Parents, Don’t Neglect Your Diet and Health Needs
I was joking to a friend yesterday that I think my 16-month-old daughter sometimes eats better than my husband and I do, so when I saw an article today discussing the 2012 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation stating that parents have a greater concern for their children’s diet than their own, I realized I might not be alone.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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According to the survey of 1,057 individuals (29% adults ages 18-49 with children under 18), 16% of parents said they have very or extremely healthful diets while 70% said they worry more about the healthfulness of the foods and beverages they buy for their children than for themselves. While the dietitian in me tries to make sure we’re stocked with lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and veggies, I’m always extra concerned that the foods Ellie eats are prepared with minimal salt, fat, and sugar and that she has an appropriate balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber throughout the day.
With the insightful knowledge that parents are “more concerned about the healthfulness of the food they buy for their children,” I found the follow-up statistics pretty alarming. According to the survey, parents are less likely than non-parents to pay attention to the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list on a food label and that they are less likely than non-parents to say that healthfulness has a strong impact on what they buy.
The suggestion by dietitian and senior vice president at IFIC Foundation, Marianne Smith Edge, that parents can positively impact their own health and that of their children is key. She suggests basing meals on nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
Parents, if you need more information or recipe suggestions on how to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family, check out our Healthy Eating for Kids Guide on Our Site.
10 Ways to Beat Bloating
Feeling gassy, puffy, and just plain gross? These simple strategies will help.
Your stomach&aposs so swollen you can barely button the pants that fit perfectly a few days ago. What&aposs going on? Bloating, which is "caused by excess gas in the intestines," says Beth Schorr-Lesnick, M.D., a gastroenterologist and an assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Bad eating habits, certain foods, or hormones can bring the feeling on𠅊nd it&aposs extremely common in women." To help you feel better fast, check out these smart ways to beat the bloat.
- Drink up. Boosting your water intake can work wonders. Water flushes waste out of your system and helps get things moving if you&aposre constipated𠅊 frequent cause of bloating, especially in pregnant women and new moms. And don&apost forget to eat lots of fruits and veggies, because they&aposre about 80 to 90 percent water. Oranges and watermelon are two great options.
- Eat more fiber. Fiber prevents constipation by adding bulk, which helps everything move through the intestines more quickly. Women need at least 25 grams of fiber daily, yet most of us get barely half that amount. To fix the fiber shortage, start your morning with a bran cereal that has at least five grams of fiber per serving. Throughout the day, snack on other high-fiber foods like strawberries, blueberries, dried apricots, and dried plums. But be careful that you don&apost add too much fiber too fast, or you&aposll feel even more bloated than before. Your body needs time to get used to processing the increased bulk.
- Outsmart PMS. Increases in progesterone, estrogen, and prostaglandins right before your period can slow digestion and cause water retention, making you sluggish and bloated. To relieve symptoms, cut back on excess salt, especially in the week before your period. Taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day may also help alleviate premenstrual bloating, according to some experts.
- Plan ahead. If you&aposve got an important meeting coming up and want to feel your best, try popping an over-the-counter anti-gas product before your meals that day. Products like Phazyme and Gas-X contain simethicone to break up gas bubbles—though they don&apost work for everyone. Steer clear of antacids and calcium supplements containing bicarbonate or carbonate, which can cause gas and make bloating worse.
- Cut back on gassy foods. Beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain sugars that are difficult for some people to digest. But you don&apost have to give them up entirely. Instead, eat just a half-cup serving of these foods at a time, says Leslie Bonci, R.D., author of the American Dietetic Association Guide to Better Digestion. "Once your body adjusts to them, you can gradually increase the serving size over the course of a few weeks," she says. It may also help to take a digestive enzyme such as Beano before meals, because it breaks down the sugars in vegetables and grains.
- Get moving. Even a quick ten-minute walk can relieve bloating. Exercise helps gas pass through the digestive tract more quickly, so you feel better faster. And don&apost neglect your abdominal workout-toned abs make you feel less self-conscious about your belly when you&aposre bloated.
- Do dairy wisely. If milk, yogurt, and other dairy products give you gas, start with small servings and slowly up your intake over time, just as you would with other hard-to-digest foods. You may want to try taking lactase enzymes like Lactaid before indulging in foods such as ice cream and cheese, since this will help your body digest the dairy products more easily. If gas still gives you grief, try switching to soy or lactose-free foods.
- Don&apost bite off more than you can chew. One big cause of bloating is swallowing too much air when you eat. For example, you might gulp air if you snack on the run and eat too quickly, talk while eating, drink from a straw, or down a lot of soda. Force yourself to take more time for meals, skip carbonated drinks, and eat smaller amounts of food at each sitting. One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of air you swallow: Chew with your mouth closed.
