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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Teen Stress: Self-Reported Stress is Higher

A large number of today’s teens feel that their school days are filled with stress on a day to day basis. An online survey of 1,000 plus adolescents and close to 2,000 adults conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) finds that many teens feel highly stressed and don’t have healthy coping skills.

School Year Equals Stress
The surveyed teens reported higher stress levels throughout the school year compared to summer monthsStress 2 in numbers that seemed to mimic stress levels reported by working adults. For instance, close to 30 percent of teens reported feeling extremely stressed during the months of school and over 30 percent anticipated greater stress this school year compared to last.

Adult-Teen Stress Similar
On a scale of one to 10, adolescents reported an average 5.8 stress level while in school and a 4.6 level of stress just in the last month. Respondents over age 18 averaged 5.1 during the last 30 days. The young people said that stress kept them from meeting home (40 percent) or school (21 percent) responsibilities and that stress-related headaches (32 percent) and sleep problems (26 percent) were also an issue.

How They Cope
So, what do these teens do to cope with their stress? Not enough of them employ healthy coping skills. Only 37 percent said they exercised to lower stress. The greater number (46 percent) said that they played video games to escape stress while 43 percent went online. Here again, the young people may be mirroring what they see with adults. Among people over 18 years, only 37 percent said they exercised regularly to bring down stress levels while over 60 percent reported going online, playing video games or watching television to handle stress.

Whether you are a stressed adult or the parent of a stressed-out teen, Family Guidance Center is here to help. Our counselors can help you or your teen develop positive strategies for dealing with stress. Don’t keep stressing – call us instead.

A Growing Trend of Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Alcoholism 7A rather large segment of the American population – the Baby Boomers – will soon be semi or fully retired. That fact will impact demand on things like health care and pharmacy. It may also impact demand for substance abuse treatment. A recent article in the professional journal Addiction finds a growing trend of alcohol and substance abuse among our senior citizens.

Millions of Seniors Affected
According to the report there are currently 2.8 million senior (over age 50) adults in this country abusing alcohol. By 2020, experts predict that number will reach 5.7 million. And the number of older adults with diagnosable alcohol abuse has been climbing steadily since at least 1992. Further, while most older people turn to alcohol for self-medication, six percent abused illicit drugs in 2013.

Why Seniors Struggle
The later years of life are filled with many changes, not all of them welcome. Retirement can mean the loss of identity for many who feel that who they are was tied up in their career. It also can mean a change in economic status. Combine that with deteriorating physical strength and wellness and the frequent loss of friendships either through death or moves to be nearer adult children.

But a senior doesn’t have to intentionally adopt alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. As the body ages, its ability to metabolize slows down considerably. This means that the few drinks which were no trouble in a person’s 30s or 40s can be too much when they are 50, 60, 70 or older. A drinking problem can develop just because a person doesn’t understand the affects of alcohol on their body as they age.

It’s Not Too Late
If an older adult in your life is trapped in alcohol abuse, it’s not too late for things to change. Many seniors in their 60s and 70s have engaged in rehab treatment and overcome addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs. Call us at Family Guidance Center today and ask how we can help you intervene in a loved one’s life and end the abuse. Sometimes, the strong voice of a loved one is what it takes to turn things around.

Becoming Better Informed About ADHD

October is the month for raising awareness about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). TheADHD 16 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that this is a condition which affects nearly 6 million American children ages three through 17 years. That works out to around one in 30 children. For many, the condition carries on into adulthood. The prevalence of this condition along with its longevity means that it is something which affects people all around you – perhaps even in your own household.

An Equal Opportunity Condition
ADHD is a real condition recognized as affecting people from all walks of life. Though it is more often diagnosed in boys than girls, it affects both sexes, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, those that live in the city and that live in the country.

What it Looks Like
It is difficult to say in a few short sentences what ADHD looks like, because often it appears as normal behaviors that are simply somehow out of balance. The condition is characterized by impulsiveness, inattention and, sometimes, hyperactivity. All people demonstrate these from time to time, but when ADHD is present the behaviors persist over time and in all the various settings of life.

