All Posts Tagged: palm beach county

LGBT Anxiety

It is said that it is human nature to fear things or people who are different. For centuries, society has pointed to this as justification for judging and discriminating against people who fall into “non-traditional” categories.

Every day our society is becoming more and more accepting of the differences we see in each other. Despite this progressive acceptance, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender still face a number of social stigmas and discrimination. It’s no wonder that this can lead to stress and anxiety for those in the LGBT community.

Potential Issues

If you are a member of the LGBT community and you’ve experienced anxiety tied to your identity, you’re not alone. Thousands of people just like you experience the same concerns every day. Let’s consider the facts:

  • According to a 2007 survey, students who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender were almost ten times as likely to experience bullying and victimization at school.
  • LGBT people were also twice as likely to have considered suicide as their heterosexual, non-transgender classmates.
  • People who identify themselves as homosexual or transgender face a number of common issues:
    • Discrimination and oppression at work or school
    • Stress and anxiety based around coming out to friends and family members
    • The struggle to identify your “true” self despite social expectations
    • The anticipation of potential discrimination or harassment even in situations where it hasn’t occurred yet

 Finding the Right Therapist for LGBT Anxiety

The ethics of professions tied to mental health, such as social work, psychology, and psychiatry require that therapists provide services to all people without discrimination. That being said, some therapists may be better than others when assisting with the specific needs of the LGBT community. Because of this, there are a few factors you may want to consider when seeking therapy for anxiety about your sexuality:

  • Similar experience: A therapist who is homosexual or transgender will have real-life experience similar to yours and may be able to provide more extensive assistance.
  • Professional focus: Many therapists focus their energy on specific areas of psychiatry. Finding someone who specializes in the anxieties of the LGBT community may provide you with more options as you go through your therapy.
  • The therapist’s view on reparation or conversion therapy: Decades ago, the mental health community operated on the misguided notion that homosexuality concerns were mental health disorders. During this time period it was common to find therapists who focused on “fixing” what they considered to be “improper” romantic attractions. Obviously, this practice is highly discouraged now and, in many states, has actually been banned. However, it’s still good to be aware of this so you don’t accidentally find yourself working with a therapist who has different intentions than you do.

Remember, the LGBT anxiety you face on a regular basis is not a result of there being anything wrong with you. They arise because of the environmental factors that surround you. Appropriate therapy will aim to help you understand and cope with those factors to improve your daily interactions.

Are you or someone you know facing severe anxiety as a result of your sexual or gender identity? Dr. Andrew Rosen knows the best techniques for helping you work through this anxiety and cope with difficult situations that arise. For more information, contact Dr. Rosen or call The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094.

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Compassion Focused Therapy for Social Anxiety

It’s not unusual for people to get nervous in certain social situations. Preparing to give a speech and meeting a group of people you don’t know are both great examples of situations where it’s perfectly understandable to experience a little anxiety. However, there is a big difference between small amounts of anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder develops when those little fears become so intense that you go out of your way to avoid any situations that will trigger them. And, when that avoidance begins to negatively impact your daily life or family it may be time to seek some professional help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most common treatments for social phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of systematic desensitization addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at ourselves and the world. There are two main components to this approach:

  • Cognitive therapy examines how your negative thoughts can contribute to your social anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy analyzes the way you behave and react in those situations that trigger your anxiety.

There are three main steps involved in this form of therapy:

  • Identifying your negative thoughts: this can include recognizing what those thoughts include, the specific situations they occur in conjunction with, and recognizing them for the harmful thoughts they are.
  • Challenging your negative thoughts: during this step you’ll question the evidence for your frightening thoughts, weigh the pros and cons associated with them, and conduct experiments to test the validity of these thoughts.
  • Replacing negative thoughts with realistic ones: as you become more adept at recognizing your anxiety-provoking thoughts, you can begin to practice converting those thoughts into positive imaging.

The Compassionate Approach

While cognitive behavioral therapy has become widely recognized as an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder, there are aspects of it that can be difficult for many people. It can be a great challenge to identify positive thoughts or to replace them with realistic ones. Oftentimes people can recognize the benefit of this systematic desensitization approach but understanding the logic doesn’t necessarily make the treatment easier to complete.