- Consider going natural. Although there&aposs no definitive study on the effectiveness of natural products for relieving bloating, some remedies may be worth a shot. Peppermint capsules, available at health-food stores and pharmacies, may relieve bloating by relaxing digestive muscles. Peppermint also comes in enteric-coated tablets, since the capsules have been known to irritate some people&aposs stomachs. Dr. Schorr-Lesnick also suggests charcoal capsules like CharcoCaps, which absorb gas and can help relieve bloating for some people.
- Monitor your meds. Numerous over-the-counter and prescription drugs, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, iron pills, and calcium supplements with bicarbonate or carbonate, can cause constipation and bloating, especially when you first start to take them. Talk to your doctor about the side effects of any medications or supplements you take so you know the potential pitfalls.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the October 2004 issue of Parents magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
Ear Tube Surgery
Ear tubes are tiny tubes made of metal or plastic. During ear tube surgery, a small hole is made in the eardrums and the tubes are inserted. The opening to the middle ear (the area behind the eardrum) lets air flow in and out. This keeps air pressure even between the middle ear and the outside, and helps to drain fluid that builds up behind the eardrum.
Most kids won't need surgery to have a tube taken out later. Ear tubes usually fall out on their own, pushed out as the eardrum heals.
Ear tubes are also called tympanostomy tubes, myringotomy tubes, ventilation tubes, or pressure equalization (PE) tubes.
Why Is Ear Tube Surgery Done?
Many kids get middle ear infections (otitis media). This often happens when a child has a cold or other respiratory infection. Bacteria or viruses can enter the middle ear and fill it with fluid or pus. When fluid pushes on the eardrum, it can cause an earache and affect hearing. Long periods of decreased hearing in young children can lead to delays in speech development.
Children who get a lot of ear infections are sometimes sent for hearing tests.
A doctor might suggest ear tube surgery if:
- a child gets many ear infections that don't clear up easily
- the ear infections seem to be causing hearing loss or speech delay
Ear tube surgery can drain fluid from the middle ear, prevent future infections, and help the child hear properly again.
What Happens Before Ear Tube Surgery?
Your health care provider will tell you what and when your child can eat and drink before the surgery, because the stomach must be empty on the day of the procedure.
Surgery, no matter how common or simple, can be scary for kids. You can help prepare your child by talking about what to expect during the ear tube surgery.
What Happens During Ear Tube Surgery?
An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon will do the surgery, called a myringotomy (meer-in-GOT-uh-mee). It's done in an operating room while your child is under general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist will carefully watch your child and keep him or her safely and comfortably asleep during the procedure.
The surgeon will make a small hole in each eardrum and remove fluid from the middle ear using suction. Because the surgeon can reach the eardrum through the ear canal, there are no visible cuts or stitches.
The surgeon will finish by putting the small metal or plastic tube into the hole in the eardrum.
How Long Does Ear Tube Surgery Take?
Ear tube surgery usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
What Happens After Ear Tube Surgery?
Your child will wake up in the recovery area. In most cases, the total time spent in the hospital is a few hours. Very young children or those with other medical problems may stay longer.
Your child may vomit a little on the day of the surgery or have a minor earache. Some children's ears will pop when they burp, yawn, or chew. This should go away as the eardrum heals.
Ear tubes help prevent ear infections by allowing air into the middle ear. Other substances, such as water, may sometimes enter through the tube, but this is rarely a problem. Your surgeon might recommend earplugs for bathing or swimming.
It's OK for your child to travel in airplanes after having ear tubes placed. The ear tubes will help even out air pressure inside and outside the ear.
Ear tubes won't prevent all ear infections, but they can make them milder and happen less often. In some cases, the tubes might need to be put in again.
In most cases, surgery to remove an ear tube isn't necessary. The tube usually falls out on its own, pushed out as the eardrum heals. A tube generally stays in the ear anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, depending on the type of tube used.
If the tube stays in the eardrum beyond 2 to 3 years, though, your doctor might choose to remove it surgically.
Are There Any Risks From Ear Tube Surgery?
This is a very common and safe procedure, although there are risks with any surgery, including infection, bleeding, and problems with anesthesia.
Rarely, the hole in the eardrum does not close after the tube comes out, and might need to be fixed surgically.
How Can Parents Help After Ear Tube Surgery?
- If your child's doctor prescribed pain medicine and/or ear drops to use after the surgery, give them as directed.
- Your child can return to a regular diet at home, and can return to normal activities after a day of rest.
- You might see a small amount of fluid draining from the ears for a couple of days. You can place a clean cotton ball in the opening of each ear to catch the drainage, but don't stick cotton swabs in the ears.
