Substance abuse does not only affect the addicted person. It’s like throwing a pebble on a calm lake – the ripples will be far-reaching. The first layer of those affected would be loved ones, particularly ones living with the addicted person. This includes his or her spouse, as well as children.
Sometimes, the behaviors and reactions developed by those living with an addicted person can be so that it revolves around the problem and results in a dysfunctional way of life for the family involved. Without the help of family counseling in Utah, the codependency will perpetuate, to the detriment of the family. Problems are not properly threshed out and family members respond to the problem by developing risky attitudes of their own.
What is Codependency?
Here are some quotes from experts that give a picture of what codependency is like:
“We begin tolerating abnormal, unhealthy, and inappropriate behaviors. Then we go one step further, we convince ourselves these behaviors are normal.” –Melody Beattie
“A set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain.” The Johnson Institute
When a Parent or Sibling is Addicted
The living conditions of a family with an alcoholic or drug addict is changed drastically. As such, codependency is called a “family disease”. It can be passed on even to the next generations. The way each family member acts and deals with the situation is also changed drastically. They can be characterized as:
– Compulsive: Their brand of “caring” for their addicted loved one becomes compulsive, rather than a function of choice. He can’t help but encourage the individual to continue with his addictive behavior even when he knows that his actions are to the detriment of his loved ones.
– Maladaptive: This condition prevents the codependent person to grow and develop the behaviors that meets not just their emotional needs but also the emotional needs of others.
– Causing pain and stress. These coping and survival mechanisms are developed as a way to escape and relieve pain. However, they themselves are a source or pain and stress! Those who have codependent relationships can be perfectionists to being people who seemingly live without standards, driven towards gaining prestige and status symbols, gaining high authority and a compulsion to acquire control or material possessions. This can manifest itself in eating disorders, sleeping disorders and even a propensity to also abuse substances themselves.
– Stunting relationships. Because a person with codependency issues have a pattern of behavior that seeks to put the needs of the addicted loved one before his or her own, that person will have problems forming relationships that are healthy and balanced.
Further, those with codependency issues may be in denial, in compliance, seeking control or seeking avoidance. They can also have issues of low self-esteem. Codependent individuals seek validation from others to the point that their measure of worth is based on what other people think. They also do not see themselves as worthwhile individuals and have difficulty accepting love, affection and praise. They have difficulty making decisions and perform important tasks. They would rather lie than look bad.
Denial patterns. A codependent may find it hard to admit his feelings and see that there is something wrong in the family situation. He may also be attracted to a person and yet not see that person fails to reciprocate the feelings. He also tends to project his own weakness and negative qualities on others. He may also act in passive-aggressive ways – masking what he feels with the use of social isolation, anger and humor.
Controlling patterns. This type of codependent will try to compensate by taking on the role of the “strong” caretaker. He may use gifts, charm and even sexual favors to curry approval or influence. He also seeks to establish control, is pushy and temperamental when others don’t “toe the line”. He feels validated if he is needed by others; however, he also seeks to exploit others by demanding that his needs be met. He may resent the recovery of the addicted family member since that means that the member will not need his role as caretaker anymore.
Compliance patterns. This type of codependent is malleable and remains “faithful and true” till the end, even though this means tolerating and supporting addictive behavior. A compliant codependent will put others first to the point of sacrificing his own needs and interests. He shies away from expressing his feelings and opinions, if these are contrary to other people’s feelings and opinions.
Avoidance patterns. This type of codependent pushes other people away when he feels that they have come too close for comfort. He may be very critical and “allergic” to any form of intimacy, be it physical, sexual or emotional. He avoids displays of affection or any other emotion and avoids feelings of vulnerability by holding back his own feelings.
Breaking free from the Codependency Bond
Codependency is draining in family relationships. One step towards breaking free of codependency would be to seek Utah counseling, as well as looking for support groups who also face the same issues and concerns. The family can also do well to seek the help of an experienced Utah substance abuse counselor.
Family counseling in Utah can help you become more aware of the situation and the presence of codependency. To try to combat this, a Utah therapist will help equip you to be more assertive, more aware of your needs and how you and your family can effectively and lovingly deal with an addicted family member.
An experienced counselor will be aware to set good boundaries in order to also protect against being in a codependent relationship with his clients. For instances like this, it is also a good idea to seek a counselor who is also an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor.
Beware: Alcoholism and substance abuse is not an adult problem. Teens can also fall victim to the lure of alcohol. In fact, teens may be particularly vulnerable, since the teenage years is a trying and confusing time. There is the added pressure from peers and the need to be accepted and to “look cool”.
Alcohol is a teenager’s substance of choice. Teenagers often have the misconception that being able to handle one’s alcohol makes one more “grown up”. Alcohol is also attractive since teens like the way alcohol makes them feel – invincible, fearless and happy. According to statistics, 14% of teenagers have experienced being drunk at least once in a given year. In addition, around 8% of adolescents have tried binge drinking, or drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a row.
