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Monday
Sep032018

Ask Dr. Barb: What sister is hiding behind all her stuff  

Dr. Barbara RosenbergDear Dr. Barb:

I am concerned about my sister. She lives alone and her house is so full of things that I wonder how she gets around. She wasn’t always that way, but she has had some life disappointments that seemed to change her. Could all the clutter be a sign of depression? Knowing my sister, if I mention it, she will get angry and suggest that I mind my own business. Is there a way I can approach her about this without her getting too upset? I’ve thought of visiting her more often and casually asking if she’d like me to cook dinner for us, and then I’d start to help by cleaning up the kitchen. What do you think?

Dear Reader:

You are on the right track in thinking that the clutter in your sister’s house may be a sign of depression. She has experienced disappointments in her life, perhaps losses pertaining to relationships, finances, status or self-esteem. Individuals who struggle with these kinds of adversities can lose their ability to move forward with their lives as they see the future in a very negative way. They typically lack self-confidence in their ability to make necessary changes and, due to becoming highly anxious when faced with daily decisions, things keep getting put off. 

                                                       Sometimes, when individuals become depressed this way, they have great difficulty letting go of possessions.

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Tuesday
Jun122018

Ask Dr. Barb: Celebrity suicides highlight need for mental health awareness

Dear Dr. Barb:

I work with sensitive, creative young people for whom Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain would have been among role models. When successful, high-profile people commit suicide, it makes it harder to coach those who must survive all the failures and disappointments that typically come before a breakthrough. And what does one say to those who wonder about getting through significant life challenges in the face of role models for whom success was apparently not enough? 

Dear Reader:

Needless to say, the suicides of exceptionally creative and talented celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are shocking and very sad to us all. These tragic, self-inflicted deaths raise many good questions such as yours. Often the most frequent question asked about celebrity suicide is why an individual, having achieved so much fame, admiration and success in a career, would suddenly end his or her life.                                

Of course, one can never know the inner struggles that everyday people, let alone a celebrity, might be hiding from the spotlight.  However, according to Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York, suicide does not just happen out of the blue. There are warning signs in spite of these sudden deaths, and about 90 percent of all those who commit suicide have a pre-existing psychiatric condition.  Reportedly, Kate Spade was fighting depression and anxiety for five years and, for many with this kind of illness, life can be an agonizing, daily struggle. Bourdain, who had a history of substance addictions including heroin, cocaine and alcohol, has been quoted as having previously contemplated suicide.  

Depression and anxiety can result from many different situations.

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Wednesday
Mar212018

Ask Dr. Barb: Questioning behavior in wake of "Me Too"

Dear Dr. Barb:

 

With accusations against men in many fields and the rise of the “Me Too” movement, many of us have been examining our behavior. I’ve had a predilection for making mildly off-color quips, which I’ve resolved to end. I’ve also resolved to never again discuss with male co-workers which female co-workers are the “hottest.” I’m a married man in my late 50s, and most men in my circle believe a lot of good is coming out of this movement. What’s bothering me, though, is thoughts of my past. When I first started dating, I do remember being aggressive. I’m not talking about harassment or worse; I’ve always known that “no” means no. I’m talking about what I thought were the normal fumblings of a young man who is trying to be intimate with a woman. I’ve always thought we were “wired” as men to be the pursuers, and women were the pursued. Dr. Barb, I’d be interested in hearing you weigh in on this topic as a professional and as a woman of my generation.

Dear Reader:

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about how the “Me Too” movement is encouraging you, as well as other men, to examine your attitudes and actions towards women. It’s never easy to look back at one’s life experiences and acknowledge that, knowingly or unknowingly, you were enabling sexist beliefs about women and at times your off-color jokes were demeaning of them.

 

However, even in your earlier dating years, when you were somewhat aggressive and unsure of yourself with women, it is good to know that you respected their feelings about saying “no.”

 

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Sunday
Jan072018

Ask Dr. Barb: Talking to kids about sex

Dear Dr. Barb:

 I am concerned about how easy it is for children to access sexually explicit material online and that it will lead to irresponsible actions kids aren’t mature enough to handle. A friend recently caught her 12-year-old daughter viewing sexually explicit material on a mobile phone. What would you suggest for a parent dealing with the many sexual cues to which children are exposed?


Dear Reader:

In many communities, it is commonplace for pre-teens or “tweens” to have mobile phones. And as they are spending more and more time connecting with each other online, parents may be unsure where to draw the line between safe technology use and healthy social connection. Kids feel pressure to not be left out, and parents really do not want this to happen to their kids either.

 

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Wednesday
Sep062017

Ask Dr. Barb: Strike a balance to join new community 

Dear Dr. Barb:

My family recently moved to a community that has, for me, a troubling level of openness. The neighborhood kids are allowed to enter the homes of their friends at will. No knocking, no announcements. Of course, we could keep our doors locked, but I already have the challenge of being a working mom in a community where many moms stay at home. I want my children to be able to make friends and feel like they fit in, but my husband and I are a little too private to feel comfortable with this practice, and on weekends, we often need to just decompress from the work week. How can we maintain our privacy and still be well-received in our new neighborhood?


Dear Reader,

Balancing your own needs for privacy and relaxation while meeting your kids’ social needs is a normal challenge with reasonable solutions. It seems you are very concerned about kids barging in to your home at all hours. You are probably worrying about this problem more than you should be. As you point out, you can keep your doors locked — at least for reasons of safety.

 

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