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Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

This year’s Theme is : “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’ ”

Exposure and use of alcohol and drugs by young people is extremely dangerous, both to themselves and to society. It is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction. Adolescence is a time of heightened risk-taking and as alcohol and drugs enter the picture, parents are faced with a unique set of challenges. Parents often forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” They can simply sit back and hope their kids will “get through it,” or they can change their attitude and take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and help their kids delay any experimentation with these substances until they are older and a bit wiser.

That is why this year’s theme is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.”

It can be unnerving to talk with children/teenagers about drinking and drug use, but it is well worth the effort . In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such conversations and open dialogue. This is the the opportunity for parents to reinforce that using alcohol is not a ‘rite of passage.’ In fostering “changing attitudes” parents can help kids understand that drinking isn’t a way to feel or be independent, “cool,” or to fit in socially. Young people can learn that alcohol is not necessary for having a good time and non-use of alcohol is a healthy and viable option. We can learn to respect another person’s decision not to drink alcohol.

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

Fairwinds Treatment Center supports this cause through community outreach and working with other organizations as a point of referral for patients and families struggling with alcoholism.

Alcoholism Tips for Families Alcoholism Tips for Spouses

If you would like to discuss alcohol or substance abuse programs at Fairwinds Treatment Center, contact us here.

Resource: https://www.ncadd.org

The post Alcohol Awareness Month 2018 appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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The new year is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole new set of promises people make to themselves to lead a better life in the next 12 months. Yet however popular New Year's resolutions are to be made, there's always a tongue-in-cheek nature to them: Just about everyone makes a vow to join a gym, but just how many keep that resolution? And just how many are actually going the gym when the calendar flips to March.

The new year is a great time to make an improvement in your life, but resolutions can only have as much of an impact as you allow them to. Sticking by your plans can be tough indeed, but if now's not the time to change for the better – when is? If you want to take a positive step forward in your life, consider making some of these resolutions for healthier living i 2018:

Quit smoking

Kicking a cigarette or tobacco addiction is right up there with joining a gym when it comes to New Year's resolutions. However, it's one that's often just as likely to be ditched by the time spring rolls around. Why? Because quitting smoking is hard: incredibly hard. Yet the serious and damaging health complications that can result from a smoking habit are far too great to ignore. The difficulty here is that most cigarette smokers actually want to quit, but have a hard time keeping their resolutions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 7 in 10 American adults who smoke want to quit, and half had made at least one attempt to quit within a year of being surveyed in 2015.

Among the most important actions to take in stopping smoking is getting support and more information. Going it alone can be too great of a challenge to face by yourself. Consider:

  • Talking to a doctor: Understanding the full scope of how smoking affects your health may be able to provide all the motivation needed to make a change. Talking to a physician can also alert you to what specific steps you can take to quit; like
  • Using quitting products: Whether nicotine gum or patches, products that assist in cessation shouldn't be overlooked. Going cold turkey is difficult for any substance addiction, cigarettes and tobacco included.
Join a support group

No matter what resolution you make to yourself in the new year (whether to eat better, exercise more or change a negative behavior), you can always stand to improve your chances of success by joining a support group. You're not the only one making promises to start the new year, and finding people in the same position and with similar life experiences can make your path ahead seem less fraught and difficult.

Finding a support group and participating in one can be cathartic and helpful, but also difficult. Resolutions often address personal issues, and bringing those to a group can be stressful. Just remember everyone there is in the same boat and interested in seeing you make better lifestyle choices.

Reach out for professional help

Sometimes, a support group isn't enough. If you're dealing with a serious substance addiction or other type of disorder that you've targeted as addressing in 2018, sometimes it takes reaching out for professional help to set you on the right track. 

Especially if you have been living with an eating disorder or drinking or drug problem does this advice become all the more important. Tackling such heavy issues by yourself may only stand to exacerbate the issue. Making a dedicated, concerted effort to eat right or get sober is a great resolution to make, but only through right action can it actually be brought about.

If you or a loved one you know is dealing with such problems and wants to get better in the new year, please consider contacting Fairwinds Treatment Centers today for more information on our locations and how our services can help. Making healthier and better life choices in 2018 are great resolutions to make, but be sure you have the tools, advice and support to follow through on those promises.