- Your child should avoid blowing his or her nose too hard.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
- Your child can't keep any fluids down or keeps vomiting.
- Your child develops a fever.
- Your child has new ear pain or pain that doesn't go away with medicine.
- The prescribed ear drops cause discomfort.
- One or both of your child's ears drain for more than 7 days after surgery.
- Your child has yellowish-green ear drainage, or has a bad smell coming from the ear.
- An ear tube falls out in the first few weeks.
See the doctor right away or go the emergency room if there is a lot of blood in the ear drainage or if the ear pain is severe.
9 Things Your Mother’s Nursing Home Won’t Tell You
Robert Kane, MD, former director of the Center on Aging at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Dr. Kane, who died in 2017, held an endowed chair in the department of long-term care and aging at University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where he previously served as dean. He is author of The Good Caregiver: A One-of-a-Kind Compassionate Resource for Anyone Caring for an Aging Loved One (Avery).
Published Date: August 1, 2013
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You trust your parent’s nursing home to take care of him or her. Unfortunately, some homes do not deserve this trust. Nine secrets you need to know about nursing homes—public and private…
1. You would lose your taste for this facility if you visited during mealtime. Mealtimes are when nursing home employees are under the greatest stress. Some residents have meals served in their rooms, but most eat in a dining room. Try to look in on a meal—if employees are interacting with residents in a friendly and respectful manner, they probably treat residents well all the time.
2. Our nurses aren’t really our nurses. When nursing homes can’t find enough permanent nurses, they arrange for “agency nurses” to fill the manpower gaps. These agency nurses work for staffing agencies, not the nursing home, and they rarely stay long enough at a home to form a bond with the residents or get to know their needs.
Most facilities use agency nurses from time to time, but it’s a bad sign if more than 15% to 20% of a home’s manpower is provided by agency nurses. The facility should provide this statistic upon request.
3. Our physical therapy facilities and staff fall well short of our claims. Insist on touring the physical therapy department especially if your parent requires rehab. Does the equipment look modern and extensive? Ask your parent’s doctors if any special rehab equipment would be helpful, and confirm that this is present. Also ask whether the nursing home’s physical therapists are on staff or on contract—facilities with physical therapists on staff likely have made a greater commitment to rehab services.
4. We have less than four stars in the overall rating. The Medicare system’s Web site includes the Nursing Home Compare database, which rates every Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing home on a star system, with five stars indicating the best. Avoid facilities with an overall rating lower than four stars if you can afford to do so.
5. Our activities schedule is just for show—the main activity here is sitting and staring. Every nursing home has an “activities schedule” that inevitably lists an impressive array of things for residents to do each day. Look in on one or two of these activities next time you visit your parent. Is the activity really taking place? How many residents are participating? Does it look like they’re having fun? Be concerned if the main activity of most residents appears to be clustering around the nurses’ station in wheelchairs staring into space or at a TV. (Residents sitting around is perfectly fine—if they are chatting together, playing cards or interacting in some other way.)
6. Trust your nose. Some subpar nursing homes manage to make their facilities look presentable for visitors, but making them smell pleasant is a tougher challenge. Walk down a few corridors where doors to patient rooms are open and take a whiff. A bad facility might reek of urine, feces or large amounts of Lysol.
7. We can’t provide what our residents really want—privacy. The contentment of nursing home residents is closely correlated with their ability to obtain privacy, according to our research. Unfortunately, many homes offer mostly shared rooms. It doesn’t really cost that much more to build nursing homes with private rooms—it’s just a matter of adding a few extra walls—but many nursing homes were constructed before the importance of single rooms was widely recognized.
Helpful: If single rooms are not available in your parent’s price range, consider how much privacy the facility’s shared rooms offer. Some feature sturdy partitions…others just thin curtains or nothing at all between beds.
8. The more you visit, the better the care your parent will receive. Residents whose families visit often typically receive significantly more attentive care from nursing home employees than those who rarely receive guests. If you live far away, perhaps a friend or relative can visit regularly.
Helpful: Each time you visit, ask a question or two of a staff member. This sends the message that you are paying close attention to your parent’s care. But always be polite, and don’t let these questions become excessive or frivolous—you want the staff to consider you involved, not annoying.
9. We can kick your parent out at any time. Nursing homes cannot legally expel residents because they’ve run out of savings and must resort to Medicaid to pay. But nursing homes are allowed to send away residents who have come to require more care than the home can provide. Some disreputable facilities expel residents who run out of money by claiming that their care needs have increased.
