Video Gaming Addiction – Could It Be Affecting You?

For years, the effect of video games on children has been a source of concern for parents. Some parents worry that violent games will incite violence in their children. Some worry about their children missing out on the joy of sports in lieu of their game playing. Some even worry their children will become addicted to playing video games.

While there may be grounds for concern in any of these areas, one aspect that has proven to be valid is that it is possible for both children and adults to become addicted to video games and that social anxiety disorder and depression can become a direct result of gaming addiction.

To be considered a pathological gamer, a person has to experience impairment to several areas of their lives as a result of the time spent playing. The affected areas could include experiencing problems with:

  • school
  • social relationships
  • family relationships
  • occupational functioning (work issues)
  • psychological functioning

Mental health professionals know that approximately 7-11% of gamers can be considered pathological gamers. People who average 31 hours or more a week of video game play are categorized as obsessed or addicted.

In studying this phenomenon, researchers have discovered key facts regarding the relationship between addictive game playing and social anxiety. To begin with, people with lower social competence and impulsivity are more likely to become addicted to video games. Video games, especially online games, offer them a way to interact with others socially without having to make themselves vulnerable through face-to-face relations. In addition, video games are designed with attainable rewards. For someone who feels uncomfortable in a social setting, video games may provide a sense of success and belonging that they don’t find in the real world.

For people with online gaming addiction, depression, anxiety, and social phobias seem to be predictable outcomes. Research has shown that as people become more addicted to games, their anxiety and depression worsens. Conversely, when they stop playing video games, as their video gaming addiction improves, their depression also significantly improves. Like any addiction, withdrawal symptoms from gaming addiction can include anger, verbal abuse of others, sleep disturbances, fear and anxiety, crying, mood swings, and a desire to go back to gaming and try to control the time played.

If you or someone you know is has developed an addiction to video games, it’s important to seek help. Treatment is available and with help it’s possible to alleviate both the addiction and its accompanying anxiety. For more information, and gaming addiction treatment, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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IBS and Anxiety – Treatment in South Florida

Gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), have been known to affect as many as 55 million Americans a year. IBS is a common condition that impacts the large intestine. Like many other gastrointestinal illnesses, IBS may cause:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation.

In some cases, IBS or other gastrointestinal illnesses can be caused by a parasite (think of the “Traveler’s Diarrhea” that some people pick up on vacation) or as a result of having an ailment such as food poisoning. Often, however, there are no physical abnormalities causing these symptoms. Instead, this condition can be triggered by a combination of lifestyle and behavioral factors such as being under intense stress, having an unhealthy diet, or having problems sleeping.

Anyone who has suffered from this condition or knows someone who has dealt with it knows that IBS can be an extreme source of stress. It is because of this that it is becoming more and more obvious that ther is a link between IBS and anxiety. In fact, anxiety or depression has been found in between 40% and 60% of patients who seek treatment for IBS. It seems the two conditions form a catch-22 of symptoms. Those who suffer from IBS and other gastrointestinal illnesses are also likely to suffer from anxiety due to the nature of their symptoms. On the other hand, people who suffer from anxiety often exhibit symptoms similar to those of IBS:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Excessive gas
  • Frequent trips to the restroom

Despite research, it is hard to determine which condition comes first: does IBS cause anxiety or does anxiety cause IBS? Experts lean toward anxiety being the trigger for IBS and more specifically that panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorders are the chief instigators. Severe IBS and anxiety can combine together into something very similar to a generalized anxiety disorder.

Fortunately there is treatment for both IBS and anxiety. For many people the first goal should be to determine which of these conditions is their primary concern. Speaking with your doctor and zeroing in on when the symptoms began can go a long way in determining the appropriate treatment program. If anxiety is the problem, your doctor may work with you to determine the source of your anxiety. Treating the anxiety through cognitive behavior therapy or with the help of medications will reduce the symptoms that mirror those of IBS. If a gastrointestinal illness is the concern, your physician may help you identify the foods or lifestyle factors that are causing your symptoms. Reducing the symptoms will, in turn, reduce your anxiety.

