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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) was first mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual edition 4 (DSM-4) in 1994 where it was listed only as a feature of “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” or EDNOS. It wasn’t until 2013 that the DSM-5 recognized binge-eating as a stand-alone disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

To be diagnosed as having BED you must fit the DSM-5 criteria above. The signs and symptoms of BED are common among those who have BED, but may not be all-inclusive. Some people without BED may experience some of the same symptoms, while others who are diagnosed as having BED, do not experience all of the same symptoms as others. It is best to see a psychologist or therapist if you believe you have a binge eating disorder.

Common signs and symptoms are

  • Embarrassed by how much you eat
  • Prefer eating alone
  • Depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating habits
  • Sneaking, stealing, or hiding food from others
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor body image
  • Being overweight
  • Dieting without losing weight

diagnosis

Binge eating disorder is much different from simply overeating at a Thanksgiving dinner or a night out with friends. It is where individuals frequently feel compelled to eat large quantities of food that is not normal for a regular person. They also feel unable to stop themselves from continuing to eat.

The DSM-5 has five criteria for diagnosing binge eating disorder (BED).

Criterion 1: Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
  2. The sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)

Criterion 2: Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  1. Eating much more rapidly than normal
  2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  4. Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Criterion 3: Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.

Criterion 4: The binge eating occurs, on average,

  1. at least 2 days a week for 6 months (DSM-IV frequency and duration criteria)
  2. at least 1 day a week for 3 months (DSM-5 frequency and duration criteria)

Criterion 5: The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

The severity scale is as follows:

  1. Mild: 1-3 binge eating episodes per week
  2. Moderate: 4-7 binge eating episodes per week
  3. Severe: 8-13 binge eating episodes per week
  4. Extreme: 14 or more binge eating episodes per week

Risk Factors

  • Being female. An article from Mayo Clinic stated that binge eating disorder “is more common in women than in men. Although people of any age can have binge-eating disorder. “
  • Being 17-23 years old. The same article said that those in their late teens to early twenties are more at risk of developing a binge eating disorder although it can occur during different ages as well.
  • Family history. You are more at risk if you have family members who have or have had an eating disorder.
  • A history of dieting. Many people with eating disorders have a long history of dieting, especially those that drastically restrict their caloric intake. Those who have binge eating disorder tend to restrict and then binge.
  • Poor self-image. Those who have a poor self-image and feel negative about themselves are at risk of developing an eating disorder.

Prevalence

The National Eating Disorders Association did a study in 2007 where they found that 3.5% of women and 2.0% of men had a binge eating disorder during their life.

They went on to say, “This makes BED more than three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined. BED is also more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia.”

BED is by far the most common form of eating disorders, yet most people do not receive treatment. The same research from the National Eating Disorder Association stated that more than half of those with BED did not receive treatment at any point in their lives.

If many people do not seek treatment for binge eating disorder, it would make sense that it would have a higher prevalence compared to the other eating disorders.

But why wouldn’t they seek treatment?

One reason why many do not seek treatment could be that a lot of people who have BED may not even know they suffer from it. Instead of realizing they have a disorder, they simply think they lack self-control and don’t know how to diet properly.

Another reason why they might not reach out for help is that they are ashamed of their problem and afraid of the stigma and labels that are associated with those who have mental health problems.

Treatment

The main goals of treating a binge eating disorder are to help the client gain control over their eating binges, learn healthier eating habits, work on depression if present, and work on positive self-image or self-confidence.

There are various methods of treating binge eating disorders if seen by a mental health professional. The Mayo Clinic suggested the following types of therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT may help you cope better with issues that can trigger binge-eating episodes, such as negative feelings about your body or a depressed mood. It may also give you a better sense of control over your behavior and help you regulate eating patterns.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy. This type of therapy focuses on your relationships with other people. The goal is to improve your interpersonal skills — how you relate to others, including family, friends, and co-workers. This may help reduce binge eating that’s triggered by problematic relationships and unhealthy communication skills.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy. This form of therapy can help you learn behavioral skills to help you tolerate stress, regulate your emotions and improve your relationships with others, all of which can reduce the desire to binge eat.”

To find a therapist in your area you can go to Psychology Today at www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.