If this happens to your parent, you could contact your state’s long-term-care ombudsman to file a complaint. (Find your state’s ombudsman through the Web site LTCOmbudsman.org.) But even if the ombudsman agrees that the facility cannot kick out your parent, you probably don’t want your parent staying in a nursing home that would act this way, assuming that you can afford other options.
WHAT YOUR MOTHER’S HOSPITAL ISN’T TELLING YOU ABOUT NURSING HOMES
If your parent requires nursing home care following a hospital stay, there’s a good chance that the hospital discharge planner will give you just a few days to choose a nursing home. The longer your parent stays in the hospital, the less profit the hospital makes. (Medicare and health insurance plans typically pay a predetermined fixed amount for the treatment of a particular health problem, with no additional payments for longer-than-average stays.)
What most families don’t realize is that they can push back when discharge planners try to push their parents out the door. If you haven’t selected a nursing home yet, tell the discharge planner that you require more time and that you will file an appeal with Medicare if he/she doesn’t relax the deadline. The threat alone often is enough to make discharge planners back down—they don’t like the paperwork hassles associated with appeals. If not, file the appeal. Even if your appeal is rejected, the appeals process will buy you some additional time.
Helpful: The hospital’s patient advocate should be able to provide details about how to file this appeal. Or hire a long-term-care case manager who can help with filing the appeal and selecting a nursing home. You will have to pay this case manager a few hundred dollars, but it’s money well-spent. Your local Area Agency on Aging might be able to help you find a local case manager.
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Put Down That Cellphone! Study Finds Parents Distracted by Devices
The scenario plays out in restaurants everywhere: Mother or father looks at the smartphone or tablet, swiping, scrolling, reading, while son or daughter sits across the table. Or maybe a child’s acting up, and instead of engaging, a parent hands over a tablet to distract the child with a game of Fruit Ninja.
Dr. Jenny Radesky, a fellow in developmental behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, and the mother of two small children, wanted to find out how common it is for parents to use mobile devices around their kids.
“When I talk about it with siblings or friends, everyone struggles with it,” Radesky said. “We want some guidance and balance. We need to stay connected with email, work and friends, and still be present with our kids.”
In a small pilot study released today in the journal Pediatrics, Radesky and her team report an answer: Distraction by device is very common indeed.
The researchers surreptitiously watched 55 caregivers, usually a parent, eating and interacting with one or more children, from infants to 10-year-olds, in fast-food restaurants around the Boston area. Of the 55, 40 used a mobile device during the meal. Sixteen of these adults used the mobile device throughout the meal.
Three adults gave a device to a child to keep the youngster occupied, but mostly the grown-ups were absorbed by screens. One adult with a little girl picked up her phone immediately upon sitting down and used it throughout the entire meal.
“The girl keeps eating, then gets up to cross the room to get more ketchup. Caregiver is not watching her do this she is looking down at the phone…,” the field notes showed. “Still no conversation … Now girl’s head appears to be looking right at caregiver, and caregiver looks up but not at girl…”
“We need to stay connected with email, work and friends, and still be present with our kids.”
Some children responded with escalating bids for attention. “Oldest boy starts singing ‘Jingle bells, Batman smells.’” A father with his phone hushes him. “The boys start singing ‘Jingle bells, Batman smells’ again, and dad looks up and tells them to stop in a firm voice. Then he looks back to phone.”
There has not yet been a comprehensive study on how parents' distraction by digital devices may impact children. But previous research has shown that even newborns are primed to gaze into a mother's eyes seeking social information. This is partly how bonds are formed. Very young children learn about their world largely through face-to-face interactions, vocalizations and touching with parents. They also develop language skills this way.
Gedeon Deák, professor in the department of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego, who studies human development and parent-child interaction, pointed out that children in many cultures grow up without constant face-to-face eye gazing and vocalization between parent and child, and yet “they don’t become sociopaths.”
In extreme cases of neglect, with very little interaction between parents or other caregivers and peers, children can develop a variety of pathologies. But observing isolated caregiver-child interactions in a fast-food restaurant doesn’t tell you very much about how they might interact at home, Deák said, and children don’t need constant face-to-face time.
On the other hand, he wondered how parent distraction and device interruption may affect the development of subtler skills in children, such as empathy and ability to read the vocal, eye and facial cues of others.
“These are subtle aspects that are acquired late and slowly over years,” he said. “One question I have is how children understand the impact of these interruptions to look at a phone? How do they understand what it means for the conversation?”
“Staring at your phone during a meal with your child is not a good thing.”
MIT professor Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” sees real danger. When she has observed families at home she sees that same kind of device distraction of parents as Radesky’s team found.