The post New Year’s resolutions for healthier living appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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Going off to college is a milestone in any child's life. Finally away from their parents' nest, college students are plunged into a new community where they are allowed to grow into adults, form personal beliefs and identities, and experience life on their own terms. However, the pressures of college are well-known. Attending school hundreds of miles from home, while a dream, can become a stark reality. Getting good grades, balancing social and work life, and making new friends can all place stress on students who may be missing their normal support structure.

All the academic and societal pressures may end up leading a young person to develop an eating disorder to cope with new hardships or experiences they're learning they'll have to deal with on their own. Now that most colleges have taken a winter break and many students have returned home to recharge their batteries, it's as good a time as ever to be watchful for certain signs that might indicate your child could have an eating disorder.

Noticeably extreme weight gain or loss

When students decide what they get to eat every day (and don't have a parent or other preparing a healthy meal most nights), it's sometimes impossible to avoid the dreaded "Freshman 15." However, while such weight gain may not be overly concerning, any extreme fluctuations you see in your child's weight may be more problematic. If your child has lost or put on large amounts of weight, it may be a sign that an eating disorder has taken hold.

Not enjoying the same food as before they left

Consider if your kid's favorite meal was chicken parmesan before they left, and as a treat, you made it the first night they're back on winter break. If they pick around at their plate or are otherwise not interested in eating what was once their favorite food, it may be a sign that an eating disorder has affected their appetite and mood. Not being interested in things that they once enjoyed is a red flag for many physical and psychological complications.

Retreating from family situations

A big part of being home for the holidays is being with family. However, if your once-social child withdraws to their room when family or company is over, it could be a worrying indication that an eating disorder has forced negative changes in their attitude, behavior and habits. If they look uncomfortable at the dinner table or don't show the same holiday joy when family comes over, an eating disorder could be to blame.

Addressing a potential eating disorder is a sensitive issue. If you suspect that your child perhaps developed one due to the stress of living college life on their own, it may help to reach out for professional help. Contact Fairwinds Treatment Centers today to learn more about our locations and services.

The post Looking for signs of an eating disorder in your children home on winter break appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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Though winter is usually marked for many by its festive holidays and celebrations, the season isn't always a time of cheer and light. Especially for those who have lost contact with their family, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. Though an often promulgated misconception is that suicides rise around Christmas (they don't), there are still very serious mental health and physical health risks for individuals during the winter season. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as seasonal depression, affects millions of Americans every year. Though any person can experience SAD as a season changes, frequency and severity of the condition are most commonly associated with the turn from warmer seasons to colder ones. The preponderance of holidays late in the year also affects public perception of SAD, though there are many other factors that may contribute to an individual developing SAD (including substance abuse and eating disorders).

Understanding how SAD affects individuals and can be treated, it first helps to understand what can put a person at risk of developing Season Affective Disorder.

A definition

But first, what is SAD exactly? According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression (not separate from depression itself) that occurs during specific times of the year. The most usual pattern is increased severity in winter/fall, while SAD recedes in the spring and summer. Psychology Today cited statistics finding SAD is thought to affect some 10 million Americans a year, while another 10 to 20 percent experience more mild symptoms.

Some of the symptoms that those with SAD may experience include:

  • Feelings of depression most of the day, every day during the season.
  • Social withdrawal, or "hibernating."
  • Trouble sleeping, always feeling tired or sluggish.
  • Becoming agitated or annoyed quickly.
  • Seeing changes in weight and fluctuation in body appearance.
  • Having thoughts of hopelessness, guilt or self-harm.

NIMH held that to be diagnosed with SAD, individuals must meet the full criteria for major depression occurring contemporaneously with specific seasons for at least two years. While there is discussion on what is directly responsible for SAD, let's look closer at some of the risk factors that are associated with developing the condition.

Trauma

Experiencing a trauma during the winter or fall (for that matter, also the spring or summer) can lead a person to relive their experience and pain every time that season, month or day rolls around. Whether the trauma involves losing a close family member or physical or sexual abuse, it can be tough for people to have a yearly reminder of the event, which can lead to an overall onset of SAD. 

Being a woman or young

According to NIMH, women are almost four times more likely to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those between the ages of 20 and 30 are also more likely to develop SAD than adults in older generations. While there isn't a ton of agreement on what specifically relates to women and young people being more at risk, some have connected disorder prevalence to occurring during child-bearing years.

Biology

Family history has a large role to play in the potential development of SAD. Individuals who have or had relatives that were diagnosed with major depression in their lifetimes are at greater risk of developing SAD on their own. But the question of biology doesn't end there. Many point to a lack of sun as being a primary driver of decreased melatonin levels and disrupted circadian rhythms. When the sun sets at 4 p.m. in the dead of winter, it can cause a physical shock to some people's systems, which could then in turn lead to SAD. That's why light therapy (wherein patients are exposed to regulated sources of light) is a common technique used to combat SAD.