From there, make sure to check the specialties of the therapists you look at or try calling their offices to see if they work with eating disorders. If you or a loved one suffer from BED, getting help is always the best option.


Mental Health Risk Factors for Minorities

In 2008 the month of July was established as the Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in efforts to provide public awareness to mental health struggles that minorities and underrepresented populations face.

Originally, the word “minority” was used to distinguish minority populations such as minority ethnicities, races, or cultures. Today the phrase encompasses other minority groups as well. Such minority groups include the LGBTQ community and immigrants.

In this article, we will be discussing the unique mental health challenges experienced by each minority group.

LGBTQ

While not all LGBTQ’s have the same experience, many have experienced discrimination, prejudice, harassment, family rejection, and even hate crimes. These type of experiences have lasting effects that can be hard to overcome.

HealthyPeople.gov wrote an article stating:

“Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) reported that LGTBQs are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts than the general population. They stated that LGB adults are more than two times as likely to experience a mental health condition when compared with the heterosexual population.

They went on to report that LBG high schoolers are almost five times as likely to commit suicide and 48% of adult transgenders have contemplated suicide in the last year.

how you can help

Suicide is a tragedy for all who are affected by it. Reaching out and supporting friends and family who are LGBTQ could help reduce their suicide risk. As communities, we can help this population by practicing mutual respect despite differences.

immigrants

Immigration can be an extremely shocking experience. Most people who immigrate experience culture shock, encounter a language barrier, feel isolated from the new community, and miss the culture and people they left behind.

A study called “Mental Health in Immigrants Versus Native Population: A Systematic Review of the Literature” found that globally “immigrants experience more problems in depression, anxiety, and somatic disorders, pathologies related directly to the migration process and stress suffered.”

The American Journal of Psychiatry conducted a study of immigrants in the U.S. They found that immigrants in the United States “generally have lower rates of mood, anxiety, and substance disorders compared to the U.S.-born populations.”

Risk factors correlated with higher rates of psychiatric disorders include age at the time of immigration and length of residence in the United States. The younger the child at the time of immigration was linked to higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders. They found that the more time spent in the United States was correlated with much higher rates of psychiatric disorders. They said,

“Generational status is associated with an increased lifetime risk for all psychiatric disorders, such that lifetime prevalence rates for first-, second-, and third-generation immigrants are 19.3%, 35.27%, and 54.64%, respectively.”

The study found that for a lot of psychiatric disorders in the U.S., immigrants ranked lower than native-born populations, but with each new generation, their prevalence rates increased so as to surpass the native-born population.

They found that immigrant groups globally tend to have higher rates of mental illness compared to native-born populations. Globally, the trend was similar to that of immigrants to the U.S.; that prevalence of mental illness increased with each generation.

Immigrants that are refugees have an even higher risk of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

How you can help

A lot of immigrants do not have the money to spend on getting help for mental illness. They also experience isolation, rejection, or indifference from the native-born people in their communities. This can lead to an increased risk for mental illness.

By getting to know those refugees and immigrants in our communities we can better help them integrate into their new life, the new culture, and can even assist with the language barrier. By doing these things, we could help reduce the isolation and stress they experience which in turn helps reduce the risk of mental illness.

Ethnicities

Asian

The Asian ethnicity ranks above average in all mental health categories. While they are above average, the highest prevalence of mental illness is suicide in the American- Asian population, especially with those who are immigrants.

Latino/ Hispanic

NAMI said that “common mental health disorders among Latinos are generalized anxiety disordermajor depressionposttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism. Additionally, Latina high school girls have high rates of suicide attempts.”

They argue that a lot of Latino-Americans do not get help due to the stigma of being “loco” or crazy, lack of health insurance, the language barrier, fear of being deported because of legal status, and the cultural belief that family matters should be kept private.

African Americans

The National Alliance on Mental Illness stated that

“African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. “

Such mental health problems include depression, PTSD, ADHD, and suicide.

The research poses that the increased risk of mental health illness could be due to a lack of education on the topic, shame, and stigma in the culture.

A lack of education would make it difficult to identify mental illness along with knowing how to help treat it. Shame and stigma could make mental health issues appear as a weakness and cause reluctance to share when experiencing personal struggles.

