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Does Your Child Have Anxiety? Ask These 2 Questions

The University of British Columbia developed 2 questions in screening kids for anxiety disorders:

1) Is your child more shy or anxious than other children his or her age?

2) Is your child more worried than other children his or her age?

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Ask Julie: Low Self-Esteem, Technology Addict, and Fear of Relationships

Q: I feel like nothing I do matters and nobody really understands who I am. Every time I reach out to someone they let me down. I guess they just don’t care. The last few years I’ve taken to locking myself away in my bedroom to read or watch movies; it gives me more enjoyment than people do but I’m always feeling guilty about it too. I’m 19 years old and I’ve only kissed 4 guys ever, and never anything more. I’m afraid and self-conscious and I feel like I don’t get the opportunity to meet boys that other girls do. I know its my fault but its so hard to change, and I don’t know if I really want to be in a relationship anyway; I don’t think I’d be good at it at all. I’m always fighting with my parents, especially my dad; he yells at me a lot. I used to be so afraid of him when I was younger; he has quite the temper and is always criticizing me. My mother constantly nags me to go out more, to find a job, to stop watching so much TV, to eat better, to do more chores, to act older, the list goes on. I often get excited about little things and become quite childish and energetic, but the smallest thing can also send me into a spiral of sadness, anger or  frustration for the rest of the day. Both reactions seem to annoy my family. My few friends probably find it annoying too; if I could stand being thought ill of I’d probably ask  them. I always think if I were prettier or smarter or talented at anything, life would be better. I don’t want to be different or behind; I just wish things were easier. What should I do?

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Positive Thinking May Reduce Depression in Girls

Previous research says those who are born to mothers with depression have a higher incidence of developing depression.  Depressed people have intense bodily reactions such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

In an experiment at Stanford, researchers showed the girls upsetting picture and measured stress response.  They then had the girls use positive thinking to lower their own stress response. The girls were shocked when they were able to do that successfully.

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Ask Julie: Eating Disorder, Depression, Insomnia, & Cutting


Q: I have an eating disorder, depression, insomnia, and now I’ve started cutting. No one cares. My mom said things could be worse. My dad ignores it. My boyfriend says its in my mind and I can get over it on my own. I’ve started cutting and no one knows and it’s embarrassing. I need help. What should I do? (24 yr old female college student)

A: Click the arrow below to hear my response to your question…

Click here to find a therapist in your area

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: How Can I Get My Baby’s Father Back?

Q: My daughter is 3 now. Her father and I have been split up for almost 2 years now. Due to postpartum, hormones, stress, loss of a family member, and cancer health related issues I was having and needed treatment for. My emotions were too much. He had been dating a girl from his work for the amount of time we have been split up. I previously got engaged, and am now 7 months pregnant. This relationship failed. During this time of me not connecting my self and my previous EX fiance being too needy and clingy drowning every ounce of me. Playing games to see “how much I cared.” I couldn’t handle it anymore and shut my wall up. Trying to reason with him if I hadn’t at one time cared I wouldn’t be pregnant or previously engaged. Although that ended I feel relieved and not controlled. And our personalities were too different; I wanted the idea of him trying to fill the hurt.

Although being my daughter is 3 my ex (her father) and I keep in close contact. And being through these last 7 months of pregnancy I realized I missed him. And he’s whom I wanted and WANT to be with. Not someone who looks like him.

These last 7 months also made me realize that the way my ex fiance was treating me was very similar to the way I was treating my daughter’s father. Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe he cared enough to be there through my emotional roller coaster at the time. And now that this has hit me in the face and my life is in a positive place and knowing I was never happier I want him back.

Is there any advice you can give me on approaching my daughter’s father in time, to take the steps to try and make things work?

A: Thanks for writing in. It sounds like the last 3 years have been extremely stressful for you on many levels, some of which you had no control over, and other stresses that you chose. I know your question is regarding getting your ex-boyfriend back, but I hope you’ll consider that there are other things that need to be addressed before you get back into any relationship.

Please get in to a therapist to explore why you are having such difficulty in love relationships. To find a qualified therapist in your area click here. We often replay our childhood issues in adulthood and my guess is that there are some deeper unresolved issues playing out here.  My biggest concern is not how you’re going to get your ex back, but in you developing the stability and strength in yourself that your children will need in order to thrive, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  Rather than focusing on getting your daughter’s father back, I urge you to focus on being a strong person, and a strong mother for your children, and developing the confidence and the skills to maintain a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. Focus on being the kind of person that would attract a healthy and committed man to build a stable life for you and your children.

