Is There a Connection Between Vaccines and Autism?

Is there a link between vaccines and autism? This question has been at the center of an ongoing debate ever since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began reporting that autism was on the rise in the United States and around the world.

Currently, about 1 child out of every 68 will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is classified as a developmental disability. Whenever there is an increase in a disorder or disability, people start looking for reasons for the change. Since ASD can be seen in a child as young as the age of two, research has focused on the factors early in life that might contribute to an autism diagnosis. From birth, children receive many immunizations, so fears have been raised of a possible connection between these vaccines and autism.

In particular, there have been concerns about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that had been used in MMR and other inoculations. Since 2003, nine studies have been conducted into the relationship between thimerosal and ASD, however the Institute of Medicine has determined there is no link between the vaccine and the development of autism.

In reaction to concerns about whether thimerosal in vaccines and autism were related, the preservative was either removed from vaccines or reduced to negligible amounts between 1999 and 2001. Today, this preservative has been limited to use only in multi-dose vials found in some flu vaccines. If you are still worried, however, you can request your child receive a thimerosal-free vaccine.

Additionally, a 2013 study by the CDC determined there is no link between vaccines and autism. It looked at the number of antigens (they help the body’s immune system fight disease) and found no difference between children with ASD and children without the disorder.

What Causes Autism?

The CDC is currently conducting research to find out if autism has an environmental, biological, or genetic cause. There are many categories of disability along the autism spectrum and, at this time, specialists haven’t found any one specific reason for the development of the disorder.

We do know, however, that there are factors which can indicate a higher chance that a child will develop autism. These components are:

  • Children with autistic siblings are more likely to develop the disability.
  • Children born to older parents are more likely to be at risk.
  • It is thought that the critical developmental time for ASD is in utero, or in the period during or immediately after birth.
  • The prescription medicines valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked to a higher ASD risk in the infant, when these medications were taken during the pregnancy.
  • ASD occurs more often in people who have certain chromosomal or genetic conditions (for example: Fragile X Syndrome).

What are the Early Signs of Autism?

Although autism can affect either gender, the disorder occurs about 4.5 times more often in males than in females. It is found in every socioeconomic, racial, and cultural background, although it is more prevalent in white children than in African-American or Hispanic children.

People with ASD may have problems communicating or interacting with others, or may have difficulty focusing or learning. Additionally, early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder may include:

  • Lack of interest in objects or in relating to people
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Preferring to spend time by themselves
  • Becoming upset if routines change
  • Unusual reactions to stimuli, such as smells, tastes, textures, or sounds
  • Repeating words or phrases or repeating actions over and over

Diagnosis, Evaluation, and ASD Treatment

Although there is no cure for ASD, early intercession can reduce the severity of a child’s developmental delays and can teach them important skills. The earlier a child is diagnosed and begins treatment, the better their chances of reaching their full potential. ASD treatment and early intervention can begin as soon as 3 months of age.

If you are concerned about your child and the way they interact with you or others, the way they speak or act, or the way they learn, the first step is to call your child’s pediatrician and discuss your worries. Your child’s doctor can help answer your questions and, if alarmed, should refer you to specialists for further evaluation. Psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and/or pediatric neurologists are specially trained to assess and diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Additionally, if you need a free assessment, you can contact your state’s early intervention programs. To find out more about your particular state’s Child Find evaluation, visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Our Children’s Center Can Help

If you have questions about the early signs of autism, treatment and intervention, or have other autism-related concerns, the professionals at our child-focused department, The Children’s Center, can help. For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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New Mothers Workshop

New Mothers Workshop

New Mothers & Babies Workshop

Saturday, April 1st 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Click here to register.

Are you adjusting to a being a New Mom? Join the Boca Pediatric Group and Dr. KC Charette, Clinical Psychologist from The Center for Treatment of Anxiety & Mood Disorders for a free 1-hour workshop on adjusting to being a new mom and to having a new baby. Join us to learn about the adjustment process and to meet other new moms. Babies are welcome too, of course!

Click here for more information on this free workshop.

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ADHD and Anxiety – Is There a Relationship?

Do ADHD and anxiety go hand in hand?

If you have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, you may also be experiencing challenges with anxiety. But, what is it about these conditions that causes them to occur together?