Additional risk factors

McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research wrote an article stating,

“There is a significant association between poverty and mental illness in the United States. Research shows that this relationship is bidirectional: poverty may exacerbate mental illness and mental illness may lead to poverty.

Those who rank lower financially tend to have a greater risk of developing a mental illness. Those who are in poverty and have additional risk factors would increase their probability of having a mental illness.

how you can help

Mental health stigma affects all races, all financial demographics, and all populations. The more we are educated about mental health and treatment for mental health the better we will be able to discuss mental health issues. Normalizing mental health is one of the best ways to help all who suffer from it.

Technology’s Affect on Mental Health

In this day and age, our lives are hugely supplemented by technology. Without our phones, laptops, tv’s, wireless routers, and Bluetooth devices our world would crash.

But is there a price to be paid for convenience and speed?

These devices, that most of us spend ten-plus hours on daily, emit something called blue light. This blue light can be detrimental to our health.

Technology’s interference with our circadian rhythm

The National Institute for General Sciences describes circadian rhythm as

“physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm.

Natural factors within the body produce circadian rhythms. However, signals from the environment also affect them. The main cue influencing circadian rhythms is daylight. Changing the light-dark cycles can speed up, slow down, or reset biological clocks as well as circadian rhythms.”

The body produces a hormone called melatonin which is known as the sleep hormone. This hormone regulates sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin production is affected by the light and dark cycle of our environment.

Darkness signals to our brain to begin producing more melatonin and when there is more light in the environment the brain is signaled to stop melatonin production.

Technology is used around the globe twenty-four hours a day. When technology is used at night, the blue light that is emitted from our devices interferes with our regular melatonin production and therefore our circadian rhythm.

Without melatonin, it is hard for our bodies to fall asleep and/or have the quality of sleep that is needed for recovery. A 2017 article found in Translational Psychiatry stated that “sleep disturbance is an important factor contributing to the onset and maintenance of mood disorders,” among other health problems.

American Psychological Association released a study that showed that the rates of mood disorders and suicides have dramatically increased in the last ten years. While it may still be somewhat controversial, studies are beginning to show the correlation between technology use, sleep disturbance, and the rise in mental illness.

What you can do

Harvard Health wrote an article about blue light stating,

“Researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.”

The Harvard article went on to describe how other colored light may have some effect on melatonin production, but that blue light was by far the biggest culprit in decreasing melatonin production. By decreasing your blue light exposure at night you may save yourself from experiencing health problems down the road.

Along with blue-blocking glasses, there are apps and filters that you can put on your phone and computer to block the blue light at night.

For further study check out these additional articles: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-be-worried-about-blue-light

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/

PTSD Awareness Month

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is caused by experiencing or witnessing some traumatic event such as accidents (car, boat, falling from great heights, etc), abuse of any kind, assault of any kind, any life-threatening experience, unexpected and severe injury or death of a loved one, and war.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of PTSD are agitation, irritability, hypervigilance, social isolation, mentally reliving the traumatic experience, flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, severe anxiety, fear mistrust, guilt, shame, and avoidance of things that are reminders of the trauma.

For those who have PTSD, it can be a scary and lonely road. They often feel fear, anxiety, have panic attacks, nightmares, or have trouble sleeping.

Those who have experienced a traumatic event and have PTSD may be distrusting of others or have a fear of social situations that make them feel vulnerable and unsafe. They may be easily triggered by events, people, certain topics, noises, etc.

treatment options

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
    • Medical News Today defines CBT as, “A short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns. Engaging with CBT can help people reduce stress, cope with complicated relationships, deal with grief, and face many other common life challenges.”
  2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):
    • EMDR is a nontraditional method of treating PTSD and trauma. Instead of talk therapy, it helps alleviate the distress that is associated with traumatic memories and form more positive associations with those memories.
    • The therapist will have the client begin by focusing on an external stimulus. The most common is to move their fingers from left to right in front of the client’s face and have the client follow along with their eyes. Other alternatives are toe-tapping, finger-tapping, or audio tones. The therapist will prompt the client to think of the stressful event while continuing the eye movement.
    • Gradually the therapist will prompt the client to shift their thoughts to more pleasant ones. This helps diminish the intense negative feelings associated with the event.
  3. Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET):
    • Psychology Today says, ” The goal of PET is to gradually help you reengage with life, especially with things you have been avoiding. By doing so, you will strengthen your ability to distinguish safety from danger and decrease your PTSD symptoms. ”
  4. Medications:

how to help a loved one with ptsd

Living with someone with PTSD can be tricky especially if the trauma was recent. They may be distant, less affectionate, be skittish, fearful, or just act differently from how they used to act.

