All Posts in Category: Child Anxiety

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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Child Anxiety – Divorce Therapy for Children

Going through a divorce is stressful enough for the couple involved, but when children are added to the mix, it can bring a youngster’s fears to the forefront and trigger a cycle of child anxiety. The youth suddenly finds his or her world fracturing apart as the family divides into separate households. And, often the child has to adjust to living in a new home or going to a new school in addition to coping with their parent’s split.

Among other things, a divorce can increase a child’s aggression, bring up issues of separation anxiety, and negatively impact either (or both) the social and school performances of the youngster. It also increases the stress levels in children who already suffer from anxiety issues or mood disorders and can initiate anxiety-related concerns in children who do not normally have them.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

When parents divorce, their children often react by showing:

  • Regressive behaviors (bedwetting, tantrums, thumb sucking, refusing to go to bed)
  • Rebellious behaviors (anger, disobedience, or (in an older child) disregard for the parents)
  • Increased episodes of crying or whining
  • Feel “sick” when they are healthy or becoming clingy
  • Separation anxiety
  • Blaming themselves for the divorce

The following are some ways that you, as a parent, can help diffuse some of the tension and child anxiety when going through a divorce:

  • Respect your child’s feelings and encourage them to talk to you about their fears. You may not have all the answers, but sometimes just listening and being supportive to your child can be enough.
  • Remember that your child has lost something, too. They have lost their time with one parent when they are with the other parent and, in many cases, have lost their familiar surroundings, peers, and maybe even a beloved pet or best friend.
  • Reassure your child that, no matter what, you love them now and will always love them. Be sure they understand that the divorce was not their fault and that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it.
  • Try to keep the same routines for bedtime, homework, play time, etc. New routines might need to be added (for example: going to the other parent’s house every Friday night), but keeping as close as possible to the same schedule helps children feel secure. It lets them know what to expect.
  • Rituals also create a sense of safety for your child. A family ritual such as “game night” creates an anchor for your child and gives them a sense of familiarity and a way to relate within their new world.

How Divorce Therapy for Children Can Help

Many times children will adjust to the breakup of a marriage after a “settling in” period, but in the case of youngsters who already have some anxiety, therapy might be the answer to helping children cope with divorce.

Divorce therapy for children is usually conducted through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of treatment is based on the theory that our thoughts cause our behavior and our resulting feelings – other people do not cause them. By understanding this and learning to modify our reactions, we can influence our emotions in a positive way so we can feel better about things we can not change. Becoming aware of inaccurate or negative thinking allows your child to change to a more positive way of thinking in order to decrease their anxiety.

Need More Information?

Is your child struggling with your divorce? We offer divorce therapy for children in a safe, supportive South Florida environment. 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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Childhood Obesity: Weight Control and Your Child – Conceding the Battle to Win the War

In this day and age in which the media has exposed the epidemic of childhood obesity and associated diabetes, it is impossible for parents to not be more attuned to this issue with their children.  For better and worse, we have access to data, research and information like never before.  This is clearly the case in the area of food, nutrition and physiology.  No doubt, understanding the implications of how we feed our bodies and how we move our bodies is invaluable information.  What can often be a difficult task is translating this information into utilizable material that our children can understand.

As parents, we must be persistently aware of, not just the information we deliver, but HOW we deliver it.  Sometimes being accurate is not enough to help children benefit.  Sometimes accurate information can be useless, if not harmful, when delivered ineffectively.  In trying to educate children about food, weight, nutrition and healthy eating, we must be sensitive to the subtle nuances in our delivery.  We, as parents and caretakers, must be aware of how we deliver potentially embarrassing or shameful material to children.