ADHD Facts

By now nearly everyone has heard of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHA). ADHD is a mental illness that is thought to be biological in nature. ADHA is the same as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – the name that was originally used when people first became aware of the disorder. Although the names are often used interchangeably, the most current name is ADHD.

ADHD symptoms include:

  • an inability to focus
  • restlessness
  • disorganization
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • impulsive behavior
  • hyperactivity in children, although this behavior tends to diminish in adulthood

You do not have to experience all of these symptoms to have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

How common is ADHD? Statistics show that about 11 million adults (about 5% of the USA’s population) have the condition. However, less than 20% of adults who have the disorder have actually been diagnosed and, of those identified adults, only about 25% have pursued treatment. People who were diagnosed in childhood often continue to experience symptoms in adulthood – about two thirds of children with the condition will continue to require some form of treatment in their adult life. Additionally, while we used to think the disorder only affected males, we now know females can have ADHD.

Can You Have Both ADHD and Anxiety?

Experiencing ADHD and anxiety is more common than you may think. Somewhere between 30% and 50% of adults with ADHD will also have some type of anxiety disorder. These disorders can range anywhere from generalized anxiety or social anxiety to panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The reason anxiety is so common in conjunction with ADHD is twofold. First, there is a theory that both ADD and anxiety disorders may carry a genetic component. Having a close relative with either condition can increase your chances of being diagnosed with their same disorder. Additionally, research is being conducted to find out if there is an environmental component that triggers both conditions, such as exposure to lead or toxins.

The second reason is that having the disorder is stressful and can lead to feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. When you worry about things like possibly forgetting a work deadline or when your symptoms affect your relationships or daily activities, you may feel angry or disappointed. Being upset and anxious can make it more difficult to seek help and may cause people to stay in their comfortable but potentially ineffective patterns.

Anxiety and ADHD Treatment

Because ADHD is a brain-based disorder, it is generally treated with medication to help normalize brain function. The challenge to treatment with medicine, however, is that some ADHD prescriptions can worsen the symptoms of anxiety in some patients.

Ideally, a combined approach to anxiety and ADHD treatment works best. This should include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or another form of mindfulness based therapy, in addition to medication. These therapies provide coping techniques: learning these skills can be an invaluable tool to help you stay positive about change.

Undergoing CBT can help you improve productivity, learn to be accountable, and can aid in identifying and achieving goals. Additionally, support groups and talk therapy can help you come to terms with the interpersonal effects the disorder can bring. Feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and their resulting stress can be reduced by processing them in a friendly, compassionate setting.

There also are some steps you can take at home to help improve your symptoms:

  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes per day) to decrease anxiety.
  • Create schedules to help stay on task.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Being well-rested helps reduce anxiety.
  • Identify your triggers and work with your therapist to learn coping strategies.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
  • Decrease your stress and surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
  • Try to minimize worry and negative thinking.

If You Have Questions, We Can Help

If you have questions or need help managing your ADHD and anxiety, the therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Children's Center Now Open

Now Open: The Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology and Related Services

We are pleased to announce the opening of our new Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology, and Related Services. This full-service center offers a range of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and supportive services to children ages two through 22.

Families in the South Florida area now have access to a multi-disciplinary staff practicing in a single, convenient location. The center provides a warm, welcoming environment where families can receive supportive and educational programming.

The Children’s Center Services

These are just some of the services offered to children and their families at the new center:

  • Psychiatry — Psychiatric evaluation and psychopharmacology
  • Individual and Group Psychological services — Psychotherapy, play therapy and cognitive-behavior therapy
  • Psychological and Neuropsychological Screening and Assessment
  • Speech/Language Assessments and Therapy
  • Educational and Gifted Testing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Behavior Management
  • Parenting Support/Management
  • Transitional/Vocational Support
  • Sibling Support
  • Reading, Writing, Science, and History Tutoring
  • SAT/ACT Tutoring
  • Learning Disability Testing
  • Reading, Math, and Writing Testing
  • Psychological Testing

Diagnoses Treated

Our staff provides treatment for these diagnoses:

  • Anxiety and Related Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • Mood Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • Behavior Disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Learning Disorders
  • Communication Disorders

Learn More About The Children’s Center

The Children’s Center’s skilled and experienced staff includes a child and adolescent psychiatrist, clinical child psychologists, a school psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, behaviorist, and academic advisor.

