Antidepressants For Anxiety: Do They Help?

Antidepressants For Anxiety: Do They Help?

Anxiety may respond well to treatment. Your doctor might suggest prescription medication for your anxiety—here’s what to know about some of the most commonly prescribed types of medication.

Types of Antidepressants

Antidepressant medications may work by influencing neurotransmitters. These medicines may get used for treating anxiety symptoms, but they often take 4 to 6 weeks to get visible healing done.

Tricyclics

Tricyclics work, like SSRIs, work for treating many anxiety disorders, excluding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Instances of tricyclics used for anxiety are:

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)

Tricyclics are old drugs that get prescribed less often, as new drugs cause fewer side effects.

Side effects of tricyclics can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Weight gains
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Urinary retention
  • Constipation

Side effects may frequently be controlled by altering the dose or switching to other tricyclics.

MAOIs

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) get prescribed for treating panic disorder.

MAOIs that are FDA approved for treating depression but used off-label for anxiety are:

  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
  • Selegiline (Emsam)
  • Dicarboxamide (Marplan)

Like tricyclics, MAOIs are old drugs that trigger more significant side effects than new drugs. Some side effects are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia

Types of Anxiety Medications SSRIs and SNRIs

SSRIs and SNRIs often form the prime main medication treatments for anxiety. They typically work well for many people as they have developed solid safety profiles. These medications, however, may require four to six weeks to accumulate within your body gradually. They can trigger nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, resulting in low sodium levels. For a minor percentage of users, they cause sexual side effects.

Examples of SSRIs utilized to treat anxiety are:

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

SSRIs may trigger various side effects, but many users tolerate these without issues. Side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Sexual Dysfunction

SNRI’s include Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), or Venlafaxine XR (Effexor XR).

Consult with your doctor if you experience any concerns over any specific side effects.

Vistaril

Vistaril refers to an antihistamine that may be used to treat anxiety PRN medication (as an and when required)

  • Pros

You may consume Vistaril, when necessary, for temporary anxiety relief, like before surgery.

  • Cons

It may lead to dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, or blurred vision.

Buspar

Buspar raises your levels of the elevating neurotransmitter Serotonin and Dopamine.

  • Pros

To relieve anxiety, it improves your sense of contentment.

  • Cons

It may result in dizziness or drowsiness, and nausea.

Abilify and Seroquel

Abilify and Seroquel refer to antipsychotic drugs which treat some types of mental health and mood disorders and can be used as add-on treatment for difficult to treat anxiety.

  • Pros

They get to work fast so you can feel better in several days.

  • Cons

They may render you exhausted, but that might be good when you have trouble sleeping. They might cause spasms, dry mouth, and involuntary body movements.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers common examples include Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax) and Lorazepam (Ativan).

  • Pros

They may provide you with instant relief.

  • Cons

You may just use them temporarily as you may grow dependent on them and develop resistance to them.

Beta-blockers

The beta blocker Propranolol is used to treat social anxiety.

  • Pros

You might utilize them to reduce anxiety before stage performances or public speeches.

  • Cons

It might trigger low blood pressure and dizziness.

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Why Telehealth Services Learn The Benefits

Why Telehealth Services? Learn The Benefits

Are you looking to incorporate telehealth technology into your company and offer such services for your patients? If yes, you aren’t alone. The usage of telehealth in the country has increased significantly, rising by more than 50% between 2016 and 2017. Based on a FAIR Health report, these figures are comparatively much higher than other types of service studied in the report.

What’s with all the buzz around telehealth and its boom? Here are some of the key benefits offered by telehealth services for both patients and providers.

Supports Independence

For most older adults, maintaining their independence is a priority. Telehealth plays a crucial aspect in assisting people with their daily living without heavy reliance on other people and institutions.

The increased usage of telehealth enables older adults to monitor their own health on the move or even at home. In telehealth, patients keep track of their vital signs like heart rate as well as blood pressure, and these details are sent to registered clinicians for remote monitoring.

Expedites Timely Care

One challenge of providing healthcare is the ability to direct patients to the right provider in the shortest time possible. Patients may need to make unnecessary trips to the urgent care clinic or emergency room, leading to delays in the care provided. Telehealth eliminates these hindrances as the patient will be able to see a physician immediately, leading to more timely care.