This is where compassion focused therapy comes in. People who experience social phobia are apt to be self-critical and filled with thoughts of shame and anger because of how the anxiety affects them. Compassionate-focused therapy helps individuals reverse those thoughts through compassionate engagement. The theory behind this therapy states that we are “at our most flourishing” when we:

  • See evidence that we are cared about and valued
  • Are caring, helping, and valuing others
  • Are mindful and sympathetic of our own feelings

By demonstrating the skills and attributes of compassion, the therapist instils these values in the patient. As a consequence, the patient is aided to develop an internal compassionate relationship with themselves – one that will replace the blaming, condemning and self-critical person they may feel they are.

In other words, by learning to be empathetic and non-judgmental of others it can become easier to give yourself a break, as well. While many might view compassion as a personality trait, the reality is that it is a skill you can be trained in. This therapy helps to foster the attributes of that skill.

 Need More Assistance?

It can be difficult to convert your negative thoughts into a positive mindset when you’re in the midst of social anxiety disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, seeking professional help can be the most direct path to reclaiming your life.

For more information about compassion-based cognitive behavioral therapy, 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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Obsessive-Compulsiveness in New Mothers

With new motherhood comes a variety of changes. Of course, most parents are told to expect the sleepless nights and the constant feedings. What you may not be told, however, is how much you’ll worry about the health of your little one. This seems to be especially true of new mothers.

It makes sense. Here’s this brand new, tiny, baby that seems so helpless and so susceptible to danger from even the most insignificant things. They can get sick at the drop of the hat and everything is a guessing game because they can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s no wonder that studies report that around 11% of new mothers exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors after the birth of their child.

When Should You Be Concerned?

What is OCD? Simply put, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears that lead to repetitive behaviors. As an example, there is nothing wrong with double checking to make sure you strapped the baby into the car seat. However, there may be a concern if you must check to see that the baby is in the car seat two or three times before leaving, every time you drive somewhere.

Other examples of possible OCD symptoms from new mothers could include:

  • Washing your baby after every feeding
  • Constantly sterilizing all the baby’s equipment and toys
  • Being terrified of anyone else holding your baby
  • Washing all of the bedclothes on a daily basis
  • Washing your hands at set periods of time to ensure they stay clean

Looking at these examples, it is easy to see how these “obsessions” can cross the line from being reasonable to unreasonable. Giving in to the compulsions that come from your anxieties can impact your relationships, sleeping patterns, and eating habits, just to name a few. Once they begin to negatively affect your life like this, it’s time to seek help.

What are the Causes of OCD?

Many things can cause or increase your risk of developing OCD, such as family history and biological changes like the ones most women experience with childbirth. However, one of the leading risk factors for developing obsessive-compulsive disorder is stressful life changes.

It makes sense, then, that having a baby can be such a huge trigger for new mothers. Many mothers experience a lot of the same worries:

  • Fear that they won’t be good parents
  • Pressure to prove themselves to others
  • A need for control in an uncertain situation
  • Fear that their child will fall ill
  • Fear of hurting their child

It’s normal to have these concerns. However, it’s important that new mothers keep these fears from taking over their lives. The best way to do this is to not keep these feelings and thoughts to yourself. However, this is where obsessive-compulsive disorder often becomes a difficult catch-22.

Many new mothers may worry about the way others will view them if they admit their anxieties. Even worse, the thought of talking to their doctor about their fears may increase the apprehension they already have. If they worry, for example, that they have to prove they are a good parent, then wouldn’t admitting this type of problem prove that they aren’t?

Seeking Help

As with most disorders, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward fixing it. Disclosing your concerns can make you more open to suggestions from loved ones who have an outsider’s view of your compulsions. It can also help you recognize when you’re falling into them. And, in the event that you’re unable to control your compulsions on your own, admitting your fears can be the first step toward seeking support from a professional who can help you learn to cope with your concerns and anxieties.

