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Almost exactly 7 years after Hurricane Katrina walloped the Gulf Coast, residents once again are preparing for a hit. This time the uninvited guest is named Isaac, and while not as feared as Katrina, those in his forecasted path may experience similar anxieties to those felt during Katrina.

 People who have experienced disasters from a front row seat often carry deep rooted memories of the fear and apprehension they experienced. This can range from mild jittery feelings to panic and dread. Uncertainty about what will happen feeds anxiety and stokes nervousness.

 Common reactions to a severe storm forecast may include fatigue, sleep changes, difficulty making decisions, irritability, and anxiety.

 There are several things that may help while waiting to see what weather develops: getting adequate rest, assuring a family safety plan, taking practical steps to provide for your family, practicing patience, and making sure that you eat well and drink plenty of fluids.

 Preparing for Isaac’s arrival doesn’t mean that residents should give in to fear and anxiety. The advance notice may allow time to prepare, both physically and emotionally.

Bullying behavior is getting a good bit of attention in the media lately, partly because of some high-profile suicides by victims of bullies. Bullycide is a new term that refers to this disturbing trend. Suicide is the 3rd highest cause of death in the 13-18 year old age bracket.

Bullying includes unwanted physical contact, threats, intimidation, vandalism, property damage, cruel teasing, spreading rumors, and shaming.

This can occur in person, over the phone, and through texting, social networking, and internet postings. About 20% of children in 6th through 12th grade report being victims of bullies.

For bullying to occur, 3 things usually happen:

  1. The bully believes that he or she can bully with no consequences.
  2. The bully and the target believe that the target is weaker than the bully and can be taken advantage of.
  3. The bully has learned that bullying gets him or her some needs met.

There are long-term consequences to allowing bullies to continue with that behavior. Bullies are five times more likely to be convicted of a felony by age 30 and four times more likely to have at least one criminal conviction by age 24. Bullies don’t develop social skills of collaboration and cooperation. They don’t develop empathy.

Family therapy can be helpful for targets and bullies alike. Both parties need support and social skill development. By changing these patterns we give children and teens brighter futures and the hope for healthier relationships.

For information about bullying, click on the Stop Bullying! website.

Many people may think that females are the first to utter
those three words in a relationship. The thinking may be that men are less in
tune with their emotions and less willing to say something that signifies some
level of commitment.

The reality is that men are more likely to confess their
love earlier than their female partner is. Part of the timing is related to
whether or not the couple has had sex, according to a study published in the
June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Men are first to say “I love you” in two-thirds of couples.
Men are happier than women to hear “I love you” as early as month into the
relationship if they had not yet had sex, but women wanted to hear a profession
of love after the onset of sex.

This phenomenon may have its underpinnings in the
evolutionary patterns of relationships, in which men are looking for an
opportunity to spread their genes. Women tend to see a post-sex confession of
love as a signal of long-term commitment and security.

Men admit thinking about stating their love about six weeks
earlier than females do, particularly if the couple hasn’t started a sexual
relationship.

Researcher Josh Ackerman if MIT’s Sloan School of Management
summed up the study this way, “What love means to men and what love means to
women may be very different.”

Click here to read a brief summary of the article: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/100/6/1079/

 

As troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan families are celebrating the reunion.  Hopes are high, and excitement carries the family through the initial time of being back together.

The challenges of military deployments impact the service member as well as the family at home. The service member is away from home
for an extended period of time, and often must be deployed several times during his or her enlistment. The families deal with concern for their loved one’s safety, and the family roles may shift during deployment.

Separation can be tough, and families often look forward to the reunion with high hopes. The person who is deployed may be eager to get home and resume the role in the family held before deployment. The family might have a vision of a joyous reunion leading smoothly into a return to the way things used to be.

As wonderful as the reunion may be, it often comes with a surprising number of challenges. Things may not go as smoothly as the family had hoped.

The American Red Cross has developed a program to help these families during the reunion phase. The Coming Home Series is a set of modules focusing on topics that families could use some help with. These modules are about 90 minutes long, they’re free, and they are led by qualified mental health professionals. Families and small groups can choose from topics like anger in the family,communicating clearly, helping children, the stress and trauma of war, and overcoming depression.

As part of the workgroup that wrote these modules, I’m excited to say that the program is now available to anyone who wants to take part. This is a great way to provide support and practical tools to returning service members and their families.

Click here to find out more about the Coming Home Series:

http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=303a4fcc59242310VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default

 

I’m excited to announce that I am now a Diplomate with the Academy of Cognitive Therapy!

