|Counseling and Psychiatric Services for Adolescents and Young Adults
Posts Tagged ‘Health’
Monday, May 20th, 2013
Exercise regularly to help maintain physical as well as mental health. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This May, join us in celebrating National Mental Health Month by raising awareness about mental health issues and helping everyone understand the benefits of treating mental health conditions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 out of 4 adults in America suffers from a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. This means that mental health issues affect us all, either directly and indirectly. This month, commit to learning more about our country’s mental health challenges and to taking steps in your own life to work towards wellness.
The focus of this year’s campaign is wellness. Many times, when confronted with mental health conditions, our focus narrows to getting healthy. While this is an important part of the process, the goal for every American is not only to achieve a healthy mental state, but to maintain that mental health as well. By shifting the focus from getting better to staying better, the campaign aims to help everyone, even those without mental health issues, understand how important an attitude of wellness is to maintaining both your physical and mental health.
Wellness, like health, can mean different things to different people. At the core, it is the absence of disease but it is also much more than simply not being sick. Wellness is about our overall well-being. It involves more than just our mental health. It is about achieving a state of health physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It is the tools and techniques we develop that help us overcome adversity, manage change, and recover from illnesses of all kinds. Wellness is about getting healthy and staying that way.
The numbers tell a story that most of us don’t like to hear. No matter how happy we are, how successful we feel, how much money we make, or how healthy we feel today, we are all at risk of developing a mental health disorder. While this may be something we think happens to other people, the truth is that is happens to all of us and the best way to safeguard ourselves is to pay attention to our overall well-being. When we are taking care of ourselves and making sure our most important needs are being met, we are working towards wellness.
The national campaign stresses the following four steps as the key to following your own Pathway to Wellness:
- Eat a balanced diet filled with healthy food and plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly to help combat stress and increase resilience.
- Remember to relax, to laugh, and to let go.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
In addition to these four steps on the Pathway to Wellness, commit to making your mental health as important as your physical health. Make regular mental health checkups part of your overall health management plan and make it a habit to monitor your own mental and emotional well-being.
Take time this month to lend your voice to the awareness campaign and encourage everyone in your life to seek their own Pathway to Wellness.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
As a parent, do you know the warning signs of eating disorders? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Millions of people in the U.S. are impacted by eating disorders every year. This includes those suffering from the eating disorder as well as their family members and friends. Unfortunately, many people who have these disorders do not get the help, support, and treatment they need to be healthy. Recent research indicates that as many as half a million teenagers may be suffering from an eating disorder but according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) on average only 1 in 10 people with these conditions get treatment. This means we all need to do a better job of identifying those who are in trouble, preventing disorders from developing, and treating those who are struggling; the consequences of doing any less are simply too high.
Prevention and early detection are critical to minimizing the long term damage suffered by those who are dealing with these potentially life-threatening conditions. The key to early detection is to know what to look for and what actions to take if you suspect that someone in your life is suffering from an eating disorder. To help, here are the most common immediate symptoms of the most prevalent eating disorders.
- Unusual eating habits or patterns, may skip meals and/or avoid certain foods
- Eating only small amounts
- Weighing and measuring food
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Excessive exercise
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Bingeing or eating excessive amounts of food in a single sitting
- Inability to control their bingeing
- Self-induced vomiting
- Abuse or misuse of laxatives or diuretics
- Skipping meals
- Excessive exercise
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Bingeing or eating excessive amounts of food in a single sitting
- Inability to control their bingeing
- Eating to discomfort and eating when not hungry
These behaviors and symptoms can indicate the presence of an eating disorder and if you are concerned that your teen may be struggling with any of these disorders, you should make an appointment to discuss your concerns with their doctor.
The longer term symptoms and consequences of these eating disorders, which are outlined below, are increasingly more serious which underlines why prevention and early detection is so critical.
- Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- Constipation, bloating, and diarrhea
- Dental problems including loss of enamel, gum disease, and cavities
- Throat and esophageal problems including tears and ruptures
- Dry skin
- Vomiting blood
- Irregular heart beat
- Low blood pressure
- Heart failure
Binge Eating Disorder
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart disease
- Specific kinds of cancer
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Do you struggle to find the words to talk with your teen about their weight? (Photo credit: Gaulsstin)
The conflicting messages our society sends about size and weight are all around us. Whether you are browsing the tabloid rack at the grocery store or flipping through the channels, you can find some super thin celebrity explaining how this system or that system made it incredibly easy to get the body they have. Every news outlet is talking about how the obesity epidemic is endangering the future of our country while parents wrestle with competing concerns about what is best for their child. On one hand, they are focused on preventing the development of eating disorders, keeping their teen from being bullied, and worrying about how to get them into a healthier lifestyle. On the other, they know how important it is to boost their self esteem, be supportive, and be accepting, no matter their size or shape.