For more information on gastrointestinal illnesses and stress or IBS and anxiety, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

 

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Menopause and Anxiety Attacks Often Go Hand in Hand

All women will eventually go through menopause. It’s unavoidable but that doesn’t mean one can’t educate themselves enough to be prepared for its effects. Knowing how to handle the symptoms of menopause can make it easier to transition into this part of life. Since anxiety is one of the primary symptoms of menopause it’s important to understand how the two coincide.
           
Most women who have experienced menopause can tell you that hot flashes are perhaps the most troublesome symptom they encounter. Unfortunately, anxiety has the tendency of increasing hot flashes. In fact, according to research, women with a heightened state of anxiety have reported nearly five times as many hot flashes as women with less anxiety. This occurs because menopause creates hormone imbalances that can produce an environment where you are more susceptible to anxiety disorders.
           
Some anxiety symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Shaking
  • Fullness in the throat and chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Excessive worrying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of sadness

Fortunately there are often simple solutions to menopause anxiety attacks . If you find yourself experiencing a good number of these symptoms try one of the following:

  • Talk to your doctor. He or she can make sure your anxiety is not due to some other factor such as illness or poor overall health.
  • Find ways to relax. Oftentimes something that helps you find your center can chase away symptoms of anxiety. Some suggestions include practicing yoga, reading an interesting book, having a lazy day on the couch, or going on a run.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain. Since endorphins are often referred to as the “happy chemical” you can see why getting your heart rate up could help ease menopause stress.
  • Consider hormone replacement therapy to help restore some of the hormones lost during menopause.
  • Medical options can be considered if the prior solutions for menopause panic attacks are not effective. Speaking with a trained psychological professional is often a good idea. They offer many options, ranging from psychotherapy for anxiety management to anxiety medications. Anxiety medications are often a last resort but they can be highly effective if nothing else has worked.

Transitioning into menopause and dealing with it on a regular basis is hard enough. Don’t let anxiety add to the struggle. For more information on how menopause and anxiety attacks go hand in hand, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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The Effects of School Bullying

It seems like we hear of another bullying-related suicide almost weekly and with the unfortunate increase in suicides, people are becoming more aware of how big of a problem bullying has become. Fortunately, this means programs are being put into place to decrease occurrences, however, this type of harassment still happens quite often so it’s important to understand the effects of school bullying on your child.

Bullying is:

  • The use of power to control or harm someone who either can’t defend themselves or who may have a hard time doing so
  • The goal of causing harm
  • The same person or same group of people harassing the same person repeatedly

Those children who are most at risk of being bullied are those who are less popular than others, who have low self-esteem, have few friends, and are depressed or anxious. The children who tend to be bullies are those with social power who like to dominate others and are concerned about their popularity. In addition, bullies often also have low self-esteem, are aggressive, and tend to be impulsive and easily pressured by their peers.

There are several types of bullying, but the most prominent in-school bullying is social bullying, which includes:

  • Targeting a person’s social status to tear it down
  • Shunning a person
  • Damaging a person’s reputation by spreading rumors
  • Excluding a person from social activities

With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and texting, the problems of school bullying have also risen to high-tech levels. When a bully is no longer forced to face their victim and has the protection of anonymity it’s much easier to shed any sense of empathy they have and to post embarrassing or humiliating videos, pictures, or comments about the person they’re targeting.

The effects of school bullying can lead to childhood anxiety disorders and depression that often continues into adulthood. A person who was bullied in school is more likely to allow themselves to be harassed in the workplace when they get older. Over time they begin to believe what bullies say about them and they start to avoid interactions and situations that could actually be positive. Oftentimes the anxiety they feel will manifest itself physically, by means of:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Aches or pains throughout the body
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeplessness

Fortunately, there is help for the victims of bullying. A psychologist can help examine the situation and develop coping methods that suit the victim’s personality. These coping behaviors will compartmentalize how the child should react in particular situations. Psychologists can help victims rebuild their self-esteem and confidence so that future bullying can be avoided.

If you or someone you know has experienced the effects of school bullying, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem often makes things worse and can lead to greater issues down the line. For more information, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

 

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Help For Insomnia/Anxiety Sleep Disorder – Relief in South Florida

Insomnia is the result of those agonizing nights when we restlessly toss and turn because something weighs heavily on our minds. Because we have all “been there”, it should come as no surprise that there is a well-known connection between anxiety and insomnia. The two conditions are often linked together in a catch-22 style that can make life more than difficult for the person who is affected.