If you or someone you know has become negatively impacted by the worries and pressures of new motherhood, don’t feel like you have to go through this alone. Call us at 561-496-1094 or contact us today, and get yourself back on the path to enjoying life and your precious bundle of joy.

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Terror Threats and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It seems like every time we turn on the news lately, we hear reports about terrorists and attacks by suicide/homicide bombers. News stories about kidnappings, beheadings, and raids by Islamic terrorism groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram are a “normal” part of the daily news now. And, even though the vast majority of these attacks take place in cities and countries on the other side of the world from us, the constant bombardment of these threatening stories can begin to make anyone feel helpless and can instill worry, stress, and fear in them. This is especially true for people who already suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related syndromes, such as generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Even though personally experiencing an ISIS terrorist attack is unlikely, sometimes fear and anxiety over a potential threat can take on a life of its own. When you are anxious in general, you may begin having headaches, stomach problems, trouble sleeping or eating, or can even have a panic attack. And, if you have generalized anxiety disorder, your worries and fears become overwhelming. What was “normal” anxiety crosses over the line to the point that you worry:

  • About the worst-case scenario in most situations
  • Almost daily for six months or more
  • Uncontrollably, or your fears significantly disrupt your work or social life, or your daily activities

Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Persistent worrying or obsessing about your concerns
  • Feeling like you are always “on edge” or keyed up, being easily startled
  • Trouble concentrating, feeling irritable
  • Fearing rejection or worrying that you are losing control

Some of the psychological symptoms of anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping and its accompanying fatigue
  • Nausea, sweating, muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath and/or rapid heartbeat

What Can You Do To Help Calm Your Terror-Related Anxiety?

While it’s understandable to worry about terror threats, keeping the following in mind can help you calm your fears and lower your anxiety levels:

  • Try to detach – obsessing and worrying about ISIS and other militant groups will not solve the problem and will only serve to make you more anxious and upset. Remember that your upset is only yours – fixating on a possible attack will not change the outcome or stop a terrorist act. Try to focus on something else – a hobby, exercise, your loved ones – so you aren’t constantly preoccupied with the news.
  • Take care of yourself: eat nutritiously, exercise regularly to help relieve stress, and try to get enough sleep. Meditation can help to calm your mind, as can yoga or something as simple as deep, rhythmic breathing.
  • Turn off the TV, stop checking newsfeeds and Twitter and make the decision to limit your exposure to distressing news. Fear is addictive and constantly watching world events will keep your mind focused on the negative.
  • Remember that news organizations thrive when people are watching and paying attention to what they are saying. In spite of everything, we actually live in a safer world than ever before. It is also one that is healthier and richer than in the past, and one in which people are living longer than ever before.
  • Maintain your normal routine and continue to do the things you enjoy so that you feel more in control of the world around you.

Keep in mind that fear pulls the enjoyment out of everything. Living in fear keeps you from taking pleasure in your life and it won’t change what happens in the world – either in another country or right down the street. Only you can choose whether you will focus on the negative or whether you will embrace the happiness that is all around you. Be kind to yourself and don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in negative news stories and worries about terrorist threats.

If, however, you use these ideas and are still finding yourself stressed and troubled about terrorist threats, it might be time to speak with a professional to discuss more specific steps. To get more information and help for worry about terror threats and your anxiety or about generalized anxiety disorder, 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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Teen Issues: Teenagers and Online Porn

There’s no doubt that the Internet and technology have made the world of parenting vastly different than it was in the past. There was a time when a parent’s biggest concern was finding their child with a Playboy magazine, which probably just piqued the child’s curiosity. Now, with sex being more prevalent in the news, movies, and even in children’s programming, it should be no surprise that more parents are discovering their teenagers taking their curiosity one step further and into the world of full-blown pornography.

