Therapy That Works...

The Higher Risk of Suicide In The Baby Boomer Generation - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss the recent teen suicides in Rockwall, TX and why suicide is more common in the Baby Boomer generation - click here.

Anxiety - What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Generalized Anxiety Disorder looks like and what you can do to help - click here.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects over 6 million Americans every day.

They live with constant worry, unending concerns, and ongoing apprehension about the future. To escape their crushing anxiety, they withdraw from other people and avoid the things that make them anxious.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or G.A.D., grows over time and is built on every negative experience in a person’s life. Since it often begins in childhood, most sufferers wait 25 years before reaching out for professional help.

Here are a few important points about Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Paired Disorders:

Ninety percent (90%) of G.A.D. sufferers have some kind of co-existing mental health disorder. Around 42% of people suffering with G.A.D. also have issues with depression, and one disorder usually is more prominent than the other.

Double Trouble:

Women tend to develop generalized anxiety at twice the rates of men. The rates of depression and anxiety double for girls around puberty, so their anxious thinking habits are more likely to take root in their teens and grow over time.

Suspicious Minds:

One of the principle features of generalized anxiety disorder is the tendency to worry and ruminate. Worry is a prominent characteristic of G.A.D. and occurs in 40 to 60% of cases. The worry creates a vicious cycle - we worry to soothe our own anxiety, which only makes the fear grow. If your mind is tied up with worrying all the time, you have little energy to rest, learn, or implement more effective ways of coping.

Intolerable Uncertainty:

Anxious minds cannot tolerate uncertainty or ambiguity. They have difficulty with leaving loose ends or having a lack of closure. They lack confidence in their ability to handle adversity or the unexpected, so they worry constantly to prepare for anything.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be a very serious condition. If you are worried that someone you know may be living with an anxiety disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Robert Leahy, Stephen J.F. Holland and Lata McGinn, Guilford Press, 2012.

Wittchen, H. U., Zhao, S., Kessler, R. C., and Eaton, W.W. 1994, DSM III-R Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey, Archieves of General Psychiatiry, 51/(5), 355-364

Rubio, G. and Lopez-Ibor, J.J. 2007, Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A 40 year follow up study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinaviaca, 115 (5), 372-379

Blazer, D., George, L., and Winfield, I. 1991, Epidemiologic data and planning mental health services: A tale of two surveys. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 26, 21-27.

Breslau, N and Davis, G.C., 1985, DSM-III generalized anxiety disorder: An empirical investiagation of more stringent criteria. Psychiatry Research, 15, 231-238.

Kessler, R.C., Walters, E.E. and Witchen, H.U. 2004, Epidemiology. In R.G. Heimberg, C.L. Turk, and D.S. Mennin (Eds) Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Advances in research and practice (pp29 to 50). New York: Guildord Press.

Butler, G, Fennerll, M., Robson, P and Gelder, M. 1991, Comparison of behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy in the treatment of generalized anxity disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 167-175.

Rapee, R.M. 1991, Psychological Factors involved in generalized anxiety. In R.M. Rapee and D. H. Barlow (Eds.) Chronic Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety disorder and mixed anxiety depression (pp. 76-94). New York: Guilford Press.

Intolerance of Uncertainty and Problem Orientation n Worry, Michael Dugas, Mark Freeston, Robert Ladouceur, Cognitive Threrapy and Research, Vol 21, no 6, 1997, pgs. 593-606

The Rising Adult Suicide Rate - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 03, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the rising adult suicide rate and what you can do to help - click here.

Teens and the elderly are no longer the most likely to commit suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a report that found an almost 30% increase in the suicide rate among middle-age adults (ages 35-64). The top three methods of committing suicide among adults were poisoning, suffocation or hanging, and firearm.

Over the last decade, the adult suicide rate has grown at an alarming rate.