Some ways you can help your loved one is:

1- Be patient. Your loved one is processing a lot of emotions that are hard for them to handle. They might be experiencing intense stress, fear, and anxiety. Your patience and understanding can be a rock for them through their hard times.

2- Manage your own stress: Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and managing your own stress first. If you are not taking care of your own needs you will not be fully prepared to help your loved on in their time of need.

3- Accept and expect mixed emotions/ feelings. As your loved one is going through the healing process and hopefully getting help, it is inevitable that they will be up and down a lot. They might be triggered easily and have a panic attack. Their mood may change abruptly. Be prepared for this so that when it happens you will not take it personally and better handle the situation.

4- Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. We all have our own timeline and needs when it comes to processing emotions and healing. Let your loved one know you are there for them but do not pressure them into talking about the traumatic event. Give them time and space.

Additional resources

PTSD can be a scary for those who suffer with it. If you have PTSD, know you do not have to do it on your own. Find professional help and a support group if that would help you. aid Psychology Today is a great resource for finding a therapist in your area.

If you know someone who has PTSD, become more educated on PTSD and learn how to be an advocate for your loved ones and aid them in the healing process.

Here are some additional resources.

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder/Support

http://www.ptsdalliance.org/resources/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/ptsd/guide/resources/

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Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Children

One might think that most of us should be experts at having emotional intelligence. It does seem common sense to be able to identify and understand what emotions are and what they look like in ourselves and others.

Psychology Today describes emotional intelligence as:

“… At least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and cheering up or calming down other people.”

Emotional regulation goes beyond just being able to label and identify emotions. It also includes being able to feel an emotion, but still be able to think logically. It is learning coping skills to help manage the emotions that you and those around you feel so that you can calm down and move past the emotion.

If you are anything like me, then you may have had times where you lost control of your temper and lashed out at a loved one or were so sad that you ate the whole Ben and Jerry’s carton to emotionally eat. Sound familiar?

If you can relate, then it’s proof that one, we’re human and two, that it is a hard skill to master. It is one that MANY adults still struggle with.

This is why teaching our children emotional intelligence at a young age can be a game changer.

Click here to purchase this printable poster.

5 STEPS OF EMOTION COACHING YOUR CHILD

Step 1: Be Aware of your child’s emotions.

Kids many times do not know how to express how they feel. To help emotion coach your child you must be aware and sensitive to your child’s feelings.

Pay attention to your child’s posture and their tone of voice. Is their head down? Are their fists clenched? What are they saying with their tone of voice?

All of these are insights into what your child is feeling and can help you understand them better.

Step 2: Recognize emotion as an opportunity for connection or teaching.

Once you have recognized your child’s emotion you are then able to use it as a teaching moment. You may have to use some of your own emotional regulation when teaching an angry or upset child, especially starting out.

Recognize that your child’s emotions are not a challenge or inconvenience. They are facing something that upsets them and they have not learned how to deal with the emotions they are feeling. This is why they act out or have tantrums.

Step 3: Help your child verbally label their emotions.

Next, ask your child how they feel. Allow them to express in words the emotions they are feeling and the reason they are feeling that way.

This is a teaching opportunity to help your child develop an awareness and a new vocabulary for the way they feel.

Step 4: Communicate empathy and understanding.

State back to your child what they said to make sure you understand how they feel. Understanding your child and listening to them will make them feel loved, heard, and important.

As you speak with your child make sure to make eye-contact and encourage them to use eye-contact as well. Eye-contact helps build a connection between people and helps them feel heard.

This will create an opportunity to connect with your child and teach them that it’s okay to express how they feel and learn to work through challenging emotions. Your listening to them will help soothe them as they work through their emotions and will help them develop the ability to self-soothe as they grow.