To fully appreciate how insomnia and anxiety can result in a sleep anxiety disorder, one needs to understand the different levels of insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to sleep adequately for extended periods of time when one desires to do so. It is characterized by three different levels: early, middle, and late insomnia.

Early insomnia exists when someone consistently has trouble falling asleep. This often occurs because of anxious thoughts that cause the person’s mind to continuously work over their concerns. Early insomnia is what you experience when you stress over upcoming tests or family disputes.

Middle insomnia causes a person to frequently wake throughout the night. Middle insomnia is the culprit when you awaken to a nagging thought, and then stare at the ceiling, seemingly forever, while trying to fall back to sleep. The resulting rise in your stress level keeps you wide awake.

Late insomnia, on the other hand, occurs when a person often wakes up earlier than they intended. No matter how tired they are, they awaken long before the alarm goes off. As in middle insomnia, stress keeps you from falling back to sleep.

Both of these last two levels happen when a person is flooded with anxious thoughts the moment they open their eyes. This anxiety produces other physiological responses, such as a quickened heart beat and a sense of restlessness, thereby increasing the insomnia at the same time and setting a vicious cycle in motion.

By now it should be a little more obvious how insomnia and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms mental health professionals look for when diagnosing a generalized anxiety disorder. The more anxious a person is the more likely it is they will experience some form of insomnia. It follows then, that the more insomnia the person deals with, the more likely it is that their anxiety will rise.

The good news is that insomnia and sleep anxiety disorder can very often be treated successfully. For more information, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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Overcome Holiday Anxiety – Tips For a Happy South Florida Holiday Season

The holidays are coming up and this time of year can be one of the most joyous, but also the most stressful. The demands that arise around the holidays can be overwhelming to say the least. There’s pressure to make unexpected guests feel welcome, to throw perfect parties, and to buy the ideal gifts for friends and loved ones. Then there is the baking, cleaning, and entertaining that happens during the holiday season more than at any other time of the year. But the holidays don’t have to be all work and stress and don’t have to be depressing.

There are a few simple tricks you can use to overcome holiday anxiety:

  • Allow yourself some “me” time. It’s easy to feel like this time of year is all about everyone else. But, taking a night to relax and do the things that you want to do or taking even just a few minutes for yourself can rejuvenate your entire outlook.
  • Keep your healthy habits. Many people sacrifice their workouts and healthy recipes during the holidays because there are so many parties and other demands on their time. Overindulgence adds to your stress and guilt. In addition, the familiarity of old habits can help lower your stress level and help you better deal with holiday anxiety.
  • Stick to a budget. When the bill comes after you’ve bought all your gifts and it’s higher than you realized, holiday stress can shoot through the roof. Maintaining a realistic budget gives you one less thing to worry about.
  • Plan ahead. With all the gifts to buy and parties to attend or throw, your to-do list at this time of year will be higher than usual. There’s nothing more stressful than having guests over and realizing at the last minute that you forgot something you need. Planning ahead will help you stay on track and will help combat holiday anxiety.
  • Be realistic. A party you give doesn’t have to be perfect. People will still have a good time even if a few things go wrong. Remind yourself of this when your anxiety level rises.

When in doubt, it never hurts to seek professional help. If you find yourself persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, becoming restless, irritable, or hopeless, these could be signs that there is something heavier weighing on you than the typical anxiety one feels during the holidays.

For more information and tips to help you overcome holiday anxiety, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Sexual Performance Anxiety Treatment in South Florida

Even though sex is supposed to be enjoyable, it is natural to worry occasionally about sexual intimacy. We wonder if we are desirable, if our appearance might be an issue, or if we will be able to “perform”. Usually people who experience these worries are able to process them and and then move past them. However, for some people, anxiety about sex is a major concern that affects every aspect of their sexual life whether they’ve been happily married for 30 years or are just beginning their journey into the world of sex.