To learn more about how the center’s services may help your child and family, please call us at (561) 496-1094 or complete our contact form.

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Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?

In today’s world, if you turn on a television, play a game on an electronic device, read a magazine, or listen to the radio, the chances are high that you’ll see or hear an ad for psychotropic medications. Prescriptions for anxiety medication and depression medication are pitched to people so often that the majority of us have at least heard of this option for treating mental illnesses.

As a society, we all want an easy fix to our problems. Ads for psychotropic medications make them sound as if they are an effortless method for treating anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. After all, why spend time on psychotherapy when you can pop a pill and get relief instantly? However, like everything in life, there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

For many people, treatment programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapy, or In-vivo Therapy, have proven to have more lasting results than psychotropic medications. The reason is that these therapies teach you coping skills. They help you identify inaccurate or negative thinking and then give you the necessary tools to challenge and replace these beliefs.

When someone goes through psychotherapy, they learn what triggers their reactions to specific fears, places, or situations. Cognitive therapy and other “talk therapies” help people overcome these triggers so they can have a better quality of life. Moreover, these methods teach skills that are lifelong. This allows the person to not only feel better, but gives them something to fall back on if their stressors return at some point in the future.

Unlike with the potential of some psychotropic medications, psychotherapy is not addictive. Furthermore, some studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be more effective at relieving anxiety and depression than medication.

Benefits of Psychotropic Medications

Depression medications and anxiety medications are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. Advertisements have taught us to recognize drug names and to request them from our medical professionals. These drugs are seen as a “magic bullet” for mental illnesses. Indeed, the benefit of psychotropic medications is that some people may see a quicker, short term improvement in their symptoms, especially if their case is severe. Medications are generally cheaper than psychotherapy and are often covered under insurance, while therapy is sometimes limited or may not be covered at all.

That being said, there are drawbacks to psychotropic medications. Some of these drugs have very adverse side effects – a fact many people ignore when they see the list of them scrolling rapidly through an advertisement. These medications are often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, wherein the drugs are changed if the person is not getting the symptom relief they are hoping for. Also, many individuals fear taking anxiety medication or depression medication because of the worry over becoming addicted to them or the fear that their personality may be altered. Additionally, they are concerned that they will never be able to get off the medication in the future because their depression or anxiety will return if they do.

What About a Combination of Therapy and Medication?

Current research has shown that, in many cases, a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy gives patients the best result. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety more quickly, thus giving the person a chance to improve their symptoms while undergoing psychotherapy at the same time.

Combining these treatments programs can provide improvement in symptoms, teach the skills that will allow you to cope with or change your symptoms, and help you feel better. Furthermore, psychotherapy gives you the tools to cope if symptoms arise again.

Do You Have Questions About Psychotherapy or Psychotropic Medications?

Questions about whether you’ll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, are best answered by working with a mental health professional. The therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

 

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Using Virtual Reality Therapy for Phobias

 

What would you think if you had a phobia about something (example: a fear of flying) and you could overcome your fear just by sitting in your therapist’s office and watching a movie? We think you’d sign up for that! Okay, it’s not entirely that simple (although it almost is), but virtual reality therapy for phobias is now giving patients a high-tech, cutting-edge solution for helping them get past their fears so they can live a better life.

How Does Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy Work?

Many types of phobias can be overcome or greatly reduced when the sufferer goes through cognitive behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, a patient learns to recognize the thoughts causing the negative feelings surrounding their fears. Once these thoughts are identified, the patient learns how to replace those undesirable beliefs with more positive ones.

In-vivo exposure therapy goes hand in hand with cognitive behavioral therapy. With in-vivo exposure, the patient experiences what they fear in a controlled way and in small doses. By taking small steps, they can confront and gradually conquer their phobia.

Virtual reality exposure therapy combines the best of cognitive behavior therapy and in-vivo exposure. It allows people to work through their fears in a realistic environment without actually leaving the comfort and safety of their therapist’s office.