Step 5: Set limits and problem solve.
Teach your child that it is okay to feel angry, sad, annoyed, happy, anxious, etc, but that not all behaviors are acceptable. This will help your child learn appropriate ways to cope with their emotions and problem solve. Limit their expression to appropriate behaviors.

Be patient with your child. Remember, adults still struggle to mange their own emotions and emotional intelligence. children are learning this skill for the first time and will need more time to develop this skill. Also, remember that each child is unique and may take more or less time than one of their siblings.

Focus on connecting with your child and building that loving, safe, and open relationship. Your patience and consistency will help them develop this vital skill.

Reducing Stigma in Mental Health

What is a stigma?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stigma as:

” 1 a: a mark of shame or discredit: STAIN

b: plural usually stigmata: an identifying mark or characteristic specificallya specific diagnostic sign of a disease”

Stigmas are a defining mark or characteristic that sets someone apart from the group. They are a negative attitude or belief toward a certain group of people that we perceive to be different from ourselves. This stigma can cause us to be afraid or wary and can lead to discrimination.

Stigma in mental health

Those in a stigmatized population can experience isolation, discrimination, fewer opportunities in the workplace, verbal abuse, bullying, negative and misleading labels, and fear or mistrust from others.

If you have the fortune of never having to struggle with a mental illness, then you may not be able to understand or empathize with those who do.

Stigma shames those with mental illness, but mental illness is a condition just like any other medical condition. Would you ever shame someone for having diabetes? No. In like manner, we shouldn’t shame those who struggle with mental illness.

Stigma in mental illness is very common and can vary depending on the mental illness. These stigmas may be deliberate attitudes/beliefs that others choose to make or can be the by-product of ignorance.

Some examples of stigma in mental illness are:

  • ADD/ADHD: Those who struggle with ADD or ADHD might be labeled as lazy, as having a short attention span, or too energetic. They might be labeled as stupid because they struggle to pay attention in school and therefore get bad grades.
  • SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Someone with a substance abuse disorder might be labeled as a low-life or unmotivated. Others may think they choose to partake of the substance that they abuse and don’t realize that to them, it is a need or compulsion.
  • TRAUMA: Those with trauma-related disorders might be thought of as dramatic, attention seeking, or exaggerators. People may tell them that they just need to “Get over it,” and move on.
  • DEPRESSION: Those with depression might be labeled as isolated, moody, or negative. Others may think of them as insensitive or not capable of being in a relationship or friendship. Others tell them to be more positive and grateful and their mood will turn around. This tells them that it’s all in their head.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) stated:

“Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.”

How can we reduce it?

For those who don’t struggle with mental illness:

  • Educate yourself about mental illness. Mental illness isn’t just emotional, but also very biological in nature.
  • Be more aware of the harmful things you may ignorantly say to those who struggle with mental illness.
  • Be an advocate and a friend to those with mental illness.
  • Create a safe dialogue around the topic.

For those who struggle with mental illness:

  • Don’t define yourself by your mental illness. It is something you struggle with, not a definition of who you are.
  • Get help/treatment. Trained professionals will be able to help you with the struggles you are facing and you never have to go through it alone.
  • Join a support group.
  • Don’t be ashamed of your mental illness. Create dialogue in the community.

Education and Help

Here are some websites that have information concerning mental health, treatment options, and other tips on how to live with mental illness.

www.nami.org

www.MentalHealth.gov

www.ActiveMinds.org

www.MentalHealthAmerica.net

www.mentalhealth.org.uk

www.samhsa.gov

www.dbsalliance.org

www.bbrfoundation.org

www.rethink.org

Autism Awareness Month

April is national Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day.

How is autism diagnosed?

In the United States, the most popular way of diagnosing mental disorders is through the diagnostic system created by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They frequently update their system and are currently on their 5th edition (DSM-5).

According to the DSM-5, Autism is now called autism spectrum disorder. Where someone lies on the spectrum is dependent on the severity of the symptoms.

According to WebMD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is:

“A complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors… ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.”

What are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder typically appear within the first three years of a child’s life. Symptoms vary, but common symptoms are:

  • Speech delay in children
  • Flat speech
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor eye contact
  • Inappropriate social interaction
  • Repetitive movements
  • Self-harm
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Inability to understand or perceive others’ emotion
  • Tantrums and temper outbursts

Tips for parents who have children with autism

Raising a child is difficult, period. But raising a child that has Autism Spectrum Disorder brings other factors into play that can make it even more challenging especially for those who haven’t been around those with Autism.

