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Family Guidance Blog

Helping Your Child Deal With Anxiety

Mental Health 11Anxiety is a form of fear that many people deal with at some point in life. However, rather than direct fear of an immediate, in-the-moment situation, anxiety is more comparable to worry – it is a fear of what could be or might be. Sometimes this anxiety can become paralyzing. Unfortunately, it is not only adults whose minds are able to stray into the realm of unpleasant possibilities…children can also deal with anxiety. As the parent of a child with anxiety, you need a plan for teaching your child to cope with this kind of gripping fear. Here are some ways to help them cope with anxiety:

Place Worries in a Box
One way to help your child deal with anxiety is to have them verbalize what frightens or worries them. Maybe they are afraid of dogs or talking to new people or being left in a new place such as a school or daycare. Acknowledge what concerns them and then tell them to imagine placing that worry inside a box. Then lock the box. The worry is not gone, but it isn’t allowed to be present without permission.

Find a Distraction
Getting your child’s mind off of their anxiety is key to leaving worries inside the box. Think of this as changing the channel in your child’s brain. Tell your child they hold the remote control and they can change channels. Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, bake some cookies – whatever is needed to redirect thinking.

The Power of Words
Words are powerful. Tell your child that when they hear worries talking to them, they are free to talk right back. Teach your child to say things like “that may not even happen”, “it could be easy”, “I don’t have to listen to this” or “that is not necessarily true”. Spoken words have power.

There are other helpful techniques for overcoming anxiety. At Family Guidance Center we have helped many children learn to deal with intrusive fears and we can help your family too, give us a call today.

Dealing with Social Anxiety During a Busy Holiday Season

While many people look forward to the busy schedule of glitzy holiday parties and get-togethers, for thoseHoliday Stress 1 with social anxiety it can be a season of difficult situations. If you are a person who dreads rather than anticipates social occasions you may be affected by social anxiety disorder. Here are some coping strategies to help you get through the holiday season if you live with social anxiety:

  • Be Selective
    You don’t have to attend every event to which you are invited. Choose the ones where you’ll feel most comfortable and graciously decline the rest. However, responding “yes” to a few social events is good as you connect with others on a small scale.
  • Be Healthy
    Eat right, get regular sleep and exercise often. These healthful habits will strengthen you toward overcoming stress and anxiety.
  • Be Prepared
    Not knowing what to say can be a big part of social anxiety. Spend some time catching up on current events or informing yourself about the hobbies and interests of your host or fellow guests before a social event.
  • Be Early
    Another factor in social anxiety is dread of being the object of attention. To help with anxiety over this arrive at events early.
  • Be Sober
    Drinking to calm anxiety can lead to deeper anxiety. Try deep-breathing and positive self-talk instead.
  • Attend With a Friend
    If you ask someone to accompany you and be your support at social functions it can make attending much less of an uncertainty.

At Family Guidance Center, we understand social anxiety and can help you learn positive skills for overcoming the paralysis of fear. You can come in at any point during the holiday season and start gaining control over the negative thinking that keeps you from enjoying social interactions.

New School Year Anxiety for Children and Adolescents

Most of us entering a new situation experience a certain degree of anxiety. It is the case for adults starting a new job or moving into a new town and for kids facing a brand new year of school. Parents may be tuned in to potential anxiety when their child enters school for the very first time but, actually, every new school year can bring on fresh bouts of fear and worry.

Children and adolescents often feel a desire to return to the social world of the classroom by summer’s end9773503_s even as they fear it. Will they succeed academically? Will they connect socially? And if they are beginning in a new school building – will they be able to find classrooms, lockers and bathrooms without looking foolish? These concerns are often present even if your child doesn’t verbalize them to you. So how can you, the parent, know when your child is struggling with anxiety about going back to school?