Helps Patients with Limited Mobility

For those who experience difficulties with their movement or for those who don’t have reliable means of transportation, telehealth can benefit them greatly. Essential healthcare services can be provided to these patients via technology such as video calls to ensure they receive healthcare whenever they require it and wherever they are.

Reduces Rural Barriers to Care

A significant benefit of telehealth is its effectiveness in addressing the challenges that arise with providing healthcare for people living in rural areas or remote places. It has been reported that 25% of people living in such areas didn’t receive timely healthcare services and another quarter of people felt that the location to the nearest provider was too far or difficult to get to.

Telehealth essentially shrinks or removes the distances between people living in rural areas and healthcare services, largely improving the accessibility of healthcare in these communities.

Lowers Strain on Healthcare System

In the United States, access to care is an issue faced by patients. Many people struggle to receive timely healthcare during evenings or on weekends without making the trip to the emergency department. Scheduling appointments with physicians and specialists are also difficult due to the extremely long wait times.

With the increasing utilization of telehealth and remote care technologies, more people will be able to receive timely care, reducing the strain on the existing healthcare systems.

Receive Quality Psychiatric Services at Wonder Years

If you’re considering psychiatric services, then Wonder Years can help you. We have a comprehensive array of psychiatric services, including therapy, second opinions, neuropsychological assessments as well as telepsychiatry among many others. If you have any questions regarding our services, feel free to contact us today.

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TMS Treatment For Depression Five Things You Should Know

TMS Treatment For Depression: Five Things You Should Know

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a form of non-invasive treatment which helps stimulate the brain nerves using magnetic pulses. Typically, a doctor will suggest TMS treatment when the patient is diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. TMS is highly effective in relieving symptoms of depression and improving the mood in patients. Here are some of the key things you should know about TMS treatment for depression.

What is TMS?

Generally, healthcare professionals will utilize therapy and medication to help treat depression in patients. In patients who are resistant to these first-line treatments, doctors may recommend alternative solutions like TMS, where a magnetic coil will be placed on the scalp or forehead of the patient. The coil then sends a magnetic pulse that passes directly through the skull to stimulate certain nerves in the brain.

The doctor will usually administer the pulses in rapid succession to produce longer-lasting effects on the brain nerves. The magnetic pulses emitted are similar in type and strength to that of an MRI machine; the patient will not feel any form of pain.

What is TMS Treatment for Depression?

During TMS treatment for depression, doctors will place greater emphasis on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the region of the brain that’s responsible for several cognitive functions such as mood management and memory. Studies have shown that stimulating this part of the brain using magnetic pulses can benefit how the nerve cells work, thus alleviating some of the symptoms faced by patients who have depression.

However, while most people respond well to TMS treatment, its antidepressant effect can wear off over some time.

Who is Suitable for TMS?

Depression is a complex condition that can be very complicated to treat. People who are deemed by the doctor to have treatment-resistant depression or those that are unable to consume medication for various reasons are ideal candidates for TMS treatment.

Who is Unsuitable for TMS?

It is not recommended for people to receive TMS treatment if they have the following implants in their head:

  • Aneurysm coils or clips
  • Bullet or shrapnel fragments
  • Ear implants or metallic eye
  • Facial tattoos with magnetic ink
  • Stents
  • Electrodes
  • Deep brain stimulators

People who are at a higher risk of experiencing seizures should also avoid TMS since seizures are one of the possible side effects.

What are the Side Effects of TMS?

While TMS is generally safe and well-tolerated by many patients, it is common for people to experience some side effects, such as:

  • Temporary hearing problems
  • Facial twitching during treatment
  • Painful scalp during treatment
  • Tension headaches

Seizures are more serious side effects that can occur, but the chances are significantly low.

Comprehensive Psychiatric Services at Wonder Years

Here at Wonder Years, we provide an extensive array of top-quality psychiatric services available for patients with varying needs. Whether it’s offering second opinions, therapy, ADHD coaching, telepsychiatry, or even TMS treatment, we can help you. We focus strongly on compliance with treatment as well as regular discussion regarding medications, diagnosis, and any potential side effects arising from treatment plans.

Feel free to reach out to us and begin your journey with us at Wonder Years today.

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Is Online Psychologist Therapy Worth It

Is Online Psychotherapy Worth It?