Reacting Appropriately

Discoveries like this often lead to knee-jerk reactions by parents. Consider these tips for handling your reaction to finding your child watching porn:

  • Calm down before approaching your teenager. Even the best-prepared parent is bound to be emotional in this situation and talking immediately will probably not be very effective.
  • Get your thoughts straight. Most parents’ first reaction to their teen viewing porn is to think there’s something wrong. In reality, viewing porn online is not uncommon. Studies show that 42% of Internet users, ages 10 to 17, report having seen online porn at least once in the past 12 months.
  • Be open to discussion. It’s important to realize that teenagers will naturally be curious about sex. Approaching the conversation with the intention of easing that curiosity, rather than being accusatory, will make everything much more productive.

Handling the Conversation

This is “The Conversation” – the one every parent fears from the moment their child is born. It’s probably going to awkward. It may be uncomfortable for one or both of you; but in the end it can be a pivotal conversation in your child’s development. Try these tips for making it easier:

  • Help them to understand they’re not in trouble. Make the focus more about educating them correctly about sex, rather than making it about punishing them.
  • Invite them to ask questions. Since curiosity is often the biggest factor in these scenarios, it’s important to be open to your child’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Consider starting the conversation in the car, where it’s easy to talk without making eye contact. Just make sure you’re close to home so your teenager doesn’t feel trapped by the confines of the car if they’re uncomfortable.
  • Accept that they may not want to talk with you. This is highly likely and forcing the issue isn’t going to help anything.
  • Consider alternative resources for educating your teenager. If they’re not open to a discussion, you might try casually leaving education materials around or even providing them with information they might be better able to relate to. There are great for-teenagers-by-teenagers resources available nowadays.
  • Explain the real concern with these teen issues, which is not that a teenager may be looking at porn…instead, the focus for this conversation should be keeping their understanding of sex grounded in real life. Some important aspects to discuss are:
    • Realistic body expectations. Help them to understand that porn actors’ bodies are often drastically modified by makeup, surgery, and by other methods, and are unrealistic portrayals of the average person.
    • The emotional side of sex which typically has no representation in pornographic materials.
    • The “every day” side of sex and how it differs from the fantastical elements they see in porn. An easy comparison might be pointing out the differences between how life is portrayed in blockbuster action movies versus what they see in their everyday lives.
    • The fact that some online porn sites show hardcore sex, sexual violence, and perversions. Help your teenagers understand that these sites do not generally reflect real life and aren’t made to be watched by teens, in any case.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss the feelings that porn can generate. It’s important for teenagers to understand this and how those feelings can be addictive.
  • Discuss the differences between viewing sites and interactive sites, such as social media and chat rooms, where topics related to porn may come up. It’s important for them to know about sexual predators and the risks that can be involved in these types of interactions.
  • Set some guidelines. Just as there are places you would consider dangerous in the real world, your teenager needs to understand that there are dangerous places in the virtual world. Help them to understand that you will be monitoring their computer usage while still trying to protect their privacy.

Still having a hard time coping with this change in your teenager’s life? For more tips about teen issues and approaching your teenager about online porn, 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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Cell Phone Addiction

In today’s world of technology and social media, smartphones have become the technological equivalent of heroin. And just like heroin or any other drug, smartphones can become addicting. Most of us turn to our phones when we’re happy, sad, bored, or angry. Our phones are always there for us when we need them. And, as with any other “drug,” that can be a cause for concern. A cell phone addiction can separate us from our loved ones, stress us out, negatively impact our careers, and damage our relationships.

Addiction vs. Overuse

According to recent studies, 90% of Americans would fall into the category of overusing or abusing their smartphones, while between 10 – 12% can be diagnosed with an actual addiction. Other shocking cell phone related statistics include:

  • 70% of people say they check their phone within 1 hour of getting out of bed.
  • 56% check their phone within 1 hour of going to sleep.
  • 51% check their phone continuously while on vacation.
  • 44% said they’d experience a great deal of anxiety if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

Sound familiar? As always, the first step to solving a problem is realizing you have one. A good cell phone addiction test is to read through the following list to see how it relates to you and your daily life. If you find that more than just one or two items apply, you may be addicted to using your smart phone.

