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Men & Depression

Last week Dr. Todd Dunn & I did an interview with Rebecca Cressman of Utah Families show on FM100.3 on Men & Depression.

Did you know that men’s depression symptoms may differ from women?

Did you know that many men mask their depression by substance use, working excessively, or engaging in reckless behavior?

Do you know that 7% of men in any given year suffer from depression?

Do you know how to spot warning signs?

Get tips on how to help the men and boys in your life become more emotionally healthy and where to get help if you or a loved one is suffering from depression

Listen to “Men & Depression” interview online HERE

Dr. Todd Dunn is a Licensed Psychologist at Wasatch Family Therapy specializing in men’s mental health & I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Owner/Clinical Director of Wasatch Family Therapy.

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Tweens & Makeup

I was invited to weigh in on the subject of daughters and makeup for a popular woman’s website SheKnows.com. Having gone through the makeup transition several years ago with my 16 year old daughter, and having dealt with parent child struggles in my therapy practice, I had a few things to say.
“Makeup often represents an adolescent girl’s eagerness and excitement to become a ‘grown up,’ and explore her attractiveness to peers, but for parents, it can bring up fear and stress relating to their child maturing and becoming interested in boys,” says Julie Hanks, a psychotherapist specializing in family relationships. “It may also represent a daughter pulling away from her parents to focus more on peers, which may feel scary for some parents.”

Read the entire SheKnows.com article

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Shrek’s Midlife Crisis

Shrek can help us all prevent a neutral stall from becoming a tragic fall!

by Melanie Davis, Mental Health Student and WFT Volunteer

Have you ever had a time when you felt a little stuck? Life may have felt mundane, uneventful and somehow the same scenario of events seemed to present itself daily. You may begin to realize that there was one point in time where all the routine and daily tasks made you happy. All of a sudden you wonder who’s life you are really living because it no longer feels exciting enough to be yours.

It appears from the latest release of Shrek that mid-life crisis do not discriminate by gender, or even human form. In the most recent release of Shrek Forever After (2010 Release), I couldn’t help but notice the screaming mid-life crisis that almost cost Shrek his life partner, three little ogre cubs, and his peaceful and happy life.

Are we all susceptible to this type of mid-life crisis? Have you ever felt the uneasiness of wondering if your life is stuck in neutral, or just for a moment found yourself pondering the great unknown? Playing out daydream scenarios that sound something like… how would it be, if? If I could go back to when I was in my 20’s with no body fat, if… If could get my so called “ogre roar back again”! In modern day society, many refer to this life stall, or stuck in neutral phase as a “mid-life crisis”.

Many times this mid-life crisis phase of life is stereotypically awarded to men alone. Despite what you may have heard, hitting a neutral spot can happen to men and women alike. It can also happen at various stages and points in life. Even possibly occurring on more than one occasion in one person’s life. Many times this neutral state in life drives people to take risks and gamble fortunes they can never regain, only to realize that they could have processed the situation differently and taken a different path to dealing with the feelings associated with feeling stuck.

Could it be that we could all possibly learn from Shrek’s adventure into exploring the perceived ‘greener grass’ on the other side of the village? Could we possibly find ways to embrace a possible mid-life crisis as an opportunity to open a new door into something that could improve our lives, without losing those we love and our sanity all in the same leap to a solution? There is!

Tips for getting out of neutral…. Examine
Communicate, Add/Take-Away and Reassess…

Examine.

Examine what is really getting to you. You may initially feel like all of life is boring and everything must change in order to recover your satisfaction and enthusiasm for life. When in reality it may just be one aspect of your life that is causing this dissatisfaction. Examine the different areas of your life, work, family, personal endeavors and see which might need your attention.

Communicate.