Phillip says to his mother, “Amanda told me that I’m fat.  I want to lose some weight.  How much should I lose?”  “Well,” said her mom, “Dr. Speilman said on your last check up that you could stand to lose five pounds.  Why don’t we start there?”  Phillip agrees and quietly walks away.  Conversation over?  Hardly. For all practical purposes, Phillip’s mother likely feels like this was a good opportunity for her to address his pediatrician’s concern about his childhood obesity.  She probably feels relieved that someone else did her the service of alleviating her of hurting her son’s feelings.  What she failed to realize is that she delivered the confirming “blow” to Phillip’s self esteem.

In discussing matters of this nature, it is essential to realize the subtle impacts you may have.  It is more fruitful to address the biological and medical aspects of this discussion and to STEER CLEAR OF NUMBER OF POUNDS! For example, you might address blood elevations such as cholesterol or pulse as the impetus for change, or simply the concept of supporting the development of a healthy heart that will “take care of you,” or “keep your body strong for the rest of your life.”  By externalizing the issue of childhood obesity, you reduce the sensitive issue of self-esteem or physical acceptance.  Further, you engage your child in a process about which your child can be more curious and motivated.

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Separation Anxiety and the Transition to College

We’ve passed the midpoint of the summer vacation break and parents and children are beginning to think about the upcoming school year. This is the time to start planning for new clothes and school supplies, including the dorm room items you’ll need if your child will be going off to college in the fall. Yet, with all the preparation parents make before their child goes away for the first time, often neither they nor the child think about separation anxiety and the emotional aspects of the transition to college.

New college freshmen often “talk big” about how glad they are going to be when they can finally get out on their own, but this may be just their bravado speaking. The first semester of college can be very stressful for your teen – many don’t realize that they’ll have to manage their day to day existence by themselves and won’t have their parents to fall back on. Also, it isn’t just the student who can have some problems coping – often parents struggle to adjust to this new phase of life without their teen and find themselves going through a bout of separation anxiety when their child leaves for school.

Even the most independent person can experience some homesickness in college during the first few weeks (or even months) in their new environment. They’ll have to make new friends, adjust to living with a roommate, and learn to navigate a new routine. If they have feelings of inadequacy before their transition to college, those emotions will be amplified, at least for a while.  Additionally, the child’s identity can be shaken during the transition to college – familiar peers who have given them a sense of “where they fit in” will no longer be around and the new freshman will have to figure out where they belong in the new world they’ve entered. With all this stress, it’s no wonder that about 21 % of college students use illegal substances and approximately 45 % binge drink in order to cope.

Separation Anxiety Symptoms

The following separation anxiety symptoms can affect both teens and parents:

  • A feeling of helplessness, sadness, worry, or anger
  • Excessive worry, allowing your thoughts to run wild (“what if?” thinking)
  • Fear or reluctance to go off to school and leave the familiar comforts of home
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomachaches, loss of appetite
  • Crying
  • Racing heart, shortness of breath
  • Substance abuse

How to Help Your Child Deal with Separation Anxiety

It’s normal for children and parents to go through many of these separation anxiety symptoms during the first semester of college, but many are too embarrassed to seek help. Keep in mind that those who already suffer from a depression or anxiety disorder will require even more emotional support. Here are some ways you can help your new college student adjust to their transition to college:

  • Talk to your child before they leave for college and let them know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed as they adjust to their new life away from home.
  • Listen to your child and encourage them to talk about the stress they are feeling.
  • Encourage them to join a club, group such as a sorority or fraternity, or get involved in extracurricular activities as a way to make new friends.
  • Visit them at college if you are able (and if you are needed).
  • Educate yourself about the places your child can go for help, such as on-campus support groups or counseling centers. If necessary, get a referral to a nearby mental help therapist if there are no available resources at your child’s school.

Learn More

If you or your college student are suffering from the symptoms of college separation anxiety during the transition to college, we can help. 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 and the Benefits of Mindfulness Training

 

These days, children often have stressors that come at them from all directions. Schools are sending more homework and projects home with children, kids are busy after school with extra-curricular sports and activities, and there are video games, social media, and cell phones all competing for their attention. In addition, they may have to deal with being picked on at school or may be coping with the pressures of divorcing parents or the arrival of a new sibling in the home. With all that kids have to contend with, it’s no wonder that children who engage in mindfulness exercises tend to be happier kids who are more able to self-regulate and calm themselves during periods of stress.