The signs of possible cell phone addiction or abuse include:

  • Spending more time on your smartphone than you realized or mindlessly passing time staring at it even when there are more productive things you could be doing.
  • Spending more time texting, emailing, or tweeting others as opposed to talking to real people.
  • Sleeping with your phone under your pillow or beside your bed.
  • Answering texts, emails, etc. at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting something else you were doing or diverting your attention from something that requires focus and concentration.
  • Secretly wishing you could be less wired or connected to your phone.
  • Feeling ill-at-ease or anxious if you accidentally leave your phone behind somewhere or if it’s broken or lost.
  • Giving your phone a permanent place-setting at the table during dinner time.
  • Feeling an intense urge to check your phone any time it beeps or buzzes.

Managing Your Phone Usage

If you are concerned about overuse or addiction to your cell phone it may be wise to take a few steps toward managing the problem:

  • Try to resist answering your phone every time you get a notification. Avoid temptation by putting your phone on silent (with no vibrate) for a while.
  • Be disciplined about not using your phone in certain situations, such as meetings, family dinners, driving, or during certain hours (for example, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.).
  • Try removing apps that are not a priority. Accept that you don’t need to have access to everything all the time. Some applications might be more appropriate for your computer or laptop than your phone.
  • Take advantage of Airplane Mode. This is a quick, simple way of turning off notifications on your phone, while still having the ability to take pictures and access local files.
  • Add an app that can help. As ironic as it may sound, there are apps you can use – such as BreakFree or StayOnTask – which will help you limit your smartphone usage.

The important thing to focus on when facing smartphone addiction or overuse is the impact this issue may be having on your life. To a degree, this issue has become an accepted part of society. So many of us deal with smartphones on a day-to-day basis it’s easy to disregard this as being no big deal. If you suspect otherwise, open yourself up to loved ones to ask their true opinions on the subject. Conversely, if you have a loved one who has fallen victim to smartphone abuse or addiction, voice your concerns to help make them aware that a problem may exist.

If either of these situations fit you and the tips above haven’t worked, it might be time to speak with a professional to discuss more specific steps. To get more information and help for breaking a cell phone addiction, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or contact Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Coping Mechanisms for Overcoming Holiday Stress

Once again it’s that time of year for holiday music, joyful giving, and memorable parties. Unfortunately, however, holiday cheer is not always as easy to find as one would think. In fact, the holiday season is often the time of year that anxiety, stress, and depression is highest for many people.

It makes sense when you think about some of the factors that come along with most people’s holidays. Consider these triggers, which can cause a spike in anxiety and holiday stress during this festive season:

  • Going home – Returning to your childhood home can bring up associated unhappy memories and old anxieties.
  • Relatives – Most people have at least one family member they avoid throughout the year because of the toxicity that person brings to social interactions. Family gatherings during the holidays often mean these less-than-cheerful reunions will occur.
  • Life changes – This is the time of year where people tend to reflect on the previous year and the major changes that have happened, such as divorces or deaths in the family. The seasonal cheer and happiness often opens the door to anxiety and depression when these thoughts come up.
  • Holiday parties – This is the time when we are expected to attend office parties or get-togethers with friends and neighbors. Crowded rooms and large groups of people can be difficult to face for anyone, but these types of gatherings can be especially difficult for those suffering from social anxiety disorder, even if they are not the center of attention.
  • Routine – While focusing on changes are difficult for some, focusing on routine and the sameness of family tradition can be a struggle for others. Visiting the same homes, going through the same conversations, and having the same dinners can demonstrate a monotony that makes people feel like their lives are stuck in a rut.
  • Lowered Defenses – The holidays come at a time when the weather is changing, flu is rampant, and holiday engagements leave us sleep-deprived. It’s no wonder that our body’s defenses are not up to the rigors of fighting the anxiety that can come around at this time.
  • Travel – People have to face the crowds and travel issues that make them avoid traveling the rest of the year. And, for someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder or a fear of flying, holiday travel can bring up extreme distress and worry.