Another potential risk factor is alcohol abuse, which can either lead to SAD or exacerbate symptoms. Seeking help for a substance abuse disorder is a difficult step to take. But when it means you or a loved one spends half the year depressed (or feeling even more depressed), treatment is always an option. Contact Fairwinds Treatment Centers today to schedule an appointment and talk with someone about getting help.

The post What might put you at risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder? appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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At the moment, the United States is gripped by an opioid epidemic without precedence in the nation's history. Americans and their communities have struggled to keep up with the rapidly increasing rate of overdose deaths due to opioids (which now cause 10 deaths per 100,000 in population, up from 3 in 2000). Given the scope and the lethal degree to which the crisis has grown, it can seem difficult for concerned parents, teachers, family members, community leaders and even those with the substance abuse problem themselves to begin to understand the problem.

Indeed, given how quickly the opioid epidemic evolved into a nationwide crisis, education and outreach on the issue have lagged. Here's what you need to know about what makes opioids so likely to be abused.

Millions of prescriptions increase availability, odds of abuse

Opioids are particularly dangerous because of their wide availability and generally unregarded (until recently) potential for abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 259 million painkiller prescriptions were issued in 2014, which is one bottle per every U.S. adult; this despite what Bloomberg reported has been "20 years of warning from scientists about the dangers of addiction."

"Neuroscientists have found links between opioids and long-term brain changes."

Although heroin factors into the overall opioid crisis and has been known for decades as a highly addictive danger, legally prescribed painkillers represent the greatest threat. According to a National Institute on Drug Abuse presentation given to the Senate, "prescription opioids are similar to, and act on the same brain systems affected by, heroin and morphine. They present an intrinsic abuse and addiction liability, particularly if they are used for non-medical purposes."

Indeed, opioids of all kinds are a serious concern, and will continue to be: Bloomberg also noted neuroscientists have found links between opioids and long-term brain changes. This makes it all the more important to know where to turn when in need of help. 

Get ahead of the danger

There are many pathways to addiction. Indeed, patients taking painkillers on regular orders from a physician can develop a habit when there are few other risk factors present. If you or a loved one is prescribed painkillers to recovery from surgery or a workplace accident, it's best to proactively meet the opioid challenge head on and talk to a doctor about how to safely take the medication, what to do if a dependence starts to emerge, or if an alternative therapy exists.

Call someone

Substance abuse is a difficult, highly sensitive issue to address. Individuals at the most risk are often the least likely to reach out for help. However, if ever a concerned or affected person does look for assistance, it helps to know the number of professional agencies:

  • Fairwinds Treatment Centers can be contacted at any time at 772-449-0300 for individuals or relatives to discuss options.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse has a 24-hour national referral hotline (1-800-662-HELP).
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-237-8255.

If considering treatment for an opioid-related condition, or if concerned about someone who has one, contact Fairwinds Treatment Centers for more information on our locations and services. 

The post Why are opioids so dangerous? appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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It can be hard for any individual to manage life when living with a mental illness or substance abuse problem. Imagine then the stress and pressure one feels when suffering from both conditions simultaneously. This is what is called dual diagnosis, when a person experiences two disorders at once, at it occurs a lot more frequently than one might imagine.

Living with dual diagnosis can be a significant challenge for any person. In many cases, one disorder fuels the other — like someone who turns to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate an existing mental health condition. One disorder may beget the other and can further complicate and compound the challenges an individual faces. Yet finding effective help for dual diagnosis isn't as easy as tackling one issue and watching the other dissipate. Those living with dual diagnosis suffer from two separate disorders, both requiring their own dedicated care. This is an overarching important point to note when considering avenues of treatment. Here's more information on dual diagnosis and what options there are for individuals living with it:

Dual diagnosis affects millions nationwide

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), nearly 8 million adults were living with co-occurring disorders in 2014, when data was last available. However, it's crucial to note how difficult it can be to accurately diagnosis such complex conditions and then sufficiently treat them. As mentioned by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the mental health and substance abuse fields have different treatment cultures, which affects how dual diagnosis is approached and identified.

