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Family Guidance Blog

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.

Elderly at Risk of Substance Abuse

Addiction 3For some, the golden years are anything but golden. In fact, they can be a time when many adults turn to substance abuse to deal with issues of anxiety and depression. Growing older and all the changes that come with it are not always pleasant, and without proper coping mechanisms, can lead to a higher risk for the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

The elderly deal with a range of issues that many of their younger counterparts have not yet had to experience. A number have lost their life partners and have struggled with intense loneliness. Others lack a sense of purpose upon retirement. Physical aches and pains and living on limited financial resources can also be a source of tremendous stress.

An article at Psych Central pointed out that in the five year period from 2002 to 2007, figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that the number of elderly adults engaging in illegal substance abuse has doubled. Experts are concerned about these increases as well as upsurges in the abuse of prescription drugs, which increased by nearly two percent from 2002 to 2009.

A survey originating from the Hanley Center, a rehab facility in Florida, revealed that close to 50 percent of respondents misused prescription medications and many others admitted to abusing drugs or alcohol. Dr. Barbara Krantz, the Hanley Center’s medical director, says that a number of factors come together at the same time, which pave the road for addiction.

According to the survey, 40 percent of participants said their dependency ensued as they approached the age of 50. Over 90 percent revealed that they had abused alcohol while nearly half reported misappropriation of prescription drugs.

The survey also showed that people often make the decision to get help based on the urgings of family. Because most substance abuse efforts target those who are young, many in the older generation tend to fall through the cracks. Family Guidance Center can help individuals and their families identify symptoms of underlying mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that may also coexist with substance abuse problems. For more information about services to help lead you out of dependency, including Addiction Treatment  services, contact the Family Guidance Center.