1- Get your child tested.If you suspect your child is on the Autism spectrum, get them tested. Once you know if your child has Autism or not, learn all there is to know about Autism. This will help you understand your child better, be informed of the best treatment options, and find a community with support.

2- Be an expert on your child. Get to know your child’s individual triggers, agitations, what soothes them, what makes them happy, etc. Learning the intricacies of your child will help you know how to best help them and avoid situations that could potentially trigger them. Look for their non-verbal cues that help you know their mood, what they want, how they feel, etc.

3- Accepting what is. It may be hard not to compare your child with Autism to other children their age or even to their other siblings, but try to avoid this. Accepting your child’s individuality and quirks will help you learn to love and appreciate them for who they are. Instead of seeing the differences, you’ll begin to see the blessings that have come into your life by having such a special child.

tips for children with autism

1- Stability and Structure. Stability and structure are needed for every child, but even more so for children with ASD. Stability and structure help children feel safe and can help them know what to expect. Children with ASD especially crave this structure and may have tantrums if the schedule is not followed. Create a schedule for meal times, bedtime, fun time, etc.

2- Positive Reinforcement. Children with ASD are highly sensitive. Since a common symptom of ASD is the inability to correctly read and understand emotions and social cues, rewarding good behavior will go a lot further than trying to correct unwanted behavior. Give reward, praise, and love when good behavior is demonstrated. Be specific about what it is you are praising them for.

3- PLAY! A child with ASD is still a child and craves play time. Help them find ways where they can be creative and express themselves. Play helps children express themselves and ultimately makes them happier. Make sure to have time every day to play with your child.

National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disturbance in the brain’s normal function caused by a physical force, hit blow, jolt, etc to the head. This also includes rapid acceleration or deceleration (whiplash) which results in the brain hitting against the skull forcefully.

This can result in an impairment of cognitive or physical faculties as well as a loss of consciousness. The impairments and recovery time will vary depending on the severity of the force.

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Different types of TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury is diagnosed based on different criteria and is diagnosed on a spectrum of mild, moderate, to severe.

Mild injuries are diagnosed when there is a loss of consciousness of thirty minutes or less. Mild traumatic brain injuries are often called concussions and both names are commonly used interchangeably.

Moderate traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed if the loss of consciousness is more than thirty minutes, but less than twenty-four hours. Persons who have had a moderate TBI often have a hard time remembering or describing events that happened before or after the incident. They also commonly exprience an altered state of consciousness.

Severe traumatic brain injury is defined as the loss of consciousness for twenty-four hours or more. They will also have the same symptoms and side effects as those who have moderate TBI.

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

tbi symptoms and recovery time

The CEMM Library has a whole list of side effects caused by the varying degrees of TBI. Some of those include:

PHYSICAL EFFECTS:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of stamina (easily fatigued)
  • Appetite changes
  • Chronic pain

COGNITIVE EFFECTS

  • Difficulty with attention, focus, or concentration
  • Distractibility
  • Memory problems
  • Slow speed of processing
  • Confusion
  • Perseveration, which is the abnormal persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act
  • Impulsiveness

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE EFFECTS

  • Slurred speech
  • Speaking very fast or very slow
  • Problems with reading comprehension

EFFECTS ON HEARING

  • Decrease or loss of hearing
  • Tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears
  • Increased sensitivity or intolerance to sounds

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL EFFECTS

  • Dependent behaviors
  • Fluctuating emotions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Denial or lack of awareness

Visit CEMM Library for their comprehensive list of symptoms one

Treatmen options

Mild TBI requires rest and not overstraining the brain by thinking too hard or working on the computer for too long. Mild TBI usually is healed by a couple of days to a couple of months.

Moderate to severe TBI tends to require more treatment outside of the initial treatment for stabilization. Additional types of therapy that might be needed include occupational, speech, physical, psychological, cognitive, and vocational. The types of therapies needed will be dependant on the individual, their level of trauma, and the types of symptoms present. Moderate to severe TBI takes can take as little as months or years for recovery, but the effects can also be permanent.


