On the Holms-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, a divorce or breakup of a long-term relationship ranks as the second most stressful life event, right after the death of a spouse. Separation or divorce in adults usually has the extreme emotional aftermath, especially when it involves children.
However, breakups among young people can be equally disturbing. Often, they are more crushing, because there are established biases that minimize the heartache young people experience. So, there is much less support designed to help adolescents to bounce back when healing form heartache.
Although common experience, adolescent breakups should not be dismissed. One study has shown that 40 percent of young people experienced clinical depression after the breakup. Breakups are believed to be the leading cause of mental health problems and suicides among adolescents. Recent fMRI research suggests that romantic dissolution triggers similar biochemical reactions in the brain to those experiencing drug withdrawal.
How to Help a Teen Lessen the Pain
Young people are sensitive, especially when going through a heartache. The best you can do to help your teenager pull through this harsh experience is to leave an open door for conversation and let them know that you will be there if they need you. Be approachable and supportive and show them that you’ll always be there to support them.
· Validate their feelings
Don’t minimize the teenager’s pain, no matter how the relationship might seem insignificant to you. Understanding that teenager’s intense reactions are developmentally appropriate will help you to be patient and empathetic while they are healing from heartache.
· Encourage your Teen to Follow “No contact” Rule
No contact rule after the breakup means no calls, emails, messages, stalking or contacting the ex and his/her family or friends for at least 20 to 30 days. One study suggests that surveilling the ex’s social media, for example, may prevent post-breakup recovery. According to psychologists and relationship experts, no contact rule is the best way to move on and heal from heartache.
· Allow them to Express their Feelings
Breakup is a sort of a loss, and as such, it normally causes grief. Encourage your teen to accept their feelings while going through grief after the breakup. Give them time to recover and let them be sad and vulnerable. Give your teen space – if they don’t want to talk to you about their experience, that’s okay too. However, keep an eye on your teen, so they don’t withdraw from the world completely.
· Encourage Teens to Take Care of Themselves
Help your teenager continue with a healthy lifestyle despite the despair they have fallen into after the breakup. Encourage them to exercise daily, get enough sleep and eat healthy. Teach them gratitude exercise and inspire your teenager to start each day counting their blessings – this should boost their self-esteem and increase optimism.
However, if you notice that your teenager is restless or excessively irritable, no longer interested in social interactions with friends, doesn’t talk or leave their room or shows any other signs of depression, seek professional help.