Communicate with the loved ones around you, especially your immediate family. They may sense that you are not “yourself” and feel concerned or to blame. Share what is going on, and that you are working through identifying some new ways to improve yourself and your personal well being. Communicating with children and partners can allow them to understand and not personalize your mid-life crisis.
Add or take away. After you examine what might be the source of this life stall, you may identify some things or activities that could be added or taken away from your life to improve your satisfaction. Are you over booked or accepting responsibilities that overwhelm you? Or is it time to try to learn something new in life, try a new hobby, learn how to play an instrument or learn a new language. Creating an inventory of your life goals and aspirations can support you in determining what might be useful to add or take away.

Reassess.

Reassessing your level of satisfaction and progress out of your mid-life crisis is crucial. As you add new things to your life that may contribute to more life satisfaction. Or in the same light remove responsibilities from your life that may be holding you back. Reassess the emotional results of that change. Are you feeling better? Are you still feeling stuck, or are things improving? Equally assess the potentially negative impact of removing or adding this new thing to your life.

Tips for the Supporter!

Finally, tips for the person supporting the individual facing a mid-life crisis. If you have noticed that someone in your life may be stuck, or feeling like their life is in neutral, do your best to be supportive and not to take it personal. Be a cheerleader for your partner in supporting the adoption of the steps above to possibly help in alleviating some of the monotony in their life. A supportive and understanding partner can aid in reducing withdrawal, opening up communication channels and being a part of the change, rather than a bystander. This positive support may lead to improvements in both of your lives and your relationship.

In all situations the severity of the situation can only be assessed by the people involved. If you find that there are more serious or deeper rooted issues, consider seeking mental health support as an individual, couple or family.

What’s your take on mid-life crisis?

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Emotional Affairs

E! asked our Wasatch Family Therapy director Julie Hanks, LCSW “What exactly is an emotional affair?” Read what she has to say HERE

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Handling Narcissistic Mother: Studio 5

Studio 5 Contributor & therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW of Wasatch Family Therapy answers a viewer email on how to begin healing…

Have you ever dealt with a narcissistic family member? Do you have any recommended books or resources to share?

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Sisters Improve Mental Health: Studio 5

Studio 5 Contributor, Julie Hanks, LCSW with Wasatch Family Therapy has tips to help you tap into the positive power of sisters.

A recent New York Times essay “Why sisterly chats make people happier” by Deborah Tannen caught my eye because I have five, yes, FIVE sisters. I love research that supports what I already know from real-life experience — sisters are important to mental health. Having a sister protects teens against feelings of depression, loneliness, self-consciousness, fear, and being unloved according to Laura Padilla-Walker, head researcher in a recent BYU study.

The positive impact of sisters extends beyond adolescence into adulthood. British researchers Liz Wright and Tony Cassidy found that people who grew up with at least one sister were happier more motivated, had more friends, and were more resilient during difficult times, especially during parental divorce.

Here are some tips for helping your children, sisters AND brothers, develop close, positive relationships with each other during childhood and adolescence so they will continue to support emotional health as adults.

Tips to Help Your Kids Help Each Other

1) Show Affection

Encourage your family to express physical affection, to notice and express positive traits, to increase emotional sensitivity to siblings, and to celebrate other sibling’s successes. Affection is an important aspect that contributes to the positive mental health outcomes among siblings, According to Padilla-Walker, “An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict.”

A-list star Gwenyth Paltrow, and her producer brother, Jake Paltrow are a great example of affectionate siblings raised in a loving home.

2) Express Emotion

Healthy emotional expression is a crucial component to emotional health. Wright & Cassidy found that in families whose parents divorce, sisters tended to express themselves, and encourage emotional expression in others leading to less distress.

Coach your children to express feelings to their siblings in a non-attacking way. Here’s an excellent tool to help your children communicate their emotion:

I feel (emotion word) when you (other’s specific behavior) because I think (thought) . I would like it if you would (requested behavior) .

Here’s an example: “I feel mad when you take my clothes without asking because I think you don’t respect my privacy. I would like it if you would ask me before you borrow my clothes.”