Neurofeedback

Neurodevelopment Center Inc stated:

“In 20 neurofeedback sessions, with feedback every half second, you get 72,000 chances to learn. That’s a lot of repetition and practice. Brain science has shown that repetitive exercise of brain networks reshapes the brain. Neurofeedback allows you to reshape networks in your brain after a traumatic brain injury. “

Neurofeedback helps train the brain to self-regulate its brain waves which in turn helps the client learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, improve cognitive functioning, and improve physical performance. Contact a provider near you for an in-depth consultation to see if neurofeedback is a good fit for you.

Brain Awareness Month– Neurofeedback

In honor of Brain Awareness Month we will be spotlighting neurofeedback in this post. Never heard of neurofeedback? Curious how it can help you? You’re not alone. Every month thousands of people look up neurofeedback in search engines. Why? Because it’s a non-invasive, non-medication therapy that works wonders for the brain.

 

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The Brain

The brain has the ability to change itself due to its capability to undergo neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.  Neurogenesis is the ability to grow and develop new neurons in the brain while neuroplasticity is the ability to change and restructure the neurological pathways in the brain. Neurofeedback encourages the processes of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

In a typical neurofeedback therapy session, a neurofeedback technician places electrodes on a client’s head, and then a software program creates a reward system for the brain as the client watches a movie of their choosing.  The program trains the brain to self-regulate its brain waves which in turn helps the client learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and performance.

 

 

Jessica Harper, the owner of Aspen Valley Counseling, used to get in her car and know she was going to miss the entrance of wherever she was going. Without fail, a chorus of groans sounded off in the back seat of her silver VW bug as her children cried, “Not again!” But after doing neurofeedback therapy she no longer misses her entrances. “It’s pretty amazing that neurofeedback—something so simple in practice—has helped me in such a day-to-day thing.”

There are countless others who have also experienced great results with neurofeedback. Many have had help with their anxiety, their depression, learned to have better focus, and much more!

Basics of Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy helps with a myriad of mental health related issues that deal with the brain. It can help:

 

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  • ADD/ADHD
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Brain Injury
  • Autism
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Phobias
  • Performance (such as for sports or testing for school)
  • Energy Levels
  • Meditation

It’s non-invasive and doesn’t involve any medication. So if you’re looking for an alternative to medication, neurofeedback therapy could be something you might want to try.

It may seem too good to be true, but it works wonders for people! For effective treatment, a patient should attend at least 20 sessions (and at least two sessions per week) for long-term results. A patient can finish them faster by doing two sessions per day, five times per week.

If you’re on medication, you can still do neurofeedback therapy. With supervision by your doctor or provider, some people can even cut down or stop using medication after completing neurofeedback therapy.

Cost of Neurofeedback Therapy

Most insurance companies do not cover neurofeedback, since they see it as an unnecessary treatment. Western medicine is typically medication-based, so an insurance company is much more likely to cover costs of medication. But if you don’t want to take medication to improve your mental health, and you’re seeking out alternative medicine, you’re probably going to be paying out-of-pocket anyway.

Neurofeedback is a great option for someone looking to treat their mental health. Most neurofeedback sessions cost around $75 to $100 per session plus an extra cost for the first appointment. If you’re looking for a cheaper option and you happen to live in Utah, Aspen Valley Counseling in Orem, Utah (Utah County) charges clients $50 per session.

 

National Sleep Awareness Week

Do you find yourself feeling tired and sluggish all day even after a full night’s rest? If so, you may be part of the 20% of the population who suffer from day time sleepiness.

Day time sleepiness may be one of the most common plagues of our day and while its prevalence may not be a surprise, there are many health risks and pesky side effects associated with poor sleep that many people aren’t aware of. We will be discussing what contributes to sleep health and why sleep is so important.

consequences of poor sleep

Most people know that if they don’t get enough sleep then they will be tired the next morning. What some don’t realize is that some of the consequences associated with poor sleep go far beyond just being tired the next day.

Those who don’t sleep enough can have difficulty with mental processes such as recalling, retaining, and processing information, concentration, or may have sudden mood changes or irritability.