Parents should not disregard signs of alcohol abuse, thinking that this is just a phase where the teenage child is experimenting. Rather, there are strong indications that early experimentation of alcohol can result in adverse consequences for the child’s future.
According to a study made by Dr. Avshalom Caspi and Terri Moffitt of Duke University, preteens who regularly indulged in substance abuse, especially alcohol and drugs, are more likely to experience:
– Unwanted pregnancies (with a high probability of getting pregnant before a teenage girl reaches 21 years of age).
– Failing grades and behavioral issues in school
– Contracting a sexually transmitted disease, including HIV
– Conviction of a criminal act
– Drug dependency
This is regardless of whether the teen comes from a home where members also indulged in substance abuse or not. In addition, teens may be addicted to alcohol and other substances more easily than adults. The younger a person starts drinking, the higher the possibility they will develop alcohol abuse problems.
Aside from the possibility of alcohol addition, the use of alcohol during the teenage years may result in:
– Problems with concentrating and remembering
– The propensity of abusing other substances (i.e. marijuana) along with alcohol
– Indulging in risky behavior that may put the teen and others in danger. Statistics indicate that more than 2,000 people ages 21 and below die annually in car crashes caused by underage drinking and driving.
– Higher probability of suicide attempts
– Higher risk of indulging in risky sexual behavior (.e. having sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex, having sex with strangers)
Challenge for the Parents
The challenge is for the parents to act accordingly to prevent their teen from being addicted to alcohol. The family setup and environment can do a lot to keep a child on track (such as going for Utah counseling) or to enable the child to veer off towards alcoholism. Preventing alcoholism or recovering from teenage alcoholism will require efforts not just from the teen but from the whole family as well.
Here are some things you can do:
– Preventing alcohol use. Parents can help minimize the harmful effects of alcoholism by:
o Having close communications with the teen. This includes discussing how alcohol can negatively affect him and how he can deal with the pressure peers may exert for him to try drinking. Parents should also discuss expectations with regards to alcohol use. If your child has the sense that you will tolerate alcohol use, chances are, he will be more likely to give it a try.
o Supervision. Parents should supervise the teen and be aware of his activities and whereabouts. Parents should also do well to get to know their child’s friends.
o Keep the teen occupied. Simply saying “don’t” is not enough. Parents should also give alternative activities to keep the child busy. This can include being involved in sports, the arts, or programs in church.
– Recognize the red flags. There are some warning signs that point towards alcohol abuse in your teen and it will be useful to recognize these signs early on so that you can take appropriate action. Here are some signs:
o Problems at school. This includes truancy, discipline problems and falling grades.
o Changes in peer group and hang-outs. The teen may shift to a peer group that shares this propensity to abuse alcohol and other substances.
o Changes in activities. The teen may give up activities that he used to enjoy and that used to be important to him.
o Problems with the law
o Physical symptoms, including dilated pupils, slurred speech, red, bloodshot eyes, rapid weight loss, memory lapses and lack of physical coordination. The teen may also complain of headaches in the morning. Other symptoms include lethargy and pasty, dull skin.
o Changes in habits and behaviors. The teen may become more careless with his hygiene and may disregard his appearance. Other symptoms also include breaking house rules, such as the curfew, borrowing (or stealing) money from you or from friends, lying and having alcohol-related paraphernalia. The teen may also prefer to spend more time inside his room, rather than socializing with the rest of the family. He may also have mood swings, appear sullen, or even verbally or physically abusive.
– Admit that there is a problem.Acknowledging that there is a substance abuse issue is a big and difficult step for parents to make. This is especially true if the parents’ behavior may have also contributed to and sustained the problem. However, recognizing the problem will lead towards helpful and productive steps, such as going to a Utah substance abuse counselor.
– Going for Family Therapy. Since the problem will need the cooperation of all the family members, it will be helpful to seek family counseling in Utah. This will help the teen make the necessary steps towards recovering. In addition, the family will also be able to recognize enabling and denying behaviors that may actually have made the problem worse.
Indeed, the help of an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor will first assess the family dynamic and help each member cope and deal with the problem appropriately. You see, even after a teen recovers from his substance abuse problem and has made the necessary changes for the better, the family may not be equipped to act and react in a way that will support the teen’s recovery. Family counseling in Provo provides the tools needed for the entire family to make healthy changes.
For some, food is a good source of comfort. We each have a go-to food for when we feel depressed or stressed out. We also have times when we help ourselves to more of our fair share of food – when we go out on a buffet, or during special occasions such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, for binge eaters, the compulsion to overeat is something that happens regularly.
