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Family Guidance Blog

Teen Health Affected by Economic Downturn

14203982_sThe teen years can be a tough time of transition. And while it’s common knowledge that adolescents are one of the age groups at highest risk of suicide, less discussed is that ten percent are also affected by an anxiety disorder (National Institute of Mental Health). A new study shows that the state of the economy could have a bearing on the development of teen anxiety and depression.

In 2011, as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers investigated the responses of over 7000 teens gathered between 2001 and 2010. The survey was taken in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and encompassed both physical and mental health information as well as levels of physical activity.

After the year 2007, the mental health of teens from low and middle class upbringings began to deteriorate, coinciding with the economic downturn. After adjusting for several factors, researchers came to the conclusion that this decline was indeed related to the weakening economy.

Investigators notated that between the three years spanning from 2001 and 2004, 64 percent of survey respondents said they had very good or excellent health. However, in 2010, only 52 percent of adolescents could say the same. The number of days reported with no significant mental health issues also dropped considerably from 2006 to 2010, and lower income families displayed the steepest declines.

Investigators believe that adolescent anxiety was a factor of the poor job market and lack of teen employment opportunities. Study author, Dr. Matthew Zack advises that teens also were likely reacting to their own home situations. Zack and his team were surprised to find out that teens were affected by what was going on in the economy.

Family Guidance Center offers mental health screenings on a walk-in basis. If you have a teen that has struggled with behavioral issues or suspect that something may be out of the ordinary, visit Family Guidance Center. Mental health plays an integral role in overall health and wellness at all ages.


Serving Teens Alcohol at Home Backfires on Parents

We all may know well-meaning parents who decided to permit teens (their own and friends) to drink alcohol at home where mom and dad could keep an eye on them.  They assumed that allowing kids to drink at home removed the taboo and would make drinking alcohol less about rebellion and therefore less appealing.  The actual facts show the opposite is true and what these parents also may have forgotten to consider is their own risk when they decide to serve alcohol to minors.

The National Institutes of Health has funded research which shows that serving under-aged kids alcohol in the home does not reduce the likelihood that children will be problem drinkers later.  Quite the reverse.  Research shows that kids who were given alcohol at home tend to drink more during their teens and are more likely to have drinking problems once they reach adulthood.

Parents who want to create a less uptight atmosphere around alcohol at home in hopes that it will lower kids’ desire to engage in risky drinking when they are away from home are building on a faulty premise.  The truth is that parents are influential in forming attitudes toward substance use.  If the parents are accepting and permissive about alcohol use,that is the message kids take away.  Parents who want to lower the risk of alcohol misuse do better to be very clear about the dangers of underage drinking.  Words and actions that reinforce that message are more effective in reducing bad alcohol choices by kids. Rather than promote alcohol use, parents should help teens learn about the consequences of underage drinking.

Parents who think their teen may already be engaged in alcohol use should not wait to seek help for both the addiction or dependence, and the mental health problems like chronic depression that often accompany alcohol use. Family Guidance Center can help with the mental health symptoms and illnesses that often go hand in hand with teen alcohol or substance use.  Early intervention is important to help teens who struggle with alcohol abuse.


April Marks National Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol-use disorders affect over 18 million people living across the country. But the effects of alcohol are even broader still – children, spouses, other loved ones, and friends also carry the burden of alcoholism. It is estimated that a quarter of all American children have resided in households where one or more family members had an alcohol problem.

According to a report revealed on NCADD’s website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy somewhere in the neighborhood of $223.5 billion each year. The price associated with alcohol abuse comes in the form of lost productivity at work, increased healthcare costs, extra burdens on the legal and criminal justice systems, and vehicular accidents stemming from intoxication.

This year marks the 27th anniversary that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Since 1987, every April the organization calls awareness to the issue in the hopes of educating the public regarding the dangers of alcohol and reducing stigma that frequently stands in the way of people getting help.

