Archive for August, 2011

The Impact of Hurricane Media Cues on Children

Friday, August 26th, 2011

radar image of hurricaneAs we watch the images and follow the updates of the path of Hurricane Sandy we are confronted with the fine line media must walk between providing necessary, often life-saving information and escalating anxiety and traumatic reactions. While adults, themselves, need to find a viable way to regulate their exposure to traumatic media cues, it is particularly important to consider the impact of disaster media cues on children.

Given the centrality of media in this culture the impact of media coverage of man-made or natural disasters on children can easily go unrecognized.

  • What becomes the white noise or background sound of TV’s in every public place and often in many homes is a never ending reminder to a child that something frightening is about to happen- although no one seems to be talking about it.
  • For pre-school and even grade school children, the combination of not fully grasping a verbal TV message while registering a tone of alarm or seeing frightening images can be very terrifying.
  • Given a child’s perspective of time and place, there may be little ability to differentiate how close they are to what they are seeing.
  • Children, as we found with 9/11, are often  unable to determine that what they are seeing is a repeat of the same video clip and not more planes or waves or houses blown away.

Why Couples Clash Over Chores: Some Alternatives

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

scrubbing the kitchen floorIf you and your partner find yourselves battling over throwing out the garbage or doing the laundry, you are not alone and neither may actually be to blame. A closer look may offer some understanding and some alternatives.

  • According to a 2007 Pew Research Center Survey of American adults, 62% ranked  “sharing household chores” as third in importance in a successful marriage  with 92% ranking “faithfulness” as number one and 70% ranking “happy sexual relationship” as number two. There were no differences of opinion between men and women; or between older adults and younger adults; or between married people and singles.
  • Back in 1990 fewer than half (47%) of adults said sharing household chores was very important to a successful marriage. The fact that 60% of women work outside the home and  men are participating in the household and childcare at three times the rate they did in the 60’s, the ranking suggests that concrete help with the day to day chores is both needed and appreciated.

The Division of Labor

What may seem, however, like an easy division of labor, “you shop” and “I’ll cook” is actually not so easy. In fact the notion that a perfectly balanced list could or should exist is a myth. People just don’t function that way.


Exercise for Depression: Suggestions for Making It Possible

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

exercise and healingNumerous studies have identified exercise as a key factor in reducing depression symptoms. A recent study heightens the argument by finding that as compared to age, race, gender, body mass index cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, it was the sedentary lifestyle of a depressed person that alone accounted for about 25% of the risk of heart-related deaths. The message is that we need to move because our lives depend on it!

The problem is that when you are depressed often the last thing you want to do is exercise.

Given the despair, lethargy, self-doubt, exhaustion, disinterest in activities and shame experienced with depression, the suggestion to exercise feels like adding insult to injury. “I’m not exercising because I’m depressed.”

Knowing exercise could help, but feeling unable to do so often adds to the self-recriminations and low self-esteem of depression.  In one case, the more the young woman watched other family members exercise – the less possible it felt.

Depression’s Landscape.

Given the recent discussion of the pros and cons of medications and treatments for depression, it seems clear that people need to have information and treatment options. It also seems important to stack the deck toward feeling better with anything that might work for you. If you have wanted to exercise but find it impossible – here are some suggestions.


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Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP & Dianne Kane, DSW are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Pick up the book today!

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