If you are wondering how to help your teenager change their habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle without damaging their self esteem, you are not alone. The truth is most of us adults could do with a healthier lifestyle too. If you are overweight, self-conscious about your size, always on a diet, or have simply given up, that is the behavior you are modeling for your child. They see you struggle, give in, and give up while the picture perfect person on TV talks about how easy it is to drop 60 pounds in just 6 weeks with only 60 minutes a day. The messages that are getting through are not the ones they need in order to do the work required to create and maintain a lifestyle that supports good health.
While talking about weight with your teen may not be any more comfortable than talking about sex with them, it can be just as important. Most experts recommend a low-key, life encompassing approach. Rather than having an intervention-style sit down serious talk about weight concerns, look for natural opportunities to discuss good health, healthy weight loss, and to offer assistance and support. You don’t need to focus on the fact that your teen is overweight, they already know that. Focus instead on how you can provide a better model to follow and on letting your teen know that you are there for them, are concerned for them, and are willing to help and support them with this struggle. To help guide your conversation, here are some do’s and don’ts that can make talking to your teen about weight less of a minefield.
- Do talk about making healthy choices whenever the opportunity naturally arises. Shopping for groceries, making meals, planning menus, and doing something active together all provide great natural times to talk about what it takes and means to be healthy.
- Do talk to your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have.
- Do pay as much attention to who your teen is as you do to what size they are, how they look, or what they are putting in their mouth.
- Don’t sugar coat. No matter what anyone else says, losing weight is hard and it isn’t fun. Despite the wide range of products that promise otherwise, there is no quick fix and no short cut. It takes time, patience, and perseverance, commitment, dedication, and focus.
- Don’t talk about dieting. Keep the focus on eating healthy and being active.
- Don’t be a food cop or a weight watcher. You teen needs support, encouragement, and advice not constant monitoring, questioning, and criticism.
If you have any questions about how to best talk with your teen about weight, please don’t hesitate to give us a call and speak with a registered nutritionist.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
What messages are you sending to your teen impacting their self-image? (Photo credit: Tammy McGary)
When it comes to preventing a child or teen from developing an eating disorder, the best place to start is with their parents. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), studies have shown that eating disorder prevention programs can help keep disordered eating from developing by shifting perspectives, changing attitudes, and discouraging disordered eating behaviors. As parents play an important role in establishing and developing healthy attitudes about food and weight, their influence can make a real difference as their child moves through adolescence.
Follow these suggested tips and strategies to make sure you are doing everything you can to try and prevent your child or teen from having to deal with an eating disorder.
- Take a long look in the mirror. Your attitude about your own weight has a direct impact on child. Your attitudes about exercise, food, and weight will shape how your child feels about these things. If you are obsessed with your weight, participate in yo-yo dieting, avoid any physical activity, talk negatively about other people’s bodies, or have a disconnected perspective of your own weight, your child may, too.
- Watch what you say. Whether you are making disparaging comments about your own weight, your child’s weight, or the weight of that celebrity on television, you are telling your own child that weight is somehow related to worth.
- Focus on what you want. Whether you are worried that your daughter wants to be too thin or that your son is overweight, the best approach is to focus on what you want for them rather than on what you don’t. This means keeping your focus on developing and maintaining behaviors that promote health rather than focusing on how much they weigh.
- Make sure you send the right message. We, as people, are less likely to feel pressured to change to meet the ideals of others if we feel like we are fine just the way we are. This is the most important message parents can give their kids to keep disordered eating from developing.
- Be a role model. Actions speak louder than words and if you want your child to live an active lifestyle filled with healthy food and healthy attitudes, you need to live in that world first and show them how.
- Don’t be a food dictator. Help your child develop healthy eating habits by supporting their exploration into their own tastes. Encourage them to stay tuned in to their body so that they can learn how to eat when they feel hungry and to not eat when they don’t. Instead of requiring clean plates, suggest smaller serving sizes. Rather than counting their calories, get them involved in meal planning and preparation and choose healthy nutritious options together.
