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With American soldiers returning from combat in the Middle East, the
subject of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is in the news. The disorder
has been closely associated with the stress and strain of war, but it’s important
to note that this problem doesn’t just affect veterans, but a surprising number
In fact, a study by the Veterans Administration (VA) involving the general
population shows that PTSD affects 7.8% of Americans at some point in their
lives. Women are more than twice as likely to experience a problem with the
disorder — 10.4% as compared to 5% in men.
There are many triggers for PTSD, but the most common ones are wit-
nessing someone being injured or killed; being involved in a natural disaster;
being involved in a life-threatening accident; and combat exposure. Symptoms
include acute stress, anger, sleep problems, pain, alcoholism and nightmares.
Treatment often involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which
helps people learn how to cope with anxiety and stress. Special breathing
techniques or biofeedback may be employed.
Group therapy, in which survivors share experiences with the guidance
of a trained leader, can be a boost to the healing process. Medication may also
be part of an overall treatment plan.
The public has been exposed to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) through
popular movies such as As Good As It Gets
, and television shows such as Monk
In reality, 5 million Americans are suffering from OCD symptoms at any given
time — though the symptoms may be mild.
OCD involves repetitive behaviors, such as washing hands excessively,
checking locks on doors, cleaning, rearranging or counting things. Practicing
these behaviors makes the sufferer feel better for a little while, but long-term
affects can be severe. They include anxiety, self-disgust or depression.
In more severe cases, OCD can manifest itself as trichotillomania (pulling
out strands of hair or eyebrows), body dysmorphic disorder (preoccupation with
a minor body defect) or hypochondriasis (the fear of getting a serious illness.)
These symptoms can become crippling, in some cases requiring hospitaliza-
tion. But in many others they’re mild, and people can function within their fami-
lies and their workplace indefinitely.
OCD sufferers are not “crazy” and are in fact very aware that their behav-
ior is causing problems. Instead of getting treatment, they often keep their
condition secret — one reason why the prevalence of the problem may be under-
The two major forms of treatment for OCD are cognitive behavioral therapy
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(CBT) and medication. With CBT, the patient is exposed to the triggers for their compulsive behavior,
then gradually conditioned not to respond with their usual behavior. People who are obsessed with
germs, for example, may touch an object presumed to have them, after which he or she is denied the
opportunity to wash. The idea is that anxiety gradually subsides as the patient’s response becomes
There are also several drugs that can be effective in controlling the symptoms of OCD. They
include Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro and Anafranil.
Here are some Web sites that offer more information:● www.ocfoundation.org/● www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-an05.html● www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/ocdmenu.cfm● http://mentalhelp.net/poc/center_index.php?id=6● www.kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/learning_problem/ocd.html
Many parents view bullying as a fact of life.
But it can lead to major consequences for children
becoming a responsible adult. An allowance can
and teenagers, and as a result it’s become a serious
help establish good spending and saving habits.
Bullying has been identified as a contributing
but taking that approach doesn’t teach the value
factor in school violence, particularly over the last
of prioritizing spending. When the child has a set
amount to work with, habits are refined.
It is not an isolated problem. Between 15%
and 25% of students in the U.S. are bullied regu-
can be tricky. Giving too much is bad, but so is
larly, according to the Department of Health and
giving too little. Find out how much others the
Human Services (HHS). The victims are more
likely to get into fights or drop out of school.
Some experts suggest that before starting
But victims aren’t the only ones who suffer
the allowance, keep track of how much the child
consequences. Studies show that students who do
spends and for what purposes. Then adjust the
the bullying are more likely to vandalize property
and drop out of school. Sixty percent of boys who
bullied others in middle school had criminal
All parents have to set rules for their chil-
dren. Here are some rules for setting
forefront of an effort to reduce the problem by
● Be consistent. Maybe you don’t feel like help-
developing bullying prevention programs.
ing your son or daughter with their homework
The programs are designed to help teachers
because you’re tired, so you let them watch TV
identify both bullies and victims, and promote a
healthier atmosphere of respect between students.
● Be fair. Particularly with teenagers, give them
What can parents do? For starters, create a
some input into the rules. They can always be
family atmosphere that’s caring but also offers
consistent rules and boundaries. Also, make sure
● Remember: Just because your rules are at odds
your child’s school is addressing the issue.
with other families doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
“Happiness is a matter of choice—your choice for yourself.”
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c Copyright 2010 by Ridgewood Financial Institute, Inc.
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