Please, be cautious about having more children until you have a healthy, long-term, committed, stable relationship. Focus on getting healthy yourself for the children you already have before you focusing on getting your daughter’s father back. Be the kind of woman he would want to be with. Once you’ve worked on yourself please get relationship counseling before you get into any relationship with your ex or anyone else.

Take good care of yourself and your children!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: My Best Friend Is Suicidal

Q: My best friend is suicidal and I want to know if there is anything I can do to help her. She has already told her parents but they really aren’t doing anything to stop her. I have told a teacher at our school and the counselor but all they do is recommend seeing a psychiatrist. I am really worried about her she almost always has cuts all over her body arms, legs, and stomach. Her mother has been in and out of prison even before she was born. Her mother is also in right now and has been since she was 7. In the past few years she has had a lot happen, she lost her grandmother on her dad’s side two days before Christmas in 2008. Right after that she moved from a big house to a small one and in the process lost connection with her former best friend. Many of her animals outside died and she sat with one of her cats and had to watch it die after it got attacked by a dog. This past year she had her aunt on her dad’s side die and lost a lot of her friends. She also found out that her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by four different psychiatrists and borderline personality disorder by one or two. We were in seventh grade this year and for most of the second semester she was labeled a whore because of how she dresses and who hangs out with. This past summer is also when the cutting started it started off pretty bad but not frequent. It then went to minor burns and small scratches and then blew up again to bad cuts and they were very frequent. At the current moment she only has scars but is thinking about cutting herself again. I would just like an idea of what I could say to her to get her not to cut anymore. Thank you for taking the time to read this (and respond if you do).

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Can Too Much Happiness Make You…Unhappy?

You may be surprised to learn that “moderation in all things” applies to moods, too. June Gruber, a professor of psychology at Yale University compares happiness to food. We need it, but too much of it can cause problems. While happiness is associated with a stronger immune response, longer life, and ability to endure painful experiences, it also has a dark side.

Happier people tend to:

1) Engage in riskier behavior

Dr. June Gruber’s research suggests that too much happiness can lead to higher levels of risk-taking behavior, excess alcohol and drug use, binge eating. Negative emotions, like fear, have a protective value warning of dangers.

2) Drop out of school earlier & earn less money

People with the highest life satisfaction at young ages are reported to drop out of school earlier and later in life have lower income levels earning about $3500 less than those who reported less life satisfaction in early ages according to research by Dr. Edward Diener.

3) Make snap judgments that reflect stereotyping

Dr. Galen Bodenhausen’s research in 1994 simulated a student court –  half the students were told to think about mundane activities from the previous day and the other half were put in a positive mood. The ones in a positive mood easily convicted Juan who beat up John while the others were divided.

4) Be more easily deceived

People want a happy jury of happy people are easier to deceive, can’t detect lies as easy and can’t tell a thief from an honest person as suggested by Dr. Joe Forgas’ research.

5) Be more selfish

Dr. Joe Forgas’ research found that when asked to divide raffle tickets, happier people keep more for themselves while sad people tend to divide tickets evenly.

Instead of focusing on trying to be happy:

1) Focus on developing high quality relationships
2) Engaging in meaningful activities that bring joy
3) Accept that negative emotions have their place

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that at a ratio of at least 3 to 1 positive to negative emotions is where people flourish and thrive in life and relationships.
(Read the Washing Post Article here)

Ask Julie: My Boyfriend Doesn’t Talk To Me But I Don’t Want To Lose Him

Q: Me and my boy friend have been going out over 3 years and he always looked after me. I did meet him when I was homeless and I love him now more than anything.  He knows I do but I think he lost interest in me he always tells me to shut up and he never hardly talks with me. He never spend time with me or rings me anymore and he don’t really cuddle up with me.  He just says, “keep still and stop making a sound”. He’s always working and with his friends and because I’m always depressed. When I start crying to myself before he come in and say what’s wrong, I tell him and he goes shut up. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to lose him. I don’t have any one else.

A: Thank you for writing in for help. It sounds like you feel very alone so you are clinging to a man who is mean to you. Your situation seems less about your boyfriend and more about the fact that you don’t have other relationships to turn to for comfort and for help. Do you have any friends or family to turn to for assistance? Are there women’s shelters or government resources in your area of the UK that might be a resource for you?

Your boyfriend is mistreating you and his abusive behavior is saying either: 1) he doesn’t know how to be close to you or 2) he doesn’t want the relationship anymore. Please take this opportunity to focus on building your own life, getting help for your depression, meeting new people, and developing your skills instead of clinging to a relationship with someone who is rejecting you.  Check with your local mental health agency to get information about social services so you can feel better about yourself, treat your depression and help you build additional social support networks. Please get help for yourself so you can move on and let your boyfriend go.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW