In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘women’

Does your child have the mid-winter blues?

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 4, 2012

At this time of year kids and teens may be susceptible to the winter blues, which, in its more serious form, is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD usually occurs during the winter months, when it is colder and there is less sunlight, although, one does not have to live in a freezing, snowy climate to experience seasonal depression. Those living in milder climates may also experience the blues.

It is important to learn the symptoms of depression in children so you can recognize them, and if necessary, address them immediately. All types of depression are more common in older children and teens, but it is possible for a younger child to experience SAD, especially with a family history of depression. Therefore, if your child’s behavior seems to change with the season, it is time to take notice.

Childhood depression often looks different from the adult type. Even very sad kids will appear happy sometimes—during a funny movie, or playing with friends, but it doesn’t mean they are fine. Children typically have mood fluctuations, even if they are depressed.

The most common symptoms of SAD (and childhood depression) include:

  • Feeling sad, overly sensitive or      crying excessively
  • Anger, crankiness, moodiness
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping      more than usual
  • Eating much more or less than      usual (for an extended period of time, not just a day or two)
  • Low energy level, difficulty      concentrating
  • Reduced interest in normal activities      at home, in school and socially
  • Stomachaches, headaches or other      physical complaints that don’t respond to medical treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide      (not as common in young children)

 

Not every depressed or sad child will exhibit every symptom; some may have only two or three. If you think that your child has the winter blues, take these five steps:

  1. Continue to observe. Watch your child’s behavior for a week or so. Then,      if you still see symptoms and feel that he is emotionally under the weather,      move to step #2.
  2. Talk to your child. Ask how she is feeling. Inquire about possible      school and friend stressors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—you won’t “give      your child ideas”  that she doesn’t      already have. If there is no significant stressor, but she still seems      unhappy, move to step #3.
  3. Talk to the teacher. In most cases, when a child has the blues, his      behavior will change everywhere, not just at home, so the teacher is sure      to notice any mood change too. If the teacher (and other significant adults      in your child’s life), confirms your concerns, move to step #4
  4. Meet with your child’s doctor. It is important to rule out      medical factors that may cause a child’s mood to change. For example,      either mononucleosis or hypothyroidism can cause low energy level or      trouble concentrating. After ruling out medical factors, you and the      doctor can decide the next step. If the doctor recommends that you speak      with a mental health professional, do so right away. See step #5.
  5. Seek expert help. If treatment is necessary, it will vary depending on      the severity of your child’s symptoms and her age. No one child is the      same and there are several treatment options, including light therapy,      increased natural light exposure, talk therapy or medication.
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Nurture yourself during the holiday rush…really!

Posted by Dr. Susan on December 4, 2011

Are you exhausted? I know that I am! After fighting crowds at the mall, baking mountains of cookies, and managing meltdowns by overtired kids, every parent is ready to drop! It’s difficult to avoid the insanity of the holidays, which is why it is so important for you to find a few moments to care for yourself. After all, if you feel cheerful and energized, rather than tired and stressed, you will be better able to juggle your way through the next few weeks. It doesn’t take much to get the relief that you so desperately need, so please enjoy these tips, as my holiday gift to you:

 

Turn up the tunes. Loud, fun music will lift your spirits and distract you. When you dance and sing along, it will definitely put a smile on your face. Soothing music will signal your body to relax and it will help you slow down.

Breathe in. Certain aromas have an instantly calming effect on your body. Lavender, rose, vanilla and many other scents will send signals to your brain to become calm and feel good. Carry an aroma that appeals to you in the form of a small container of balm, cream or essential oil. When you feel stressed, open the lid and inhale the soothing smell.

Breathe out. Stress can make your heart race. To slow it down, breathe in for a count of five, and breathe out for five. Repeat this another three or four times. You will be surprised at how this simple technique can calm you down. It is especially effective in traffic or while waiting on line. Practice this often to get better at it.

Indulge in a mini-massage. Use your favorite lotion (extra points if you use one with a soothing smell) to massage your hands together, or to rub your feet. It may not be quite as good as a professional massage, but your body will still thank you.

