Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

What is Bipolar Depression?

posted by Linda Mintle

distress womanWhen academy award winning actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones announced that she suffered from Bipolar II Disorder and checked into a mental health facility for a brief stay in 2011, it made celebrity news.

People wondered. What is Bipolar Disorder and how does that differ from depression?

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 5.7 million people struggle with Bipolar Disorder, a disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood.  Formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, it is important to understand what triggers mood swings, be treated and plan ahead.

Bipolar I and Bipolar II are similar in that they both involve mood swings and depression. Bipolar II has milder periods of both elation and depression. This means people with Bipolar II (Hypomania) still swing in their moods but the episodes are less severe, last for shorter periods of time and don’t have delusions or hallucinations (this can be part of Bipolar I). Typically, the elation also doesn’t interfere with work and  social functioning as is the case in Bipolar I.

What to look for regarding mania:

1) Fast and racing thoughts and speech

2) Grandiose beliefs and inappropriate social behavior

3) Elation, euphoria

4) Poor judgement and impulsivity including increased sexual desire

5) Irritability and lots of energy

6) Decreased need for sleep

What to look for in terms of  hypomania:

1) Reckless behavior and risky pleasure seeking behavior

2) Decreased need for sleep

3) Elated mood and increased confidence

4) Feeling creative, energetic, and extremely focused on home or work projects

If you suspect you may be bipolar, get a physical exam from your doctor and report your symptoms. There is no physical test for bipolar disorder, but you may need a mood stabilizing medication and psychotherapy. Treatment focuses on stabilizing mood so the person can function well. Get the help that is available.

Adrian Peterson: When Does Spanking Become Abuse?

posted by Linda Mintle

This week has been filled with reports about NFL Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s accusation of reckless or negligent injury to his four-year-old son. The incident has once again raised the controversy surrounding the use of corporal punishment.

Three issues are key in this debate:

1) What is spanking? People have wide variations in their definitions when it comes to actually defining spanking. According to Webster, spanking is “to strike especially on the buttocks with an open hand.” The American Academy of Pediatrics adds that the strike should not cause physical injury of any kind. When physical injury occurs, the spanking moves from discipline to abuse. In Peterson’s case, the pictures tell a story of injury to the child and the child was not spanked with an open hand.

2) Is spanking effective? Spankings stops a behavior. Children comply immediately, but it does not improve behavior. One study of moms who spanked their children showed that within 10 minutes, 73% of the children spanked were again engaging in the same behavior. Other studies show that spanking can be effective in the short-term for children ages 2-6 when used with other mild disciplinary methods like reasoning and time-out. In the long-run, however, when spanking is continuously used, there is an association with depression, aggressiveness and antisocial behaviors. This doesn’t mean that spanking causes those behaviors, only that it is associated with those behaviors. It may be that difficult kids are more prone to those behaviors anyway.

3) What does spanking do to the relationship between parent and child? Certainly spanking models physical aggression as a way to deal with behavior. It is also associated with poorer relationships between parents and children. The problem is that spanking can easily escalate to a parent being out of control and becoming overly aggressive. This is especially true when you use an object other than your hand because you can’t easily monitor how hard you are hitting the child. Frequency and severity of corporal punishment matter. In Peterson’s case, the photos of the child may indicate that he crossed a line. And if he did, the relationship suffers.

Bottom line: There is a difference between controlled spanking and child abuse. This is one of the reasons many schools still allow spanking and why it is legal in all states. The problem comes when spanking becomes frequent and severe causing injury to the child. That is when cases are reported to be investigated for abuse.

Would You Allow Your Teen to Have Sex in Your House?

posted by Linda Mintle

A friend of mine was having coffee with me and mentioned something that took me aback. Someone we know is allowing her son’s girlfriend to live in the house with them and have sex under their roof. Neither of these “kids” are 21 and the family claims to be Christian. Honestly, I don’t understand!

