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Family Guidance Blog

Depression and Anxiety Can Be Childhood Companions

Children Mental Illness 3When most of us think about our childhood memories, we recall digging in sandboxes and playing on swings – not worrying about issues of money, crime, or self-achievement. However, that is not the reality for all children. In fact, according to Rinad Beidas, a professional clinician at Temple University’s Child And Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic, anxiety disorders can affect as many as 12 percent of kids aged 7 to 17.

The Child And Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University consists of a team of eight experts who specialize specifically in the treatment of anxiety disorders among children. They focus not on the general issues of self-esteem and emotional transition that many youngsters go through, but rather crippling anxiety and fear that impairs normal, everyday functioning. Common to the clinic are children with persistent separation anxiety that is not age-appropriate and debilitating social anxiety which prevents children from basic interaction.

Beidas says the children they see process things like adults. Third-grade patients, for instance, may already be consumed with whether or not they will be accepted into college. According to a report from the Armenian Medical Network, it’s not uncommon for children to reflect the anxiety of their parents, so if mom or dad is constantly nervous or uneasy, children may feel that way too.

Many children also experience depression. The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that up to 8.3 percent of teens and 2.5 percent of younger children will become familiar with clinical depression of some type. NIMH also reveals that childhood depression can continue into adulthood if it doesn’t receive attention.

Dr. Kendall, Temple Clinic’s Director, says the reality is that these issues exist and will persist if left untreated. But childhood anxiety and depression are highly treatable. Through cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), anxiety patients at the Temple Clinic have seen a 72 percent success rate.

Learn the facts about childhood anxiety and depression. Through support from mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center, children can learn life skills and proper coping mechanisms to aid in handling stressful, real-life situations. A professional assessment of symptoms and an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward a treatment plan that can help a child return to well-being.

Signs of Mental Illness in Children – When to Get Help

Children Mental Illness 2Because of stigma and lack of knowledge, many children with mental health disorders go undiagnosed. If your child had a mental illness, would you know the signs? Would you know what to do to get them the help they need?

Health experts from the Mayo Clinic say there are signs of which every parent should be aware. For instance, abrupt mood swings interfering with home or school life may be indicative of something needing attention. Despondent behavior persisting for more than two weeks could also be problematic. Professionals advise to watch for lack of focus and behavior that is uncharacteristic for your child. Any verbal threats toward others should always be taken seriously. Additional red flags for mental disorders include a sudden drop in weight, signs of self-harm and substance abuse.

Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to differentiate issues of mental health from typical childhood behavior. It’s easy for any parent to dismiss worrisome behavior as just a “phase.” Other barriers to seeking help include a fear of high costs that might be involved with treatment.

Some of the more common psychiatric disorders experienced by children include anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, ADHD, autism, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Parents who suspect their children might be affected should consult their family pediatrician. It can also be helpful to discuss any concerns with others who have regular contact with your child such as teachers or caretakers to see if they have noted any abnormal behavior.

Diagnosing a child with a mental disorder can be challenging because it can take some children longer to develop than others. Doctors will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a guide as well as family history, input from those who regularly interact with the child, and any information about trauma or physical ailments that may contribute to such conditions.

Family Guidance Center can help parents by offering mental health screenings, referrals, and other informational resources. They also offer treatment options through the Children/Youth Services program. Issues of mental health are nothing to be ashamed of, and children have the best prognosis for treatment when issues are spotted early. If you’re unsure where to turn, the Family Guidance Center can provide support.


NFL Aims at Protecting the Physical and Mental Health of Its Players

Mental Health 7In an effort to address the serious physical and mental concerns raised by its current and former players, the NFL Life Line alerts players and their families regarding the symptoms of mental health disorders, signals of crisis, and how to obtain professional help. Announcement of NFL Total Wellness comes on the heels of a slew of lawsuits for brain injuries and the recent suicide of NFL linebacker, Junior Seau.

Ken Stabler, who played quarterback for the Raiders, was listed as the first plaintiff in a federal lawsuit citing 73 cases of injury sustained by over 2,400 former NFL players who are now suing the organization for failing to protect and inform them regarding dangers of the sport. The NFL veterans argue that the NFL could have done more to shield them from trauma caused by repeated head impact, among other statements.

Seau, one of 13 known NFL suicides over the past 25 years, shot himself last May, just two-and-a-half years after retirement. His family sent brain tissue to the National Institutes of Health for further examination.

A Huffington Post article reports a similar instance occurring in February 2011, when Dave Duerson, safety for the Chicago Bears, also shot himself. In his suicide note, Duerson requested that his brain be analyzed for trauma.

The symptoms of a mental health disorder can be present for months or years, and are often misdiagnosed. They can include  fatigue, inability to sleep, anxiousness, lack of concentration, irritability, body aches or depression. These symptoms can be masked by other health problems and may escalate to crisis levels without the knowledge of friends of family members.  Family Guidance Center has as team of mental health professionals that can help identify and diagnose mental health problems, and lead individuals toward a treatment plan that addresses the emotional, social, physical aspects of mental illness. Contact Family Guidance Center today if you need help.

Stress Drives College Females to Abuse Alcohol, Develop Disordered Eating Patterns

Mental Health 6People can find themselves living in dependence or addictior for many reasons.  Women in particular may over-consume food, for example, to compensate for areas in their life where they feel a loss of control. New research shows that certain environmental factors may put young women at higher risk of abuse.

An article outlined by Good Therapy online details a study conducted by Anna M. Bardone-Cone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Associate Professor of Psychology sought to determine what risk factors may contribute to female college students using alcohol and food in an unhealthy way.

Bardone-Cone asserts that college-aged women are under a lot of stress to attain an ideal that often does not exist. Pressure to succeed academically, be popular, pretty, fit, accepted, and loved all weigh heavily on the minds of young women. To test how this pursuit of excellence impacted women’s decisions to over consume, Bardone-Cone took a closer look at the lives of over 400 campus females. She examined how issues such as body image, pressure to get good grades, and interpersonal relationships affected the drive for perfection and urge to binge when these women didn’t feel good about themselves.

The results of the study uncovered that college females shown to have high academic stress and a drive for social perfection were more likely to eat for emotional reasons. Instead of satisfying hunger, food became a source of comfort and way for these women to avoid confronting their deeper issues of feeling inadequate. Results also showed a connection between body image, pressure to succeed academically, and interpersonal relationships on using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While the negative impacts of such stressors may seem minimal at first, if allowed to persist, they can increase the risk of  serious  diseases like bulimia or alcoholism. Family Guidance Center has a team of mental health professionals who can help you understand and manage mental health symptoms related to chronic stress, such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Alcohol addiction is a disease, like many other diseases, and professional help is needed to identify triggers and help individuals manage symptoms for recovery and quality of life. Assessments are available daily on a walk-in basis at Family Guidance Center, and can be the first step for a return to quality of life.


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.