Category Archives: Family Therapy

holiday stress

Stress Management for Dealing with Family and Holiday Eating

Dr. Ryan Fuller on how planning ahead can help you avoid stressful situations.

Download the Predict, Plan, and Prepare worksheet.  This simple stress management technique is called the 3 P’s.  It is simple, but easy to forget, so having this worksheet as a concrete reminder may help you to reduce your stress levels around family, holiday stress, or any circumstance.  Using it regularly may really help prevent your stress from becoming overwhelming. More information about holiday stress and potential stress, eating challenges and other stress brought on by travel.

Stalkers in Cyberspace Can Cause Irreparable Damage

Modern Day Stalking

The technology age has a dramatic impact on all aspects of our lives. Being a victim of harassment is no exception. In a previous era, it took a great deal of effort on the part of a stalker who generally followed his target around from place to place by various modes of transportation, whether or not there was any face-to-face interaction. Today, however, you can stalk or bully someone “from the comfort of your own bedroom.” Have you ever been the subject of cyberstalking?

Psychological Impact of Online Harassment

According to data presented by psychologists at this year’s APA convention, the effect of e-harassment (in any of its various forms) is more devastating to victims than being harassed in real time and place. It might be due to the round-the-clock access a stalker has to the victim, or the fact that you cannot get away from her without cutting off access to meaningful things in your life—friends, family, job, etc. Besides, access for cyber-harassment is through multiple platforms, e.g., email, blogs, online message boards, voicemail and text messages on cellphones, Facebook and other social networking sites, and Twitter. Victims report fear, anxiety, shock, depression, nightmares, sleeplessness, weight loss or gain, withdrawal, and feelings of helplessness, as well as various physical symptoms. You have likely seen news reports of tragic consequences of young people bullying or being harassed via electronic devices, e.g., assaults, fights, and suicides.

Demographics and Other Statistics

As was true in old fashioned offline stalking, most targets of e-stalkers are female. However, what has changed since the widespread use of personal technology devices is that females are becoming online stalkers and/or bullies themselves in increasing numbers, whereas—before the Internet age—it was almost exclusively males who engaged in stalking behavior (unless you count those obsessed women in “Play Misty for Me” and “Fatal Attraction”). What do you think the reason is for this shift?

Most e-harassment is carried out by teens, college-age individuals, and young adults. It is sometimes the result of vengeance or just simple meanness on the part of a person who is one half of a romantic couple that has broken up; or it can even be merely the result of a “date gone bad.” U.S. Department of Justice reports that 34% of female and 14% of male college students have broken into the email account of their romantic partner.

Being a Victim

Response to cyber-bullying is individual in both mode and intensity. People who are prone to depression or to obsessing (e.g., OCD) appear to be affected the most. Research shows (just as it happens with other forms of abuse) that a victim of e-harassment is likely to subsequently harass or bully other people through cyberspace. Have you been a victim of virtual bullying or harassment? If so, were you later tempted to take out any frustration you might have experienced on someone else via electronic means? What can you do to ensure you will react to e-bullying in ways that promote psychological health and safety for you and others?

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[fontawesome icon=”fa-file-text-o” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”#000000″ ] Virtual harassment worse than face-to-face

[fontawesome icon=”fa-file-text-o” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”#000000″ ] Facebook bullies: With 6 arrests in 2 incidents, nothing virtual about cyberstalking

[fontawesome icon=”fa-file-text-o” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”#000000″ ] Dealing with virtual stalking

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lovesick

Lovesickness- Stirred Up By Your Own Body’s Chemistry

Toxic Love Cocktail

What grownup hasn’t experienced, at least once, that giddy, first stage of falling-in-love in which you can’t eat, sleep, or concentrate on anything except the object of your affection? During those times, your body doesn’t do what you want it to, because, as scientists have learned, it is busy concocting a dangerous drug that may cause you to feel mildly or seriously ill, even to the point of losing a considerable amount of weight and neglecting all your responsibilities. This mixture of neurotransmitters, composed of phenethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin, produces great spurts of energy, mood elevation, appetite suppression, and general feelings of well-being. The reward center of your brain responds to this concoction in the same manner it would if you had smoked crack cocaine.

Physical Symptoms of Lovesickness

Can you remember—if you’ve ever experienced a crazy, whirlwind infatuation—the feelings of highs (when you were with the person) and lows (when you couldn’t see him/her for a period of time, regardless of how brief)?  If you have, it’s quite possible you evidenced physical symptoms, e.g., nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, pounding heart, chest pressure, etc. These are actually some of the same ones associated with panic attacks. And lovesickness does present itself like fear, anxiety, and panic in brain scans. But, with lovesickness, the symptoms (that make us quite ill) can hang around for weeks, months, or longer.

The Natural Way

It all makes sense in the big (evolution) picture. Scientists explain that nature expects us to be attracted to a mate and become “lovestruck,” concentrating intensely on that human being, all in preparation for procreating the species.

Can some people become so ‘lovesick’ that they need to see a doctor? To take medication? Or to undergo psychotherapy?

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CBT Helps Prevent Postpartum OCD

Postpartum Depression and Emotional Disorders

For many years now, we’ve heard about the problems postpartum depression can cause a new mother and, consequently, her family. You may have even experienced difficulties yourself from the perspective of a new mom or of a family member impacted by the depressed person’s behavior.

Postpartum Anxiety Disorders

Recently, another postpartum disorder has come to light and it can have results that are just as devastating as depression. Some women (who may or may not have previously been prone to anxiety) develop an anxiety disorder after giving birth. Most commonly occurring is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in which a mother demonstrates compulsions related to protecting her newborn. She may refuse to put the baby in a crib, choosing instead to carry him all the time. She may spend so much time scrubbing all the contents of the nursery—everything that the infant touches—that she is neglectful of his basic needs. Or she may wash the baby over and over again until his skin becomes tender or raw to the touch.

