Anatomy of Mental Health (Episode 99)

Joy.Youth.Sky.Blue.Sun.Shine. Sunshine.Happiness by irina`

Joy.Youth.Sky.Blue.Sun.Shine. Sunshine.Happiness by irina`

Doctors Brian and Giuseppe speak to child psychiatrist and co-founder of ementalhealth.ca, Dr. Michael Cheng, about anxiety, sensory processing problems, and how parents can find information about mental health problems.

What are the most common mental health concerns?

Are there general strategies for parents who want to help their kids cope with worry?

What are sensory processing problems, and how are they treated? Dr. Cheng recommends SPD Foundation for more information.

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Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for education only, and are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor.

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Childhood Anxiety, Part 5: Taking action to control fear

IAN HOOTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYWhat’s your first reaction when approaching an anxiety-provoking situation? As adults, many of us can take a deep breath, grit our teeth, and face our fear – if we couldn’t, there would be a sharp decline in the number of presentations at staff meetings. When kids feel afraid, though, many parents’ first reaction is often to protect them – to remove them from the source of their fear so they can feel better! But how can parents help their kids learn to control their anxiety instead so they can overcome fear? This week, we’ve written about how kids can monitor and manage anxious thoughts and physical reactions to stress, but avoidance of fearful situations may be one of the biggest obstacles to coping with anxiety for both children and adults.

Anatomy of Gratitude (FA Retro)

Gratitude
Gratitude

thank you note for every language by woodleywonderworks

Doctors Brian and Giuseppe discuss gratitude. For centuries, spiritual leaders and philosophers have been aware of the importance of gratitude. In the past 15 to 20 years, the effect of gratitude on mental health has been a topic of discussion among psychologists and other therapists. This week:

  • the development of gratitude in children
  • the social impact of gratitude, in relationships and in communities
  • is gratitude an antidote to aggression?
  • how gratitude affects people who are dealing with depression and anxiety
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You can also get your free podcast subscription in iTunes. If you use iTunes, you can leave a review!

Leave us a comment, or you can e-mail suggestions or questions to [email protected]. Vote for The Family Anatomy blog at Blogger’s Choice!

Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for education only, and are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor. Doctors Brian and Giuseppe discussed kids in general in this episode, but every child is unique; your experience may vary from that discussed in this episode.

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Stuck in the Middle: Parental conflict and kids' emotions

Parental ConflictA study in the new issue of the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that kids who get pulled into their parents’ conflicts are at a higher risk for developing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Cheryl Buehler of the University of South Carolina and Deborah Welsh of the University of Tennessee followed over 400 11 to 14 year-olds over three years. Parents completed questionnaires rating their own and their spouse’s tendency to “involve the child in disagreements” between the parents. They also rated their child’s emotional difficulties and behaviour problems. Youth in the study provided information about their own emotions and behaviours as well. In addition, the parents were observed by the researchers, who rated marital hostility and “harshness” toward the youth.

The results indicated that kids whose parents bring them into their disagreements (a situation that the researchers called “triangulation”) were more likely to report “internalizing problems,” such as sadness, worry, loss of pleasure, feelings of worthlessness, social withdrawal, and physical symptoms without a physical cause. Ongoing triangulation was linked to more severe internalizing problems three years later, even above initially-reported difficulties – this is the first longitudinal study that I’m aware of that looked at the potential impact of triangulation. Including information from parents, youth, and observers makes these results pretty compelling!

It may not be surprising to readers that kids whose parents pull them into their arguments have emotional problems – Dr. G said more or less the same thing yesterday in his post on parental conflict. Buehler and Welsh had more to say, however. They also looked at the emotional reactivity of the young people, which they described as chronic stress and dysregulation of emotions and behaviour in response to parental conflict. Reactivity was the link between triangulation and depression/anxiety. That is, being pulled into their parents’ arguments created chronic stress and emotional confusion for the youth, who then reported more depression and anxiety years later. Other researchers have proposed that the natural response for youth in these situations is to invest energy in maintaining the parents’ marriage, at the expense of normal developmental tasks, such as increasing their independence.