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Family Guidance Blog

Fathers’ Prenatal Health Impacts Future Mental Health of Children

Children Mental Health 3Typically when a woman gets pregnant, the focus immediately shifts to her health as it relates to the health of her baby. It’s known that the physical and mental well-being of the mother weighs heavily on development during the prenatal stage and beyond. However, new Norwegian research has uncovered that the mental health of the father during the period of gestation may be just as important.

Researchers examined 32,000 children to determine the effects of fathers’ prenatal mental health on the mental health of their growing children. Results suggest that a father’s mental well-being may be a risk factor in determining future mental health problems in his offspring.

The survey unveiled a relationship between the mental health of the expectant fathers and the onset of mental health issues in their children. Even after adjusting for other influencing factors including the father’s age, use of substances such as alcohol and tobacco, physical problems, and the mother’s overall mental health, researchers still found a connection.

Weeks 17 and 18 were of particular concern. It was fathers who rated high for depression, anxiety, or mental distress during this time who had children that exhibited behavioral and emotional problems later at 3 years old. These children showed signs of anxiety and had difficulty getting along well with others.

James Paulson, associate psychology professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia who researches family depression says that depression in expectant fathers takes a similar toll as postpartum depression in woman. According to news presented by USA Today, over the last 10 years research has uncovered that postpartum depression in fathers presents similar risks to growing children as maternal postpartum depression.

Study results suggest that parents and doctors need not only pay attention to the mental health of the mother during pregnancy but also that of the father. Paulson stresses the importance of early detection and treatment in minimizing negative health impacts on children. Family Guidance Center, a community mental health center, offers mental health assessments during business hours daily. The team at Family Guidance Center can help you or a family member identify signs and symptoms of mental health problems early-on, as well as a treatment strategy, to maintain a healthy future.

Alcohol is Leading Cause of Death Internationally

Alcoholism 5Health officials are increasingly more concerned about the dangers of alcohol-related injuries. Alcohol-attributed mortality is becoming a public health concern as the death toll creeps up across the globe.

According to a Medical News Today report, data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 2.5 million worldwide deaths each year to alcohol related causes. Injuries attributed to alcohol consumption such as vehicular accidents, falls, accidental drownings, and poisonings represent 33 percent of the disease burden caused by the drug’s use.

Despite these concerns, international government policies aimed at alcohol management receive limited attention. Meanwhile, research suggests that the rates for domestic violence, child abuse, worker absenteeism, disease, and fatal car accidents related to alcohol consumption continue to climb.

Binge drinking is rampant in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and Ukraine. The negative effects of the drug have led some nations to ban alcohol marketing and sponsorship of sports and other events. Health problems connected with alcohol consumption include liver disease, epilepsy, and many forms of cancer. The WHO Report maintains that countries can do more – such as impose an alcohol tax similar to that instituted by the tobacco industry – to prevent related injuries, disease, and death.

Young adults are especially at risk of negative consequences. For men between the ages of 15 and 59, alcohol is the leading cause of death worldwide. Men are at higher risk of hazardous drinking behaviors than women, and the number of men engaging in heavy, weekly drinking episodes is four times that of women.

While some people have no problem drinking responsibly, others clearly struggle. The more alcohol a person consumes, the higher the chances of becoming dependent. WHO figures estimate that 11 percent of worldwide drinkers participate in consistent, heavy drinking. Some people are able to self-manage excessive alcohol use before it evolves into addiction, but others may need additional help. The Family Guidance Center has resources for treatment for alcohol dependence or addiction. Though the factors for alcoholism are multi-faceted, help from mental health professionals and treatment plans based on a person’s goals can alter the outcome. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about Addiction Treatment Services.

Alcohol-Dependent Women at Twice the Risk of Early Death as Men

Alcoholism 4Research shows that biological differences may make women more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking in women as one drink daily but can include up to two alcoholic beverages for men in a 24 hour cycle.

A Huffington Post article underscores women’s vulnerability to alcohol. Susan Foster, VP and Director of Policy Research and Analysis for CASAColumbia, states that when consuming similar amounts of alcohol as men, women experience higher instances of health problems and greater risk of addiction. Women also tend to be hospitalized more for alcohol use than men because of higher body fat compositions, which aid in alcohol retention in the bloodstream.

A German study sought to further explore the gender-based effects of alcohol’s toxicity. Researchers from the Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at University Medicine Greifswald, Germany examined 149 men and women who met the criteria for alcoholism outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Health (DSM).

When compared to a control group, alcohol-dependent men had a death rate twice that of non-dependent peers, whereas women with dependency exhibited a death rate four times higher than the non-addicted group. In contrast to other members of the population, men and women with dependency were also shown to reduce their life expectancy by an average of 20 years.

During the follow-up research, dependent women were shown to be at a particularly greater risk for alcohol-related mortality. Fourteen years after the study elapsed, researchers discovered that 18 percent of men with alcoholism had died from the condition as opposed to 23 percent of women.

Oftentimes, there are underlying issues that contribute to dependency amongst women. Signs of problematic alcohol use include multiple failed attempts to stop drinking or cut back despite a desire to do so, and consuming in excess. With assistance from the Family Guidance Center, alcohol doesn’t have to dictate the course of one’s life. With a treatment strategy that’s customized and led by the inidividual’s goals,  those living with addiction can be free to experience long, healthy, and satisfying lives.

Food Shortages Related to Mental Health Problems in Teens

Children Mental Health 2Each day children in the U.S. go hungry, and it is compromising their well being. Having one’s basic needs met is not only important for the development of physical health, but also mental health, especially for those who are young.

A new study, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, sought to determine if fear of going hungry was related to the past-year presence of mental disorders in teens. Analysis of data for nearly 6,500 adolescents was gathered from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Teens in the survey ranged from age 13 to 17. For purposes of the study, food insecurity was determined as not being able to access enough food to prevent going hungry.

Even after investigators took into account factors such as poverty and other socio-economic issues, they uncovered that even slight increases in food insecurity significantly increased one’s chances of having a past-year mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or addiction. For each single increase in standard deviation, there was a 14 percent rise in the chance of having a mental health disorder.

This is particularly concerning because over one in five families in the U.S. cope with some form of food insecurity as reported in a Psych Central article. Per the research, food insecurity was a better predictor of mental health disorders in teens than even the parents’ education level or income.

Study authors believe the results suggest that, in addition to poverty, not having enough food to satisfy hunger further elevates the risk of mental health problems in adolescents. The findings of the study emphasize the importance of creating more programs aimed at addressing food shortages amongst children and teens.

The struggle to meet basic needs can be tough for many families, but is even tougher when mental health problems like substance abuse, depression, or anxiety are present. The Family Guidance Center has resources that can guide you through the process of assessment, diagnosis and treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, contact the Family Guidance Center for ways we can help.