Saturday, July 25, 2009


(Continued from July 18, 2009) ....... Continuing with last week's article - based upon the research by Dr. Kathie F. Nunley:

"There is a negative correlation between depression and athletic participation. Although adolescents that participate in athletics do not show a decrease in drug use, they do exhibit significantly less depression and suicidal tendencies (Oler, 1994)."

Yes, it is true, the best-adjusted kids are those who stay occupied, believe that their activities have purpose, engage in the activities of their choice, and feel as though they are part of a larger cause, such as an athletic team. Band, choir, debate, chess club, reading club, etc. also serve the same purpose.

"Another factor associated with adolescent depression and negative behaviors is difficulty in establishing autonomy in the adolescent's relationship with parents. Adolescent depression is seen in higher frequency in families where the children have difficulty establishing their own identity because of negative communication patterns and other dysfunctional family attributes (Allen, et. al., 1994)." In other words, if the parents are psychologically messed up and have refused treatment or assistance, the kids are more likely to be messed up, as well.

One topic that permeates the research on depression is the concept of self- esteem. There has been a long standing correlation between low self-esteem and depression. The views on self-esteem are changing more rapidly than even the views on depression. The traditional thinking with self-esteem was if one could improve the way an individual perceived himself or herself, then the secondary behaviors that accompany low self-esteem would disappear (New model, 1995). This traditional philosophy is taking a new direction."

Ah yes, if we feel good about ourselves, as well as our relationships and contributions to society, depression is lessened!

So, the secrets are as follows:

a) Pay attention to your kids and let them know that you care

b) Have an after-school/evening/weekend caregiver who cares about their development as a human being (mom, dad, grandparents, good family friend, etc.) and stay away from latch-key programs on a full-time basis

c) Find your child's interests and get him/her involved with programs that are tied to those interests (Music, Sports, Academics, etc.) and allow your children to have the time to excel and be involved with those interests

d) Get help for parents (yourself or your spouse) if one or both suffer from Depression

e) Set-up an appointment with a therapist for your child if genetic Depression exists in your family.

Kids were born to be loved and taken care of by their parents, not by the rest of the world. I know that it can be trying and I know that time and money can be short, but, believe me, after having seen hundreds of cases in which parents did not follow the 5 aforementioned steps, the dividends that you will receive from spending time with your kids (such as getting them involved in activities and addressing Depression - especially when it is along genetic lines) will far outweigh any financial gain that you will receive in your lifetime!

Hang in there and love your kids with everything that you have!!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, July 18, 2009


According to Nunley, “Causes of depression number almost as high as symptoms of depression. There appears to be a genetic factor to depression. Families with a history of depression often exhibit the symptoms during adolescence (Fritz, 1995). And depressed children frequently come from parents who have been depressed. Besides genetic predispositions to depression, social skills deficits may also contribute. These social skills deficits are harder to determine as it is difficult to find whether the inability to form good social skills causes, or results from the depression (Lamarine, 1995). Sexual orientation adjustment problems have also been linked to depression, especially in communities with strong social pressures. A study in currently underway with the Utah Department of Health to study the link between homosexuality and adolescent suicide (Wagner, 1996).”

One of the greatest points of the above paragraph is the reference to genetic depression. Over the years, when I have encountered a child who appears to be depressed, I have arranged for the mother and father (if possible) to meet with me. Invariably, one of the parents exhibits symptoms of depression or admits to being on medication or in counseling for depression.

Also, in more situations that I care to admit, the depressed parent, the one who has suffered with depression for years since his/her own childhood, has made the decision to wait and see if the depression goes away by itself!!!! Well, would a parent wait and see if a genetic heart condition went away away? Would a parent wait and see if genetic lung trouble went away by itself?

Of course not! Along those same lines, when depression is genetic and your child displays some of the same characteristics, get him/her in to see a Counselor as soon as possible, so that negative effects of depression are not given the opportunity to compound over the years.

Continuing with Nunley's research, "Coincidently, the peak age of depression and low self-esteem coincides with the transition from elementary to junior high school. This age may have an inability to deal with the new social demands as well as academic demands of a new school (Feldman & Elliot, 1990; Eccles, et. al., 1993).

There appears a relationship between latch-key kids and depression. Unsupervised adolescents are more prone to substance abuse, risk-taking, depression, and low self esteem (Richardson, et. al., 1993). One of the factors that correlates with recurring depression is a negative relationship between adolescents and their fathers along with an inability of the mothers to monitor behavior (Sanford, 1996)."

I could not have said it better myself! When kids enter the middle school environment, they subconsciously realize that they have left the “safe world” of their elementary schools, an environment which had kept them safe since the age of 4 or 5. Many kids thrive when released from the constraints of an elementary environment, while others shudder at the fear of being given more freedom and responsibility.