What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating or compulsive overeating is when a person regularly gorges himself with food. Even as he does, he feels that he is powerless to resist the compulsion and cannot stop even when he is already full or already feels sick because of all the food ingested. There may be feelings of stress or disgust during the eating binge. By binge, it usually means eating rapidly without enjoying or tasting the food.
Binge eating is often a response to the pressure caused by going on a major diet. This disorder usually begins during one’s late teens or early adulthood. The binge episodes are characterized by feelings of distress (for not being able to control one’s urge to eat), disgust with one’s self, guilt and even depression.
Binge eating can be a vicious cycle – where a person is driven on an eating binge because of stress. As he binges, he gets some measure of comfort, but feels bad about it afterwards. These negative feelings (about his inability to stop himself from going on a binge coupled by low self-esteem and dissatisfaction about how one looks) can drive him into further bingeing episodes. It may also be rooted in the pressure from society to look a certain way (i.e. thin = sexy and attractive).
According to Utah counselors, there are indications that binge eating is rooted in physical abnormalities. The brain may not be able to release enough serotonin to deal with feelings of depression. Or, the brain does not send the necessary signal to tell the body that it is no longer hungry.
Those who suffer from binge eating disorder are obese, as there is usually no effort made towards ridding one’s self of the food ingested through vomiting or over-exercising (as the case is with bulimia). The symptoms may include:
– Feelings of being out of control. This includes self-disgust, guilt and embarrassment.
– Eating even when one is not hungry or when one is already full
– Eating normally in the presence of others but going on a binge when one is alone
– Having a secret food stash
– The binges are regular
– The binges may last for one or two hours or may go on sporadically throughout the day
Aside from obesity, there are a number of medical, social and emotional complications associated with binge eating. These include:
– A higher likelihood of suicide
– A higher likelihood to also abuse other substances such as prescription medicine, alcohol and drugs to cope with the depression and stress
– Physical problems such as diabetes, heart problems associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, gallbladder disease and sleep apnea.
Getting help for Binge Eating
Getting into a healthier relationship with food can be a struggle. If you or a loved one is suffering from binge eating, you may need to go for Utah counseling. If the binge eating disorder is also accompanied by substance abuse problems, you may also need to seek the services of a Utah substance abuse counselor.
Here are some things you can do to help you triumph over binge eating:
– Maintain a regular meal schedule. This should include 3 meals plus snacks, if necessary. Never skip meals, especially breakfast, since doing so will make you hungrier and have stronger food cravings. At this point, stop any diet you’re on. When you deprive yourself of food, you will actually crave for more.
– Don’t stock your cupboards with unhealthy food. Take away the temptation. If you don’t have ready access to food, it will be more difficult for you to yield to the temptation to go on an eating binge.
– Keep yourself busy. Sometimes, people eat not out of hunger but out of boredom. When all you do is watch TV or sit in front of the computer, it is easy to fall into binge eating. Keep yourself busy with activities such as planting a garden, learning a new craft, making a scrapbook or taking walks.
– Keep on moving! Get plenty of exercise. Exercise gives off feel-good substances that can help ward off any oncoming depression. As you feel good about yourself and your body, you are more able to resist eating on a binge.
– Keep a journal on your eating patterns. This will help you keep track of the amount and the kinds of food you eat. The journal will provide you with key information about how your eating is related with your mood.
– Get help. Getting into Provo counseling will help you get to the bottom of your binge eating (feelings of depression, fear and stress) and will keep you equipped with coping tools to manage your appetite. You should also get the support of friends and loved ones.
– Educate yourself. You should educate yourself about a well-balanced diet and losing weight the healthy way.
Utah therapists can do a lot towards fighting compulsions and getting equipped with healthy eating habits. Therapy can also help recognize the triggers for your binge eating and how to avoid them, as well as manage the stress that can contribute to binge eating.
Princess Diana, the well-loved Princess of Wales gives a helpful insight into the mind of those who indulge in cutting and self-injury: “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.” Princess Diana admitted in a 1995 BBC interview that she had cutting and self-injuring tendencies.
And Princess Diana is not alone. An estimated one percent of adults and teens in the country have, at one point or another, shown some type of self-abusive tendencies. This includes practices such as:
– Fracturing the bones
– Burning or piercing of the skin
– Banging the hear or pulling out hair
– Cutting symbols or words onto the skin
– Preventing the healing process to be fully complete
When these tendencies are allowed to persist without treatment, this behavior will worsen over the years. There may be a need to go for Utah counseling.
A self-injurer may look “normal” at the outside and is usually female. She is more likely in the prime of her life (middle 20s to early 30s) and usually will belong in the upper-middle or middle class. The cutting may be traced to experiences of physical or sexual abuse, as well as a dysfunctional family environment. Cutting and self-injury is usually rooted in a deeper problem. . Provo counseling will not only aim towards stopping the act of cutting but also to delve into the root causes.