This credential is granted to professionals who complete extensive training in cognitive-behavioral therapy, submit a case write-up, and have a tape-recorded session reviewed by the Academy (www.academyofct.org).

I was trained through the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Center of Western North Carolina (www.behaviortherapist.com). Trent Codd and John Ludgate were the lead trainers, and I’ve also learned a great deal from Rick Baker. This is a top-notch practice of highly skilled therapists.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is proven to be effective with all kinds of anxiety disorders: post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, among others. It is also very successful in treating depression, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

Feel free to contact me to discuss CBT more fully.

Overweight people looking for motivation to lose weight have one more reason to change their eating habits. Sexual satisfaction drops dramatically for people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 30.

 The May edition of The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy reports that obesity has a damaging effect on sexual satisfaction, with women being more dissatisfied than men.

 It appears that losing weight has benefits that extend far beyond reducing the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other physical ailments. Weight loss is directly correlated with a more satisfying sex life.

 Changing what you eat and increasing your physical activity can have a positive impact on your intimate relationships, so get up and get active!

Catherine Zeta-Jones recently announced that she has Bipolar Disorder. This has prompted a lot of discussion about what Bipolar Disorder is and how it is treated.

 I’ll go over some things that are good to know about Bipolar Disorder. The hallmark of Bipolar disorder is a pattern of dramatic mood shifts.

 The low moods include these well-known signs of depression: sleep and appetite changes, sadness, irritability, loss of energy, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, trouble making decisions, concentrating, and memory, and thoughts of death.

 High moods may reflect mania, or its milder form, hypomania. Symptoms of mania include less need for sleep, being extremely talkative, having a lot of ideas that are grand and unrealistic, making impulsive decisions, risky behavior, and racing thoughts.

 There are very effective ways to treat Bipolar Disorder. Therapy can be helpful by giving people skills at managing their mood changes and keeping their moods stable. There are many medications specifically targeted for mood stability.

 If you think you have symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, know that effective help is available. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ announcement may help a lot of people see signs of this in themselves and prompt them to get the help they need.

 Click here for a link to an ABC News story about Zeta-Jones’ announcement:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/BipolarDisorder/catherine-zeta-jones-sheds-light-bipolar-disorder/story?id=13373202

 Click here for a link to Bipolar Disorder information from the National Institute of Mental Health:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml

According to a new report, Facebook and other social media can have a dramatic impact on the mental health of children and adolescents. The use of social media by teens has skyrocketed in recent years.

A recent poll found that 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. Seventy-five percent of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% use them for texting, and 24% use them for instant messaging.

Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or videos by cell phone, computer, or other digital devices. Many of these images become distributed rapidly via cell phones or the Internet. A recent survey shows that 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or seminude photographs or videos of themselves.

Researchers have proposed something called “Facebook depression”, which is depression that develops when teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to show symptoms of depression. The intensity of the online world is thought to be a factor that may trigger depression in some adolescents.

If you have concerns about the amount of time your teenager spends online, you’re not alone. Many parents are shocked at how important social networking is to their children. There is nothing wrong with connecting with others through these new media outlets, but be aware of the potential impact on your children.

Click here for a link to the article: “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families” from Pediatrics: The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2011-0054v1

News from Japan is grim. The triple-punch of an earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear threat are having a devastating impact on that country.

The stress is affecting children in many countries other than Japan. Parents can help minimize the worry of their children by following a few tips from the Department of Defense.

I am attaching a link that will give you some valuable ideas to help the children you care about, whether you are a parent, teacher, or other concerned adult.

We can all contribute to easing the worries of the children and youth that we care about.

http://www.dodea.edu/home/docs/talk-to-children.pdf

The top news headline this morning is an 8.9 earthquake in Japan, and the resulting tsunami that could impact much of the Pacific area, including Hawaii and the portions of the west coast states in America.

 As people in the affected areas wait to see how this will develop, tensions rise. News of a possible disaster often leads to heightened anxiety, fear, and worry.

 The unknown track and intensity of the tsunami means that people in a wide geographic area are on alert for this potentially devastating disaster.

 What often happens with a disaster looming is an increase in anxiety. Other reactions may include:

*Fear

* Worry about family members

* Physical signs of stress: headaches, stomach upset

* Apprehension about damage to home and possessions

* Uncertainty about how to prepare for the event

* Denial that the feared event will occur

 The American Psychological Association has information on what to do following a disaster: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx.

 The American Red Cross is another resource for people experiencing disasters: www.americanredcross.org.

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a publication that gives tips for coping after traumatic events: http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA10-DISASTER/SMA10-DISASTER-08.pdf.

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