PTSD Awareness Month by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (known as PTSD) is when a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or traumatic event. Most people experience short term symptoms associated with PTSD such as trouble sleeping and flashbacks. This is known as an acute stress reaction and these symptoms will typically subside within a few weeks. However, in some individuals these symptoms can last much longer, even years. 

Long term symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving aspects of the event that happened.
  • Feeling on edge or overly alert.
  • Avoiding memories or feelings and difficult beliefs.
  • Experience hyper vigilance.
  • Nightmares.
  • Physical symptoms.
  • Difficulty with relationships, education, or employment.

A wide range of events can lead to symptoms of PTSD such as:

  • Car crash.
  • Assault or abuse.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • War.
  • Surviving a natural disaster.
  • Diagnosis of a life-changing medical condition or any other event where you fear for your life.

If you are an individual that may be experiencing PTSD, consider the following strategies: 

  • Get to know your triggers.
  • Confide in a friend, family member, or professional when you are ready.
  • Try peer support groups online or in person.
  • Keep up with your physical health.
  • Find specialist support such as a counselor or psychiatrist.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol to cope with difficulty feelings.

There are many behavioral health treatments available for individuals experiencing PTSD or PTSD symptoms such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). A behavioral health professional can help an individual process trauma in a healthy and effective way. There are also medication options to assist in alleviating symptoms. You and your behavioral health team can work together to decide which treatment will work best for you. NOAH has a team of medical and behavioral health professionals to support you on your journey to healing.

June is World Infertility Month by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.

World Health Organization

June is World Infertility Month. This topic can be difficulty for people to deal with but millions of women and men deal with infertility, and mostly in silence. The CDC reports that 12.7% of women 15-49 years of age have received some type of infertility service. It is important to stay educated on risk factors and strategies to help manage the emotions associated with infertility.

Many risk factors for both male and females are the same while others are gender specific. Infertility is not solely a women’s issue as about 30% of infertility cases involve male factors.

Risk factors for women include:

  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma etc.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Age.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Fallopian tube disease.
  • Endometriosis.

Risk factors for men include:

  • Cigarette or marijuana use.
  • Hernia repair.
  • Certain prescription drugs for ulcers or psoriasis.
  • Undescended testicles.

Infertility can often create one of the most distressing issues for couples. Infertility brings to light deep emotions while dealing with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainty that follows. Feeling depressed, anxious, or isolated are only a few of the emotions in the process of pursuing infertility or infertility treatments. The journey can be very hard.

If you are struggling with infertility consider the following tips:

  • Give yourself permission to be angry.
  • Allow your partner to cope and feel differently than you.
  • Improve your communication about infertility.
  • Improve relaxation skills such as deep breathing.
  • Try a support group (consider Resolve.org).

Consider discussing this with a mental health professional to clarify thoughts and help with decision making. Counseling may be helpful for learning how to cope with physical and emotional changes, communication with your partner, and to strengthen coping skills to manage moving forward. NOAH is here to help. Our counselors and medical staff are here to support you through your journey of infertility.

Tips for Kids During The Summer Months by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

“With summer temperatures usually exceeding 100 degrees, it’s safer to turn to indoor activities and keep kids out of the sun.”

Most families around the country are enjoying time outside engaging in fun summer activities. In the Arizona valley that seems almost impossible. Keeping our kids busy during the summer months can be challenging. Here are some low or no cost options for summer fun.

Indoor activities

  • DIY arts and crafts.
  • Board games/ card games.
  • Reading (consider audiobooks).
  • Puzzles.
  • Scavenger hunts.
  • YouTube videos to learn a new skill (consider cooking, yoga, painting).
  • Apps (find an age-appropriate app that encourages learning).
  • Remember, it only takes about 10 minutes of play to connect with your child. Consider making time to play with your child daily. Try to choose activities that match your child’s development and age.
  • Around the community.
  • Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
  • Local Public Libraries (most offer story time for younger kids as well as some classes/events for older children such as computer coding and college prep).
  • Arizona Science Center.
  • Local parks or pools.
  • Local sports (Minor League Baseball plays at 7:00PM throughout the valley from mid-June until early-September and it’s free to attend).
  • McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
  • Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park.
  • Local art/craft classes (City of Tempe hosts Free Art Friday for preschoolers and their parents).
  • Karate, gymnastics, or other types of classes available in the community.

Arizona has extreme temperatures during the summer. Here are some tips protect your child and family.

Sun and heat tips

  • Plan errands and recreational activities for the early morning and evening. Avoid being outside from 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun is the hottest. Consider starting each day with a morning walk or taking an evening bike ride.
  • Teach your children to wear shoes outside. The concrete or pavement can be hot enough to cause second-degree burns.
  • Check the temperature of buckles and car seats as they can reach the temperature of a hot skillet. Park in covered parking or under shade whenever possible or use a wind shield sunshade.
  • Keep water with you. Pack extra bottles in the car in case of an emergency.
  • Wear sunscreen. Make sunscreen part of your morning routine. Lather up your kids before dressing them to ensure they’re protected, even if you’re not around water.