Nowadays, technological advancements along with the increased accessibility of the internet have paved the way for people to seek online counseling and therapy services. They have become a popular option, even as a mainstream medium for people to receive mental health services. Online counseling and therapy are, in fact, viewed to be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy.

For many, traditional therapy is still a preferred option, especially because they haven’t had the opportunity to experience the benefits and advantages offered by online psychotherapy. If you are still not sure about online therapy or are considering it, then this is the right place for you! Here, we will tell you more about online psychotherapy and the benefits it can offer you.

What is Online Psychotherapy?

To put it simply, online psychotherapy is a service that provides professional mental health treatment virtually on an online platform. Such services are typically provided through video conferences, chat rooms, web cameras, and emails.

This form of online psychology counseling is generally also referred to as e-therapy, cyber counseling, or teletherapy. By engaging with an online therapist, the individual can find relevant support for certain issues or problems they face.

Today, there are many clinical and coaching psychologists offering mental health services, but not all of them can provide the best form of support that you require. So, it’s essential you know what you’re looking for in a therapist and you should be looking for someone who can offer the most optimal practical strategies that can work for you.

The Many Benefits of Online Psychotherapy

There are various benefits when it comes to online psychology therapy and counseling. If you’re interested or considering switching from your in-person sessions, you can consider some of the advantages listed below.

  • Affordability

Online psychology therapy services are generally cheaper than in-person sessions because it does not involve the fee of renting a physical space. The patient is also able to save on transport expenses as they can benefit from the sessions in the comfort of their home.

  • Freedom of Communication

You’ll have the freedom to choose the method of communication you prefer or feel comfortable with. Whether it’s text-based, through video calls or emails, it’s entirely up to you.

  • Privacy

Online therapy helps in tackling the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in many different traditions and cultures. Patients don’t have to physically travel to an office and fear being recognized by someone.

Get Your Psychological Assessment with Wonder Years

If you’re keen on getting online psychology therapy or counseling, Wonder Years is the ideal choice for you. We cover a comprehensive range of psychological assessment services which include neuropsychological assessments, comprehensive initial evaluation, and even second opinions for those that want a different look at a diagnosis or treatment.

Besides our collaborative approach to our patients, we emphasize strongly on compliance with the treatment process and frequent discussion regarding diagnosis, medications, as well as potential side effects.

Get started with us and book your appointment today! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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Four Things To Know About Telepsychiatry

Four Things To Know About Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry involves a process that requires the use of telecommunications devices to provide psychiatric services for patients that are physically away from the psychiatrist. Telepsychiatry is also an option for those who feel more comfortable being at home.

Here, we look at some of the important things you should know about telepsychiatry as well as some of the benefits it brings about.

What is Telepsychiatry?

Telepsychiatry is a subset of telemedicine where technology is utilized, often through video calls, to provide a variety of mental care services for patients. By using telepsychiatry, patients can directly interact with their psychiatrists via video conferencing facilities or the telephone.

Telepsychiatry covers a range of services, including the following:

  • Medication management
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychiatric diagnosis and evaluation
  • Client education
  • Family therapy

Is Telepsychiatry Effective?

Telepsychiatry can be useful for a majority of people, opening an alternative route as opposed to the traditional in-person sessions for psychiatric services.

Generally, telemedicine is a cost-effective solution that also increases the accessibility of mental health care services. According to the American Psychiatric Association, studies have shown that telepsychiatry has resulted in high client satisfaction ratings and is equivalent to in-person care in terms of:

  • Quality of care
  • Client confidentiality and privacy
  • Treatment effectiveness
  • Accuracy of diagnosis

Benefits of Telepsychiatry

The main benefit of telepsychiatry is that it’s able to provide an effective and practical alternative solution to in-person psychiatric services. It is suited for people of all ages, including adults, children, and adolescents. For other groups of people, such as those living with severe anxiety disorders or autism, telepsychiatry is primarily a preferred option to in-person treatment.

Other benefits of telepsychiatry can also include:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Increased convenience and accessibility
  • Enhanced quality of care

How Does Telepsychiatry Work?

Similar to traditional face-to-face psychiatric appointments, telepsychiatry requires the patient to first visit their local clinic to get a referral to a psychiatrist. Then, the patient’s doctor or clinic will fix the initial telepsychiatry appointment with the psychiatrist offering the service.

The patient should make sure that they have all the relevant information or medical records available, in the event that the psychiatrist needs to access them.