Most commonly, dual diagnosis involves a mental condition like depression, mood swings or bipolar disorder, and a substance abuse issue that develops from an attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, but which only fuels the development of dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis can also happen in the reverse order — a mental health issue stemming from substance abuse. A person who drinks to control mood outbursts often suffers from the same complications as someone addicted to drugs who then becomes depressed.

Dual diagnosis can be a significant challenge for affected individuals and families.
Who is at risk?

Any person with a mental illness or substance abuse issue is at risk of developing dual diagnosis. However, there are particular patient populations who are more in danger. For instance, veterans are often at high risk. When someone comes back from the battlefield with intense psychiatric complications like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes the only refuge a veteran may find in trying to control flashbacks and avoidance is in drugs or alcohol. Leaning on substances, of course, can spiral out of control and lead to exacerbating existing mental health problems.

What treatment options exist?

As mentioned, it's key when addressing dual diagnosis that concerned family members or individuals themselves understand two different disorders require two different courses of treatment. This isn't to say treatment cannot be handled in one facility, but that dual diagnosis cannot be approached as melding of the disorders. Here are some of the courses of treatment for dual diagnosis that patients may experience:

  • Detoxification.
  • Psychiatric therapy or counseling.
  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Participation in support systems or groups.
  • Medication.

Living with dual diagnosis can be a considerable burden for any affected individual, as well as their loved ones and friends. The complicated, intertwined nature of mental disorders and substance abuse can further make things like finding treatment an insurmountable obstacle. Yet helps exists: For any concerned individual or family, contact Fairwinds Treatment Centers today to learn more about our treatment options and locations.

The post What is dual diagnosis and what treatment options are available? appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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The holiday season is finally upon us. As the calendars turn over to the winter months, families, friends and loves ones across the nation will soon start to gather to celebrate the festivities. First on the docket is Thanksgiving. 

"Thanksgiving is a celebration, but also a time to be aware of issues that are compounded by holiday pressures."

An interesting holiday because of its ability to evoke painful family tensions as much as cheerful memories, Thanksgiving can be a tricky event for any host. It's also a holiday with particular triggers for those who've struggled with substance abuse or an eating disorder. Alcoholic drinks are more regularly imbibed during the holidays, especially during Thanksgiving dinner and afterward, which can create pressure-filled situations that may lead an affected or recuperating individual to drink to cope or fit in. If for nothing else, Thanksgiving is famous for overindulgence on food, heaps of turkey and third plates on second plates. Imagine then the intense stress or anxiety and loathing a person with an eating disorder may experience – hardly a warm, holiday feeling.

It's important for hosts, family and friends to recognize these potential triggers (as well as to look for signs of a hidden condition) during Thanksgiving. Everyone deserves a happy holiday, and here's what you can do to help that happen:

Keep an eye open at the table for excessive drinking, have options for other beverages

Anybody hosting Thanksgiving day certainly has a lot on their plate to manage, from the menu to the guests to chairs for the kids table. One duty they should not forget, however, is to ask anyone attending about accommodations they would need in light of recent or continuing sobriety. It's an easy enough consideration to slip through the cracks given all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but will be highly appreciated by any family, friends or significant others with struggles in their past.

A couple steps to take include: ensuring there are ample options for nonalcoholic beverages and cutting off those who've maybe had too much so as not to create a hostile environment.

But not everyone will always be forthcoming with their struggles with alcohol, as it is a difficult condition to confront, much less talk about. Anybody at Thanksgiving, and not just hosts, should know how to spot potential problem drinking. Something to be particularly watchful for is making holiday excuses for overconsumption and pretending to be sober. Covering up being intoxicated or playing it off due to the occasion can be indicators that something deeper may be amiss. 

If you're drinking, try to pace yourself; and as always, be vigilant in making sure nobody drives after having too much to drink. More motor fatalities related to alcohol use are recorded during the holidays, and everyone at the table has a responsibility in preventing tragedy.

Be conscious of the pressure to eat on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost singularly known for being the holiday where it's OK to eat more than is normally socially acceptable. While that's oversimplifying the issue, think about it from the perspective of someone who's struggled with an eating disorder: Not only are they encouraged to eat more, but even feel pressured to do so. As a Thanksgiving host or anybody else attending, it's important to take some measures to ensure the day is enjoyable for everyone:

  • Make it about more than the food: While Thanksgiving dinner and desserts will also be a central feature of the day, there's still a number of hours in the day that can be used for other activities. Planning family holiday-themed games and even watching a seasonal movie together can provide needed respite from all the focus and talk of food.
  • Avoid talk about appearances: Though there's nothing as quintessentially Thanksgiving as the collective unloosening of belts after dinner, the situation can be an uncomfortable one if someone attending has an eating disorder. Try to be cognizant of talk or comments about bodies and appearances, though it is difficult to keep in mind.