“I have quotes from college students depicting childhoods when they could not get parents’ attention during meals,” she told NBC News. “What’s troubling is that parents do not respond appropriately to children” seeking attention “and their own distraction from the children. That’s the real story in this paper, the vicious little secret that starts the pathology we should worry about.”
One thing that is clear, said Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, is that eating meals with parents has been linked to a variety of benefits. Children who have regular sit-down meals with family are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol or get pregnant as teenagers. They earn better grades. These benefits don’t accrue just because parents and children are munching carrots at the same time they happen because the family is communicating.
Children who constantly see their parents playing with smartphones at the dinner table can feel neglected, insecure or not worth your time, Saltz said. “You’re going to miss a lot of those benefits of eating meals together.”
While the science of device distraction may be just getting underway, Saltz is already convinced. “Staring at your phone during a meal with your child is not a good thing.”
8 Strategies For Effective Childhood Trauma Recovery
As a forensic expert on childhood trauma assessment, I frequently work with children whose lives have been shattered by a traumatic event and are now dominated by a constant sense of danger and frightening emotions.
Many of them avoid social interactions and may isolate themselves. They are likely to see themselves as bad and unworthy, and may be at risk for harming themselves.
Some are often viewed by others as being irritable, hostile, or aggressive. These children may get into trouble at home or at school for their behavioral problems. Their normal daily functioning is commonly disrupted by intrusive and persistent recollections and sensory re-experiencing of the traumatic event.
In addition, they may appear emotionally detached, unable to trust other people, and avoid negative emotions. In cases of sexual abuse, the victims may tend to have sexual fears and unwanted sexual feelings and behaviors.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma can be caused by any situation perceived by the child as frightening and/or overwhelming, and during which the child feels scared and helpless. This situation is often just a one-time event, such as an injury or a natural disaster.
But it could also be a long-term ongoing stress, such as physical, sexual, or verbal abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, or chronic illness. All such events have a potential to bring on symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma.
Some of the most frequent and well-known psychological and emotional symptoms of trauma include:
- Confusion, shock, and denial
- Guilt and shame
It appears to be less known that a traumatic experience can also manifest itself in a form of physiological symptoms such as:
- Sleep problems
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Aches and Pains
- Muscle Tension
- Racing Heartbeat
- Lack of focus and concentration
Risk of Future Trauma in Adults and Children
Research shows that experiencing childhood trauma can have very negative, long lasting impact on the individual&rsquos emotional, psychological, and physiological well-being in adulthood, especially if not resolved.
Specifically, childhood trauma has been associated with various forms of emotion dysregulation, including stress-reactivity, which is believed to be one of the mechanisms underlying the link between childhood trauma and psychological disorders.
For example, research shows that individuals with more severe histories of emotional abuse showed stronger stress-reactivity for anxiety. (1) Individuals with a history of childhood trauma also reported significantly increased emotional reactivity to daily life stress, especially if the trauma event occurred before the age of 10 years. (2)
Research also show that childhood emotional trauma has more influence on interpersonal problems in adult patients with depression and anxiety disorders than childhood physical trauma.
A history of childhood physical abuse is related to dominant interpersonal patterns rather than submissive interpersonal patterns in adulthood. These findings provide preliminary evidence that childhood trauma might substantially contribute to interpersonal problems in adulthood. (3)
Trauma and Brain Development:
The brain and the immune system are not fully formed at birth but rather continue to mature in response to the postnatal environment. The two-way interaction between brain and immune system makes it possible for childhood psychosocial stressors to affect immune system development, which in turn can affect brain development and its long-term functioning.
Early-life stress predicts later inflammation, and there are striking analogies between the neurobiological correlates of early-life stress and of inflammation. These findings suggest new strategies to remediate the effect of childhood trauma before the onset of clinical symptoms, such as anti-inflammatory interventions. (4)
Furthermore, there is considerable evidence to suggest that adverse early-life experiences have a profound effect on the developing brain. Children who are exposed to sexual or physical abuse or the death of a parent are at higher risk for development of depressive and anxiety disorders later in life.
Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that repeated early-life stress leads to alterations in central neurobiological systems, particularly in the corticotropin-releasing factor system, leading to increased responsiveness to stress. Clearly, exposure to early-life stressors leads to neurobiological changes that increase the risk of psychopathology in both children and adults.
Additionally, childhood trauma is associated with heightened social stress sensitivity and may contribute to psychotic and affective dysregulation later in life, through a sensitized paranoid and stress response to social stressors. (5)
As presented above, substantial number of studies show associations between early life stress and risk for mental and somatic diseases in later life. Potentially, these findings will allow unprecedented opportunities to improve the precision of current clinical diagnostic tools and the success of interventions.
