Month: May 2015

young girl being bullied by peers

What Parents Should Know About Childhood Bullying

In recent years, a lot more attention has been paid to bullying especially to youths and the impact it can have on them. A child being bullied can take a tremendous toll on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Teens and children are prime targets for bullying because they’re especially sensitive to criticism and the opinions of others. After all, growing up means for many youths shaping themselves according to societal expectations which includes the opinions of their peers. Kids who bully, however, are likely looking for an outlet for aggression or a way to cope with problems in their own personal lives.

Unfortunately, not every child being bullied asks for help. The reasons for this can stem from fear of peer rejection, humiliation, feelings of helplessness, or fear of retaliation by the bully. But left unaddressed, bullying can be extremely detrimental to victims and studies show a strong link between bullying and suicide in young people. Statistics show that at least half of the total number of suicides committed by young people are the result of bullying and that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-suicide victims.

You Child Being Bullied: How To Know

Your child might not tell you if they’re being bullied but there may be certain signs. Some are more obvious than others. If your child has unexplainable injuries or  has frequently missing personal items, it may be a sign that your child is being bullied. Bullies use theft and physical abuse as tactics of intimidation. While it’s true that kids can sometimes be forgetful or not very careful, frequently missing or damaged items and physical injuries like black eyes are seldom the result of the individual. Some injuries, however, can be self-inflicted. Self-harm is a major indicator of something wrong which can stem from bullying or other sources of distress.

Other indicators are less obvious and require more observance. Noticeable changes in appetite like suddenly losing interest in eating or eating considerably more can be signs of peer influence. Eating is one of our most obvious coping mechanisms so extreme changes in eating patterns can indicate emotional distress. For a child who is eating noticeably less or not at all, it could be a sign of peer influence and bodily dissatisfaction. For the child who is suddenly eating more it could be a sign of growth or it could be because they’re not eating at school. Perhaps it’s  because they don’t feel comfortable or because their lunch or lunch money is being taken.

Other health-related indicators of bullying include loss of sleep or an inability to sleep, frequently claiming to be sick and/or avoiding class, a sudden decline in grades, or a tendency to avoid social activity and withdraw themselves from personal relationships.

What Parents Can Do About Bullying

It’s always a good idea to keep an open line of communication with your child and speak with them openly and honestly.  While kids may not always tell their parents if they’re being bullied, the opportunity to talk about their school and personal lives should be there should they wish to use it. Initiating these conversations yourself is not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s important to allow your child to initiate their own conversations and to feel safe to do so.

But what if you know or are certain your child is being bullied? Many kids won’t tell their parents if they’re being bullied and the reasons for that are many and varied and can range from a general feeling of helplessness to being afraid of retaliation from their bullies. Depending on the situation, it’s important to teach your child to be assertive and to ask whoever is bullying them to stop. If that doesn’t work or isn’t safe, your child should try to avoid their bully. Your child should also be able to seek help from the proper authority figure or figures in the environment they’re being bullied. If they’re at school they should seek help from the teachers or principal. However, if this doesn’t work, you as a parent might need to get involved. This can mean setting up meetings with the teachers or principal, or taking your child to school to ensure their safety upon arrival.

The goal is to do whatever is possible for you and your child to ensure that they can live and learn in safe, bully-free environments. So make sure to talk to your child to find out what’s going on and how you can help. Sometimes counseling and therapy can be good options for victims of bullying to help them overcome the mental and emotional abuse they suffered from their experiences. Overall, make sure your child knows that you are there for them, to love and support them, and to offer the help they need even if they are too afraid to ask. Work with them and together you and your child can overcome bullying and help others, too.

The Stigma of Depression Is On The Way Out

If you are battling depression, you are not alone.  Millions of people in the world deal with depression.  National Institute of Mental Health statistics estimate that 6.7 percent of adults in the US are likely to experience a major depression disorder in any given year. That may seem like a discouragingly large amount of people, but there are also some up-sides to depression being so widespread. Despite the huge number of people whose lives this mental health condition impacts, the stigma of depression generally paints the picture only a “sick” or “damaged” individual can be depressed. This, of course, is far from reality. As depression awareness spreads, the attitude towards America’s most common mental health disorder is slowly beginning to change.

Here are three positive signs that Depression is starting to become better understood and accepted as a mental health condition rather than a state of mind or personal problem.

  1. More people who do not have depression are starting to understand it. – As a world population, we are not always great at understanding mental illness and being able to deal with it. We are more likely to want to sweep aside mental health issues, deny their existence, or condemn mental illness because we do not understand it.  Because depression is so widespread and becoming more and more so, society is getting to comprehend it a little bit better.  One of the things that is fueling this understanding is that it is difficult these days to find anyone who has not been touched by depression.  Empathy is increased by that kind of connection.  This could mean that the future of depression is more understanding, and this could also pave the way for better understanding of mental illness in general.

  1. We are beginning to understand that depression is very treatable. – Much research has been done into the treatments for depression, and they have proven to be very effective. When people with depressive disorders receive the proper treatment, they improve quite a bit.  The most successful treatments for depression usually include cognitive behavior therapy, antidepressant medication, and a variety of alternative therapies including acupuncture, meditation, and biofeedback.  A combination of therapies can be very successful at treating different kinds of depression.  The sooner a depression sufferer starts to receive treatment after symptoms present themselves, the better the chances will be of a successful recovery.

