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The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

Teen Science Not Rocket Science


<p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: helvetica;">Teenage is a state of constant changes; physical,
hormonal, psychological and emotional changes. Amidst this chaos of change,
teenagers yearn for sound and solid support, especially from their family and
friends. They want guidance in discovering what is right and help them develop
a personal identity. To address this issue, The Aga Khan University Hospital
held a public awareness session, titled “Teen Science, Not Rocket Science”, at the
University Auditorium on 3 November 2016.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: helvetica;">Medical faculty from the Mind and Brain
Service Line spoke on topics about teenage behaviour and how to resolve any
issues that may arise as a consequence. The session was moderated by Dr. Murad
Khan, Professor, Psychiatry. The presentations began with Dr. Sara Khan,
Assistant Professor, Neurology explaining in detail how a teenage brain is
different. Giving a scientific reasoning to as to why a teen is moody,
impulsive and maddening, she explained that the brain structure during
adolescence is undergoing rapid changes. She said that while emotional
responses in a teen are fully developed, a teen still lacks the ability to
control these emotions as part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) responsible for
reasoning, planning and judgment develops much later. Dr. Aneela Darbar,
Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery, highlighted measures on how to keep your
teen safe. She said that since there is a high prevalence of risk taking
behaviour amongst teens, they should be taught to tackle high-risk situations,
encouraged to develop a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol, guided in
choosing a safe car for commute, directed to wear seat belts while driving and
discouraged to text while driving. Dr. Sana Younus, Fellow, Psychiatry, helped
educate the audience about puberty and why it is important for parents to
address any questions their teens may have about the changes he/she maybe be
undergoing. She stressed on the fact that parents can give honest answers to
these questions, help give the correct information and communicate values to
their teens who in the absence of a reliable source might refer to unsafe
sources for their queries. Dr. Aisha Sanober, Instructor, Psychiatry spoke on
the important topic of prevalence of drugs amongst teenagers. Explaining the
reasons for drug use by teens, she said that the first and foremost step
parents should take is in coming out of the denial that their teen will not use
drugs. She said that parents should talk to their teenagers about drugs and
explain how its use will hamper their physical and emotional development. Dr.
Noufel Goddeau, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of Tunisia,
presented key points on how to develop healthy eating behaviour amongst teens.
He said that while adolescents are unable to control the changes happening to
and around them, what they are able to exert a control on is food, and at times
limiting it helps them manage the distorted image they may have of their
bodies, leading to issues like anorexia nervosa. He also said that teens may
indulge in binge eating as a consequence of the anxiety they may be going
through, once again leading to unhealthy eating habits. In the end to help the
audience understand the true perspective of a teenager, Hiba Ghazali, a
teenager herself came in to compare the teenage years to a tug of war. She said
that a teen is in constant conflict between what his/her peers think and what
his/her parents expect of them. She said that teenage years are a dynamic
experience and a critical time of self-discovery.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: helvetica;">After the presentations, a panel discussion
was held, which included Dr. Saad Shafqat, Professor Neurology, Dr. Ather Enam,
Professor Surgery, Dr. Ayesha Mian, Assistant Professor Psychiatry and a US
University based John Sargant, Professor Psychiatry. The panellists shared
their experience as parents of teenagers and addressed the audience’s questions
on dealing with the teenagers of their own. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: helvetica;">The session was well received and was
evident in the Q&amp;A session that followed in the end. Many participants had
multiple questions to which they received satisfactory answers by the