As of now, we have only limited information about how childhood exposure to traumatic stress is translated into biological risk for psychopathology. Observational human studies and experimental animal models suggest that childhood exposure to traumatic stress can trigger an enduring systemic inflammatory response not unlike the bodily response to physical injury.
In turn, these hidden wounds of childhood trauma can affect brain development, key behavioral domains (e.g., cognition, positive valence systems, negative valence systems), reactivity to subsequent stressors, and, ultimately, risk for psychopathology. (6)
The Anti-Depressant Solution
Children and adults diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are commonly prescribed antidepressants containing the neurotransmitter serotonin.
In psychiatric circles, serotonin has a well-recognized role in the modulation of a number of mood and anxiety disorders. The most common antidepressants include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
Antidepressants introduced since 1990, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have been used increasingly as first line treatment for depression and psychological trauma in children.
The safety of prescribing antidepressants to children (including adolescents) has been the subject of increasing concern in the community and the medical profession, leading to recommendations against their use from government and industry. (7)
Unfortunately, most parents of my pediatric clients are not well informed (if at all) about the serious negative side effects of these medications. Most antidepressants can cause dangerous reactions when combined with certain medications or herbal supplements.
Anti Depressant Side Effects
At times, an antidepressant can cause high levels of serotonin to accumulate in the body, causing so called Serotonin syndrome. Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include anxiety, agitation, sweating, confusion, tremors, restlessness, lack of coordination and a rapid heart rate.
However, the most alarming fact is that FDA requires that all antidepressants carry black box warnings, the strictest warnings for prescriptions. In some cases, children, teenagers and young adults under 25 may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants.
In fact, research studies show that the use of antidepressant drugs in pediatric patients is associated with a modestly increased risk of suicidality. (8)
Over the years, I have personally evaluated numerous children struggling with self-harming and suicidal thoughts, while taking antidepressants.
Other negative side effects of antidepressants may include, among others:
- Dry mouth
- Nervousness, agitation or restlessness
- Blurred vision
How to Safely Enhance Trauma Recovery
Based on my clinical experience, I believe that psychotropic medication can be effective in treatment of certain psychiatric conditions. However, I also believe that due to their negative, often detrimental side effects, psychotropic medications should be used only as a last resort.
Unfortunately, many treatment providers will undervalue non-drug treatments that are both safer and more effective. So, let&rsquos look at some of these effective strategies.
- Full Psychological Evaluation &ndash It is crucial that you and/or your child receive a full psychological or trauma evaluation, consisting of a clinical interview and a full clinical testing battery to determine correct diagnoses and assessment of your current emotional, behavioral, and cognitive functioning as well as your treatment needs. Many individuals are misdiagnosed and prescribed psychotropic medication based on a brief survey or an interview with a pediatrician or a psychiatrist. In such cases, the focus is placed on treating the patient&rsquos symptoms rather than the actual core of their condition. Thus, the symptoms are only partially managed or suppressed and often new symptoms emerge.
- Finding a Trauma Specialist &ndash Facing and resolving your feelings and thoughts regarding your trauma or victimization is a necessary part of your healing. Given the difficulty and complexity of this process, it is imperative that you find a therapist who has experience in treating trauma victims. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been found very helpful (9) in treatment of trauma symptoms.
- Finding a Functional Medicine Doctor &ndash an experienced functional medicine provider will evaluate your whole person rather than just your symptoms. He or she will work like an investigator piecing together your puzzle and identify missing pieces and imbalances triggering your health issues, including the physical trauma symptoms. Your doctor will also help you save time and money by pointing you exactly to the right tests and treatment methods so your path to wellness becomes clearer and your efforts more effective and less costly in the long run.
- Exercise &ndash Trauma experiences can often get you &ldquostuck&rdquo in hyperarousal and fear. Exercise can significantly improve your ability to shift your mindset and move your focus from your negative thoughts to your body and the way it feels and thus, ultimately &ldquorelease&rdquo your nervous system. Exercise that engages your whole body, such as walking/jogging, swimming, or dancing works the best.
- Self-Regulation Techniques and Stress Reduction &ndash learn simple techniques of mindful breathing, relaxation, and distress tolerance skills to cope with anxiety, depression, and negative emotions. Learn simple meditation or yoga &ndash whatever you choose make sure it brings you relief and you enjoy it.
- Sleep &ndash Adult and children trauma survivors alike often struggle with inability to sleep or stay asleep. However, managing your sleep routine and habits is crucial for your emotional healing and trauma recovery. Sleep needs vary with age, but generally speaking, young children need around 11 to 12 hours each night, teens need between 8.5 and 9.25 hours and the average adult needs between seven and nine hours per night. For some very helpful tips on sleep, check out this article written by Dr. David Jockers.
