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Does My Child Have an Anxiety Disorder?

SCHOOL KID ANXIETYAs a child, the world is full of fears and challenges, real and imaginary, that adults cannot recollect from their own childhood. Most of these childhood fears and challenges are temporary and eventually outgrown, but studies show that one in eight children suffer from an anxiety disorder and anxiety has become one of the most common mental health conditions in children. At some point in life, children will experience some form of anxiety, however, when the symptoms become distressing and interfere with normal living then the anxiety can be considered and classified as an anxiety disorder. The mind and emotions of a child are continuously changing and developing at different rates, so it may not always be easy to distinguish normal fears and challenges from those that may require additional attention. That is why it is important to important not only to assess the severity of the symptoms that obstruct daily living, but also be aware of the developmental progress of each individual child. Assessing if the fears and behaviors are appropriate on a developmental level is crucial for each child. Many situations will cause children to display anxiety; however, if they continue beyond reasonable age norms, or are intense and distressing, then it could likely be the beginning stage of an anxiety disorder. These intense or distressing anxieties can eventually cause more serious distress, destroy a family system, and interfere with a child’s development or education.
Anxiety disorders that your child could be experiencing are:

Generalized anxiety disorder. With this common anxiety disorder, children worry excessively about many things, such as school, the health or safety of family members, or the future in general. They may always think of the worst that could happen. Children with generalized anxiety tend to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. Children with this disorder are self-conscious, self-doubting, and excessively concerned about meeting other people’s expectations. Along with the worry and dread, kids may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or tiredness. With generalized anxiety, worries can feel like a burden, making life feel overwhelming or out of control.

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Surviving the Bomb: First Steps After the Affair

Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful has the potential to be one of the most devastating experiences a person can encounter in his/her life.   A common and appropriate reaction, given the circumstances, is panic.  There is generally nothing short of a roller coaster of emotions, and as a result, many couples do unintentional damage before they can seek help.  This is to be expected as no one tells you what you should do in the immediate aftermath of an affair.

The main goal is to limit the destruction in the time between finding out and getting help.  Here are some crisis control tips to follow until you can get some additional help:

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The Upside of Anger: Studio 5

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Feeling mad isn’t all bad! Sometimes it can motivate us to make a change, set healthier boundaries, or problem solve. In my clinical practice I see many women who have difficulty identify and expressing this often misunderstood emotions. Here are a few ways mad can actually make your life better!
The upside of anger

For more help with anger and other emotions order your copy of Julie Hanks’ new book The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women

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Ask A Therapist: Anxiety Is Hurting My Relationships

All my life i have never been able to do what i like to do for the fear of being judged by other people. It has come to such a point that i cannot think for myself, it always has to be “if i do this what will others think”. I have good friends who keep advising me to be more social but my fear gets the better of me. I haven’t had a serious relationship in a long time. I am scared if that if keep being such an introvert i would end up with no life. I have lost all sense of emotions in the last few months and am becoming desperate for companionship and just to be accepted.

A: Thank you for writing in. I wish I could talk to you to clarify how long this has been going on. I do have a few thoughts though. You may have developed social phobia of some kind or another form of anxiety disorder. What you’re describing sounds like more than just “I’m an introvert.” I really think you should get some help from a professional. Watch the video for the rest of this answer.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Anger Management Issues?

Lately, I’ve been getting in trouble a lot at school and home. I think I have anger management. I always flip out at people, and I have a bad attitude. I get really stressed sometimes. I wonder if I have anxiety. I have a fear of being ignored or forgotten. Me and my mom get along for the most part, but when we fight, it’s bad. We say rude things to each other that I feel bad about after. I think definitely have an anger problem. I yell at everybody when they upset me. I have mood swings a lot. I have trouble falling asleep, and sometimes, I’m so tired but I still can’t sleep, or I’m hyper. I also have a self-esteem issue. Many people say my ” wild behavior” started when my dad passed away in November 2011. I’ve always had these problems, but I guess they came out more after he died. I have tons of friends, but I can’t talk to them about all these things. I can’t take compliments from anyone. I can be so happy at one moment, but then I constantly think of things until I can cry and cry and cry. I just want to know what’s wrong with me.

A: Having a parent pass away is an incredible loss and I’m not surprised that your behavior changed after your father’s passing. My guess is that you’re acting this way for good reason – you’re feeling a lot of emotions and you don’t have the tools yet to manage them. Please get some professional help. Watch the video below for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Afraid My Husband Will Cheat On Me

Q: I need help on this issue. I feel myself getting jealous all the time with my husband, and I don’t want to be like that. My last two relationships were a disaster. my kids father cheated on me our whole 15 yr relationship and 4 kids later. i didn’t know he was cheating until towards the end. then my next relationship he went to Florida and brought someone back with him and they started living together right away. that was a 3yr relationship i had with him. but i always think my husband is cheating on me or talking to someone. its like I don’t want him going anywhere without me. I love him and I don’t want to be like that with him, hes never giving me a reason to think this….. please help me…

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6 Tips For Making Time For Your Relationship When There Is No Time

This is the time of the year to say goodbye to summer and hello to increasing responsibilities and the longer ‘to-do’ lists.  Here are some tips on keeping the love alive while the pile up continues to grow.                                                                                                                         
Hourglass