- Be accepting. Help your child develop a strong sense of their own self-worth by showing them it is ok to be who they are, no matter what that means. Be accepting of other people and celebrate differences so that your child grows up understanding that who people are is more important than how they look.
Monday, April 8th, 2013
DBT looks very different than you might imagine therapy sessions in your mind.
When most of us think of therapy, we picture a scene similar to the one most commonly portrayed on TV. There is a wood paneled office featuring a therapist in a chair and a patient on a couch. In reality, therapy can look very different depending on the kind of therapy that is going on. There are several types of therapy that can be very beneficial in helping teens overcome their mental health challenges. DBT, which stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, is a specific kind of therapy that can be very beneficial for a variety of issues.
DBT was originally developed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT combines several different therapeutic approaches in an effort to help participants develop more comprehensive and extensive coping mechanisms. This approach uses individual cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, mindfulness, reality testing, distress tolerance, assertiveness training, and group sessions to facilitate modifications in behavior.
A foundational part of DBT is building a relationship between the mental health practitioner and the teen that focuses on creating an alliance rather than making enemies or acting adversarial. By offering validation and acceptance, the mental health practitioner creates a safe space for the teenager to express feelings that can then be redirected into healthy behavior changes.
DBT incorporates both individual therapy sessions and group sessions. This two-pronged approach is part of the reason DBT can be so successful. The group sessions give teens the skills they need to overcome challenges like regulating emotions, practicing mindfulness, increasing effectiveness, and tolerating distress. Interacting with others their age also gives them the opportunity to practice utilizing these skills with their peers. The individual sessions provide time to deal with emotional issues in a one-on-one setting. By incorporating both types of therapy, DBT ensures that teenagers get the individual attention they need while they build and practice the skills they need to self-manage.
Across the different approaches to therapy, DBT is the approach that puts the most focus on developing coping skills. DBT has been used for 40 years and in the last decade has become an integral part of most, successful eating disorder treatment programs. DBT breaks the teen’s life up into four main areas, relationships, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Because all of these areas are typically deregulated during the course of the illness, DBT is tailor-made for treating eating disorders.
In addition to helping those dealing with eating disorders, DBT can also help teenagers who are engaging in self-harm and struggling with suicidal thoughts. This approach helps teens develop the skills they need to regulate their emotions, control their behavior, and become more resilient when faced with difficult situations. The benefit of taking DBT approach is that troubled teens can get the help they need to overcome maladaptive behaviors.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Do you know all the variables that can cause an eating disorder in your teen? (Photo credit: andrefaria)
When a teenager is diagnosed with an eating disorder one of the most common questions parents ask is what caused the disorder to develop. This is an understandable response, but the unfortunate fact is that there isn’t a simple answer to this question. Disordered eating is a complex problem and there are many factors that can contribute to its development. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), eating disorders evolve out of a combination of behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. This means that each individual that is diagnosed has their own set of circumstances within those common factors that lead to the development of their disorder.
Many people assume that when a person struggles with disordered eating it is about the food, their weight, or even their appearance. On the surface the outward symptoms of an eating disorder might support that assumption. For example, someone who is suffering from anorexia nervosa may seem obsessed with their weight and their caloric intake. They might track every calorie they ingest, worry about getting fat, and obsess about exercising. All these seem to support the assumption that the person has an issue with their weight. However, most experts agree that many people with eating disorders use food and their control over food as a coping mechanism. The exertion of extreme control over their diet can help them feel in control when other things are out of control, overwhelming, or too emotionally charged to handle.
Although there is often no clean, simple cause to blame when an eating disorder is diagnosed, there are some common factors that are known to contribute to their development.
- Some people that suffer from eating disorders have a chemical imbalance in their brain associated with the neurological chemicals that control things like appetite and hunger.
- There appears to be a significant genetic component to disordered eating.
- More research needs to be done in this area to study how genetics and neuro-chemicals can contribute to disordered eating.
- There is evidence that stressful times, major life changes, and traumatic events can lead to the development of an eating disorder. If you consider that disordered eating is about establishing a feeling of control over one’s life, it makes sense that events that shake up a person’s world or alter it altogether could lead to the development of these conditions.
- Issues with self-confidence, self worth, and self-esteem can contribute to disordered eating.
- Feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, anxiety, and loneliness can also lead to the development of a disorder.
- Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety might also precede or go hand in hand with the development of an eating disorder.