Risk Factors and Treatment
Although ADHD is a non-discriminatory condition, there are some recognized risk factors. Family history, gender, physiology within the brain and prenatal risks can each contribute to the likelihood of a person developing ADHD. Treatments include medication, behavior therapy and education – usually in combination. If your child is displaying any of these symptoms, having your child assessed for ADHD can be a good idea.

At Family Guidance, we have seen hundreds of cases of childhood and adult ADHD. We can help you determine if the loved one in your life is struggling. You’ll want to know sooner rather than later, since having untreated ADHD leaves a person vulnerable to developing other mental health struggles such as anxiety or depression. What better time than October to make an appointment?

Your Child’s Anxiety Disorder and School

Anxiety 2Although childhood should be a carefree time of innocence and enjoyment, for many it is a time of fretfulness and worry. The number of children and adolescents dealing with an anxiety disorder has risen steadily over the past three decades until today one out of eight kids are expected to struggle with disordered anxiety (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). Around one quarter of adolescents will likely experience some degree of anxiety disorder (National Institute of Mental Health) and two to five percent of younger children will have anxiety so severe that they refuse to attend school or repeatedly get themselves sent home.

Beyond Common Anxiety
School anxiety is more than worrying about an upcoming quiz, having nerves before a track meet or wondering about who likes you. Disordered anxiety persists beyond what would be considered a reasonable or common time frame and extends into multiple facets of school life. It negatively affects the students’ ability to concentrate, learn and perform on a regular basis.

Red Flags
Signs that your child may be struggling with excessive anxiety include repeated, unexplained health complaints such as headache or stomach upset. These complaints could be genuine effects of continual high anxiety, or they could be invented excuses for avoiding school. The child may complain to parents hoping to stay home or to the school nurse hoping to be sent home. Some kids will even drop out of high school and earn an equivalency rather than face the stress of attending classes.

What Parents Can Do
You can’t make your child’s anxieties disappear, but there are things you can do. For starters, acknowledge your child’s fears without letting them dictate behavior (such as staying home). Next, focus on positives about school – events, funny teachers, a science field trip. Your own attitude toward school is more important than you realize. The brain is wired to replay what it absorbs from the surroundings. In other words, your child is continually reading and reflecting your attitudes.

Finally, your child will benefit from learning to recognize and cope with fears and stress. At Family Guidance, we understand how an anxiety disorder affects your child and your family. And we know how to help. Call us today.

Take Some Time with Kids to Debunk Misunderstandings About Mental Illness

Mental Health 11According to the nation’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 42.5 million adults in this country are living with some form of mental illness. Experts say that 61.1 percent of us will experience mental illness before age 21. Despite the fact that so many Americans are dealing with mental illness, the general public, and youth especially, know very little about these illnesses.

When a celebrity enters rehab or makes headlines because of an untimely mental health-related death there is a flash of media attention, but when this is all young people know about mental illness, it is hard to break cycles of stigma. It’s much better, say mental health professionals, to take the time to tell kids the facts about mental illness.

One of the first misconceptions many young people share is that mental illness often triggers violence. If they only hear about mental illness when there has been a nationally reported shooting rampage or suicide, it’s understandable that kids would develop a skewed perception. Meanwhile, the truth is that most people with mental illness do not experience any kind of violence.

Another common misperception is that mental illness is some kind of character flaw. Mental illness is not a sign of bad character. It doesn’t affect only one kind of person any more than illnesses like cancer or heart disease. It is a disease just as a physical disease that someone may be diagnosed with.

Once you start talking with your child or teenager, you may discover several other misunderstandings about who is affected by mental illness and how various illnesses affect people. If you don’t have the answer to your child’s questions, take the time to learn.

The staff at Family Guidance Center can direct you to correct information about various forms of mental illness and can explain how many types of illness are successfully treated. It is more than likely that your child or someone close to them will be affected by mental illness, so it’s wise to get the information out early and correctly in order to debunk the myths.