- Clean Up Your Diet &ndash given that there are striking analogies between the neurobiological correlates of psychological stress and inflammation in the body, anti-inflammatory diet is most likely your best choice. Your functional medicine doctor can determine the best diet to increase your energy and minimize your mood swings and symptoms of depression.
- Seek Support &ndash it is very easy and common for trauma survivors to become isolated and withdrawn. However, this isolation is detrimental to your emotional wellbeing. Connecting with others doesn&rsquot mean you need to discuss your traumatic experience with them. Simple participation in normal activities with others or volunteering will bring comfort to your soul. You can also locate a support group for trauma survivors to find encouragement and inspiration in hearing how others cope with their situation.
If your child is a trauma victim&hellip
Don&rsquot be afraid to communicate with your children about their thoughts and feelings regarding their traumatic experience. Don&rsquot be alarmed if you find your child seeks safety by regressing into a younger age by bedwetting after being fully potty-trained or refusing to be alone.
Your comforting, positive, and patient attitude has a significant influence on child&rsquos trauma recovery. Children often tend to blame themselves for their own victimization.
Assure your child that he is not responsible for the traumatic event. Give your child a sense of hope and safety.
If you are battling trauma symptoms, there is a variety of non-drug, safe, alternative, and effective healing techniques and practices that can work wonders in trauma recovery for you or your child. If you are currently taking antidepressants or other medication, you can talk to your doctor about safely lowering your doses before getting off the medication completely.
You should NEVER stop taking the medication without talking to your doctor first. However, you can start implementing the alternative strategies listed above along with your medication to speed your recovery.
21 Things Parents Used to Say That Would Shock Millennial Parents
The hardest job in the world has changed a lot over the past 50 years. Case in point: these quotes from Millennial and Gen-X parents, recalling things they heard as kids that they wouldn&rsquot dare say to their children now.
"My mom used to say stuff like this to get us kids to stop fighting with each other. It was always meant more funny than serious, but I don't think I would dare say this to my kids in public today." &mdash Lizzie Vance, Seattle, Washington
"Not only did my grandmother used to say this but she actually did it to my mom. We have a picture of my mom with a beer-filled baby bottle when she was about 2. My grandma also gave her brandy when she was feeling sick, even as a toddler. Thankfully my mom did not carry on this advice to her kids." &mdash Ellen Myers, Cincinnati, Ohio
"We weren't allowed to call our parents at work unless it was an actual emergency and even then we were supposed to call 911 first. Kids were expected to solve their own problems. In contrast, my daughters text me all the time, tattling on each other for the littlest things." &mdash Sue Hardgrove, Denver, Colorado
"This pretty much sums up everything you need to know about my grandpa. If something was wrong as a kid, you got no sympathy. None." &mdash Erika Neilson, Salt Lake City, Utah
"Car seats? Nah. We barely even used seat belts. When I was growing up, it was a treat to get to lay down on the floor or in the back of the car or truck, especially on long road trips. My parents made us take turns." &mdash Ru Crumpley, Denver, Colorado
"These days I think even a simple 'Go play in the front yard' is shocking since you can&rsquot even let your kids do that anymore. But when I was growing up, my parents let us ride our bikes alone to the 7-11 for candy or a drink. We did it all the time, starting at a very young age. I'm pretty sure that would get a parent arrested now. It's amazing how much things have changed in just one generation."
&mdash Janette Kudin, Gainesville, Florida
"We didn't have all this protective gear growing up. Instead of trying to keep us from getting hurt my parents encouraged it as a good life lesson." &mdash Kenny Lebaron, Dickinson, North Dakota
"My punishment growing up was to be sent to bed immediately. This meant sometimes 'going to bed' at three in the afternoon and not getting any food until breakfast the next morning. I spent hours and hours alone in my room. I don't know how they did it. As a mom now that feels like neglect. I can barely send my kid to his room for a 10-minute time out or take away dessert." &mdash Jessica Martinez, Houston, Texas
"I remember desperately wanting to play on the soccer team, but my parents felt like it was a waste of money to pay for extracurricular activities other than music lessons. I distinctly remember my dad saying, 'What? You have two left feet, it's not like you're gonna be the next Pelé anyhow.' Dream. Killed." &mdash Justin Blackman, Green Bay, Wisconsin
"My mom hated math growing up and never did her homework. When the teacher let her parents know she was failing they were like, 'It's her life! She just wants to be a mom anyhow.' They didn't offer to get her a tutor or even help her with homework. They figured as a girl she didn't really need it. Their attitude absolutely kills me now. I started teaching my daughter math the minute she was born and she loves it now. My mom is so happy." &mdash Carlie Marks, St. Louis, Missour
"My dad used to say this all the time when I was growing up, I guess as a way to show it's better to be a 'parent' than a 'friend.' And it worked! I did go through a phase where I hated him but thankfully we're all good now." &mdash Rachel Lockett, Lakeville, Minnesota
"My grandma gave me this advice when I had loose teeth. I let her do this to me twice as a kid before I realized that adults don&rsquot always have the best ideas. It was traumatizing!" &mdash Lynda Strand, Sacramento, California
7 mistakes first-time parents must avoid
Becoming a parent is definitely a wonderful blessing. However, it can be quite strenuous and laborious over time. For a first parent, the joy of entering parenthood is immeasurable, but as you start working on your responsibilities, you realise that it is not devoid of challenges. You may overlook or miss a lot of things in the process or may even overdo things, but it is important to be aware of your mistakes. That said, to help you with this parenting process, here are some mistakes you must avoid as a first-time parent.