- Problems interacting with other people and trouble with personal relationships can be a contributing factor along with struggling to express emotions and difficulties dealing with feelings.
- A history of being bullied, especially if the bullying behavior centered on weight.
- A history of some form of abuse including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
- Cultural messages that value beauty over other attributes and that associate beauty with a specific body type.
- Stress related to prejudice, discrimination, bullying, or other forms of harassment and abuse.
Eating disorders are very serious, often life-threatening. A person struggling with an eating disorder needs professional help; they can’t win this battle on their own. If you know someone you suspect may be struggling with an eating disorder, or if you have any questions about how to know for certain, please give us a call. We would love to help. Their life could depend on it.
- This Month Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day (doorwaysarizona.com)
- What Causes Eating Disorders? (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Eating Disorders Affect Everyone in Your Family (doorwaysarizona.com)
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Do you know if your teen is getting the sleep they need? (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)
Although most teenagers would likely disagree, it simply isn’t true that teenagers need less sleep than their parents. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most teens need at least 9 hours of sleep every night which is slightly more than their parents need. Unfortunately, today’s teens often struggle to get the sleep they need. It may seem that it is computers, cell phones, and video games that are keeping our teens up, but their own biology may also be working against them.
Why Teens Struggle with Sleep
Research indicates that the circadian rhythm of teenagers makes it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 or 12 at night. With early morning school start times, it can be almost impossible for teens to get the sleep they need at night. Add in all those electronic gadgets and the normal stress and pressure of being a teen and it is easy to understand why teens have trouble getting the sleep they need.
How Lack of Sleep May be Hurting Your Teen
The consequences of sleep deprivation are wide ranging and significant, especially during the teen years. A study by the National Sleep Foundation showed that 85% of teens routinely get less than 8.5 hours of sleep on school nights. Even losing 30 minutes of sleep a night can result in sleep deprivation and over just a few days, the sleep debt incurred can impede everything from driving to learning. Teenagers that aren’t getting the sleep they need may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- Trouble with cognitive tasks and memory
- Difficulty concentrating, listening, and problem solving
- Problems with behavior including anger, impatience, and inappropriate outbursts
- Increases in overeating
- Weight gain and obesity
- Drowsy driving accidents
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Increased likelihood of risky behavior
What Parents Can Do to Help
First and foremost, set a good example. If you aren’t getting the sleep you need at night, you aren’t showing your teen that sleep is a priority. Help everyone in your household get a good night’s sleep by creating an atmosphere that supports healthy sleep habits and good sleep hygiene.
- Prioritize – Make sleep as important to your family’s overall health as a balanced diet and an active lifestyle
- Be Consistent – Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day helps ensure you get the sleep you need and makes it easier to fall asleep at night
- Create a Supportive Sleep Environment – Check everyone’s sleep environment for a comfortable sleep surface and temperature. Make sure sleep environments are free of excess light, noise, and other distractions.
- Eliminate Electronics – Leave laptops, cell phones, game systems, and all other gadgets in some other room.
Helping your teenager get enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard their health. Sleep is as important to your child’s physical and mental well-being as clean air, good food, and a happy home.
Monday, March 18th, 2013
Consult with a registered dietician for tips on how to consume a healthy diet (Photo credit: USDAgov)
When it comes to knowing what you should be eating and what you should not, there is no one better to ask than a registered dietitian or dietetic technician. These food and nutrition experts are the MVPs in our war against obesity. This month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is sponsoring National Nutrition Month to increase awareness about the importance of making healthy food choices based on reliable information and promote the development of good habits around eating and exercise.
The theme for this year’s campaign is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every day” which encourages people to adopt healthy eating habits that work for their own individual lives. By incorporating healthy eating habits into your everyday life and developing your own personalized healthy eating style, you are creating the right conditions to change your relationship with food for the better. Many people struggle to adopt eating plans and exercise programs from television, videos, and books because those programs are not a good enough fit for their lives. One of the benefits of working with a nutritional expert like a registered dietitian is that they specialize in creating personalized, individual nutrition plans based on your individual preferences, likes, habits, and history.
You can also establish a personalized eating plan on your own by following these simple steps.
1. Eat What You Like
In order to eat your way to better health, you need to eat the healthy food that is part of your meal plan rather than spontaneously grabbing the unhealthy food calling your name from the convenience store shelf! It is much easier to do this if you have already identified healthy options that you like to eat. If you don’t like what you are eating, it will be harder and harder to stick with your healthy plan over time.
