loud, you can totally ask them to just sit with you while you work it out on your own. Sometimes all it takes is the sound of your own voice laying out your options for the right decision to finally click.  

Of course, you can talk with your partner(s) as well, but if it’s something huge that will affect them too (like taking a job in another city) then they may not be able to offer the impartial ear that you need right now.

If what you’re looking for is someone truly impartial, reach out to someone outside of your close circle and chat about the decision you have to make! Look for someone who has no direct involvement in your life or has no stake in the decision you’ll be making to bounce pros and cons off of.

5. Talk It Out With A Therapist 

If your anxiety about making a decision is STILL at an all-time high and you simply can’t bring yourself to make a decision, don’t worry. This is literally what mental health professionals are here for! They can help you talk through alllll the factors that are making your decision difficult, and give you an impartial perspective. Sometimes they’ll just help you think about your options in a different way and that can make the world of a difference! 

We hope these tips have helped you to figure out what you want to do. Wondering what to do when you don’t know what to do already is HARD af. It’s a double-edged sword that just repeats itself over and over until you’ve either made a decision or given up completely. 

We want you to feel comfy trusting your gut because it can usually sense things waaaay before your conscious self. So, give these steps an honest try and remember this article the next time your decision-making gets tough. Figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do and free yourself from that rut you’ve been pacing into the floor! 

You’ve got this!

8 Reasons To Break The Stigma Behind Psychiatric Drugs

Your poor little brain has to do a lot of things in a day. It has to make your body move, think thoughts and even produce hormones that make you feel your emotions. That’s a lot of stuff! But, sometimes, your brain can’t do it all on its own and that’s okay. It just needs a bit of extra help from its friend — medication! Medication isn’t just about healing your body. It can help heal your mind. Psychiatric drugs and psychotropic drugs help balance out the chemicals in your brain, increasing or decreasing certain hormones depending on your situation. 

But if these drugs are so helpful, why is there such a stigma towards taking them in order to benefit your mental health? It seems to be a lot of overall residue from stigma surrounding mental health as a whole! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to fully change that (YET). But what we do have is a list of why psychiatric drugs don’t deserve the stigma that surrounds them. 

1. Mental Health Is As Important As Physical Health 

If you’re currently taking meds, you’ve probably been told that “you should get off those drugs because they’re [insert uneducated and unprofessional opinion here].” UGH! It’s so annoying when people say stuff like this because of the stigma of mental illness and mental health drugs. 

Would you tell a diabetic to stop taking insulin? How about telling your friend that they don’t need a cast for their broken arm? You wouldn’t, right? Medications like anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants (and sooo many more) are just as important as medications and treatments dedicated to your physical health. 

2. Medication Saves Lives

Being unmedicated and battling with your mental health can feel like you’re trying to fight a massive boulder that’s just sitting in your way. You try to fight it, but you end up just hurting yourself and getting really, reaalllyyyy tired. C’mon, you’re fighting a boulder for crying out loud! 

You end up feeling so tired that you might want to give up, but medication can be the thing that keeps you from giving up! It can help bring back your fight and make that boulder a much easier foe to face. Maybe that boulder becomes an inconveniently placed rock (or even a pebble)! Meds are there to help balance you out and give you the perspective you need to keep going through every day. They help save lives!

3. Sometimes Therapy Isn’t Enough 

You can still go to therapy, do everything right, do all your breathing exercises, but still feel like a pile of poop (omg we’ve been there!). Sometimes your therapy needs to call in the reinforcements to help you along. The reinforcements are medication btw. 

Taking your prescribed psychiatric drugs can end up assisting your therapy and make it even more effective! Therapy isn’t cheap either, so taking medication makes it soooo much more worth it than it already was (and we’re always looking for a good deal!). 

In a recent episode of Anxious Like You, Laina Morris (a.k.a. Overly Attached Girlfriend) spoke with Season 1 hosts, Micheline Maalouf and Nadia Addesi, about her experience taking medication. Laina said “I did all of this work to take the medication. I took it, I liked it. It helped me. It was like the best decision I ever made. I told everyone it was the best decision I ever made. Here I am a year and a half later, and I’m struggling again. Why is that so hard? When I know I’ve taken it and I know it’s good for me. It’s still something I struggle with.”

4. The Science Is Trusted

Doctors and psychiatrists don’t just go around prescribing meds willy nilly! They trust and know the science behind the meds. They’ve studied how psychiatric drugs help patients and understand how the body and brain interact with each other. 

Not everyone experiences mental health struggles and not everyone experiences mental illness the same way. This leads some people to be skeptical about medication and its effects, so they don’t fully trust it. And while there may be some side effects of certain meds, you can certainly trust the science behind your psychiatric medications and your doctor’s ability to prescribe them. 

5. Psychiatric Drugs Don’t Mask The Problem 

Meds help balance you out. There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re battling with your mind! You’re just a human that’s experiencing human things and medication helps your brain stabilize the chemicals that it produces. 

Some people might tell you that you should go to therapy instead of taking meds in order to get to the root of your struggles. But like we said, meds can help make therapy more effective! And properly dosed psychiatric medications shouldn’t mask any problems. They will instead help you face your issues with more ease, confidence and stability. 

6. They Change You For The Better 

Many people feel afraid to take medication because they don’t want to change who they are or they’re afraid that they’ll lose their sense of self. But in reality, medication can help you find yourself! You get to discover who you are without worrying about your mental health. You get to have the opportunity to experience a life filled with so much more joy and colour! Who you are won’t be stifled. You will be fueled! 

But that’s not to say you will never ever experience any negative side effects. There’s a chance that you might and what’s important to keep in mind is that side effects are possible with ALL medication. While chatting with our DiveThru Therapist, Dr. Justin Puder, he mentioned that there are many many many options with changing dosage or the type of medication you’re on if you do end up experiencing negative side effects!

7. They Help You Function 

Some people need medication to help them function on a day-to-day basis. Not everyone has a brain that lets them perform tasks with ease and speed. Psychiatric meds can help clear the fog and make simply existing soooo much easier. 

Medication can help zap the symptoms that keep you from functioning and can actually help restore your sense of self! You get to find out who you are without the weight of the world on your shoulders. 

8. Because Meds Are Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Psychiatric medications have a stigma attached to them that scares a lot of people away from giving them a try. Not many people openly talk about their meds, what they take, why they take them and how much they take. But we need to get rid of that stigma and show the world that taking meds is nothing to be ashamed of! Medication helps save lives, so the stigma around it needs to go, go, GO! 

It’s important to remember that if you are taking medication to help your mental health, it’s not a miracle cure. It won’t fix everything right away because it does take a few weeks for it to kick in. And taking medication isn’t always an easy thing to do. It takes A LOT of guts and hard work to admit that you need something to help your mind along. Some people think that they’re weak for needing mental health medication, but the reality is that it’s the opposite! It makes you a fucking fighter! Now, go out there and FIGHT!!! We know you’re going to win!