Telepsychiatry sessions typically adhere to the same guidelines as in-person appointments. The psychiatrist will regularly discuss with the patient their issues, goals, and treatment plan.

These are the duties of the psychiatrist during the telepsychiatry service:

  • Schedule follow-up appointments
  • Refer the client to other services
  • Prescribe medication
  • Devise and implement treatment plans

Telepsychiatry services are typically accessible in the following places:

  • Schools
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Mental health centers

Get Quality Telepsychiatry Services at Wonder Years

If you’re looking to learn more about telepsychiatry services or are considering the switch from your in-person appointments to telepsychiatry services, Wonder Years is an ideal option for you.

We offer an extensive range of psychiatric services, including telepsychiatry, neuropsychological assessments, ADHD coaching, therapy, second opinions, and many more. Apart from our strong emphasis on regular discussion about diagnosis and compliance with treatment plans, we have a collaborative approach when it comes to providing mental health care for our patients. Contact us today to find out more!

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What’s The Difference Between A Psychologist And A Psychiatrist?

What’s The Difference Between A Psychologist And A Psychiatrist?

The terms “psychologist” and “psychiatrist” are often used interchangeably by those unfamiliar with the field of medical health. While both professionals treat those struggling with mental health issues on an individual basis, there are some significant differences between them. These differences lie in the aspects of professional scope, training, and education. So, what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and which would you benefit from seeing? We discuss that here.

Understanding Psychology

Psychology is the study of behavior, emotions, and the mind. Before it was established as an independent discipline in the mid-19th century, psychology was a branch of philosophy. Psychology students evaluate the various social and cognitive factors that shape the way people behave and react to situations. Psychologists utilize myriad therapeutic techniques to help their patients improve their mental health and heal from trauma.

Understanding Psychiatry

Psychiatry comes under the field of medicine and focuses on evaluating and treating mental health issues. The term is derived from psychiatria from Medieval Latin, which means “a healing of the soul.” What differentiates psychiatrists from psychologists is that they understand how biology might shape a person’s medical health. They are also able to prescribe medication.

How are they Different?

  • Training and Education: The educational process to become a psychologist can take 8 to 10 years. Psychologists must have a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctoral degree in their field and are required to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in many states. Psychiatrists need to have a bachelor’s degree before they attend medical school. They need to study various fields such as anatomy, neurology, biology, and more, which gives them the necessary knowledge to prescribe medication. Psychology graduates go on to complete a residency before they seek their license. The entire process can take up to 12 years.
  • Practice: Both psychologists and psychiatrists provide psychotherapy. The difference lies in the mode of therapy: psychiatrists primarily provide medication, while psychologists employ talk or behavioral therapy. In some states, psychologists are granted prescription privileges if they complete the necessary training and education.

Which Should You See?

If you think you might have a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it would be best for you to seek a psychiatrist. While traditional talk therapy can be beneficial for those conditions, medication is often necessary.

A good place to start if you are not sure whether you need a psychologist or psychiatrist is to see a licensed counselor. They will take you through talk therapy, where you can process your trauma and learn tools to help you cope with depression, stress, and anxiety without medication. After some time together, your counselor will be able to determine if you need additional help, at which point they might recommend that you start seeing a psychiatrist.

A psychiatrist would then provide you with a neuropsychological assessment and a comprehensive initial assessment to find out how they can best help you. If you are already seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist but think that you might benefit from a second opinion on your current treatment, that can also be offered.

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Tips To Find A Psychotherapist That’s Good For You

Tips To Find A Psychotherapist That’s Good For You

As with all partnerships in your life, finding a psychotherapist that’s the right fit for you can take some trial and error. Sometimes you may be lucky enough to find someone you click with right off the bat, but other times you may need to dig a little deeper to find a good match. Here are our tips to help you find a psychotherapist that’s good for you.

Evaluate Your Needs

The first thing to do is evaluate what you would need out of a mental health provider. Some people might find that talk therapy is sufficient, while others may feel that they need medication. Yet others are simply looking for a comprehensive initial assessment to help them determine their diagnosis. Some do not know exactly what they are looking for, but are feeling distressed and are looking for some relief.

If medication is required, you would do best with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. If you are seeking psychotherapy, you can look for counseling, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, clinical psychologists, or certified drug and alcohol counselors.