This year’s theme is entitled “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow,” and highlights the importance of early prevention and treatment efforts. Data shows that adolescent alcohol use which precedes the age of 15 quadruples a person’s risk of developing an adult-onset alcohol addiction as compared to those who didn’t start consuming alcohol until at least the age of 20.

Children with poor support networks or those with depression or anxiety are at higher risk of alcohol abuse. So are kids who experience trouble in school or who have family members who abuse alcohol. Studies show that children do care what their parents think about underage drinking and that parental involvement and education are key to decreasing levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is tied to higher instances of crime, divorce, car accidents, and domestic abuse. If you or someone you love needs help coping with alcoholism, the Family Guidance Center can help you take those first critical steps toward sobriety and living a happier, healthier life.


Substance Abuse and ADHD Often Linked

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. It can be difficult to pinpoint whether drug use causes mental health concerns or if undiagnosed mental health problems open the door for substance abuse. In all actuality, experts say that it can occur both ways. Those living with mental health problems might use drugs to cope with symptoms, while other individuals under the influence of drugs discover that the capacity to disrupt the brain’s normal development from the drug use may lead to compromised mental health.

A Psychology Today article also points out that adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance abuse as their brains are still growing and developing. Ironically, ADHD in adolescence has been linked to higher rates of drug abuse. A decade-long study whose results were released in 2011, uncovered that individuals with ADHD had nearly a 50 percent higher risk of turning to substance abuse at some point in their lives when compared to others without an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD 4Some parents questions whether it is the ADHD medications themselves that lead to a greater likelihood of later substance abuse. Because there were almost 3 million children and adolescents prescribed ADHD medications in 2007 alone, it’s understandable why parents might be concerned. Though, many studies on the subject can put that fear to rest as there has been no credible evidence linking stimulant use among kids with ADHD to higher instances of drug experimentation or later substance abuse.

In fact, research seems to support the exact opposite. One study made public in 2008, examined 114 children with ADHD for half a decade. And while 94 percent received stimulant treatment, the group was at nearly a 75 percent reduced risk of developing a problem with substance abuse despite their use of medication.

Experts say that it’s important to be aware of the co-existence of mental health and substance use disorders. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center can help individuals sort through symptoms so that one or both conditions can be correctly diagnosed and treated. If you suspect that a loved one may be affected by either an issue of mental health or substance abuse, help is available through Family Guidance Center.

Frequent Moving Takes a Toll on Low-Income Children

Children Mental Health 1It’s often a difficult decision to pick up and move one’s family to another location. Though, sometimes circumstances don’t leave much of a choice. It’s not uncommon for parents to be concerned about uprooting their school-aged children, especially when they have already formed strong friendships and emotional bonds with students at their current school. But what about children under 5 who haven’t officially started attending classes yet?

Research shows that children of lower income families seem to be most affected by the process of moving. A study conducted by investigators at Cornell University in partnership with the National Employment Law Project uncovered that although moving is something that many of us experience at some point over the course of our lifetimes, children living in poverty are forced to relocate three times or more before their fifth birthday. Many experience more problems with depression, anxiety, and paying attention.

As part of the investigation covered in a recent Psych Central report, researchers examined data for over 2,800 children taken from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. They were particularly concerned with the impact of persistent relocations on children’s preparedness for coursework in a classroom setting.

Data indicates that families in the lower income bracket tend to move more frequently than others, and that the housing crisis and tumbling job market have driven low-income families to seek out work and affordable housing wherever they can find it. Study results also showed that increased behavioral issues only seemed to occur amongst children of low-income families.

Moving can be stressful. If you or someone you know has been forced to relocate several times with young children, assistance for problems like anxiety, depression or related mental health conditions can be found at the Family Guidance Center. Mental health professionals are available to all, regardless of income, and can help provide families and children with mental health support they need adjusting to a new environment. For more information on relocation assistance, contact the Family Guidance Center.