What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness, anyway? According to experts in the field, mindfulness is defined as “paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

Mindfulness helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. It allows children to choose a calmer, practiced response to stressors instead of throwing a tantrum or losing control. It teaches them to be conscious of how their emotions “show up” in their bodies (in the form of headaches, stomachaches, nightmares etc), and helps them understand that their thoughts are “just thoughts.” Children who undergo mindfulness training become adept at recognizing when their attention has wandered and learn to implement tools for impulse control.

How Can Mindfulness Training Help Your Child?

There is a growing body of research that indicates mindfulness training can help children improve their ability to calm down when they are stressed or upset, learn to pay attention and become more focused, increase their ability to concentrate, and learn to make better decisions.

Mindfulness activities for children can also help with:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Anger issues and separation anxiety
  • Coping with increased life stressors
  • Anxiety at school (for example: test taking or athletic performance)
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Learning compassion and acceptance for themselves and others
  • Breaking the cycle of worry before it turns into full-blown anxiety or panic attacks

Mindfulness Activities for Children

If you would like to help your children learn to become more mindful, there are a few things to take into account when teaching them. First, remember to take the age of the child into consideration and keep the mindfulness sessions short until they get used to practicing it. Also, make the practice times age appropriate – limit them to about five minutes or less, particularly for younger children. Praise your child for the effort they put into their mindfulness exercises and reward them with hugs and cuddles or by doing something they want to do together afterward.

Try these exercises to help your child practice being more mindful:

  • Belly breathing – Have your child put one hand on their tummy and one hand on their heart. Have them take a deep breath in for a slow count of 3 and then breathe out again to another slow count of 3. They should repeat this deep breathing exercise at least three to five times to feel calmer in times of stress. For younger children, it can be helpful to have them lie down and place a small stuffed animal on their stomach while breathing in and out during the exercise. As they focus on watching the stuffed animal rise and fall with their breathing, they learn how to breathe from their belly.
  • “Cool Your Food” breathing – Have your child breathe in through their nose and blow their breath out of their mouth as if they were trying to cool down hot food. Repeat this 5-10 times, very slowly.
  • Listen to the sounds around you – An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on paying attention to what they can hear. Take a walk and listen to the birds chirping, lawn mowers mowing, or the wind blowing. You can also download phone apps that have calming waterfalls or nature sounds and have your child listen to see what they can hear (for example: are there frogs croaking or birds chirping in the background?)
  • Mindful Playtime – Finger paints or coloring books offer great ways for children to be mindful. As they color, ask your child how the crayons smell or how the finger paint feels against their hands. What do the colors they are using mean to them? Can they hear the crayon or pencil scratching against the paper or the paint swishing as they swirl it across the paper?
  • Ring a bell – or chimes or perhaps strike a note on a piano (or use a phone app that has these sounds on it) and have your child listen carefully to the sound of the tone until it gradually fades away and stops.
  • Practice gratitude – Have your child tell you one or two things they were grateful for today. You can have them do this at dinner time or just before they go to bed. Tell them what you are grateful for, as well!

Learn More

We have mindfulness programs for both adults and children at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. To find out more about these programs, call us at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

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Eating Disorders: The Hidden Problem of College Students

Dieting and the body image concerns that lead to it are nothing new in our society. But what happens when innocent dieting becomes something worse? The effects of eating disorders, when left untreated, can result in damage to almost all organ systems, as well as leading to osteoporosis, delayed growth, hearth failure, and even death. The scary part is that the numbers associated with eating disorders are probably higher than you would expect, especially among college students:
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, as well as a suicide rate that is 50 times higher than that of the general population
• 91% of college women have attempted weight control through dieting
• 35% of those “normal” dieters will progress into pathological dieting
• 20-25% of those who progress to pathological dieting will develop partial or full-syndrome eating disorders

Why College Students?