Suicide rates spiked a few decades ago when the baby boomer generation hit their teenage years, and the suicide trend has followed the boomer generation as they have aged. As many boomers are being confronted by unique mid-life challenges like dual caregiving for children and their parents, their own health problems, and one of the toughest economic climates in decades, they may be more likely to commit suicide.

If you are concerned about someone you know, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Frequent thoughts about death and dying
  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Trouble with or uninterested in eating or sleeping
  • Suddenly making end of life arrangements
  • Drastic changes in behavior or daily activities
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities
  • Loss of interest in work or hobbies
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unnecessary risk taking
  • Loss of interest in their appearance
  • Previous suicide attempts

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

American Psychological Association, “Suicide Warning Signs”, (http://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/signs.aspx)

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide Among Adults Aged 35-64 Years – United States, 1999-2010”, (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm?s_cid=mm6217a1_w)

Trauma - Long Lasting Effects of Childhood Trauma - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how an early childhood trauma could derail your own child's future - click here.

Traumatic events can be devastating especially if they occur in childhood.

Many children who experience trauma early in life develop what psychologists call implicit memories—memories that are nonverbal or difficult to put into words. They exist in the mind more as a feeling than as a series of descriptive words. Trauma is encoded at a deep level that is especially destabilizing emotionally. Children lack the more sophisticated coping skills of adults and cannot defend themselves psychologically against traumatic events beyond their control.

A trauma condition can shape the entire character of a child’s personality.

He may view the world as a frightening place where danger is inevitable. Vital psychological energy that is needed for normal developmental tasks is drained by their efforts to deal with the trauma. The child’s mind is de-regulated at an early age. When a child’s developing mind is deregulated, they may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and continued trauma throughout their lives.

Left untreated, childhood trauma can become a defining event.

Traumatized children regularly experience anxiety and panic and the attacks can come out of nowhere and reduce their self-confidence. They lose confidence in their ability to control themselves and their emotions.

Many survivors of childhood trauma have difficulty regulating their emotions later in life. They have devastating emotional pain but they lack the skills to deal with the tsunami of emotions that can quickly overwhelm them. Triggers begin the downward cascade of emotions and can compromise their attention and concentration. They can make permanent negative conclusions about themselves that have nothing to do with reality.

Trauma is a very serious issue. If you think your child may be experiencing trauma, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Source:

“Principles of Trauma Therapy” by John Briere, Ph.D. and Catherine Scott, M.D.

Trauma - Secondary Trauma - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how first responders and even those watching the news can develop symptoms of psychological trauma - click here.

Secondary trauma is a special risk for professionals involved in responding first to the scene of violence and destruction.

Despite their focus on managing the scene and assisting those in need, they also become participants in the events leaving them uniquely exposed to trauma. While they witness firsthand the consequences of tragic events such as terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, and deliberate acts of violence, their brains begin to absorb and record the tragedy in front of them.

About 50% of those who are routinely exposed to traumatic events develop their own anxiety and trauma. Sometimes, they can develop symptoms similar to the original victims.

Some of the symptoms of secondary trauma include:

  • Emotional deregulation
  • Intrusive thoughts and memories about the event
  • Hyper-vigilance or constantly being on guard
  • Psychological numbing
  • A shift in their explanatory view toward more negative, pessimistic, and darker beliefs

Secondary trauma is more likely to occur in people who have experienced trauma before. In addition, the ill effects of secondary trauma may accumulate over time. If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing the effects of trauma, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Source:

The work of Dr. John Briere

Emotional Trauma From The Boston Marathon Bombings - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how to deal with emotional trauma from the Boston Marathon bombings - click here.

Growing Kids Strong - Childhood Depression - By Chris Gearing

Monday, March 11, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia describe childhood depression and how it can affect your child's future success - click here.

Childhood depression can be an overwhelming concern for parents and educators who witness young children retreating into depressive, anxious behaviors.