Self-injury is defined as intentionally causing injury to the body. This is usually manifested in making cuts or burns in some areas of the body. Self-injury is a coping mechanism that one may use to ward off feelings that may seem to overwhelm. A self-cutter will usually perform these acts to cope with anger, frustration, stress or feelings of emptiness and loss of control.
More often than not, self-injury also goes together with other psychological problems such as anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders. They may perform acts of self-injury to:
– Provide a temporary relief from what they are feeling
– Gain a sense of calm and control over their situation
– Provide some form of self-punishment, for what the individual perceives as his failure. It can also be seen as a cry for help
– Feel “alive” when feelings of emptiness become overwhelming. Cutting results in the release of endorphins, which give the body a certain rush.
Dealing with a Self-Cutter
Some signs of self-injury include:
– The presence of cuts, scratches and scars. Usually, these are unexplained.
– Having sharp objects nearby or in his person. This includes needles, razors, shaving implements
– Being “accident prone’”- where someone suffers from an unexpected number of broken bones, bruises and scars from cuts or burns
– Blood stains on clothes, tissues, bed linen and towels.
– Insistence on wearing “cover up” clothes such as long sleeved shirts and long pants, even during hot weather
– Need for isolation and “privacy”. A person who self-injures will avoid getting dressed or undressed in front of others, He will also brood or stay in the bathroom or bedroom for extended periods of time.
If you are a parent whose child shows symptoms of self-injury, it can be quite a challenge. It may require a fine balancing act – wanting your child to be safe and supporting your child as he heals. You may need to deal with personal feelings of guilt and self-doubt.
Some do’s and don’ts include:
– Don’t assume that the cutting is just a passing phase with your child. Seek help immediately. This can come in the form of family counseling in Provo. An experienced family counselor can help sort out the reasons and the triggers for cutting behavior.
– Do recognize the need for help. This is when family counseling in Utah can be helpful.
– Don’t hide knives, blades or any sharp objects. If a person is intent of injuring himself, no amount of hiding will deter him.
– Do show your support and unconditional love.
– Do keep yourself informed and educated. It will benefit the family to understand that cutting has an underlying cause and that it won’t be “fixed” by a few visits to the therapists or the taking of medication. The road to recovery will be a long and arduous journey.
– Don’t pile on the guilt. On yourself or on the self-cutter.
Dealing with self-harm problems will need the cooperation of the entire family. This will help each member understand the loved one’s condition and know how they can respond and relate with him. Provo therapists can also help identify self-harm triggers to help the loved one manage these triggers.
With the help of an experienced therapist, a self-cutter can find his way towards healthy ways to cope with emotional pressure and to deal with difficult situations.
Every kid is a “rad” kid. By rad, we mean special and precious. From the first time that a parent sees his or her child, a special attachment is formed, a bond of love. This bond is important as it also defines how a child builds bonds and relationships with the rest of the world. However, there are some instances when a child is unable to form these bonds – the child may have RAD or reactive attachment disorder.
Attachment disorder: An Overview
An attachment disorder is marked by an inability to form meaningful and lasting relationships or even express affection towards others. It may be rooted in events during a person’s early childhood. This may include:
– Being a child of an unwanted pregnancy
– Experiencing chronic pain resulting from medical problems
– Neglect from a caregiver (when a parent is chronically depressed, the child is moved from one caregiver to another, when a child’s cries and needs are ignored)
– Being a victim of child abuse
As a result, a child with attachment disorder exhibits a lack of trust on others. There is also a need to be in control since the child learns that there is no one to depend on but him. The child may also have issues with anger and demonstrations of affection.
Admittedly, it is hard to parent or take care of a child with attachment disorder when your efforts are met with indifference or resistance. But with love, patience and some family counseling in Provo, you are able to manage this condition. And the earlier you start with your efforts, the better. Dealing with a child with attachment disorder will prevent more serious problems in the future.
Here are some tips to help you parent a child with attachment disorder:
– Be patient, calm and firm with your child. This indicates to the child that you can be trusted and that he is safe in the care of his parents. This is particularly true when the child starts misbehaving. Be calm and matter of fact to demonstrate that emotions and feelings can be managed and controlled.
– Be realistic. Managing (and overcoming) the problems brought about by an attachment disorder will take time and much patience. Thus, it is helpful that you have realistic expectations. You can’t rush the journey towards wholeness for your child and the rest of the family.
– Build a family environment that feels safe, relaxed and joyful.
– Manage your stress. Parenting a child with attachment disorder is especially challenging. That is why you need to learn how to manage and cope with stress. This can be done by getting enough rest, feeding yourself with the right kinds of food and taking some time away to recharge and unwind.
– Lean on family and friends for support. Don’t go through the ordeal alone. There are family members and friends who can help you build the ideal family environment for your child.