But a piece in the Huffington Post brought the thinking to light. The “experts” say that your kids are going to have sex so you might as well let them do it in your home!”  And they go on to say that the “safest” place to have sex is in your home.

First of all, not all teens are having sex! And sex is safer because it is in your home? Hello, the same risks apply no matter where you are having sex. And why would any thinking parent want to encourage sexual activity in teens to begin with? Allowing them to have sex in your home is encouraging it no matter how you try to spin it. You are saying, you are mature enough to handle this relationship. This defies common sense. It’s like saying, my teen wants to try heroin so I will get it and help him use it in my home where he can be safe!

Part of the conversation in this piece is the idea that there is “no right age to begin allowing your child to have partners stay the night” (Psychologist  Suzanne Pearson). Well, Suzanne, some of us believe that the right age is irrelevant. Having sex is supposed to happen in the context of being married. My kids can spend the night with their partners when they marry them! This idea of sex outside of marriage if you are happy with the person, STI free or in a great relationship demeans the sanctity of marriage and relegates sex to a casual act, negating the emotional distress related to break up. Come to my office and listen to all the young adults who wished they hadn’t given themselves sexual to people they no longer date.

Just because a teen can prevent pregnancy and is STI free doesn’t mean that the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of having sex go away. On the contrary, this is the part we don’t talk about. Yet, it is devastating to self-esteem, attachment and intimacy issues. Familiarize yourself with the neuroscience of attachment and the impact of the release of the bonding hormone Oxytocin!

Call me old fashion, but I still believe in teaching my children that sex is not a casual thing to be given away outside of marriage. It is not only psychologically devastating, but morally wrong. And you can teach this to your teens without clubbing them over the head with issues of right and wrong.

Refusing to have you kids have causal sex in your home is based on having a moral compass of right and wrong. Did God set it up this way to prevent our enjoyment? On the contrary, He created us and knows the complexity of our whole person. Waiting to have sex in marriage is protective not punitive!

Will some teens give in to temptation? Of course, but I would rather help them through their mistake, love them and encourage them to become celibate again–to wait and give themselves completely to the person who will make a lifelong commitment to them in marriage. Sex is to be treasured and is beautiful when expressed in the marriage bed.

16-year-olds do not have the brain development to make good decisions in this area of life. They are hormonally driven and think with their genitals not their brains. Their “instincts” are to have sex, but this is the time in life they are supposed to be learning to bridle their passions and develop self-control. So parents, do your job and help them develop self-control and bridle their passions and lust.

Sex at 16 is rarely love. It is about lust and attraction. No right thinking parent should encourage such behavior in their teen and certainly not make the family home a place to act out casual sex.


Does Porn Affect Your Relationship?

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-100234581During an evening talk show  there were plenty of jokes about pornography. And as the host and celebrity guest settled down, it was evident, porn, in their opinions, is no big deal.  If fact, many of the tabloids and even a few respected marital therapists, will tell you that a little porn is fine and may even enhance your marriage? But is this true?

Absolutely not. Pornography use increases your risk of separation and divorce, decreases marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction. In addition, it increase your appetite for more graphic types of pornography and can cause you to lose interest in relational sex.

The impact on marriage is such that the spouse feels betrayed, rejected, hurt, abandoned, lonely, isolated and angry. And the one viewing porn is having lustful thoughts about someone other than his/her spouse.

Exposing yourself to pornography leads to a lack of trust, a belief that sex is confining in marriage, and a belief that promiscuity is natural, creating a cynicism about the role of love and affection in a marriage.

To my knowledge, there are no known studies or data to suggest that there are any benefits to pornography use. However, the reports of damage are many. The damage is not only to the viewer, but to the spouse and family as well. And pornography is usually addicting when continuously consumed.

In the end, porn usually destroys marriages. So if you are being tempted by porn, don’t go there. If you are using, get help and stop. Your marriage depends on it.

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