Often our children are stuck in full clinical depression before we really understand what is happening. Even though we may have experienced depression ourselves or had a friend or family member that was depressed, it is painful and confusing to see our child developing a full scale mood disorder. Unfortunately, children cannot always articulate their thoughts and feelings. They are unable to tell us why they are so sad. It’s important that you educate yourself on the signs of childhood depression to prevent it from damaging your child’s life.

There are several reasons why childhood depression needs to be taken so seriously:

Life-Long Beliefs:

In childhood, most of us are learning how to interpret our environment and to be as accurate as possible. During this critical point in life, kids are creating belief systems and coping skills based on what they are experiencing in the moment. If life is regularly tumultuous, if there is severe anxiety due to trauma or loss, or if there is an underlying endogenous depression that goes unaddressed, the child may not accurately develop the explanatory view. Such inaccurate beliefs can last a lifetime and cause tremendous heartache.

Misinterpreted Behaviors:

With an underlying endogenous depression, a young child can be overwhelmed with their crushing negative beliefs. Many adults who developed depression as kids report that the world turned dark and gray at an early age. Parents can misinterpret such suffering as normal shyness or withdrawal. Depression robs a child of the chance to develop better coping skills and to face developmental challenges.

Social and Academic Withdrawal:

Children with depression often feel tired and depleted, and they are reluctant to engage with their peers socially. School avoidance is another common problem for kids with depression. If your brain is sad, it is difficult to focus and deal with all of the social and academic pressures of the classroom.

Permanent Labels:

Kids are already quick to label their peers, and depressed children tend to act grumpy and avoidant. Unfortunately, labels can become self-fulfilling prophecies as the child struggles with depression and how they feel about themselves. The negative labels become a familiar identity and children are prone to increasingly shut out their peers in an effort to avoid further criticism.

Now if you are concerned about a child, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Feeling persistently sad
  • Talking about suicide or being better off dead
  • Rapid mood swings such as becoming irritable all of a sudden
  • Showing a marked deterioration in academics or home life
  • Attempting to avoid school by making up illnesses or visiting the school nurse too regularly
  • Stopping previously fun activities or no longer seeing friends
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

Childhood and adolescent depression are very serious. If you are worried about you or someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Optimistic Child" by Dr. Martin Seligman

The National Alliance on Mental Illness website (www.nami.org)

The Back To School Bullying Epidemic - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss Back To School Bullying and what you can do about it - click here.

Bullying has become a serious mental health issue for millions of American families with up to 30% of students reporting their involvement in some sort of bullying as either the bully, the victim, or a bystander. The devastating consequences of bullying can turn deadly with 2/3 of school shooters reporting that they were being chronically bullied at school.

What are the specific characteristics of bullying?

Intentional Harm: Bullying in childhood is an aggressive form of intimidation that marginalizes the best of children while deeply scarring them psychologically. It is a repeated attempt to harm and to emphasize a humiliating imbalance of power and influence.

Bullying Begins Early: Research reports that almost 34% of elementary school students reported being frequently bullied at school.

Middle School Peaks: Bullying peaks in middle school. Seventh grade is the worst year.

Group Bullying: Bullying is usually a group activity. Studies show that a single child does not usually victimize kids. Bullying involves both active and passive participation by a group. The kids adopt a mob mentality as they team together to ridicule or emotionally torture another child.

Popular Kids Often Bully: Kids use the bullying of others to gain status and to exhibit their intimidation skills.

Here's why a child would begin bullying others in the first place:

Modeling their Parents: They are often victims of physical and emotional bullying at home and have parents who have problems with anger and self control. They identify with the aggressor and inflict pain to establish internal self-control.

Intimidation and Revenge Justified by Parents: Parents who tend to intimidate others rear kids who do the same. Bulling others becomes a justified behavior. Family values that include rudeness, entitlement, the intimidation of others, revenge, character assault of others or deliberate treachery create children who are much more likely to engage in bullying.