– Get professional help, when necessary. You may need to go into Utah family therapy to help all the family members to know what to do to provide your child with the care and love he needs.
– Set up rules, expectations and boundaries. A child with attachment disorder has issues about feelings of safety. This can be done by providing clear and reasonable expectations for the child to fulfill. These rules of behavior help to make a child feel more secure and safe since he, too, also knows what to expect. It is important to note that you must be consistent in your dealings with the child to help him feel more in control.
The bottom line is that the child needs to feel that he is accepted and loved. Over time and with consistency and patience, the child can learn to develop trust, as well as accept love and physical expressions and demonstrations of it.
Family Therapy for treatment of attachment disorder
For more help, you can turn to individual therapy and family therapy in Provo. This will not just help the individual but also the other family members who need to cope with the situation as well as come to an understanding of the disorder and how they can properly respond.
Marriage is supposed to be a bond that is so close that two people become one. Marriage should ideally be a place where you feel free to show your true self, knowing that your partner will love and accept you as you are. However, it is also the union of two imperfect humans. What makes it more complicated is that there are other factors that can affect a marriage and its intimacy – issues with money, raising up children, dealing with in-laws and so on.
But if a married couple wants to enjoy more intimacy or to at least maintain a certain level of intimacy, they need to work at these barriers. Mind you, intimacy is not just about the sexual aspect of the relationship. More than that, it is “being one” on other levels – emotionally and intellectually.
The first step to building intimacy is to identify some of the barriers that prevent a couple’s closeness. By being pro-active, you can know what hinders you and your spouse from achieving the level of intimacy you want and work from there. Here are some barriers that rob the joy from (and could potentially destroy) a marriage:
Lack of self awareness. The adage, “Know thyself.” is a challenge, but it is necessary in building intimacy between you and your spouse. The more we know ourselves (our strengths, our weaknesses, our desires), the more we are able to share these to our spouse. We also tend to be more comfortable, more in control about ourselves and our actions and reactions when we are more self-aware. To help prevent lack of self-awareness from rearing its ugly head, we need to take it upon ourselves to deal with unresolved emotional and psychological issues that we have, as we proceed towards knowing more and more about ourselves. If you need some help with this, you can consider going for some personal counseling. Counseling can help us deal with emotional baggage, as well as our unmet needs (and how we can communicate this to our spouse)
Lack of communication. Intimacy involves communication – the sharing of what we feel, who we are, what we think. Without communication, our spouse will not know us on a deeper level, and vice versa. Also, when we fail to communicate how we feel, as we often do when we don’t want to rock the boat, feelings of resentment and bitterness can pile up and even explode at unexpected times.
Problems with physical intimacy. A couple may have issues with sexual compatibility or physical intimacy. Even though sex is just one aspect of a couple’s intimacy, a satisfying sex life can bring a couple closer and forge a bond. A problem with physical intimacy (i.e. wrong concepts about sex, fear of being touched, etc.) can lead to sexual dissatisfaction. Those who have issues with physical intimacy may benefit from couples therapy in Provo, where an experienced counselor can help you explore the reasons behind these issues.
Lack of time. The tyranny of the urgent. Pressing commitments, demands for attention from children, deadlines from work – all these eat up time. Building intimacy also needs time – time for you to enjoy and experience each other, time for you to simply sit and communicate. Often, it may demand for you to set priorities. Make it a point to set time just for the both of you.
Infidelity. The loss of trust brought on by infidelity may be a hard barrier to overcome. Trust has to be earned back and this may take some work and time, as well as some marriage therapy.
Conflicts. When you are at odds with each other, this will naturally affect your closeness as a couple. Conflicts may cover a wide range of concerns – money, priorities, incompatibility with your core values and so on.
Addictions. Substance abuse problems (drugs and alcohol), as well as other addictions (pornography, gambling, etc.) can suck a lot of positive energy from a relationship. The other partner’s pre-occupation is with the addiction and this negatively impacts the relationship. Sexual intimacy is affected by a partner’s addiction to pornography – where the other partner is left with feelings of insecurity while the other partner has to deal with unmet expectations compounded by feelings of guilt. You may need to consider getting Utah substance abuse counseling for the partner who is addicted.
The good news is that a couple can rise above barriers to intimacy. It may be a challenge but it can be done. With the help of an experienced marriage counselor, you can take the first step towards breaking down these barriers and starting the never-ending journey of becoming one.
If you are located in Provo, Utah, do visit Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan has years of marriage counseling and therapy under his belt. As a therapist licensed to practice in Utah, he has been helping couples strengthen their marriage bonds and enjoy a deeper level of intimacy.
Anxiety is a disorder that causes feelings of terror and panic. These feelings are often so overwhelming that they can be debilitating.