Sexual performance anxiety is the constant worry over your appearance or your ability to perform in bed. This worry takes the pleasure out of sex, making it stressful and nerve-wracking. Ultimately, untreated sex anxiety can even lead to aversion and the avoidance of sexual activity. We often don’t consider the fact that sex is just as much about emotion as it is physical touch. If you stress too much about the various aspects of sex, it becomes harder to become aroused.

Some of the sexual worries that can arise over time include:

  • Fears that you may not be able to satisfy your partner
  • Having a poor body image and feeling undesirable
  • Difficulties in your relationship
  • Feelings of guilt
  • For men there can be a fear that his penis won’t measure up or that he may ejaculate too early
  • For women there can be a concern about not being able to orgasm or enjoy the sexual experience

Anxiety clearly can affect the sexual act:

  • In men, the secretion of stress hormones constricts blood vessels, making it difficult to get or maintain an erection.
  • In women, anxiety prevents lubrication and takes away their physical desire entirely.
  • Anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: you worry about having sex which makes you so anxious that you can’t perform sexually, which in turn increases your anxiety, which continues the vicious cycle.

There are a number of reasons these worries may develop. For example, abuse of any kind, whether from childhood or adulthood, can lead to sexual anxiety. Some health issues, such as diabetes, obesity, and hormonal imbalances can result in physical conditions that lead to sexual performance anxiety. For men, impotence or premature ejaculation can lead to sex anxiety, and in women, fear of pain or failure to orgasm can contribute to the development of the disorder.

If you or someone you know is suffering from sex anxiety, the first step to take is to see a doctor. They will perform tests to determine whether the performance issues are the result of a health condition or a medication. If a medical issue isn’t to blame a mental-health therapist may be suggested. In many aspects, any type of performance anxiety, including sexual performance anxiety, can be closely related to social anxiety disorder: both disorders share concerns about being judged or embarassed, both can result in lowered self-esteem, and both can lead to avoidance of the situation. Because they are closely related, the therapies that help with social anxiety disorders can also help with overcoming sexual performance anxiety:

  • Counseling can lead to understanding intimacy anxiety.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy can help change negative or inaccurate thinking and behaviors.
  • Relaxation and stress relief techniques can help reduce the physical response.

For more information about sexual performance anxiety and its treatments, including cognitive behavior therapy, in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Exposure Therapy Treatment – South Florida Anxiety Therapy

Anxiety is a normal reaction to many things that most of us experience on a regular basis. For example, the mid-term exam that you know is coming up, the presentation you have to give for your boss, or having to make a move to a new city  – all of these things could bring out a certain measure of anxiety in many people. However, when anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it affects a person’s day-to-day living, it becomes an anxiety disorder.

The wonderful thing is that most anxiety disorders can be treated with the help of a therapist and many patients can get back to living their normal lives with the appropriate kind of therapy. One of the most popular treatments available is in-vivo exposure therapy treatment, or desensitization. This form of treatment works especially well for people suffering from phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder.

In-vivo exposure therapy treatment is a specific type of cognitive behavior therapy that can help a patient face and gain control of the fears or distress that created their anxiety. With the typical anxiety disorder, the patient suffers from disquieting signals in their brain that tell them something bad will happen as a result of a certain action or situation. The intention of exposure therapy is to train the patient’s brain into a more accurate train of thought, so their anxiety system ceases to give misinformation. Several types of sensory items may be used in this process, including:

  • Pictures
  • Film
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Sounds

For example, under exposure therapy treatment, a person who has a fear of snakes might start out viewing a picture of a snake, then progress to seeing a snake in a cage from a distance, then finally move on to actually holding a snake. Throughout the desensitization process, the patient is taught multiple relaxation and coping techniques that help them complete each step and that also teach them how to handle fearful situations in their everyday lives. Over time, the patient becomes conditioned to the situation they have feared and it no longer provokes their anxiety.

The most important thing to remember with this type of therapy is that it should always be conducted by a well-trained, qualified professional. If handled improperly, the steps involved in exposure therapy have the potential for traumatizing the patient instead of helping them. However, in most cases where the therapy was handled by a professional, the majority of patients are able to resume daily activities that were previously avoided. Most people also experienced symptom reduction.