We see people dieting at all ages but college students are especially susceptible to having innocent dieting morph into a problem. This is easy to understand once you look at the factors that can contribute to eating disorders among college students. For many, college presents:
• A time when appearance and image become more important because of new ventures into dating and the chance to make new friends
• The first time they’ve had the freedom and responsibility to make their own food choices
• Feelings of isolation and homesickness
• Intense peer pressure
• Pressure to achieve academically
• A new crowd of people who may not recognize mood or behavior changes
• Separation from regular family and friends, which can make denying or hiding their illness easier

For a freshman student, the start of college may cause some phase of life adjustment anxiety as the world becomes much larger and more complex and stressful in a very short amount of time. Focusing their energy on their eating and weight can often be an avenue for seeking a sense of control that they can’t find in other aspects of their lives. In fact, while it might seem like eating disorders are about food, weight, exercise, and eating, they are more often related to anxiety, depression, perfectionism, low self-esteem, trauma, or other psychological and emotional issues.

Common Types of Eating Disorders

There are 3 different types of eating disorders:
• Anorexia nervosa occurs when someone goes to extreme measures to avoid eating. People suffering from this disorder are often abnormally thin but still talk about feeling fat on a regular basis
• Bulimia occurs when someone practices a “binge and purge” cycle. A person suffering from bulimia will eat a lot of food at one time (bingeing) but then vomit it up in an attempt to prevent weight gain (purging). Excessive use of laxatives or dieting pills could also be an indicator of bulimia
• Binge-eating involves uncontrollable, excessive eating that is often followed by feelings of guilt or shame

Are you still doubt about eating disorders being truly prevalent among the college crowd? Outside of the typical eating disorders some particularly scary trends have been known to pop up on college campuses over the years, including:
• “Drunkorexia,” which involves starving oneself throughout the day in order to drink and party all night without gaining weight from the alcohol
• “Binge and purge parties,” which are focused around talking about and eating massive amounts of food followed by a bathroom rotation to vomit everything back up
• “Nap dieting,” where you “sleep off” hunger by taking a nap to avoid eating every time you feel hungry

How to Help

One of the best ways to prevent or assist with eating disorders is to become knowledgeable about the subject and help educate others. If you know someone who might be suffering from an eating disorder, pay attention and watch for the following:
• Mood changes
• Weight fluctuations
• Preoccupation with food and weight
• Changes in eating behavior
• Changes in exercise behavior

Discussing these changes with someone who might have a problem can be difficult and should be handled with care. Watch the language you use and try to avoid words like “heavy,” “fat,” or “thin.” Any discussion could easily lead to anger or denial so be prepared to tread lightly. It’s important to remember that eating disorders can often develop from a feeling of being out of control so the more you can let your loved one lead the process to recovery, the better off they’ll be.

When in doubt, it’s always best to seek professional help. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an eating disorder or think a loved one may be, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Separation Anxiety and School Refusal

The summer is waning – it’s almost time for autumn to roll around again, which means school will be starting soon. While most children look forward to this time so they can see their friends and enjoy various school activities, this can be a period of major anxiety for some school-aged children. These kids are extremely unwilling to leave home or be away from major attachment figures such as parents, grandparents, or older siblings. The beginning of the new school year is often seen as a threat to them, resulting in elevated anxiety levels and possible school-related disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder and school refusal.

In some cases the separation anxiety and school refusal follow an infection or illness or can come after an emotional trauma such as a move to another neighborhood or the death of a loved one. The anxiety generally occurs after the child has spent an extended time with their parent or loved one, perhaps over summer break or a long vacation.