Anxiety encompasses several different psychological disorders, including:
- Panic Disorder often strikes suddenly without any warning. This type of disorder encompasses feelings of a panic attack, which can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, excessive sweating and overwhelming thoughts of feeling crazy.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, known as OCD, is a condition where constant thoughts or fears become compulsive, often turning into regular routines or rituals. These obsessive thoughts can overtake one’s life. For example, people suffering from severe germ phobias may obsessively wash their hands, indicating a type of OCD behavior.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, known as PTSD, can not only develop in people who have been to war, but following a traumatic event, which may include a physical attack, sexual assault, death of a loved one or even a natural disaster. A disaster may include a terrorist attack, such as 9/11. People suffering from PTSD have terrorizing, frightening thoughts towards the events they experienced, sometimes resulting in a lasting emotional numbness.
- Social Anxiety Disorder involves constant, overwhelming anxiety and worry towards everyday social situations and personal interactions. People suffering from this disorder may have a deep-rooted fear of judgment, or are easily embarrassed and often feel ridiculed.
- General Anxiety Disorder involves improbable tension and fears, even if the situation does not warrant or provoke anxiety.
- Specific phobias involve overwhelmingly intense fears towards specific situations or objects. For example, fear of space is agoraphobia and fear of spiders is arachnophobia.
There are many different treatment options available for people suffering from anxiety disorders. These include medications that help reduce anxiety, including anti-depressants. Dietary and lifestyle changes are also advisable. People suffering from anxiety may desire to reduce lifestyle stress through yoga and breathing techniques.
Two different types of one-on-one therapies include Psychotherapy and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Therapists in Provo offer psychotherapy counseling that helps people suffering with anxiety discuss their problems and create targeted solutions to help them deal with their individual types of disorders. Provo counselors can determine if Cognitive-Behavior Therapy would be a better approach. If so, this type of therapy helps people recognize anxiety triggers and learn how to change how they react both physically and emotionally to these prompts. Provo counseling is an excellent way for people suffering from anxiety disorders to minimize their fears and gain control over the anxiety that haunts them.
“All my life I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. Something missing or damaged.”
“Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants.” So says Cassandra Clare in her book City of Bones.
The teenage years are fraught with drama, pressures and challenges. It is a time of confusion – where the child transitions into adulthood and is coming into terms with it. There is pressure from inside (as a teen tries to discover his identity and adjusts to changes in his body), from peers (as a teen desires to be accepted by friends) and from parents.
The teen starts to learn more about himself and his environment. The teen may to discover boundaries and new ideas and try to test them. The pressures may further be compounded by events that are beyond the teen’s or his family’s control.
This time may also be a time of growth, where the teen learns to deal with these pressures constructively. When he does this successfully, he is able to emerge from the adolescent years stronger and ready to face the challenges of adulthood. However, there may be instances where a teen meets with challenges and is unable to cope with these in a healthy manner. There may be a need for some outside help, such as individual or family counseling in Utah to help the teen through the issues the face him.
It is important for parents and care givers to know if a teen needs some form of counseling – Utah substance abuse counseling, individual or family counseling or anger management therapy.
A teen may be particularly vulnerable when he has experienced or is experiencing the following:
– The development of an illness or a disability due to an accident
– The death or sickness of a loved one
– Major changes in his life – the breakdown of his parents’ marriage that ends in divorce, moving to another location or school, the loss of a boyfriend/girlfriend, drastic changes in his family’s financial situation.
– He is a witness to a traumatic incident
– He is a victim of abuse or bullying
– She has or has had a teen pregnancy
Also, a teen’s behavior may be his cry for help. If parents are aware and alert, they will be able to see that there is possibly a serious problem that requires Provo counseling. Here are some signs a parent should watch out for:
– Signs of depression: Extended periods where the teen feels despair, sadness and anger. These may also be times when a teen is overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Depression may also be manifested in a lack of energy or appetite, changes in sleep and eating patterns, withdrawing from family and friends, as well as a neglect of personal appearance and hygiene. Please note that teens may exhibit signs of sadness or distress and this can be perfectly normal. However, if these feelings persist, they may indicate depression.
– Pre-occupation with death/suicide: A serious red flag may be a teen’s constant inferences towards death or suicide through jokes, letters, or choice of music. The teen may also discuss this fascination through everyday conversation. Some behavior that also point towards suicidal tendencies would be the sudden giving away of personal possessions that you know they consider valuable or saying “I love you.” or asking, “Will you miss me?” out of the blue.
– Violent or risky behavior. Bouts of temper, where the teen may start harmful behaviors towards self or others. For instance, he makes use of behavior that intimidates or bullies others or he may try to start a fight. He may also mistreat or hurt animals, damage other people’s property or may try starting fires. The teen may also exhibit behavior that is considered risky, such as being sexually promiscuous, being involved in illegal activity or carrying a dangerous weapon. The teen may also try to run away from home.