Consider Your Finances

Therapy comes with a multitude of life-changing benefits, but it is also an investment. The most affordable option would be to find a psychotherapist who is on your insurance plan. However, certain therapists either are not included in your insurance plan or do not accept insurance. If the full fee is too costly for you, you can find lower-cost options at a community mental health center or clinics affiliated with local universities. The latter will provide therapists-in-training, who are often graduate students. Lower fees do not necessarily mean that you will receive a lower quality of service. If you are comfortable, your workplace or school may even offer free short-term counseling services.

Do Your Research

Sometimes, the best place to start is with a simple internet search for mental health providers in your area. If you live in a city, chances are that you will have your pick of choices. Unfortunately, a rural area might yield fewer results, although there should still be options that you can choose from. Getting personal recommendations from people in your life that you can trust can also be a helpful starting point. Your family doctor may be familiar with therapists in the area, and community leaders at places of worship can also provide help if necessary.

Meet the Therapist

Once you find your top candidates, call them up to schedule an appointment. On your first meeting, you will complete some paperwork and discuss your concerns, health status, and life history with your potential psychotherapist. This is a chance for both of you to see whether you will be able to work well together. You should have a list of questions ready for the therapist, which can revolve around:

  • Their experience, license, training, and education
  • If they have any experience with the issues you are currently facing
  • The type of therapy they provide, and evidence of its effectiveness
  • Their office hours, availability, any after-hours emergency services they provide, and their fees

Not all psychotherapists provide the same services. Still, taking the first step in reaching out for help is always a good start.

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6 Signs You Need To Find A Psychologist In New York

6 Signs You Need To Find A Psychologist In New York

Life is a complex thing. We cycle through a variety of circumstances – and emotions – through the years. Sometimes, everything seems to be going well, and other times it seems as though we are in a rut. We may experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, agitation, or emotional disturbance in general. While these feelings are normal from time to time, especially if precipitated by particular events, there may come a time when you need extra help to manage them. Here, we discuss 6 signs that you need to find a psychologist in New York to help you through tough times.

You are Undergoing a Transitional Stage

If you are experiencing feelings of stress (or are feeling low in general) while undergoing a transitional stage, you may want to consult a psychologist. Big life changes, such as a move to another city or job, can prompt negative emotions that may point to other, underlying issues. Perhaps you do not cope well with change or instability. A psychologist could help you get relief from these issues and help you understand why you feel the way that you do.

You have Low-self Esteem

We don’t always feel on top of the world. Most of us go through life with insecurities, but when feelings of low confidence, worthlessness, and sadness are persistent and debilitating, it may be time to seek help. If you feel that your low self-esteem has been causing you distress or is preventing you from living life to the fullest, you may need some help to overcome it.

Thoughts of Self-harm

If you feel worthless, or that life in general is not worth living, you might have accompanying thoughts of self-harm. This persistent sense of dread and apathy can be difficult to handle, and it can often seem as though you will never overcome it. This is not true, and seeing a psychologist or any mental health expert can give you the resources you need to overcome these feelings.

You are Having Relationship Issues

Relationships are delicate things that require care and attention. Some relationships are more fraught than others. If you are having issues in some of your important relationships, be they with your spouse or partner, parent or child, you may benefit from therapy. An individual therapist can help you through the effects that these relationship troubles may have on you, but couple and family therapy can provide a conducive, meditative environment for you and the other person to talk through your issues.

You are Withdrawing Socially

People are social creatures. Even the introverts among us have activities they enjoy, places they love to go to, and people that they enjoy spending time with. If you do not feel any impulse to do the things that you used to love and find yourself withdrawing socially, it could be a sign of deeper issues in your life.

Seeking Help

There is no shame in seeking help for your mental health if you need it. You can try a neuropsychological assessment to help you get started. We provide comprehensive initial assessments and can even offer second opinions if you are currently seeing a therapist but want a fresh perspective on your treatment.

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2 Best Treatments For Social Anxiety Disorder

2 Best Treatments For Social Anxiety Disorder

There are various social anxiety disorder treatments available, but which would be the best for you? How much your social anxiety disorder affects your ability to function on a daily basis will determine the kind of treatment you need. Typically, social anxiety disorder treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, or a mixture of both.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy refers to talk therapy or psychological counseling. This improves the symptoms of most people who have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Therapy can help you recognize and modify any intrusive negative thoughts you may have and develop the skills to help you take part in life activities more confidently.