02 /8 Overstressing about your baby's well-being
While it is normal to feel anxious about your newborn's health, overstressing about the same will only impact your mental well being. While some children experience severe health complications, which may be a valid source of concern for most parents, there is no need to worry about certain mild ailments which are prevalent amongst newborn. Do not immediately assume the worst, instead consult a doctor to clear the air.
03 /8 Neglecting your partner
The first year of parenting may be crucial for both the parents. But if you're a new parent, you may be more dedicated towards your baby and may neglect your spouse or partner in the process. It is important that you do not ignore or overlook your partner's emotional needs during this time. Whether you're working or caring for your newborn, make time for your significant other too.
04 /8 Believing everything you're told
When you're a first time parent, chances are that people will swamp you with various parenting tips and tricks. However, you should learn to differentiate between good parenting advice and the ones you should let go of. Do not believe everything you're told and sometimes go with your instincts.
05 /8 Spending way more than necessary
Being a first time parent, it is likely that you would want to spend a lot on your baby's clothes and accessories. But these are crucial times and you must learn to save as well. Do not go overboard and buy things that may have no value later. Spend only when necessary and save for your child's future, which is more important.
06 /8 Neglecting self-care
What many parents, new or old, forget during the first few years of parenting is self care. In their attempt to provide the best to their kids, parents often neglect their own health and mental well being. If you want your family to fare well, you must also tend to your own needs and wants.
07 /8 Unequal distribution of workload
If you're a first time parent, sharing your responsibilities, whether it's earning for your family or taking care of the baby, is of utmost importance. One cannot take on the baggage of managing everything. Distributing the workload will only ensure a healthy home environment.
08 /8 Not living in the moment
In your attempt to make everything perfect, do not forget to preserve and live in the moment. Instead of stressing over small issues and problems, make room for memories and enjoy the process.
- Benefits for Moms
Pregnancy and breastfeeding wipe out your body&aposs stockpile of this essential fat, which has been linked to a better memory in adults. So you need to replenish it -- especially if you plan to be in the pink or blue again. "Choline is needed to make every cell in an infant&aposs body," says Steven Zeisel, M.D., chair of the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "We think it&aposs most crucial during weeks 25 to 40 of pregnancy. That&aposs when the unborn child takes all it can get."
- Your Daily Needs
- Many experts advise 425 mg for women 19 to 50, 450 mg during pregnancy, and 550 mg during breastfeeding, but Dr. Zeisel says 900 mg is best for pregnant and lactating women.
- Great Sources
3 oz. beef liver (453 mg), 1 egg (345 mg), 3 oz. steak (58 mg)
- Milk, lettuce, cauliflower, and peanuts Dr. Zeisel is working with the USDA to determine the exact choline content of these foods
- Supplemental Advice
If you&aposre a vegetarian or a picky eater and are breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or are pregnant, you should talk to a doctor about taking a choline supplement daily because it&aposs unlikely you&aposll be able to get enough of the nutrient from a limited diet.
Healthy Foods to Eat More of to Gain Weight
When it comes to gaining weight and building muscle, macronutrients matter. But it&aposs a myth that you have to go all-in on high-protein foods in order to gain muscle. While protein is vital for repairing the micro-tears that weight lifting and other exercises create in your muscles, carbohydrates and fats continue to serve important functions in your body as you bulk up—so don&apost neglect them! Here are some foods to focus on for a balance of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and plenty of protein.
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring and anchovies
- Meats like turkey, chicken and lean beef, pork and lamb
- Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, black beans, lentils, cannellini beans and hummus
- Nut butters and nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and pecans
- Whole grains like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and quinoa
- High-calorie fruits and vegetables like avocados, coconut, bananas, mangoes and dried fruit
- Full-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese