When I teach my undergraduate classes in Abnormal Psychology or when I first meet with my kids, parents and families, I discuss with them the important of balance. When I have a patient that comes in and they are experiencing too much anxiety or depression, I commonly hear, “How can I no longer feel any anxiety or sadness?” This is an interesting question because is it actually good to feel no/zero amounts of anxiety or sadness? The answer–it’s not! For example, anxiety in moderate and manageable doses leads us to feel motivated to get our work done, to get up in the morning and brush our teeth, to get out of bed even when our kids have kept us up the night before. We need anxiety to function, but it is all about what is your “normal.” I always put this word into quotations, even with my patients in session because everyone has their own normal. More anxiety may work for one person (i.e., more productive at work, more attentive to their spouses or childrens’ needs), but for another it may be too much. This leads me to discuss when is the anxiety or depression your child is experiencing too much? Because children have a limited emotional vocabulary (something I will address in my next blog post), it is important as parents to look for the overt behavioral signs of anxiety and depression. These can include but are not limited to avoiding school work, friends, activities during or out of school, low tolerance for stressful situations and wanting to escape, spending copious amounts of time in bed, not engaging in conversations, and other behaviors like crying or having tantrum behaviors. These can be “normal” in the context of them happening every now and then, but we know that we have reached a clinical level where professional intervention may be necessary when they are happening with increased intensity and frequency. If your child is not functioning in their life as they were previously, it is important to recognize that your child may be out of balance and may be in need of a professional evaluation.
I am a clinical psychologist with approximately 15 years of experience assessing and treating anxiety and depressive disorders in young children, adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatric populations. I completed a 6-year predoctoral training award at the National Institute of Mental Health, and postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. From my clinical and research experiences, I have come to see the struggles of many families deciding when to pursue professional help and feeling very lost in the process. I will address several mental health issues that will help educate and empower my readers to make better mental health decisions for themselves. Welcome to my blog! Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D. Disclaimer-This blog is not and cannot be used in replace of formal therapy. This blog is used to inform and educate and is not a form of informal or formal advice. View All Posts