When single mother Jennifer Child’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer her sisters were her strength.
“I have 2 sisters whose lives CHANGED when my daughter was diagnosed. I was a young single mom, my sisters PULLED me through~ I COULD NOT have made it through without my family. We pulled together and somehow made it through this HORRIFIC time in our life. My sisters are my best friends. I now have 2 daughters, 6 and 7 they are best friends. They do fight like NO OTHER, but love each other as I have seen with my sisters.”

3) Show Kindness

Coach your children to treat each other with respect, thoughtfulness, and kindness. Having a loving sibling of any gender seems to promote kindness and empathy toward others, according to Padilla-Walker. Interestingly, the relationship between positive sibling relationships and good deeds was twice as strong as the relationship between parenting and a child’s good deeds.

Mother of eight children, Andrya Lewis, promotes kindness among her children “by having sleepovers on Friday nights with movies and treats and sleeping bags, by letting siblings tell good news and surprises and

distribute treats to the other siblings, and by verbally interpreting and translating that acts of kindness or service (like sharing a toy, or finding a lost shoe) mean their sibling loves them.”

4) Communicate Often

Tannen’s research found that women talk with sisters more often, at greater length, and about more personal topics than they do with brothers. She concludes that the frequency of contact with sisters, not necessarily the content of the communication, is most important component contributing to the positive impact of having a sister.

Annie Frazier says she checks in with her older sister Jennie Gochnour by text or phone every other day. “It’s not always a big conversation; often it’s just a check in. We share everything and it’s not judged. We have gotten each other through everything – deaths, marriages, and divorce. She’s the only reason I’m not in intensive therapy! I particularly remember one day when we were running together in the early morning. I was going through infertility treatments and hoping to get pregnant – despite the reality of the months of darkness that I knew were around the corner with my postpartum depression. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember what I felt. In her eyes, I could not have been any more wonderful – even though in my eyes, all I saw was failure, sadness and inadequacies. She was my crutch and has carried me along many dark roads that have led to beautiful moments of celebration. She has always been by my side.”

5) Minimize conflict

Set family rules of no name-calling and no physical fighting, and don’t be afraid to intervene in your children’s fights. High levels of sibling conflict is associated with increased risk aggression in other relationships, and increased delinquent behavior, but on the positive side, a little bit of conflict gives siblings a chance to practice emotional control and problem solving skills.

According to Oracne Price, mother to tennis superstar sisters, Venus and Serena Williams, though they are fiercely competitive on the court, her daughters are very close friends.

Do you have a sister? How has she impacted your mental health?

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Ask A Therapist: Should I Move To Be With Girlfriend?

I don’t know what I want in life. My girlfriend of 4 and a half years moved back to Houston because she hated it here in California. I initially told her I was going to go with her, but as time moved closer, I faltered and we agreed I would stay for a month here to think about it. I Didnt want to do it because i still thought we had a chance here and I didn’t want to go back to Houston. It’s been about a month, and she is telling me to make a decision or we will have to break up. I love her, and I don’t know why this is so hard for me to make a decision. I want her to be in my life, but I don’t want to go back to Houston. It sounds trivial, but I can’t make a decision. How can I overcome this?

A: I have more questions than answers for you. Why did she move in the first place? Why do you not want to move to Houston? How committed are you to the relationship? Watch my video response below to get the full answer…

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Talk To My Parents About ADHD?

I’m not sure where to start. I am a 14 year old freshman in high school and I have been constantly noticing that I might have ADHD or something, I can’t pay attention and am always confused along with other symptoms. Anyways I’m not completely sure how I would bring this up with my parents to get help. I’m afraid they are going to laugh at me and tell me I’m useless like they always do. What’s the best way to ask someone for help in a situation like that?

A: Thank you for writing in. If you’re not comfortable talking to your parents about your concerns, you may want to talk with a school counselor or your physician to see if they can help you bring up your concerns to your parents. Watch the entire answer in the video below…

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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