Anxiety Definition

A teen or child is said to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder if they show excessive anxiety related to the separation from a parent or caregiver or from their home, or if they exhibit an inappropriate anxiety about this separation as related to their age or stage of development. School refusal and separation anxiety are not the same: school refusal is not an “actual” diagnosis, instead it is a result of the child or teen having a separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or social phobia, among other diagnoses.

Separation Anxiety Physical Symptoms

Children with separation anxiety have symptoms which can include:

  • Excessive worry about potential harm befalling oneself or one’s caregiver
  • Demonstrating clingy behavior
  • Avoiding activities that may result in separation from parents
  • Fearing to be alone in a room or needing to see a parent at all times
  • Difficulty going to sleep, fear of the dark, and/or nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches and/or nausea
  • Vomiting

A child who exhibits three or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks is likely to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.

Treatment for School Refusal and Separation Anxiety

When treating a child with separation anxiety and school refusal, therapists try to help the child learn to identify and change their anxious thoughts. They teach coping mechanisms that will help the child respond less fearfully to the situations that produce their anxiety. This can be done through role-playing or by modeling the appropriate behavior for the child to see. Medication is sometimes appropriate in severe cases of separation anxiety. Additionally, the therapist encourages child to use positive self-talk and parents help with this therapy by actively reinforcing positive behaviors and rewarding their child’s successes.

Have Questions? Need Help?

To get more information and help for child anxiety, separation anxiety and school refusal, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Child and Teenage Internet Addiction: Anxiety, ADHD, Social Phobias, and Depression on the Rise

In today’s world, around 85 percent of children and adolescents have some type of game console, cell phone, computer, or tablet.  Often, these kids use these devices in their bedrooms away from the family living area, and studies have found that nearly twenty percent of children use the internet without being monitored by their parents. Because kids aren’t being watched and are spending so much time in cyberspace, today’s children and adolescents are at a much higher risk of developing anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, abuse drugs, and develop antisocial tendencies.

Often, these children and adolescents are exposed to pornography or engage in activities that are psychologically harmful. Many teens participate in “sexting” or sharing intimate photos of themselves among close friends. This can lead to humiliation, anxiety, and depression when these private photos are shared online. Additionally, unmonitored children and teens can be exposed to cyber-bullying or become the unwitting target of pedophiles.

In addition to the distress children are experiencing due to the ease with which they can find pornography, violent videos, and information about drugs and alcohol, we are finding that kids who spend a lot of time in virtual worlds are also becoming antisocial. They often lose track of time, want to eat in front of the computer, and have difficulty turning off their mobile phone, computer, or tablet because they have become addicted to it. Adolescents who experience teenage internet addiction have more psychological problems, and addiction is more likely in those who are depressed, have anger issues, ADHD, or a social phobia because computer addiction has been shown to disrupt nerve pathway “wiring” in the brain. In fact, studies have shown that teens who are addicted to the internet are about 2.5 times more likely to have more anger issues and higher incidences of ADHD. They develop more social phobias because they can retreat into a different “personality” through their avatars, thereby avoiding conventional social interaction at a time when they are usually defining themselves socially.

As a parent, what can you do to help your child avoid teenage internet addiction?

  • Be supportive and involved with your children’s lives. Even though kids will tell you they don’t want to talk about their day or about their disappointments and problems, children inherently want and depend on their parent’s attention and encouragement.
  • Limit your child’s use of the device by locking it up or removing it, if necessary.
  • Cut back on your own internet use. If parents are ignoring their children in favor of online time, children can do as they please and don’t have a good example to follow.
  • To fight child or teenage computer addiction, put the computer in a public place in your home, not in your child’s bedroom. Also, be sure your kids use their cell phones and tablets in a family area.  Remember the good old days, when families had one phone line and kids had to talk to their friends in earshot of everyone in the house?  The computer should be used in the same way today.
  • Seek therapy for teenage computer addiction or anxiety with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional (parents should also take this action if they notice any other compulsive or dangerous behaviors.)

For more information and help for children’s and teenage internet addiction, and other childhood anxiety disorders, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him 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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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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