For more information on exposure therapy treatment or in vivo exposure therapy, in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

 

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School Phobia and First-Day Jitters – Get Help in South Florida

It’s hard to believe it but it’s that time again: schools are welcoming back students all across the country. The summer weeks have passed and parents everywhere are stocking up on school supplies while their children pick out their favorite lunch boxes.

For many kids, the start of school is exciting. They get to see the friends they’ve missed all summer and there’s a sense of being that much closer to being “all grown up” or becoming an adult. However, some children have a school phobia that can give them the first-day jitters. These children will likely experience increased anxiety with the beginning of school.

School phobia is a complex and extreme form of anxiety. It is also known as school depression or school refusal and can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Starting school for the first time
  • Changing schools and having to make new friends
  • Returning to school after being away for a long time due to illness or an extended holiday
  • Fear of being targeted by a bully
  • Bereavement (of a person or pet)
  • Feeling threatened by the arrival of a new baby
  • Having had a traumatic experience, such as abuse
  • Problems at home, such as a family member being ill
  • Parents’ divorce or separation
  • Violence at home
  • Not having good friends or not having any friends at all
  • Being unpopular
  • Feeling like a physical failure in school sports
  • Feeling like an academic failure

One of the most common triggers of school phobia (first-day jitters) is starting school for the first time. The child experiences separation anxiety because they find it difficult to comprehend being away from their parents for an extended period of time. In addition, if the child is not used to having an entire day organized for them, the schedule at school can add to the stress they feel.

For older children who have been in school for a while, most back-to-school anxiety is directly related to their fears about how they will perform in school. They wonder if they will do well in games, be asked to answer questions, or be asked to read aloud. In addition, some children have been targeted by bullies or have been made fun of in past school years, so they feel anxious about possibly repeating this abuse in the new school year.

When school depression and anxiety starts to creeps into your child’s mind, the symptoms will be fairly obvious. The child will usually suffer from the following school anxiety symptoms:

  • Stomachaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking
  • A racing heart
  • Needing frequent trips to the toilet

You can do some things at home to help with school anxiety in your children, including:

  • Reassuring your child that everything will be fine once they get past the thing they fear.
  • Telling them you love them and letting them know they are brave for going to school despite their fears.
  • Telling them you’re proud of them.
  • Keeping them to a familiar routine to make them less anxious.
  • Finding things, both within and outside of school, that they can look forward to.

If you suspect that your child is developing a school phobia, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible: the longer the anxiety continues the harder it can be to treat.

For more help with anxiety treatment for school phobia or the first-day jitters in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Death Anxiety Disorder – Help in South Florida for Fear of Dying

The fear of dying, also known as death anxiety or thanatophobia, is much more prevalent than many of us may think. The concept of death – when it will occur and what happens afterward – is an unknown and we often fear what we don’t know.

It is important to understand the difference between everyday worrying and a full-blown death anxiety disorder. Throughout our lives, most of us will think of death at one time or another. For example, it may dwell in our minds as we age or when the death of a loved one occurs. However, this concern becomes classified as thanatophobia only when a person worries so often that it begins to affect their everyday lives. With this syndrome, every pain or unusual feeling becomes a warning sign for impending death.

For example:

  • A simple headache may lead to thoughts of brain tumors.
  • Chest pains may be considered signs of heart attack or heart failure.
  • The mildest sickness can suggest that death is right around the corner.

People who experience a fear of dying feel that each passing minute is reducing their life span bit by bit. To make things worse, this condition has the tendency to be communicable. Many people are too discouraged to spend time with someone who suffers from death anxiety but those who do may find themselves falling into the same line of thinking. It is easy for groups of thanatophobics to form and exacerbate the anxiety.

How do you know if you may be suffering from a fear of death? When a victim of death anxiety disorder considers their own mortality they may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling faint
  • Intense sweating
  • Queasiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking limbs
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • An inability to speak or think clearly
  • Constant panic attacks
  • Uncontrollable nerves

The fear of death is a debilitating condition that can seriously deplete the joy in one’s life. People with this condition spend so much time worrying about their impending death that they rarely enjoy themselves in anything they do. If you or someone you know suffers from death anxiety disorder, seeking help is very important and will be extremely beneficial.

For more information to help you cope with a death anxiety disorder in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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