– Physical signs. Unexplained weight loss of gain, frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after meals, refusal to join in family meals or a lack of appetite may hint at an eating disorder.
– Signs of substance abuse. Your child may start experimenting with alcohol, tobacco and drugs. This may be indicated by “strange” behavior, such as brushing his teeth the moment he comes home, his smelling of smoke, beer and alcohol beverages becoming missing.
– Deteriorating performance in school. There may be a drop in grades, disciplinary problems with persons in authority and truancy.
– Other behaviors. These negative behaviors include bed-wetting shoplifting, lying, refusing to submit to authorities and at times, breaking curfew or staying out all night.
It is important to understand that there may be an inherent cause as to why a teen behaves in the above manner. This is where therapy and counseling can help. Therapy can help the teen trace the cause of their negative behavior, why their behaviors is negative and how they can make use of tools to change thoughts and behaviors towards the positive. Therapy can also help teens come to terms with the stresses they are experiencing and discover constructive ways by which they can deal with these stressors and problems.
A teenage is especially vulnerable and as parents, we are tasked to safeguard their physical and emotional help as we try to prepare him to face the demands of being an adult. With early intervention and counseling, you can help lead him out through the maze of adolescence, towards a successful future as an adult.
Dr. Triston Morgan, whose practice is based in Provo, Utah, is a licensed therapist with a wealth of experience in dealing with troubled teens. If you are looking for someone to help your teenager deal with the stresses and issues he is going through and you are based in Utah, feel free to contact Dr. Morgan for an initial consultation.
You notice your teen acting strangely lately, but you shrug it off with the thought that teens do act strange and that it is just his “emo” phase. But is it really? Is it just a teen’s moods swings (which is normal) or is it already depression? How can you even know?
Depressing Facts about this Mental Illness
Depression is a mental illness. It is not just having an “emo phase”, which can be normal during the teenage years. The teenage years are a source of a lot of drama between the parents and the teen. This is a time of great upheaval – the teen is facing confusion about his identity, his transition from childhood into adulthood. Add in peer pressure, stress from school and home and other setbacks in life into the mix and you may have a teen who feels sad and angry. But normally, these feelings fade over time.
Not so with depression. Depression is a mental state or mood that persists for weeks, even months. There is an overwhelming sense of despair, guilt or even anger. And depression can hit teens and hit hard. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 1 in every 12 teens are affected with depression. And this will rise to be 3 in every 12 teens by the time these teens reach age 18. In addition, one out of every 5 teens who have suffered from clinical depression will also carry this well into adulthood.
There are many types of depression that can strike teenagers:
Major depression. The sad mood that persists is already affecting the teen’s ability to function normally – to eat, sleep and study. There is a constant feeling of helplessness and an inability to feel happy.
Bipolar disorder. This is marked by alternating moods. One moment, your teen can’t seem to be bothered to even lift a finger and in another moment there is high (though negative) energy. One moment, your teen explodes into a temper tantrum and then in another dissolves into tears with no apparent. Bipolar disorder is usually developed during the late teens and early adulthood and may strike 1 to 2% of teens.
Dysthymia. This is marked by irritability, sadness, feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem but is not as severe as major depression. However, the feelings may last for a long time, in some cases for more than a year.
Dealing with teen depression
The good news is that depression can be treated successfully. The bad news is that depression is just attributed as a phase and only about 1 out of 5 teens get treated. As parents and caregivers of teens, it is important that we are on the lookout for the red flags that point towards depression to ensure that our teens get the help they need.
Note the following red flags; consider the length and severity wherein these symptoms have been present and lastly, how large the disparity of the child’s present behavior as opposed to his “usual” self.
– Increased behaviors that point towards anger, sadness, hopelessness, irritability or hostility
– Increased frequency of crying and temper tantrums. The teen may cry for no obvious reason.
– Increased withdrawal from family and even from past friends. The teen may avoid social or family activity and would rather be alone.
– The teen constantly has no energy or motivation and may start neglecting their hygiene and appearance.
– Loss of interest in sports, hobbies and activities that the teen used to enjoy.
– Shifts in bedtime and eating habits. May exhibit signs of an eating disorder – loss of appetite, unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
– Lack of the ability to focus.
– Comments about suicide or death, especially those that mention these as being beneficial or advantageous to him (i.e. “Perhaps more people will love me if I’m gone.”)
– Increased complaints about stomachaches, headaches, back pains and dizziness where there is no medical cause.
– Deteriorating school performance – drop in grades, discipline problems at school and truancy.
– Preoccupation with sadness and death, may exhibit self-destructive behavior
– Makes effort to run away from home or talks about it
Also take note that in some teens, depression may be predominantly marked by hostility, irritability and aggression rather than sadness.