Lack of sleep can wear you and your body down. Not being in a good mood the day after a long night of binge watching your favorite Netflix show is fine and good (and should be done every now and then), but what are the risks associated with consistently not getting enough sleep? Those who consistently lack sleep or lack enough quality sleep have a greater risk of weakening their immune system and ,therefore, getting sick, having a low sex drive, and gaining weight. Just to name a few.

But unfortunately it doesn’t end there. The longer you go being sleep deprived the greater risk you have for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Luckily there is a lot you can control when it comes to your sleep and there are a lot of things you can do to help increase the quality of your sleep.

how to increase your sleep health

Here is a list of things you can do to increase the amount and quality of sleep you are getting.

  1. PLAN FOR SLEEP: Plan ahead of time so that your daily activities end early enough for you to get enough shut eye. There are sleep calculators out there you can use to figure out how many hours of sleep you need to feel refreshed as well as suggestions for when to go to bed and what time to wake up.
  2. KEEP TO A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE: Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. The consistency helps your body self-regulate and makes it easier to go to bed and get up in the morning.
  3. KNOW YOURSELF: Know the amount of hours that make you feel the best. It is recommended that kids sleep between 8-12 hours, teens between 8-10 hours, and adults sleep between 7-9 hours each night. If it is recommended that you sleep 7-9 hours but always feel better when you sleep around six hours then do that. Know the hour range that works best with your body.
  4. LET THE LIGHT IN: Opening the windows first thing in the morning helps kickstart your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle and it is directly influenced by light and darkness. The light lets our body know that it is time to be awake, to move, and to have energy. Adversely, the darkness tells our body that it is time to shut down, relax, and go to sleep.
  5. NAP EARLY OR DONT NAP AT ALL: Napping (especially later in the evening) can mess with our circadian rhythm and also throw off our sleep schedule. If we nap too late in the evening we will not feel tired at the time we would normally get tired.
  6. DECREASE SCREEN TIME: All electronics emit a blue light that interferes with the circadian rhythm, telling your body that it’s time to be awake. Using electronics especially late at night will greatly interfere with your sleep and the quality of sleep you are getting. Try to decrease your over all screen time during the day, turn off all electronics at least an hour before going to bed, use blue light blocking glasses, or install apps on your phone that block blue light to get better sleep quality.
  7. EXERCISE DAILY: Daily exercise helps expel energy and naturally aid in being tired.
  8. DECREASE STIMULANTS: Having too many stimulants during the day or taking them too late at night will affect your sleep/wake cycle or the ability to go to bed. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, teas, or coffee too late at night.
  9. SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE TIRED: Go to sleep when you feel like sleeping. If you push past the sleepiness to finish whatever you may be doing at the time, you can finish your task and find that you are not tired. By ignoring your body you tell it that you are staying awake and to produce energy. This can make it difficult to fall asleep later on.
  10. LOWER YOUR BEDROOM TEMPERATURE: A lower bedroom temperature is conducive to sleep. A cooler temperature helps you fall asleep quicker.
  11. NO FOOD BEFORE BED: Eat a light dinner or eat at least two hours before you go to bed. Having food in our stomachs can make it hard to go to sleep because digestion does not work very well while we are sleeping and can lead to digestive problems.
  12. NIGHTTIME RITUAL: Having a routine is crucial in teaching your body when it’s time to go to sleep. If you have a nightly routine to wind down, you will teach your body to begin getting tired once you start that routine.
  13. USING NOISE MACHINES: Are you a light sleeper? Or do you find it hard to fall asleep because your mind is racing? Using white noises, ocean sounds, meditations, instrumental music, etc can help one settle their mind, allow them to fall asleep, and to block out other noises so they stay asleep.
  14. LIMIT TOSSING AND TURNING: It may seem counterintuitive, but if you are having a hard time falling asleep it is better to get up out of bed instead of tossing and turning for hours. The stress caused by not being able to fall asleep increases a stress hormone called cortisol. Once this is release it will become even harder to fall asleep. Instead, get up and do a repetitive action such as wash dishes, fold laundry, etc until you start to get sleepy and then go back to bed.

Get help

If after trying everything on your own and still not being able to go to sleep or wake up feeling refreshed, you should consult a physician. You may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. A physician is trained to help you work with these disorders to get better sleep.

Your quality of life will greatly increase by bettering your sleep habits and seeking professional help if needed. Sweet dreams!