Summer doesn’t have to be boring. Feel free to ask any of our NOAH providers for suggestions on summer activities in your community and how to stay safe in the heat.

Summer Fun – Pool Safety Tips by Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

Swimming is a great way to beat the summer heat here in Arizona, and is a fun activity for children to pass the summer by. Drowning is the third most common cause of unintentional – injury related deaths. The highest at risk are children ages 1-4 years old (drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children ages 1-4). As such, we here at NOAH wanted to share some important water safety tips!

  • Never leave children alone, even for a moment, in or near pool areas or other bodies of water (lakes, beaches, and even bathtubs or buckets of water)!
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet tall around the pool, which should ideally surround the pool on all 4 sides and completely separated the pool from your home and yard. It should not have any gaps that a small child could slip over, under, or through. The gate should be a self-closing and self-latching gate that cannot be opened / reached by a small child.
  • Newer technology offers alarms, both for the gate and within the pool, that can alert you to anyone around the pool.
  • When any inexperienced swimmer is around the pool area, make sure there is a designated adult for supervision. This adult should not be under the influence, should not have any distractions (cell phone turned off or handed off to another adult), and preferably knows how to swim and perform CPR.
  • Keep rescue equipment such as a shepherd’s hook and a life preserver to reach / throw for rescues.
  • Avoid inflatable swim aids such as floaties, as they are not a substitution for proper life-preserving equipment such as life jackets.
  • Consider swim lessons for your child if over the age of 1, as it may reduce the risk of drowning. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your child’s developmental readiness to take swim lessons.
  • Talk to your pool operator to make sure your pool / spa and its drains are compliant with the pool and spa safety act.
  • Be safe and have a fun-filled summer!

At NOAH, we want to make sure that you have the proper tools, education and resources to protect you and your family while swimming.

Summer Fun – Sun Safety Tips by Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

There’s nothing better than having fun outdoors during school vacations. However, especially during summer here in Arizona, we here at NOAH want to remind everyone of some sun safety tips to keep protected while having some outdoor fun.

Dr. Amit Jain, Pediatrician

Protecting yourself and your children from harmful ultraviolet light exposure is important to prevent melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, which often strikes those who have been severely sunburned, especially during infancy and childhood.

The first line of defense against the scorching summer sun is proper clothing and keeping in the shade.

  • Try to limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours between 10am and 4pm.
  • Take frequent shade breaks if staying out in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Cotton clothing is protective and can also help whisk away moisture to keep you cool while playing outside. Pick tightly woven fabrics for best protection.
  • Wear a hat: wide brimmed for best protection of your child’s entire face, including the nose, cheeks, chin, ears, and back of the neck.
  • Get your children sunglasses with UV protection. Those from the dollar store, Walmart, Walgreen’s, or similar stores are nice, economical options that can be easily replaced if they break or get lost, as long as they’re labeled as having UV protection.
  • Protect your children with a sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or greater. SPF 15 or 30 should be sufficient for most common uses. Apply this to all areas not covered by clothing. Don’t forget the ears, back of the neck, arms, and legs. Carefully apply around the eyes, avoiding eyelids.
  • Choose a sunscreen that has the words “Broad Spectrum” on it – that will cover both UVA and UVB rays. Try to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone that may have hormonal properties.
  • Before applying sunscreen for the first time, test a small amount on your child’s back for an allergic reaction.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, as it can take this long to become active.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 1 hour.
  • If playing in the water, reapply sunscreen every half an hour, and use a waterproof sunscreen.
  • For infants less than 6 months old, avoid direct sun exposure – keep them under shade with a canopy or under a tree. Use wide brimmed hats to help cover their face, ears, and neck. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs as well. If this is not available, apply small amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 to your baby’s face, hands, and legs.
  • Don’t forget to use sun protection even on cloudy days, as the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can even come through clouds.

Contact your pediatrician if you develop a sunburn, rash, or blistering.
For more information: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Sun-Safety.aspx

Family Summer Screen Time Rules by Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

It is officially summer, and the kids are out of school. Yay! During this time, it is especially important to find healthy ways to keep them happy and busy. During the summer we want to avoid too much screen time use in all forms like:

  • TV.
  • Computers.
  • Smartphones.
  • Video game systems.
  • Tablets.

Not using screen time wisely can influence how children feel, learn, think and behave in unhealthy ways. Having “Screen Time Rules” can help your child learn how to use electronics wisely.

For example:

  • Have you made your bed, cleaned your room, finished your chores?
  • Are you ready for the day – eaten breakfast, brushed your teeth, combed your hair, and gotten dressed?
  • Have you read for 20 minutes?
  • Have you done some type of physical activity for at least 30 mins to 1 hour – like playing outside, riding bike, jumped on trampoline, played a sport, danced, tumbling?
  • Have you done something creative today?