  1. Use Technology to Your Advantage – we have technology buzzing all around us.  Why not use it to your advantage?  Sending a quick text, an email, a chat or a phone call can take just a few seconds but can send an important message – I am thinking about you and I love you.  If you can’t seem to remember to do this try putting an alarm on your phone for random times during the day to remind you until it becomes a habit.
  2. Prioritize and Plan Ahead – When the ‘to-do’ list gets longer we often get lost in the have to, want to, and should do’s, but the clarity of which tasks are the highest priorities seem to get a little cloudy.  It is important to prioritize what is important… your relationship.  Plan ahead for a date night during the month or week and stick to it.  Get the babysitter well in advance and don’t change it.  Even if something comes up it sends a powerful message to yourself, your partner and others when you say no because your relationship with your significant other is more important.  When things are planned ahead of time they usually come to fruition rather than just saying, “when we have time” because you likely will not have extra time.
  3. Keep Rituals – we should all have a few rituals in our relationship, a kiss before leaving, a couple of minutes after work talking, a glass of warm milk at night together, pillow talk before bed… whatever your rituals are, keep them going.  Most of the rituals couples develop are not time consuming, but if you do not remember to do them they quickly get lost in the noise of busyness.  Rituals tell your partner you are there, and there is stability in the relationship, something to count on.
  4. Do not let emotions slide – One of the first things I see slide when we are busy, is emotional connection.  You don’t have time to sit down, let alone talk about your feelings, right?  Wrong… this is the time you need emotional connection the most.  When life is busy and chaotic it is essential to feel close to your partner.  It gives you a sense of support and confidence that is unique and allows you to focus on whatever you have to do.  When we feel emotionally connected we do not need to spend time and energy worrying about the woes of the relationship.
  5. Accomplish tasks together when possible (be creative) Whenever you can check off a task from the list together and make it time for the two of you it can increase closeness.  So, if you have to run errands do it together, make dinner and talk about your day at the same time, even working side by side on your computers can be fun and relationship enhancing if you make it that way.
  6. Be Flexible – We are often told to divide and conquer but sometimes just being flexible is better for the relationship.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jamiesrabbits

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Ask A Therapist: Feelings Of Complete Emptiness

Q: I do not . . . feel anymore. My lack of empathy has reached its highest peak. I do not feel the need to socialize with anyone at all. As self – destructive as it may seem a complete and constant escape from reality doesn’t look so bad after all. I just can’t help it. My heart is full of nothing but emptiness. How do I get my emotions back ?

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Who’s Wearing The Pants Now? Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I spoke about how the male gender is struggling.  Men in the 21st century are expected to not only uphold the traditional masculine stereotypes of self-reliance, restricted emotionality, and toughness, but they are also being asked to “embrace there feminine side” and be sensitive and emotionally available.  In other words, guys today are not only expected to climb over the competition on their way up the corporate ladder, but they are also asked to enjoy taking the kids to play group and watching Pride and Prejudice for the tenth time with the wife.

To make matters worse, men are expected to keep these aspects of themselves separate, because if the guys find out that you enjoy Pride and Prejudice, you can expect to have your “maleness” seriously challenged.  As a result, I think men, though well intentioned, often feel frustrated and inadequate to meet the various, inherently conflicting demands placed upon them, which in turn can lead to disillusionment and disconnect.  What can we men do?   And, what can you do to help the men in your life?  Here are a few ideas.

1)  We need to redefine what it is to be man.

Back in 1963, it was said that “there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports.”[1]  I think the same could be said for today, some 50 years later.  And, that’s a problem.

We need a clear and achievable definition of masculinity that provides the necessary flexibility for men to meet the demands of the 21st century.  Sure it’s ok to have any or all of the attributes listed above, but is should also be ok for men to be different…to lack confidence from time to time, to feel sadness or shame, to experience unemployment or find out they are impotent.  A man should not blush if he is NOT white, heterosexual, married, young, athletic, well educated, etc.  There has to be a way to keep what is good about being a man and add the attributes we need to adapt and achieve success in our lives.  Speaking of this…

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Ask A Therapist: Lost My Virginity and Now I’m Sleeping Around and Drinking A Lot

Q: I have a question. I’m 21 and I was dating this guy and well, I lost my virginity to him and I loved him. I felt like he used me. I was so hurt when we broke up and I then slept with his best friend and then another guy 6 times.  I drink a lot and I have low self esteem please I need some advice. I’m so lost.

A: It is incredibly painful to feel so deeply for your boyfriend that you would share your heart and your body with him only to have the relationship end. I’m so sorry that your boyfriend didn’t value the gift that you gave him, your first full expression of your sexuality.  While it’s incredibly difficult to feel used, there are many healthier options for dealing with your hurt than by doing things that cause more pain for you and others. Drinking and sexually acting out may temporarily make your feel powerful and numb your emotions but won’t lead to a healthy emotional place and will likely create more pain and hurt.

Please turn toward healthy relationships. Who have you gone to in the past for emotional support? Have you reached out to friends and family during this difficult time? If not, please share your pain with people you trust so you can receive comfort and strength.  Also, please consider seeking a therapist to sort through the loss of your relationship, understand the root of your unhealthy behavior, and to develop healthier coping skills. Click here if you need help to find a therapist in your area. You can feel good about yourself again. You can develop healthy love relationships.  Remember, you deserve to be with a man who wants to be with you and who cherishes you, body and soul.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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