Additionally, and this might hurt a little bit, unsupervised kids are almost always more prone to negative behaviors, as the belief begins to set in with kids that nobody cares about them. It might be difficult in these troubling fiscal times, but it must be a priority for kids to be supervised by somebody who cares about them! The preferred after-school caretaker is a mother or father, with other relatives or close family friends taking the role as secondary choices.

HOWEVER, while latch-key programs can fulfill an excellent role as caregivers on a part-time bases (once or twice a week), to hand over full-time caregiving to a group of folks who are simply doing it for a paycheck and who don’t necessarily care about the overall development of your child and who most likely won’t be around when your child gets older, well, you’re just asking for your child to get involved with negative and socially unacceptable behaviors, including drinking, drugs, sex, and, of course, it provides ripe soil in which depression can thrive.

Come back next Saturday for the rest of this article - looking for signs of Depression and getting the help that your kids need. Hang in there!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adolescent Depression?

According to a report released by Dr. Kathie F. Nunley, “Major depression affects one in fifty school children. Countless others are affected by milder cases of depression which may also affect school performance (Lamarine, 1995). The peak age of depression correlates with the peak years of low self-esteem. Feldman & Elliot (1990) write that the prime period for low self-esteem is early and middle adolescence with a peak period between the ages of thirteen and fourteen.”

Yes, the middle school years are rampant with low self-esteem. As children see and feel their bodies changing and their hormones raging out of control, they begin to feel inferior when compared with others. It is also the prime age range in which children believe that everybody is watching their every move!

“One of the factors that makes depression so difficult to diagnose in adolescents is the common behavior changes that are normally associated with the hormonal changes of this period (Lamarine, 1995). It has only been in recent years that the medical community has acknowledged childhood depression and viewed it as a condition which requires intervention.”

As adolescents can often be “moody” week-to-week-, day-to-day, and even seemingly minute-to-minute, the diagnosis of depression can often be overlooked, as many experts simply chalk up unusual adolescent behavior to the fact that the child is …. well, .. an adolescent!

“Historically, children were not considered candidates for depression (Whitley, 1996). Mostly because of Freudian notions about the unconscious, depression had been viewed as a condition which only affected adults. Today, childhood depression is widely recognized and health professionals see depression as a serious condition affecting both adolescents and young children (Whitley, 1996; Lamarine, 1995).

Fritz (1995), writes that depression may often be seen in physical ailments such as digestive problems, sleep disorders, or persistent boredom. Lamarine (1995), considers that in children, depression may often be mistaken for other conditions such as attention deficit disorder, aggressiveness, physical illness, sleep and eating disorders and hyperactivity.”

And that is one of the biggest missed points of all – some students suffer from Depression, yet their parents, educators, and even medical personnel misread or improperly diagnose the child’s issues as ADD, ADHD, and other ailments. Of course, with an improper diagnosis comes improper treatment. While the improperly prescribed treatment might not harm the child, the true issue at hand, Depression, is not being addressed by anybody.

Coming the next two weeks - Symptoms of Depression and Low Self-Esteem. Hang in there – we’ll get you through the years of child-raising in great shape!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Alcohol=Brain Shrinkage

For years, we have believed that consumption of large amounts of alcohol could lead to various forms of brain altering. But, now, based upon a report from, we have learned the following:

According to CNN, any amount of alcohol can decrease brain size!! People who drink alcohol – even the moderate amounts that help prevent heart disease – have a smaller brain volume than those who do not.

While a certain amount of brain shrinkage is normal with age, greater amounts in some parts of the brain have been linked to dementia. According to Carol Ann Paul, who conducted the study at the Boston University School of Public Health, “Decline in brain volume – estimated a 2 percent per decade – is a natural part of aging”. She had hoped to find that alcohol might protect against such brain shrinkage. “However, we did not find the protective effect,” said Paul. “In fact, any level of alcohol consumption resulted in a decline in brain volume.”

In the study, Paul and colleagues looked at 1839 healthy people with an average age of about 61. The patients underwent an MRI of the brain and reported how much the tippled. Overall, the more alcohol consumed, the smaller the brain volume, with abstainers having a higher brain volume than former drinkers, light drinkers 1-7 drinks per week), moderate drinkers (8-14 drinks per week), and heavy drinkers 14 or more drinks per week).

In women, even moderate drinkers had a smaller brain volume than abstainers or former drinkers. It’s not clear why even modest amounts of alcohol may shrink the brain, although alcohol is “known to dehydrate tissues, and constant dehydration can have negative effects on any sensitive tissue”, said Paul.

Said Dr. Petros Levounis, “We always knew that alcohol at higher dosages results in shrinking of the brain and cognitive deficit. What is new with this article is that it shows brain shrinking at lower doses of alcohol.”

So, as always, adults can make adult decisions based upon your lifestyle, needs, and desires. But, if you ever need another reminder as to why alcohol must be kept away from your kids, re-read this article again!

Be careful around the home and keep the alcohol away from the kids’ reach! After all, we want our kids’ brains to be large and strong when selecting our nursing homes someday!

Paul W. Reeves