Bullies Know Difference Between Right and Wrong: The research about bullies reveals that most of the time they know exactly what they are doing. They simply lack a conscience. They understand the differences between right and wrong and commit the act anyway. They will lie, cheat and steal to avoid punishment and are deceptive with others. Although some studies suggest that around 40% of them have some mild empathy, another 40% are indifferent to the suffering of their victims and 20% actively enjoy the intimidation and control.

But what about the recent surge of online bullying?

Anonymous Bullies: The common denominator of all bullying is the intentional act to inflict pain on another person by emphasizing the imbalance of power. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet is ideal for such vicious behavior. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2006, one third of students are targets at some point.

Cyber Bullying Turns Dangerous: Most of the time, cyber bullying involves gossip and rude comments that do not express direct intent to harm. Around 50% of online bullies report that they inflict such cruelty “for fun” and to “teach the target a lesson.” However, a study published in 2006 reported that 12% of teens were physically threatened online and 5% actually feared for their physical safety.

We all know that bullying can have life long traumatic effects on a victim, but research shows that bullies and bystanders are also deeply effected by the act of bullying:

Three Victims: Words are weapons and psychological harm is as severe as a broken bone. Bullying involves three victims—the bully, the recipient of the bullying and the witnesses to such cruelty.

Victims Develop Serious Depression and Helplessness: Victims report more internal problems such as depression and anxiety.

Bullies and a Lifelong Pattern of Oppositional Behavior: Bullies have more conduct problems, anger and develop alienation from school and the community. Chronic oppositional behavior is typical of such children leading to a lifetime of hardship.

Bystanders Grow Apathetic and Uncaring: Witnesses become desensitized to the suffering of others and do not take responsibility for allowing such cruelty to occur.

The long-term effects of bullying for all groups can be severe with protracted trauma, depression and resentment stretching into the adult years.

Increased Suicidal Ideation: Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found a significant connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in a review of 37 studies from 13 countries. Bullying victims were much more likely to think about suicide.

Here's what you can do to help your child with bullying at school:

Stop Denying: Many adults prefer to view bullying as a normal “rite of passage” through childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are millions of victims who no longer believe that adults are going to protect them and they suffer in silence.

Bystanders Are Key: Research now argues that the bystanders of bullying are one of the vital keys to decreasing this growing problem. Teaching non-bullied kids to speak up, to refuse to be an audience, to label bullying publicly and to go and get help when the situation is out of control are essential steps for parents and teachers.

Empower the Victims: Believe your child about bullying. Victims are renowned for responding ineffectively through withdrawal, denial, silence and passivity. Such behaviors “feed” the bully’s control. We need to develop the victim’s talents, social skills, physical coordination and assertive abilities. He needs to be reassured that adults will take his complaints seriously and that he must report harassment. These are teachable skills and they increase self-confidence exponentially.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics

"Bullying and Teasing: Social Power in Children’s Groups," Gayle Macklem, Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York, 2003. Cowie and Wallace (2006)

Patchin, J.W., and Hinduja, S. (2006) Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyber bullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148-169.

Swearer, S., Espeleage, D., Napolitano, S. "Bullying: Prevention and Intervention," 2009

The Colorado Theater Massacre - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss the Aurora, Colorado shooting massacre and what could have been done to help prevent it - click here.

Depression or Dehydration? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, June 04, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on YouTube.com explain why you don't need to buy energy drinks, all you need is a drink of water - click here.

Millions of Americans spend countless dollars every year trying to perk themselves up. Whether it’s through a pill, a coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop, or an energy drink, most of us are looking for a silver bullet to pick us up out of our slumps and give us the energy to finish the day.

According to a recent study, you may be wasting your money on drinks and pills. If you’re dehydrated, you may show higher signs of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and loss of vigor. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your work day and you might save yourself a load of coffee money.

SOURCE:

Men’s Health, Apr 2012 digital edition


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