Symptoms of postpartum OCD may include disturbing thoughts about her baby’s safety or health, most of which are irrational (e.g., disease-carrying bacteria on a baby bottle or toy, roaches or mice crawling into the crib, etc.). And, as in other cases of OCD, the thoughts are repetitive and recurring, and the new mother feels powerless to push them out of her mind.

What would or could you do to help a sister, daughter, wife, or friend whom you recognized as showing signs of postpartum OCD? If you believed the newborn to be in any danger as a result of his mom’s obsessive-compulsive behaviors, what would be the wisest approach to doing something about it?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT Efficacy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Fortunately, there are effective measures to be taken, but any program has a much better chance of helping if initiated prior to childbirth. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be highly successful in treating anxiety disorders. A recent investigation of postpartum, OCD at the University of Miami, therefore, proposed a program using CBT to prevent anxiety disorders and to be incorporated into regular childbirth classes. Pregnant women identified as being at risk for developing OCD were divided into two groups, one of which received the prevention program. These moms-to-be were instructed in how to recognize warning signals of anxiety, panic, and OCD and were trained in techniques to handle their strong feelings (compulsions and obsessions) in healthier, safer ways. Mothers in the program had less anxiety after the birth of their babies, and this effect lasted at least six months, when the last measure was taken.

Are you an anxious person or do you experience intense anxiety from time to time? Do you think that some of the training involved in the CBT program of prevention outlined should be offered to all pregnant women? Or should all expectant mothers at least be screened for being at risk of anxiety (and other) disorders?

Is Your Spouse or Partner Bad for Your Health

Effect of Long-Term Relationships

While many studies have shown the advantages and health benefits of being married or in a long-term committed relationship (e.g., lowering risk of cardiovascular disease), new research indicates that these same relationships may contribute to acquiring poor health habits from one’s partner.

Bad Habits

The researcher describes three ways that these unhealthy habits are promoted.

  1. A partner can be a bad influence because of his or her own unhealthy habits. In straight relationships, men were unanimously seen as the culprit.
  2. The partner who observes unhealthy habits in the other may not take personal responsibility to try to help the other change.
  3. Synchronicity may be operating. That is, even though one partner might have the desire for an unhealthy habit, he or she may not engage in it . . . but, if the other partner also demonstrates a desire for it, then they both are likely to endorse it for each other. Thus, both wind up backsliding. This synchronicity is particularly exclusive to gay and lesbian couples.

Should a spouse or partner try to shape the other’s behavior if that behavior is believed to be detrimental to the second partner’s health? For example, if she smokes, should you urge her to quit? If he is overweight, should you suggest an exercise routine for the two of you and then accompany him to the gym several times a week? Or should we just let our partner make the decisions concerning his or her own health and fitness?

Do you think that, by trying to change health-related bad habits in your partner, you might hurt his/her feelings, damage the trust relationship you already have, or even push your partner away? Some people feel that any small improved health status in the partner may not be worth risking a positive, long-term, intimate relationship. What do you think?

How would you, if you so desired, try to modify unhealthy habits of your partner?

Do you agree that men are usually seen as the bad influence? And, if so, do you feel they deserve that recognition?

 

Toddler

Should We Be Alarmed About a Toddler’s Delayed Speech?

How many of us were a matter of concern to our parents because we failed to exhibit what was considered normal verbal ability or behavior according to the pediatricians’ charts? If this doesn’t describe you, have you known others who were regarded as “late talkers?” The experience of being a parent of a late talker can be an emotional one, especially if the child’s speech is significantly delayed and family members or friends frequently bring it to your attention. Many parents become concerned that their child might be developmentally challenged in language skills. When they compare their own child to those of their friends (who might be constantly jabbering), these parents may even fear that their toddler is mentally challenged.

Results of a new study, if it can be replicated, could certainly lower anxiety and stress levels of parents who face these challenges. Investigators found that 70-80% of children exhibiting speech delays catch up with their peers in language skills after age two. Also, any early emotional or behavioral problems associated with delayed language development do not generally continue after this time. It is believed that these problems were probably due to frustration (at not being able to communicate)–and not to some underlying genetic cause.

Since some children do have language impairments, it is wise to have early diagnosis and intervention. Isn’t this what we’ve always been told? Have you known parents whose response to this situation probably made matters worse? What specific behaviors of parents and older siblings do you think would have a negative effect on the slow-to-talk toddler? What are some things you would or could do that would have the opposite effect (that is, a proactive one)?

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[fontawesome icon=”fa-file-text-o” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”#000000″ ] Child Late To Talk? When To Stress

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Baby Bottle

Bottles-Toting Toddlers: Are They Prone to Obesity?

Bottle-Toting Toddlers: Are They Prone to Obesity?

by New York Behavioral Health Staff Member

A study just reported in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that children who are still drinking from a baby bottle at age 2 and beyond are more likely to be overweight at 5 years of age and in adulthood than those who “give up” the bottle by one year.

Reactions to these results (in the popular press) are slightly mixed, with the majority of readers pointing to later consumption of fast foods, junk food, etc. as the chief influence on obesity. Here are some findings of the study, however, funded by the U.S Dept. of Agriculture.  Of the children who still sipped from a bottle at age two, nearly 30% could be considered obese by the age of 5½, while only 16% of those drinking out of cups (going into their third year) were obese by that age.

Dissenters should take note that the study did, in fact, control for mother’s weight, birth weight of the baby, and feeding practices. Even so, the researchers caution that the findings do not prove that prolonged bottle use causes obesity; there may be other important factors influencing both. But it’s still something for young parents to consider in providing nutrition and comfort to their little ones.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20060087-10391704.html