Holiday Coping Mechanisms

While it’s easy to see how this time of year can provoke anxiety and stress in a number of people, there is good news. There are a number of holiday coping mechanisms you can use to ease your way through the holiday stress:

  • Accept imperfection. Oftentimes, we idealize the holiday season and envision a movie-like perfection to how it will go. Perfection is not reality and realizing this early will go a long way in preventing holiday stress.
  • Don’t look to alcohol or drugs for relief. While this may seem like an easy solution in the moment, it often makes things worse in the long run.
  • Reach out to others. When holiday depression starts to sneak in, look for relief in the company of others. The holidays are filled with religious and community events that often make it easier to seek social support.
  • Maintain healthy habits. People correlate the holidays with weight gain and unhealthy eating but it doesn’t have to be that way. Loading up on baked goods and fattening meals can lead to negative self-thoughts. Look for healthier alternatives instead.
  • Stick to a budget. Financial concerns are one of the leading stressors for this time of year. Whatever your financial situation is, set a budget and stick with it to maintain control of your situation.

Coping with Holiday Travel Fears

One of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the holidays is the dreaded travel to family events. Traffic delays, crowded airports, and overflowing train stations can bring about an entirely different type of stress, especially if you already suffer from a fear of flying or of crowds. Just like with any other anxieties, however, there are ways to confront and overcome these fears:

  • Plan and confirm all details – Organization is the best way to ensure your travel plans will go as smoothly as possible.
  • Think ahead – Oftentimes, giving voice to your anxiety is the best way to address it. What are you stressing about? Make a list of all your concerns and pre-plan ways to overcome them so you’ll be prepared if the worst happens.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you’re flying and claustrophobic, don’t be afraid to ask for an aisle seat. If you have a fear of flying, let the flight attendant know when you board so they can help make your flight more comfortable. Asking for help can provide more relief than suffering alone in silence.

Ultimately, if you find holiday stress is becoming overwhelming despite the recommendations listed above, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your holiday season does not need to be ruined because of stress, anxiety, or depression. If you or someone you know is unable to cope with the holiday burdens, it may be time to reach out to a professional.

To get more information and help for holiday stress, anxiety, or depression, 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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College Students: Why Are We Seeing an Increase in Psychological Disorders?

College is supposed to be the highlight of young adult lives. It represents a time for independence, new experiences, and carefree living before the “real world” and true responsibilities kick in. So why is it that today’s college students are so susceptible to so many mental health concerns?

The statistics related to psychological disorders and mental health concerns among college students have become so alarming that many are referring to it as a mental health crisis. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 1 in 4 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental condition.
  • More than 64% of young adults who are no longer in college are no longer attending because of a mental health related reason.
  • Over 30% of students meet the criteria for an alcohol abuse diagnosis.
  • A 2006 survey showed nearly 20% of students had eating disorders whereas a study in the 1980s revealed only 4-5% of students with this concern.
  • The suicide rate for young adults ages 15-24 has tripled since the 1950s.
  • A 2013 survey found that 57% of college women and 40% of college men reported “overwhelming anxiety” in the year leading up to the study.
  • Students are facing college depression. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that, in 2011, the American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment (ACHA–NCHA—a nationwide survey of college students at 2- and 4-year institutions—found that about 30 % of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year.
  • 95% of college counseling center directors state that there are growing concerns on their campus with the number of students who demonstrate significant psychological problems.

What’s Different for Today’s College Student?

There has always been a certain amount of phase of life adjustment anxiety that goes along with leaving a familiar setting and going off to college. But, what could explain why the numbers associated with psychological concerns among college students have risen so greatly over recent years? Surely colleges have always had the same high standards with regard to homework and reports? While that may be true there are, in fact, quite a few factors that could be contributing to these statistical increases:

  • Technology – while one could argue that technology makes college student’s lives easier, it also provides high potential for chaos, information overload, and hyper-connectivity, which can all combine to create additional stress.
  • Lack of family structure – in today’s fast-paced, divorce-heavy world it can be challenging to find young adults who have a stable, reliable family system. When they’re thrust into the new realm of college living this lack of guidance and support can lead to increased mental health concerns.
  • Early education concerns – many studies show that students entering college today are not as prepared for it academically as they should be. Bridging that gap between their lack of knowledge and increased expectations of college versus high school can play a huge role in the psychological issues we see today.
  • Overprotective parents – in today’s world of participation trophies and overindulgent, parents, children are often not prepared to cope with disappointment or negative feedback. This can lead to them entering the college world completely unprepared for higher education’s normal challenges and the resiliency to adjust to them.
  • Economic pressures – high unemployment and a tough economic climate mean parents are less able to help their children with the financial responsibilities of college. Along with this comes an increase in students working in addition to school, and additional issues for them to worry about.