The most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be conducted with equal effectiveness in individual or group settings. During CBT sessions, you face situations that cause you to fear. This helps you improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. You may participate in role-playing where you practice your social skills, honing your levels of comfort and confidence in social situations. Repeated exposure to situations that cause you to stress will help you become comfortable in dealing with them on your own.

Medication

Several types of medication are available for social anxiety disorder. The go-to medication is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Health care providers will most likely prescribe Zoloft or Paxil. A serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) known as Effexor XR is also a helpful option.

You will often start with a low dosage to reduce the risks of side effects. Your health care provider will then gradually increase your prescription until you reach the full dose. It can take a few weeks to months of medication for you to notice a significant improvement in your symptoms.

Other medications that you may be provided include beta-blockers, which help reduce heart rate, pounding of the heart, blood pressure, and shaky voice and limbs. These are often prescribed right before a big event that triggers your anxiety so that you can navigate it more calmly. Also commonly prescribed are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines. It is important to take these medications only when they are prescribed and to do so with care. These medications are not usually recommended for long-term use or general treatment of social anxiety disorder, as unrestrained use can lead to dependency.

Keep at It

In therapy, you are equipped with skills that will last you a long time, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you time to see noticeable results. Changes to the way your thought and behavioral patterns are structured take time to manifest, so be patient with yourself. Finding the right medication for your particular situation is also a process of trial and error.

For some people, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder will gradually fade with anxiety treatment, and medication can be discontinued. Others might need years of anxiety treatment to prevent relapses. Anxiety in children is also quite common, so if you think that your child might need help, it is best to seek it earlier rather than later.

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Teenager Self Harm – Immediate Strategies for Parents

Any parent who has a teenage son or a daughter has either heard or witnessed ‘self-harm’ first hand. For parents not only is self harm very concerning but it also leads to significant conflict. They question if they are ‘good enough’ parents. Are they doing the ‘best’ for their children.

So what is self-harm? Self harm is when a teenager hurts herself physically. Clinically, the most common forms of self harm I see are cutting, scratching, picking skin, pulling out one’s hair, burning one’s own skin and ingesting pills.

Why would my son or daughter want to self harm? Many reasons. But the most common I see is anxiety and stress either from school or home. At school stress could happen due to being bullied, not fitting socially, not achieving academic excellence, poor self esteem, relationship issues & gender identity issues. At home, stress could happen due to parental conflicts, conflicts with siblings, financial problems, coming out for kids who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or transgender, abuse and not meeting parental expectations.

Teenagers often report to me that self harm takes away the emotional pain they are suffering and replace it with physical pain which is more tolerable. Some teenagers are venting our anger and frustration towards themselves or others by hurting themselves. For some self harm is ritualistic and for some self harming can make them feel a sense of heightened emotion or experience.

As a parent what should I do or not do? Most importantly, Do Not consider Self harm as merely an ‘attention seeking behavior’. It is a genuine problem and a very strong predictor for future suicide. It is often difficult for parents to comprehend the problem. It is better to be concerned, confused and conflicted than ignoring the problem. Do not ignore it. Take Action.

I just saw my child who has self harmed. What do I do? 

  • If injuries are serious, call your child’s pediatrician. If it is after hours or doctor’s office is not responding, call 911 or take your child to the the nearest emergency room.
  • If the wounds are fresh, provide appropriate first aid like dressing fresh wound.
  • Do not over react. It can make matters worse.
  • While waiting for the ambulance or on your way to the hospital, ask questions like
  1. How did it happen?
  2. Go through the events step by step.
  3. How did they harm themselves?
  4. Where did they do it?
  5. Their feelings at the time of harming themselves
  6. Is it their first time harming themselves or have they hurt them selves before?
  7. Have they ingested anything as well like alcohol, pills, drugs?
  • At the ER, your child will be evaluated physically and then by a mental health clinician as well.
  • Upon discharge from the hospital, they will put into place a plan like having to see a therapist and a psychiatrist.
  • Follow the discharge plan as recommended
  • At home, implement a safety plan like removing dangerous objects, Ensuring the child is not left alone and Check in with them regularly.
  • Inform the school about the recent ER visit or hospitalization and develop a safety plan with the school guidance counselor or psychologist.
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