Clues to Unspoken Anxiety

  • Lots of questions pertaining to school
  • Increased nervous behaviors such as nail chewing, disturbed sleep, unexplained stomach problems or headaches
  • Irritability or sudden attachment

How to Help
As a parent you can help your child work through their anxiety by talking over specific fears. Visits to the bus stop or the school can defuse some of the worry about finding things, making them less of an unknown. It will also lower stress if your home has a prepared atmosphere. Make sure book bags, school supplies and lunch items are all in place before the first day of class. Let children know that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious about walking into a new environment and that anxiety will not last forever.

Most of the time, as things at school start to become routine, your child’s level of anxiety will start to go down. If fears and unease persist after the first month or six weeks it may be a good idea to have your child evaluated by a mental health professional. Behavioral Health Professionals at Family Guidance work with children and adolescents every day, helping them learn to cope positively with anxiety and other powerful emotions.

Anxiety and Substance Abuse Show up Together and Should be Treated Together

Anxiety 1When your life is a steady buzz of anxiety, it can be quite tempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. A glass of wine or a joint smoked in the evening can make you feel more at ease and free of the constant worry and tension. Unfortunately, dealing with anxiety in this way tends to only create another problem – substance abuse. These two problems frequently show up together and when the person is at last ready to deal with one of these issues, they actually need to tackle both in order to find true recovery.

The habit of easing anxiety with substances is fraught with peril, because dulling the anxiety is paramount. Over time, the body develops tolerance for the substance –whether alcohol or drugs- and pretty soon, it take more than a single glass of wine or just one joint to feel relaxed. Before the person realizes it, they are drinking more alcohol or using more of the drug just to maintain the same level of calm.

The two problems of anxiety disorder and substance abuse frequently go hand in hand. In fact, it can go the other direction too. Individuals with an alcohol or drug dependency may wind up developing an anxiety problem, because these substances can actually cause anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason, once the person decides to deal with one issue, they really need to address both.

At first, anxiety symptoms may worsen as the person gives up substance use, but eventually the anxiety levels will go down. Since pharmaceutical-based therapies can themselves be addicting, most experts suggest non-pharmacy treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) along with a support group. The CBT will be useful in learning healthy strategies for managing anxiety while the support group will give ongoing encouragement throughout the recovery from substances.

If you are a person who struggles with anxiety, don’t try to handle the problem on your own and definitely not with dulling substances like drugs and alcohol. Instead, call a professional who knows how to guide you in managing anxiety and overcoming substance use. The Family Guidance Center of St Joseph knows all about how these two issues are interrelated and they can help you find relief.

PTSD – How You Can Help Someone in Need

PTSD 1Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD) can be brought on by a number of different events. Victims of violent crime such as rape or robbery, those who have served time in war, and even women who have undergone traumatic childbirth experiences can develop such disorders. While individuals with ASD will only exhibit symptoms within the first 30 days after the event, those living with PTSD may experience symptoms that persist indefinitely.

PTSD can make it difficult to accomplish daily routines. Tasks such as attending work, going to school, or managing finances may create significant anxiety or difficulty for someone with the disorder. Individuals with PTSD may suddenly seem detached from loved ones and uninterested in things that were once important to them.

Fortunately, PTSD is treatable and many of those who seek treatment experience a high rate of success in adjusting back to a normal life. Many times we feel as though we have to fix things when a loved one exhibits problematic symptoms. But an article presented by the Mayo Clinic suggests that there are more effective ways to be of support.

It’s important to let your loved ones know that their feelings are important to you and that you are willing to listen when they are ready to share. However, they must first be open to discussion so the best course of action is to just be reassuring and not pushy.

When they do express a readiness to communicate, pick a time and place where you can quietly sit down and talk. Don’t interrupt or interject your own feelings on the matter. It’s best to simply listen. If the conversation becomes overwhelming at any point, it’s ok to initiate a break or resume the conversation at a later date. Take all talk of suicide seriously and never leave a person in this state alone or with any items that might be used for harm.

Learn the facts about ASD and PTSD – those who are informed are better prepared to help those in need. Family Guidance Center is a great resource for help and has mental health professionals available to help walk your loved one through the process of recovery.