Thanksgiving is a beginning of a run of winter celebrations, but it's still as good a time as ever to find help for you or a loved one who struggles with a issue that's compounded by holiday pressures. Substance abuse and eating disorders are sensitive problems to address. Fairwinds Treatment Centers operates a number of locations where interested individuals can seek help or assistance, contact us today.

The post What to know about Thanksgiving and substance abuse/eating disorders appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Communities across the country have been ravaged by prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic substances as overdoses soar and deaths due to them rise alongside. Fed by the wide availability of some opioids (like pharmaceutical drugs that may be abused or find their way into other hands) and the fatal nature of street substances (like heroin and fentanyl), the opioid epidemic has reached crisis levels.

The state of opioid abuse in America has grown so much in recent years that President Donald Trump even labeled it a national emergency. Substance abuse is a sensitive issue for anyone affected by it (directly or indirectly), and extremely frank conversations need to be had in order to find help. However difficult those talks may be to have, it's first important that Americans understand the scope of the opioid epidemic.

Here's a general overview of the opioid crisis in the U.S. and the havoc its wreaking:

Increasing share of deaths nationwide

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the leading cause of accidental death in 2015 could be traced to drug overdose: 52,404 in all. Of that number, 20,101 were related to prescription painkillers, and 12,990 to heroin. These numbers have soared in recent years as overdose deaths attributable to opioids (whether illicit or regulated) continue to become more frequent. Data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed opioids were responsible for 3 deaths per 100,000 in population in 2000; in 2015 they were responsible for more than 10, a quadrupling of lethal outcomes. It took deaths due to heroin only five years to show the same increase, rising from 1 death per 100,000 in 2010, to 4 deaths in 2015. 

Painkillers continue to cause more deaths in America.
Widespread and showing no signs of abating

Stakeholders (from health care, to government to social services and parents) have struggled to contain the opioid epidemic as it grows across the nation. According to CDC, 19 states saw statistically significant increases in opioid-associated overdose deaths from 2014-2015. The exponential growth of deaths across the country has rocked states in all areas. Between those years, opioid-related overdose deaths rose by:

  • 35 percent in Massachusetts.
  • 22 percent in Florida.
  • 21 percent in Kentucky.
  • 10 percent in Washington.
Daily struggle

The challenges inherent in addressing the opioid crisis can clearly be seen in a regular day in America. According to U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, on any given day:

  • More than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are filled.
  • Nearly 4,000 begin nonmedical use of painkiller.
  • Around 600 people try heroin for the first time.
  • Almost 80 people die from an opioid-related overdose.
Awareness and outreach needed

STAT News, an investigative journalism outlet, predicted that in a worst-case scenario, opioids could kill some 500,000 people in the next decade. With communities, families and institutions facing such a grave threat, action and outreach is needed. Substance abuse can be a particularly difficult subject to broach, but with so much risk amid a nationwide epidemic, advocates should do what they can to raise awareness in their area, or offer resources to those affected. 

The post A look at the opioid crisis in America appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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Bullying has never been more a part of the national social conversation than it is now. The rise of cyberbullying has given way to considerable awareness efforts, as advocates become more numerous and vocal.  Many celebrities and public figures even lend their platforms to support the cause. However, addressing bullying is a task for the nation, as well as the communities that make up this country: After all, bullying can contribute to vulnerable individuals developing damaging eating disorders or substance abuse issues that stem from their experiences. That's why October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Here's more information on the history of the month, as well as what you can do to help:

Once a one-week event, now a month of awareness

Started in 2006 by the PACER Center as a campaign held in the first week of October, the effort evolved into a month-long initiative in 2010 that engages communities across the nation to stand up to and speak out against bullying, as well as provide resources for those affected by bullying. PACER focused on promoting the initiative in the classroom and reached out to the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association to help organize schools and communities. Now "a nationwide call to action," PACER has noted National Bullying Prevention Month is supported by outreach from high-profile partners like CNN, Disney and Facebook. 

Run against bullying among events held

Among the premier awareness efforts within National Bullying Prevention Month is PACER's Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying. Held on Saturday, Oct. 7, this year, the annual run, walk and roll takes place in several regional locations across the country, including Atlanta; Brooklyn, New York City; Fort Worth, Texas; Las Vegas; and Bloomington, Minnesota.

