FA014 – Anatomy of Divorce

Doctors Brian, Giuseppe, and Richard discuss divorce, and how to minimize (as much as possible) the negative impact of separation on kids.

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Childhood Anxiety, Part 4: Controlling reactions to stress


Photo by Rotorhead

When I’m worried about something, it’s more than a feeling – it’s a physical sensation, and it isn’t pleasant. My clenched jaw and the tightness between my shoulders always come along when I’m feeling stressed. Other people might feel their heart race or their hands become sweaty. Sometimes these physical reactions lead people to feel more anxious. Someone who is having a panic attack might interpret their racing heart as a signal that they’re going to die! Many of us learn to recognize how our bodies react to stressful situations, and hopefully we’ve learned to manage both the stress and the effect it has on us physically. That learning takes time, though, and anxious kids are often unaware of their body’s stress signals.

On Tuesday, I wrote about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, and how many therapists teach their clients to pay attention to their thoughts, their physical reactions, and their behaviour when they feel anxious. Changes in one or more of these areas is thought to help people to feel better. Yesterday, Dr. G posted some ideas about anxious thought patterns, but how can kids manage their body’s response to stress?

Body Image, Part 1: How kids can learn to like their looks

Ian Hooton-Science Photo Library

Kids' Body Image: Ian Hooton-Science Photo LibraryBody image concerns can have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of children and teens. While parents may be legitimately concerned about their kids’ weight, some children are becoming preoccupied about their bodies, comparing them unfavourably to those of celebrities or even to their friends. This week, Family Anatomy will be writing and talking about body image issues, to provide parents with ideas and information to address what seems to be a growing concern.

A recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology reported that about 40% of elementary school-aged girls and 25% of boys are dissatisfied with their bodies; other researchers have found different rates, but body dissatisfaction appears to be a relatively common problem, and the age at which it occurs may be dropping. Links have been found between poor body image and emotional distress, smoking, steroid use, social anxiety, and eating disorders. In the U.S., the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders (ANAD) reports that 7 to 10 million women and 1 million men are affected by eating disorders, with 86% indicating an onset before age 20. A story in the Chicago Tribune suggested that the average age when eating disorders develop has dropped from 13-17 to 9-13 years!

Social anxiety and social judgment

The July 2008 issue of Behaviour Research and Therapy will include a study examining how 11 to 13 year-olds with social anxiety symptoms interpret positive and negative social situations.

Youth who scored higher on a questionnaire measuring social anxiety symptoms were more likely than low-scorers to view a positive social scenario as lacking credibility or being unrealistic. High-scorers also tended to “catastrophize” or to view mildly negative scenarios as being extremely negative. They expected more negative emotional reactions to the mildly negative events.

You can’t read more yet, since the issue isn’t yet available, but eventually you’ll find it here.