Virtual Reality Therapy

In the case of the fear of flying phobia mentioned above, a patient comes to our office, sits in a comfortable chair, and puts on a pair of virtual reality therapy goggles. In conjunction with coaching from their therapist, they view a simulation of the inside of an airplane’s passenger compartment and can look around to see all aspects of the interior.

The patient not only sees the plane, they also hear the same sounds they would experience if they were really on a flight, such as the flight attendant’s announcement or the rumble of airplane engines. Additionally, our virtual reality therapy chair vibrates with the motion of the plane “taking off” or “flying” to provide an even more convincing simulation.

Even if a person knows the virtual reality program isn’t completely realistic, there is enough realism in it to trigger their emotional responses to their phobia. And, by working through these reactions, in some types of phobias or traumas, nearly 83 percent of people who have tried virtual reality therapy have managed to put their fears behind them.

Virtual Reality Therapy Benefits

Some of the benefits of virtual reality therapy include:

  • Allowing the patient to try the therapy without as much anxiety. For example: in the case of a phobia about flying, it is much easier for someone to agree to try working through their fears in an office than to have to force themselves to physically go to the place they know will bring an emotional reaction.
  • Experiencing the phobia and/or its triggers without taking the time to travel to an actual location. For the fear of flying phobia, you simply sit in a chair, rather than going to the airport numerous times for several small exposures to your triggers.
  • Confidentiality for the patient: you don’t have to face potential embarrassment by running into someone you know or possibly becoming upset in a public area.
  • The therapist can carefully control the situation, meaning if you are afraid of elevators or airplanes, you don’t have to get in one. Virtual reality exposure therapy allows you to feel as if you are in a location, but the therapist can stop the program if you become truly upset.
  • The therapy is more realistic, in that you can go places or experience things you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to (you can’t get on and off an airplane as part of your flying phobia therapy, for instance). That being said, it is much safer than the real-life setting and minimizes any risk involved.
  • Virtual reality exposure therapy sessions are shorter than those that require you to visit an actual site for therapy (so, there is no travel time from the therapist’s office to the airport for our fear of flying scenario.)
  • Sessions can be repeated several times until the patient has conquered that portion of their phobia and is ready to move on to another phase.

Studies show this treatment has a powerful real-life impact and a great track record, over time. Virtual reality therapy has been successful in treating both children and adults for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), social anxiety, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and phobias. It is also a very effective tool for treating children who suffer from phobias such as school phobia or sleep fears.

Do You Have Questions About Virtual Reality Therapy?

Virtual Reality Therapy is coming to our practice very soon. For more information or to find out when it becomes available, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Pregnancy and Mental Health

Having a baby should be a joyous event, but for many women, the time surrounding a pregnancy can come with a variety of emotional and physical struggles. For those who are coping with postpartum depression, infertility, prenatal depression, or miscarriage, the issues related to getting pregnant (or even of becoming a mother) can be stressful and may lead to depression and other pregnancy and mental health concerns.

It isn’t unusual to experience sadness or fear about your pregnancy or becoming a parent. If you are trying to become pregnant, infertility concerns or the costs you may be facing for infertility treatments can be worrisome. Also, any woman may become anxious or depressed during their pregnancy or after they have a baby. If you do, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom, and you don’t have to suffer through it. The most important thing to do is talk to someone and get help if you feel anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed before, during, or after your pregnancy.

Postpartum Depression

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, postpartum depression and its accompanying anxiety can affect nearly 15% of new mothers at some point during the first year after giving birth. Postpartum depression can be a very serious mood disorder and is different than having the “baby blues” that some women experience due a change in hormone levels after childbirth. In general, postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks and is more severe than the post-birth blues.

Left untreated, postpartum depression can lead to postpartum psychosis in which you consider harming your baby, yourself, or contemplate suicide. If your symptoms do not improve after two weeks or if they get worse, call a medical professional without delay!

Infertility and Mental Health

Infertility affects between 10 and 15 percent of couples. If you have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than one year (or, for more than 6 months if you are 35 or over), you may have infertility concerns. Additionally, women who become pregnant but are unable to carry their fetus to term may also be infertile.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are common when you want a child but have not been able to conceive. You may also experience marital issues, low self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction.