However, even if you're not in one of those areas, countless workshops, seminars, talks, outreach events and other activities are held. Last year, StopBullying.gov, operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, listed several Youth Voice events that had speakers from walks of life prone to bullying – like LGBTQ youth and those with disabilities. 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Social media plays a large role in National Bullying Prevention Month. Facebook has a profile picture filter that users can select for the month, while various Twitter Talks are taking place. Many participants take to Instagram to engage with those affected by bullying, directly or indirectly. This outreach is important because some of those who are bullied may be suffering from other issues like an eating disorder or substance abuse that make them less likely to seek help.

Unity Day – Oct. 25

Bullying awareness advocates make a statement every Unity Day during National Bullying Prevention Month by wearing orange and encouraging those they know, teach or work with to do the same. Unity Day 2017 is being held Wednesday, Oct. 25, and has an official orange "Create a world without bullying" shirt. The sight of a united effort has a big effect in schools and other places.

"Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity," said Paula Goldberg, executive director of PACER Center. "When hundreds of individuals in a school or organization wear orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the unified message to kids to know that they are not alone."

Resources available for all

The beauty of National Bullying Prevention Month is that even if you're not involved in an official event, there are still a wealth of resources any interested or affected party can take advantage of. PACER even offers a guide for students who want to plan their own even in their communities. If you know someone who experiences bullying, or are being bullied yourself, October is the month to take action and raise awareness or contact professional help (as unaddressed bullying can lead to issues like eating disorders or substance abuse).

The post October is National Bullying Prevention Month appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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The topic of bullying seems to be on everyone's minds these days. News outlets frequently run stories about severe bullying cases in schools. Popular TV series hit the airwaves displaying acts of bullying and abuse as common aspects of modern school life, as expected as the bells that ring to dismiss students from class.

It's not that bullying is an especially new phenomenon, but thanks to the prevalence of the internet in our daily lives, kids are finding new ways to pick on their classmates, and now the actions are nearly inescapable, no matter where the victims try to go. 

Research has closer linked bullying and the development of depression, which for some, then leads to eating disorders, addictions and other unhealthy conditions. 

Bullying leads to depression
According to the Megan Meier Foundation, 27.8 percent of students report face-to-face bullying at some point during a school year. Forty-three percent reported being cyberbullied. A LiveScience report linked the rate of bullying to instances of depression in teenagers – teens who experience in-person bullying may be twice as likely to develop depression through adulthood

"There were consistent associations between exposure to cyberbullying and increased likelihood of depression," Michele Hamm, pediatrics researcher at the University of Alberta told LiveScience. 

Bullying is, at its core, a version of harassment and abuse. It can range from physical violence to name calling to defamation. What's more, is Hamm and her research team found that many of the victims suffered in silence rather than reaching out for help from an adult. Many teens internalize the bullying, convinced that they deserve it and that what's being said about them must be true. It leads to low self-esteem, sadness and anxiety. 

Bullying that starts at early ages can lead to depression that lasts into adulthood.

Depression manifests in different ways
While depression can impact everyone a little differently, there are a few symptoms that parents should look out for. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who are depressed may experience:

  • Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness and emptiness.
  • A persistent lack of energy.
  • Stress and agitation. 
  • Changes in sleep patterns and appetite.
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
  • A lack of interest in hobbies and actives they once enjoyed.

Depression is also comorbid with a number of other conditions, like anxiety disorders and eating disorders. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that two-thirds of people who have had an eating disorder also experienced an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, with 42 percent developing anxiety during childhood. Many eating disorders are not solely about appearance and weight, but also about control. People who are anxious may be susceptible to eating disorders as a coping mechanism for the lack of control they feel over their condition.

Of course, there's more than one trigger that can lead to an eating disorder. Bullying itself has been directly linked to some disordered eating – the Megan Meier Foundation reported that 64 percent of students who enrolled in weight-loss programs were victims of appearance-based attacks of bullying.

That's why it's so crucial when treating people who have eating disorders to not just focus on that specific condition, but to co-treat any other conditions that a person is experiencing as well. 

Fairwinds Treatment Center, led by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, specializes in dual-diagnosis treatments that help patients overcome concurrent mental health issues. We also work with a number of insurance companies, including United Healthcare, Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, to help you manage the cost of treatment.

The post The link between bullying and depression appeared first on Fairwinds Treatment Center.

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