Stories about: anxiety

Eating disorders affect boys, gay and lesbian youth

“When asked to conjure an image of a patient living with an eating disorder, I imagine many people picture a young, thin woman. This reflects two common stereotypes: that eating disorders only affect women, and that all people with eating disorders are low-weighted. In fact, clinical experience and an evolving field of research show that many males struggle with eating disorders,” says Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, fellow in Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Similarly, parents and health care providers may see gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in terms of their sexual identities and forget that these teens may face body image and weight control issues as well.

Two recent studies published by researchers at Boston Children’s debunk these stereotypes and may change the way parents and providers think about eating disorders and risky weight control behaviors in all teens.

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VIP treatment for kids with urinary issues

The Voiding Improvement Program (VIP) at Boston Children’s Hospital helps kids overcome a wide variety of urinary problems, including difficult toileting issues like daytime and nighttime bathroom accidents and urinary tract infections. Here’s a look at how the VIP can help your children.

Boston Children’s Hospital Voiding Improvement Program (VIP) is available in Boston, Peabody, Waltham and Weymouth. To learn more, visit the program’s website. Also, check Thriving in the coming weeks for a post on how parents and doctors work together to help kids overcome daytime and nighttime wetting issues.

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Millions of children have mental health disorders while treatment budgets shrink

When feeling stressed out by the hectic pace of modern life, it’s easy to get wistful for the carefree days of youth—when it seemed the only thing we had to worry about was getting along with the other kids in the neighborhood.

But according to a first-of-its-kind report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on childhood mental health, those days are gone or may never even have existed for a huge portion of America’s children.

Analyzing data collected over the past six years, the report shows that millions of kids—as many as one in five—are currently living with some form of mental health disorder. Attention deficit disorder is the most prevalent condition reported, affecting more than 4 million kids nationwide, but other behavioral issues such as anxiety and depression also were heavily documented, affecting 2.2 and 1.8 million children respectively.

While it’s unclear whether or not the numbers in the report mean that these conditions are really more common in kids today, or if parents, clinicians and teachers are just getting better at identifying them, the bottom line is clear: the issue of mental health disorders in American children is too big to ignore.

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The science of stress

Adolescence is a hard time for just about everyone. School pressure, changing relationships, craving the independence of adulthood while clinging to the security of childhood; it can all lead to a lot of emotional turmoil. But while the stress of growing up may be almost universal, how teens handle it varies wildly.

Data shows that poor reaction to stress can lead to the onset of mental illnesses and associated problems like substance abuse or antisocial behavior. In many cases, the first signs of these disorders surface when the person is feeling stressed. Research also shows that adolescents who have experienced trauma or adversity when they were younger, like the death of a close relative or abandonment by a parent, are more likely to have mental health issues triggered by stress, compared to people who have never faced that kind of hardship.

Even though there’s plenty of research linking stress and early adversity to mental disorders, there are very few studies looking at how the two are connected. Why does early life adversity or trauma make some people more prone to mental illness, especially when dealing with stressful situations? And if warning signs are identified early enough, can these problems be avoided? These are questions Boston Children’s Hospital researcher Kate McLaughlin, PhD, is trying to answer. McLaughlin, along with Margaret Sheridan, PhD, are analyzing how teenagers’ brains react to stress. The project involves over 200 adolescents, some with mental health issues and some without, as well as teens who have experienced early life adversity and others who haven’t.

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