Prenatal Depression

Roughly 10 to 20 percent of mothers-to-be will struggle with prenatal depression (depression during their pregnancy). Stress can contribute to the development of depression. Marital problems, the age you are when you become pregnant, limited social support, uncertainty about the pregnancy, or having a prior history of depression can also contribute to new or worsening depression.

Prenatal depression can keep you from sleeping well, eating right, or taking good care of yourself. It can make you more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs that could harm you or your baby. Additionally, some studies suggest that depression during pregnancy may increase the risk for pre-term delivery and low infant birth weight.

Your health and that of your baby should come first. Talking to your partner, your family, or your friends about your concerns can often make all the difference in helping lessen your prenatal depression. If you feel sad or anxious, consider talking with a mental health professional. They will work with you to manage your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you cope.

Coping with Miscarriage

Going through a loss of pregnancy is devastating, no matter the stage of pregnancy or the circumstances of the miscarriage. After losing a pregnancy, you’ll need to go through a grieving process. You may feel bitter, guilty, angry and helpless. Certain things may set you back, such as seeing a friend who is pregnant or passing a family with a new baby on the sidewalk.

Allow yourself time to mourn your pregnancy loss and to accept what’s happened. Talk to your partner, your family, and your friends or join a support group. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, taking things slow, eating right and exercising. It may help to keep a journal of your feelings.

If you have tried these things and are still having trouble dealing with your grief and loss, talk to your physician, a grief counselor, or a mental health professional for support.

Mood Disorders and Pregnancy

If you already have a mood disorder and become pregnant, it can be tempting to discontinue any psychotropic medications. However doing this can cause harm to you and your unborn baby, and can make you particularly vulnerable to relapse. One study showed the risk of recurrence was significantly higher in women who discontinued treatment with mood stabilizers. Before stopping any medication, you should discuss your pregnancy with your mental health professional so they can conduct a thorough risk/benefit analysis. This analysis should include the impact of untreated illness on both you and your baby, as well as weigh the risk of using medication during your pregnancy.

Treatment for Pregnancy and Mental Health Concerns

If you have anxiety, depression, or other pregnancy and mental health concerns, physical causes should be ruled out first. A medical exam will be able to exclude hypoglycemia, thyroid deficiency, or other health conditions that may be causing your depression or anxiety.

Next, speak to a mental health professional. Talking to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker will help you learn how to change the way your depression makes you think, feel, and act. They may recommend talk therapy, either one-on-one or in a group, to help lower your stress and your mood symptoms.

In some case, your mental health professional may prescribe medication to help you manage your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Have Questions About Pregnancy and Mental Health?

If you need help dealing with postpartum depression, infertility and mental health, prenatal depression, coping with miscarriage or other pregnancy and mental health concerns, we are here for you. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Children’s Mental Health – Psychiatric Help for Children

While we tend to think of childhood as a carefree time of life, the fact is that many children suffer from mental conditions and disorders, just the same as adults. Among other things, children’s mental health concerns can include emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders such as eating disorders, learning and developmental disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHA), and autism. And, similar to adults, children can be impacted by conditions like anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, as children grow and mature into young adults, they can develop other problems associated with adolescence, such as underage drinking and substance abuse.

Left untreated, any of these conditions or disorders can result in difficulties with making friends, and behavior issues in school and at home. What is most troubling, however, is that research has shown that a majority of adult mental disorders start early in life. This makes it critical that children’s mental health conditions be caught promptly and treated appropriately.

Symptoms of Child Psychological Disorders

Child psychological disorders and conditions can affect any ethnic group, and income level, and those living in any region of the country. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cites a study from a National Research Council and Institute for Medicine report that estimates about 1 in 5 children across the United States will experience a mental disorder in any given year.