How Can You Help?

Today’s college student needs to understand that it’s okay to talk about the difficulties they’re facing. Even as society becomes more open to discussing mental health concerns there is still a lot of stigma attached to the subject and it can be scary for students to admit there’s a problem. As many of the above factors show, lack of structure and guidance also plays a big role in the psychological troubles of our students. Knowing they have support and understanding can give students a way to plant their feet in and work toward resolving their issues. Take time to help them learn how to prioritize and structure their new responsibilities so they can reduce the chaos that surrounds them.

In some situations, the best resolution will be to seek professional help. A therapist or other mental health professional can help students get to the root of their problems and provide coping techniques that will allow them to move confidently through the rest of their college years.

If you know a college student who is struggling with college phase of life adjustment anxiety or if you need help yourself, 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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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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Infidelity: Has it Increased Since the Internet?

Affairs are nothing new in the world of relationships but since the invention of the internet, do you think the ability to be online from anywhere and at any time has increased the chances of you, your spouse, or your significant other having an affair? In other words, has cyber-space made it easier than ever to cheat within a marriage or a relationship? Overwhelmingly, the answer is “yes”.

In 1998, prior to the Internet, the University of California conducted a study on infidelity and found that 14 percent of women and 24 percent of men had been unfaithful to their spouse. In 2014, the Associated Press’ Journal of Marital and Family Therapy reported that in 41% of marriages, one or both spouses have admitted to infidelity (either physical or emotional). So, what is it about the internet that has raised those statistics?

What Has Changed Since the Internet?

  • Many people don’t feel that an online affair is a “real” affair
  • Social media sites make it easy for people to contact each other and engage in flirting through online chatting, emailing, and messaging
  • Social media sites give people a way to get back in touch with exes, prior flings, and The One The Got Away
  • There are thousands of online dating sites, including those that are set up specifically for people who are looking to cheat
  • The Internet offers both anonymity and a way to reinvent yourself, making it easy for people to live a secret life
  • The internet offers ready access to pornography

What Counts as Cheating?

Cheating means different things to different people: some people don’t feel they are cheating if they engage in any form of sexual behavior as long as they don’t have intercourse, while others feel that something as simple as flirting is a form of cheating. Basically, cheating happens when your partner goes beyond your feelings and beliefs about what type of contact is appropriate with another person. If their behavior is unacceptable to you and you feel betrayed, then they have violated your trust.

The best thing to do is to have a frank discussion with your spouse or significant other about what each of you considers to be cheating (online or otherwise) before a problem comes up. Set rules down for each other so you both know where the boundaries are and will know if your behavior is crossing the line.

  • Your significant other spends a lot of time online and they close out the screen when you walk into the room (or consistently keep the monitor turned away from you)
  • They spend excessive amounts of time chatting with online friends or are up all night on the computer
  • They are secretive about who they are communicating with online
  • They won’t connect with you online (for example: you aren’t their Facebook friend or they won’t let you follow them on Twitter)
  • They password-protect their computers and their phones and won’t give you those passwords
  • Checking their Favorites tab or looking at their browser history shows they are visiting chat sites or dating sites. Or, if their browser history is always cleared, it could be a sign of an online affair

Have Questions? Need Help?

First, don’t accuse them unless you have proof! Talk to them to try to get some of your questions answered. Then, if you still think your spouse or significant other is cheating, see a professional therapist to uncover the reasons behind the problem and to determine if the relationship is worth salvaging.

To get more information and help for infidelity and online affairs, 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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