Limit caffeine. Too much caffeine amplifies stress. Although you may be exhausted, resist the urge to drink too much coffee. Don’t forget that there is also caffeine in some tea, soda, and chocolate.

Sip a cup of hot, herbal tea. The act of taking a moment to boil the water and brew the tea, will give you a time out. Then, since it’s hot, you will be forced to sit and sip it. Pick a flavor that feels calming (perhaps chamomile).

Stretch. The next time you watch TV with the kids, or chat on the phone, give your back, legs and neck a gentle stretch. You’ll feel your body instantly de-stress.

Exercise—even for a couple of minutes. Run upstairs or jog to meet the school bus. Your body will release feel-good endorphins that will keep you going for a while.

Take a hot shower or bath. The warm water will soothe your aching body and give you a few minutes of peace and quiet—if you’re lucky!

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Cyber-snooping on your partner–yes or no?

Posted by Dr. Susan on October 1, 2009

The internet can be used for many things, including snooping on your partner if you think they may be cheating on you. But what if they find out you’re snooping and they’re not cheating?

This article in The NY Daily News, gives you the pros and cons to snooping (check out my viewpoint in the article on this timely topic!)

The truth is, that if you are questioning the trust in your relationship, talking to your partner is much healthier than snooping. But if you think that snooping is the only way to pry honesty out of them (and you really, really want to know the truth!), then brace yourself and start snooping. Just read the article and be forewarned of the possible consequences!

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TV time in teens linked to depression…interesting

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2009

Does your child watch a lot of TV? If so, here’s yes ANOTHER compelling reason to make a change! This new study finds that the more TV teens watch (especially boys), the more likely they are to become depressed as young adults. The researchers theorize that watching TV isolates kids, which makes them less likely to interact with peers–having a strong social network innoculates one against depression; or play sports–physical activity has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.

However, you can’t suddenly tell your teen to stop watching TV, you need to set the rules when your child is young and stick with them all the way through, beginning with no TV in bedrooms!

What’s more–if YOU are depressed, the same rules apply to you: TV isn’t helping you feel better. So turn it  off and get out…talk to your friends and go for a walk. Even better…go for a walk with your friends!

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Calmer, less stressed–you’re less likely to get Alzheimer’s…really!

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 22, 2009

More and more research reinforces the idea that there is a strong relationship between your emotional and your physical health. Here is one more study that proves this point! The researchers looking at a group of aging folks found that those who were less stressed, calmer, and more go with the flow, were less likely to develop Alzheimers than those who were more stressed and neurotic.

It goes without say that brain changes don’t begin when you get your AARP card! No matter what your age, learning how to manage stress effectively–both at work and at home–is critical. Studies have shown impacts of stress on breast cancer, the heart and many other aspects of health. This is one more example.

Begin now! Take steps to change your life so that both your emotional and physical life are healthier.

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Breast cancer and marital stress…not a winning combo

Posted by Dr. Susan on December 12, 2008

This unsettling (although small) study finds that women in rocky marriages are more likely to have poorer outcomes–slower recovery, more symptoms, etc–than those in good marriages. This seemed to be true, even when the stage of cancer was taken into account.

It does make sense–there is a compelling correlation between stress and breast cancer, and certainly, marital problems are very stressful. In addition, physical and mental health are very closely connected. If you have been diagnosed with breast, or any other cancer and you believe that you are in a stressful relationship, it is important to seek professional assistance ASAP! Your health–even your life–may be counting on it.

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Women’s Leadership

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 11, 2008

This weekend I was a speaker at an incredibly powerful leadership conference for women called Womensphere. It was held in NYC and brought women in all stages of their careers together, from those in business school to those at the pinnacle of incredibly powerful and impressive careers. I learned about the conference from Robin Daas, the co-creater of Heart of Gold Girls, an inspiring and empowering new website for teenage girls, for which I serve as an expert advisor.  The panel on which I sat concerned personal leadership and work-life balance. I spoke with a group of bright, accomplished and motivated women, to a crowd of about 100 of the same! The rest of the day was just as inspirational and intellectually stimulating. Although, I was a decided minority as a non-banker, non lawyer, it didn’t matter. Each woman their learned from and taught and supported each other. All in all it was a wonderful day.

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