Symptoms often change as a child grows and matures, so the signs of a problem may be difficult to spot in the early stages. Often, parents are the first to recognize that there is an issue with their children’s emotions or behavior, however problems may also be brought to your attention by your child’s educators or another adult who knows your child well. Some general signs to look for include:

  • Marked decline in school performance
  • Strong worries or anxiety that causes problems at home or at school
  • Random, frequent physical aches and pains, such as headaches or an upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
  • Marked changes in eating habits
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having low or no energy
  • Aggressive behavior, disobedience, and/or confrontations with or defiance of authority figures
  • Temper tantrums or outbursts of anger
  • Thoughts of suicide or thoughts of harming themselves or others

Psychiatric Help for Children

  • Please get immediate assistance if you think your child may be in danger of harming themselves or someone else.  Call a crisis line or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Getting psychiatric help for children, in the form of early diagnosis and receiving the correct treatment, is essential for your child’s well being, both now and throughout their life.

If your child’s problems persist across a variety of settings (for example: home, school, and with peers), some of the steps to get help include:

  • Talk to your child about how they are feeling. Find out if they would like to discuss a problem with you or another adult. Actively listen to their responses and concerns.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician, school counselor or school nurse, or a mental health professional if you see behaviors or problems in your child or teen that worry you.
  • Seek evaluation from a specialist who deals with children’s mental health concerns.
  • Ask the specialist if they have experience with treating the problem or behavior you see in your child.
  • Don’t delay in seeking help – early treatment generally gives better results.

Children can be treated in a variety of settings that range from one-on-one (or with a parent) sessions with a mental health professional to a group setting with a therapist and the child’s peers. Talk therapy can help change behaviors and may be used in combination with other treatments. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be very effective in helping children learn coping strategies so they can change unhealthy behavior patterns and distorted thinking. Additionally, medications may be recommended for disorders such as ADHD or may be given for other types of severe or difficult cases.

Need More Information on Children’s Mental Health?

If you have questions or need more information about psychiatric help for children, we can help. The professionals at our child-focused department, The Children’s Center, specialize in child psychiatry and psychology, and other services related to children’s mental health. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Depression and Anxiety – Women’s Health

Today’s women face a variety of life and family stressors. These pressures can lead to mental health concerns that can range anywhere from simple “burn out” to mood disorders and beyond. In fact, it may surprise you to know that women are almost twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Obviously, researchers want to know the reason for this alarming statistic. Is there a biological component at play in a women’s body that isn’t as prevalent in a male? Do females learn to worry more because they pattern themselves after a mother who worries? Or, is it simply because women are more likely than men to admit they have symptoms and seek help?

The official view of the mental health profession is that the sexes are similar in the numbers of each gender who experience psychiatric disorders. However, according to the authors of The Stressed Sex, it actually turns out that “in any given year, total rates of psychological disorder are 20-40% higher in women than men.”

Indeed, studies are beginning to show that a female’s physiology can contribute to their higher rate of physiological disorders. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that women’s fight-or-flight responses are more sensitive than a man’s and the response stays activated longer in a woman. Additionally, the female brain is more sensitive to stress hormones and does not process serotonin, the neurotransmitter believed to influence psychological functions, as fast as the male brain.

Women also have a variety of external stressors that can lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety:

  • If you have children, there is a lot of pressure to be a “perfect mom.” This burden often leads to overscheduling activities and taking on more tasks, which takes away from relaxation and “decompression” time.
  • Caffeine comes in many forms today – think about sodas, coffee and tea, caffeinated beverages, and water enhancers, just to name a few. Caffeine affects brain chemistry by raising dopamine levels. High dopamine levels are what make you feel jittery after drinking a caffeinated beverage – if the level is high enough, it can bring on panic attacks.
  • Food allergies and food sensitivities can set off symptoms of anxiety in some people. This is because nutrition affects serotonin levels which, in turn, affects your mood. The gastrointestional tract is a major source of serotonin production.
  • Certain medications, including anxiety medication, can worsen the symptoms of anxiety. If at all possible, they should be used on a more temporary basis.
  • Wide use of sunscreens are great, but they’ve contributed to vitamin D deficiencies. A decrease in vitamin D has be shown to be related to depression and mood disorders.

In addition to these external stressors, physical reasons for depression and anxiety in women can include:

  • Hormonal issues that can influence mood: an imbalance in your hypothalamus, in your pituitary gland, or in your adrenal glands, can cause panic attacks and chronic anxiety.
  • Perimenopause – anxiety is often the first sign of perimenopause. The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone levels impacts both mood and energy levels.
  • Hormonal balance can be affected by a lack of physical exercise, resulting in an increase in depression and anxiety.
  • Lack of sleep – women often don’t get as much sleep as they need or don’t sleep well, but sleep is imperative for brain health.