  1. More forms of depression treatment are becoming accepted and the options are growing. – There are new medications that could be coming to the market in the next few years that could treat depression faster than the antidepressants that are currently available. Expected to be available as soon as 2017, ketamine, an anesthetic, is currently being studied as a potential ingredient for antidepressant medication.  A new therapy calls positive psychology is being tested as well.  Positive psychology works on building “positive emotions, character strengths, and a sense of meaning” instead of the typical approach that works on eliminating negative feelings first.  According the practitioners, positive psychology focuses on “build what’s strong” rather than “fix what’s wrong.”

New Treatments For Depression

Another kind of new treatment that is being explored is brain stimulation through a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.  This non-invasive technique involves electromagnetic pulses that are sent through a coil to targeted areas of the brain.  In many people who suffer from depression, there are certain areas of the brain that are underactive and this FDA approved treatment can help to activate those areas.  Research is also being done into surgically implanted devices for deep brain stimulation similar to those that are used on Parkinson’s disease patients.  These devices could work similarly to the electromagnetic coils and be a long term solution.

As for new therapeutic methods, cognitive behavior therapy is still the stand out form of treatment.  Recently, medical professionals have determined that long term cognitive behavior therapy rather than the typical short term could be a better solution to helping to curb depression and some of mental illnesses.  The current research has been suggesting that stress is one of the leading causes of depression.  If the stress is not adequately dealt with as it happens, it could turn into depression.  Long term therapy can help you to learn to adequately deal with stress.  The long term therapy could very well be part of the solution for dealing with the stress.

Together, We End The Stigma of Depression

All of these items are indicators that the stigma that surrounds depression and mental health conditions in general could eventually become a thing of the past.  People who have depression may not feel as though they need to hide their condition for fear of being judged or ridiculed.  Depression sufferers should always ask for help when they need it.  Getting treatment is the best defense and the surest way to be able to overcome this potentially debilitating disease.

Identifying Signs of An Anxiety Disorder

After trying to understand more about the types of anxiety disorders, you might be wondering what the symptoms are.  How can you tell if your typical anxiety has crossed over into mental health disorder territory?  It may not be very simple to figure it out, but there are a few signs that can help you to determine if what you are experiencing is temporary or if you have developed an anxiety disorder for which you should find professional help.

Seven Signs of An Anxiety Disorder

1. Excessive Worry

One of the major symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry.  But what constitutes too much worry?  When you cross the line into excessive worry, you are likely to have persistent anxious thoughts on most days for approximately six months.  The worry may get to the point where it is interfering with the rest of your life.

2. Sleep Difficulties

There are a number of health conditions that are associated with prolonged trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.  It is not unusual to have trouble sleeping before a big event or in anticipation of something important.  It is not unusual to have trouble sleeping at random times throughout your adult life.  But when you chronically find yourself staring at the ceiling, awake and agitated, this could be a sign of anxiety.  Another sleep sign that you may have anxiety is if you wake up with your mind racing and have a lot of difficulty calming yourself down.

3. Panic

If you have experienced a sudden, all-encompassing feeling of helplessness and fear that may be accompanied by sweating, difficulty breathing, a racing heartbeat, or other terrifying physical symptoms, you have probably had a panic attack.  Some of the people who have panic attacks have generalized anxiety disorder, but other people who regularly have panic attacks could be diagnosed with a panic disorder.  Since it can be very difficult to pinpoint the triggers of a panic attack, panic disorder sufferers sometimes live in fear until they start getting help for their disorder.

4. Irrational or Unprovoked Fear

While many anxiety sufferers have a generalized kind of anxiety, others have very specific kinds of anxieties and fears.  For some, the fear comes on in crowds.  For some, they have fears of flying, heights, or different kinds of animals.  These specific kinds of phobias may not be obvious all the time.  You may not even know that you have this kind of fear until you are presented with a specific situation and find that you cannot overcome the fear.

5. Chronic Self-consciousness

Social anxiety does not always involve being the center of attention or the life of the party.  In many cases, social anxiety can be provoked by every day situations like walking into a crowded room or being in a public place.  In these kinds of situations, people who have social anxiety disorder can feel like they are being looked at be everyone in the room.  They tend to blush easily.  They can have difficulty talking or sweat excessively.  These kinds of symptoms can make it difficult for the sufferer to meet new people and make relationships.

6. Tense Muscles

You may be so used to your chronically tense muscles that you do not even know that you have them.  You could be clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or hunching your shoulders all the time without even knowing it.  There is a simple test for this.  Take a minutes to sit very still.  Think about each of the muscles in your body.  Tighten and loosen each one in turn.  Take note of how your muscles feel when they are tight and how they feel when you release them.  Do you have a lot to tighten?  Is there much release when you relax?  Constantly tense muscles is a sign of constant anxiety.

7. Self-doubt

Second guessing yourself and doubting that you are able to do things is a common sign of generalized anxiety disorder and of obsessive compulsive disorder.  Sometimes the self-doubt gets to the point where you are unable to make a simple decision.  This is when you have crossed over from the self-doubt that almost everyone feels sometimes into  an anxiety disorder.

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