With teen depression, there is a tendency to act in self-destructive ways – attempt suicide, abuse drugs or alcohol, exhibit reckless behavior that may endanger self or others and so on. Suicide ranks in the top 3 causes of deaths among American teens. That is why it is important to get an early diagnosis and seek help from Provo counselors.
Getting a counselor that is not just qualified and trained but also experienced in handling troubled teens will be particularly helpful. If necessary, you must also get the help of a Provo substance abuse counselor to deal with alcohol or drug abuse.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that prevention programs, including individual or family counseling in Utah and therapeutic boarding schools, can really help to arrest the negative effects of teen depression. And by doing so, these also prevent alcohol and drug use or abuse, eating disorders and so on. Teens usually need to simply get the tools to help him deal with teen depression.
If you are looking for an experienced family counselor in Provo, Utah, do give Dr. Triston Morgan a call. He has extensive experience in working with troubled teens, especially those with substance abuse issues. He provides his therapy in a non-confrontational environment that helps the child open up.
Getting into a drinking binge at a party. Craving that constant high. A teen who starts having discipline problems at school and puts on a rebellious attitude at home. Someone who loses a job or plays the truant in school because he’s always sick due to a hangover. These may be signs of substance abuse.
Substance abuse can be defined as the pathological use of a substance – alcohol, drugs, prescription medication or tobacco. Although a person who has a substance abuse problem may not yet be considered an addict (and there are no issues with withdrawal symptoms), there will be undesirable consequences that will affect an individual’s family life, social life and work life. A person who has substance abuse issues may perform poorly in school or work, have problems with the legal system and may act negligently or carelessly so as to cause harm to themselves and others.
There is also the tendency that substance abuse can devolve into addictions, where people have this uncontrollable compulsion to indulge in his addiction of choice. Over time, there is a feeling of helplessness and lack of self-worth. What they are focused on is how to get the next fix.
It is especially sad for parents to see this happening to their children. Having a child who has substance abuse problems may be one of a parent’s worst fears. That is why it is important for parents to nurture a caring and supportive environment where children feel loved and are less vulnerable to turning to drugs and alcohol. Parents should also be on the lookout for possible substance abuse and act accordingly to help their child win over the temptation to indulge in substance abuse.
Parents should be on the lookout for:
– Change in behavior. A teen who is into substance abuse may be suddenly sullen and rebellious and be more insistent about “privacy” and may withdraw from family events. You may notice a change in attitude as the teen becomes more hostile and sullen and may also be caught lying at times. As the substance abuse worsens, you may see increased conflicts with your teen, where he is becoming more and more out of control.
– Have alcohol or tobacco in their breath. Or, they may try to mask it by going straight to their rooms to “freshen up”.
– Declining performance in school. Grades may start to suffer and there may be complaints about delinquency and truancy, as well as discipline issues in school
– Change of peer group. Your teen may start minimizing contact with friends who don’t share the substance abuse problem and may spend more time with other peers who are also substance abusers.
– Change in activities. The sports and extra-curricular activities your teen used to enjoy may be dropped. Your teen may also be always “out with friends”.
– Mysterious loss of valuables and money. Things may suddenly go missing around the house. Or, your teen may start borrowing money from you, their siblings, other relatives and friends.
Dealing with Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is oftentimes caused by underlying issues the teen feels he has no control over or that he is unable to deal with. That is why going for Utah substance abuse counseling is one important component in treating this problem. It is also most effective when counseling is also coupled with medical treatment.
Going to a substance abuse counselor in Provo will help the teen deal with the underlying cause of the substance abuse. It is also vital in helping them recover their healthy functioning and build healthy relationships with others. Counseling will also help provide essential tools on how to manage this problem and prevent relapses from occurring.
Substance abuse therapy may focus on the emotions and thoughts that lead to the problem. It helps the teens to look into their feelings and identify situations that lead them to the temptation to take on drugs and alcohol – and how these situations can be avoided. Other tools include relaxation techniques to help the individual resist the temptation, manage the stress or anxiety they feel at this time and explore healthy outlets for pent up emotions and anger.
Teens may also feel anger (at their families, friends and even themselves) and therapy will help delve into the root causes of this anger. Through therapy, they are given tools on how they can express this anger in a healthy manner and deal with it constructively.
Families who have a teen who is into substance abuse could also do well to have Utah family therapy. It is important to foster an environment where the teen can see his family and friends support him and make efforts to get him back on track. Family therapy will be helpful to identify if there are any behaviors by family members that “enable” a teen’s substance abuse problems. Family members (especially parents) are also provided with communication tools and how they can effectively resolve any conflicts within the family that may have contributed to the substance abuse problem.
When in Provo, Utah, be sure to look up Dr. Triston Morgan. He is a highly experienced substance abuse counselor in Utah and has treated teens in various settings.