Ways to Help Reduce Depression and Anxiety

  • Make the time to do something you enjoy. Reading even just one chapter in a book or one article in a magazine can help you decrease stress. Work in the garden or take up a craft. It can be hard to find the time, but it is essential to find balance in your life.
  • Meditation or mindfulness training can help you learn how to better cope with stress.
  • Exercise not only allows you to release, it also helps regulate hormone levels.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or breathing exercises.
  • Start a gratitude journal and record five things you are grateful for every day. This helps you focus on the good things that surround you, which helps you feel more positive.
  • Turn off the television so you stop focusing on the bad news of the day!
  • Seek guidance from a mental help professional if you find these techniques are not helping you reduce your depression and anxiety.

Need More Information?

If you are a woman who struggles with depression and anxiety, we can help. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Teen Group Therapy for Depression & Anxiety
Begins Fall 2016

group therapy for teens - teens support group

Group Therapy for Teens: To Fight Depression & Anxiety

Beginning in the Fall of 2016

To register, please call (561) 496-1094

Group Facilitator: Edan M. Alcalay, Psy.D. The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders

Join Dr. Alcalay as he facilitates this interactive and unique group for teenagers who will learn various ways of developing positive coping skills to better control depression and/or anxiety. Group therapy will also focus on ways to improve self-esteem, help to support one another in a safe environment, and problem solving and communication skills, and more.

This group therapy is a six week commitment with sessions covering:

  • Session 1: Introduction to Group Therapy
  • Session 2: Self Esteem
  • Session 3: Coping Skills and Positive Thinking
  • Session 4: Overcoming Social Anxiety
  • Session 5: Communication Skills
  • Session 6: Improving Problem Solving Skills

When is the group beginning? 
Groups will begin in the Fall of 2016

Where is the workshop being held? 
The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders
4600 Linton Blvd, Suite 320, Delray Beach, FL 33445
(561) 496-1094

Who is it open to?
Teenagers

What is the cost?
$100 per group session—with a 6 week commitment.

If you have questions or are interested in attending please RSVP by contacting the staff at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders or call (561) 496-1094.


About the Facilitator

Dr. Eden M. Alcalay specializes in treating children and adolescents suffering from problems such as: sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, trauma, PTSD. He also helps children and adolescents who are bipolar and/or suffer from psychosis. His education helps parents with parenting skills. Dr. Alcalay provides individual therapy and group therapy services.

In addition to providing traditional psychotherapy and psychological testing, Dr. Alcalay is a certified E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)therapist which is used in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This treatment method has received a high level of recommendation by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Alcalay received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in children at Carlos Albizu University (CAU) located in Miami, Florida. During his training, Dr. Alcalay conducted research on Teaching Responsible Behaviors to Adolescents, (TRBA). TRBA is designed as a prevention program to adolescents and their parents. The services of the program are focused on identifying and targeting early symptoms of aggression and depression in adolescents, providing psycho-education to parents and adolescents, promoting adolescent autonomy, self-efficacy and pro-social skills, and enhancing family life and communication. In addition to his research on TRBA, Dr. Alcalay studied the Program for Alcohol Abusing Adolescent using Combined Therapy & Exercise (PACTE).

He has developed many parenting workshops. As continuing his education, Dr. Alcalay has received advanced training from the Florida Psychoanalytic Center. Clinically, Dr. Alcalay has worked in substance abuse rehabilitation for adolescents and adults and in a Community Mental Health Clinic (CMHC) working with underprivileged populations. Subsequently, he continued at a Miami Children’s Hospital Psychiatry Department, conducting individual, group, and family psychotherapy for patients with severe childhood psychiatric problems (i.e. suicide). He received his post-doctoral training here at the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders.

Dr. Alcalay is a member of the Association for Play Therapy (APT), United Way of Broward, and Florida Psychological Association (FPA). Dr. Alcalay is also a professor at Lynn University and conducts research on modern topics such as: The Anxiety Explosion, The Digital Era and its Impact on our Youth, Project Brain, and how Group Play can prevent mental disorders.

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