2. Look at Your Lifestyle
Some of us are active, some of us are not. Some of us eat meat, some of us do not. There are many different ways that our lifestyle impacts our food choices. The key to making sure those choices are healthy ones is knowing how the way you live affects what you eat.
3. Eat Inside and Outside the Box
Many of the foods we feed our family are inspired by or drawn from our cultural heritage. Make sure your personalized eating plan includes these favorite foods. But don’t limit yourself to those foods you grew up eating; you should also look to eat healthy options that are outside your “box” as well. There is a world of healthy food out there, full of nutrition and flavor, just waiting for you to find it.
4. Don’t Confuse the Baby and the Bathwater
Just because your favorite dish from childhood could have been named “heart attack on a plate” doesn’t mean you have to skip it. Try modifying the recipe by doing things like swapping out healthier versions of high fat, high calorie ingredients or using different cooking techniques until you find a version of that fabulous family favorite. There is no need to give up the food you love, but you may need to change how, when, and how often you eat those foods in order to improve your overall health.
For more information on National Nutrition Month and other ideas on how to eat right, your way, every day, visit the National Nutrition Month website.
Monday, February 25th, 2013
This week, February 24 – March 2 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. KPHO CBS 5 AZ talks with Certified Eating Disorders Specialist, Rachel Brogan from Doorways Arizona about the prevalence of eating disorders amongst today’s teens and adolescents. 62% of teen girls in Arizona are on a diet when less than 30% are overweight.
Monday, February 18th, 2013
Do you know how much your teen should be eating? (Photo credit: USDAgov)
In today’s world, it can be difficult for parents to know what healthy eating looks like in teenagers. On one hand, conventional wisdom says that growing teenagers will eat you out of house and home. On the other hand, the news is packed with stories about the obesity epidemic and how so many of our teens are overweight and facing life-long health problems. With conflicting messages coming from the media, many parents are looking for guidance or a frame of reference of what a healthy teenage diet looks like and when it may be time to seek the help of a professional.
As with most things, the real answer is that the amount of calories your teen needs each day really depends on your teen. Student athletes likely need more calories than their more sedentary peers. Boys generally need more than girls. Teens in the midst of a growth spurt may need more calories than those who are not. However, there are some basic guidelines that can give parents an idea of how much is too much, how much is not enough, and what really makes up a healthy balanced diet for today’s teen.
There are three factors that you need to take into account when determining how many calories your child needs each day. The first is whether or not they are male or female. The guidelines recommended by the National Institutes of Health indicate that the number of calories needed by males and females is different beginning around age 9. The second factor is age. Specific guidelines for each age range are provided below. The third factor is activity level. Of the three, this is the only factor that is subjective. The NIH guidelines use three different activity level classifications:
- Not Active – Teens who fit in this box don’t play sports and are not very active. They participate in the kind of light activity that comes from living their lives like walking to class or doing chores around the house.
- Somewhat Active – Teens who are considered somewhat active expend more energy than the first group, participating in 30-40 minutes of physical activity over the course of a day like participating in gym class or playing basketball with friends after school.
- Very Active - Teens that should be classified as very active get more than 40 minutes of physical activity each day and participate in activities like organized sports teams with daily practices and dance training.
Once you have determined your teen’s activity level, you can use the NIH’s recommended calorie range below to estimate how many calories your teenager needs to eat each day to be healthy.
- Boys age 9-13
- 1,600-2,000 calories if they are not active
- 1,800-2,200 calories if they are somewhat active
- 2,000-2,600 calories if they are very active
- Girls age 9-13
- 1,400-1,600 calories if they are not active
- 1,600-2,000 calories if they are somewhat active
- 1,800-2,200 calories if they are very active
- Boys age 14-18
- 2,000-2,400 calories if they are not active
- 2,400-2,800 calories if they are somewhat active
- 2,800-3,200 calories if they are very active
- Girls age 14-18
- 1,800 calories if they are not active
- 2,000 calories if they are somewhat active
- 2,400 calories if they are very active
Unless parents are concerned that their teen’s health is being impacted by how they are eating, it isn’t necessary or advisable for parents to track daily calorie intake or strictly monitor everything a teenager eats. Modeling healthy eating habits and providing healthy balanced meals are the best things parents can do to help teens eat healthily in general. However, if you are concerned about your child’s weight or how much/little they are eating, schedule an appointment with a medical practitioner, licensed nutritionist, or dietitian.