If YES, then you can have some screen time. Place limits on the amount of time spent on electronics as well. Below is a link to help you create a plan to manage use of electronics wisely.
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx#home

Summertime Family Fun by Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

“There are lots of ways to keep your children busy during the summertime that do not involve use of media and many of these do not require you to go anywhere or spend a lot of money.”

Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

Creativity

  • String beads together to make jewelry.
  • Create leis with wildflowers.
  • Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks or leave on a hiking trial for people to find.
  • Use recyclable items to make crafts.
  • Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  • Decorate a wall or walkway with chalk.
  • Play with playdough or clay.
  • Make your own instruments and record music.
  • Put on a play.

Keep your children physically active

  • Plan a dance party.
  • Build an obstacle course in your backyard and have a competition to see who gets through it the fastest.
  • Take a family bike ride together.
  • Play a sport together.

Make memories together

  • Create a scrapbook or Time Capsule.
  • Create a summer mural by using a long piece of craft paper that can include drawings/paintings/pictures of your summer activities.
  • Have a night where the kids get to plan and cook a meal for the family.
  • Plan family game nights.

Explore Nature

  • Go bird watching and take pictures. There are websites and free apps that help you identify birds in your area like https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/.
  • Go on a nature walk/hike and take a bag to find “nature” and bring it home.
  • Hunt for bugs.
  • Plant an herb garden/butterfly garden.
  • Find a local farm that allows for you to pick your own berries, veggies, or flowers.

Asthma Awareness in Children by Dr. Patricia Avila, Pediatrician

“Asthma in children is one of the most common long term (chronic) diseases. It is estimated to affect 1 in every 10 children in the US. If your child has Asthma one of the most important things you must do is to learn as much as you can about Asthma. Being educated about your child’s Asthma will help you work together with your child’s doctor to control their Asthma and have the absolute best outcome.”

Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

What is Asthma?

  1. It is a disease of the lungs that causes the airways or tubes that bring air into the lungs to become swollen and inflamed. The muscles around the airways become tight and it makes it hard to breath. This leads to episodes of coughing, wheezing, feeling breathless, chest pain/chest tightness, and feeling more tired than usual.
  2. It is more common in children where there is a parent or sibling or close relative with Asthma, Allergies, and/or Eczema. Children with Asthma often develop Allergies or Eczema as well. These are sometimes present before they develop Asthma.
  3. There is no cure for Asthma. There are medications and things you as a parent/caregiver can do to help control it. Know what the signs/symptoms of Asthma are, how to avoid triggers, and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This is especially important to prevent and decrease the damage to your child’s lungs. It will also help avoid your child needing emergency medical treatment.

What causes an Asthma Attack?

  • An Asthma attack happens when your child is exposed to “triggers” things that cause your child’s Asthma to get worse.
  • An Asthma attack also happens when a child does not take their medications as prescribed.

Common triggers include:

  • Allergens – including outdoor allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.
  • Infections – including the common cold, the flu, sinus infections, and pneumonias.
  • Irritants – including cigarette smoke or other smoke, pollution, strong odors like perfumes or scented candles, and cleaning products.
  • Changes in weather – cold and dry, very humid, or extremely hot weather.
  • Exercise.
  • Stress and strong emotions.

How can you help control your child’s Asthma and how is it treated? Avoid triggers. It may not be possible to completely avoid all possible triggers, but there are some changes you can make that will help.

  • Allergens. Have your child take their allergy medications during allergy season. Keep windows and doors shut during allergy season. Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.
  • Dust mites. Use mattresses and pillow covers. Vacuum and dust regularly. Wash bedding once a week. Limit and wash stuffed animals.
  • Furry pets. Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. Wash pets more often.
  • Use HEPA filters.
  • Fix any water leaks that could lead to mold.
  • Infections. Make sure your child and family receive their yearly Flu vaccine. Having Asthma increases your child’s risk for severe Flu illness that can trigger an Asthma attack.
  • Use good hand hygiene.
  • Irritants. Do NOT allow anyone to smoke in your home or car. Avoid public places where smoking is allowed. Avoid use of perfumes, scented candles, incense, paints, and cleaning supplies that can irritate your child’s lungs. Check your local forecast for air quality and keep your child indoors when the pollution is bad.
  • Weather. Avoid outdoor activities in extreme weather conditions.
  • Exercise. If your child’s Asthma is triggered by exercise have your child take his/her Albuterol 15-30 minutes prior to activity to prevent these symptoms. Encourage your child to exercise and participate in sports. Know what medications help control his/her Asthma so that they can continue to be active.
  • Medications. Includes inhaled medications in the form of MDIs also known as inhalers or “pumps” and nebulizers that are given by a machine. Rescue or quick relief medications like Albuterol help during an Asthma attack. They help open the airways or tubes that bring air to the lungs. Long term controller medications like inhaled corticosteroids help improve the inflammation of the lungs. When these medications are used daily your child is less likely to have an Asthma attack.

Develop an Asthma Action Plan.

This plan is made with the help of your child’s doctor. It will help you and your child know what medications to use and when. It will also help you and your child know what to do in the case of an emergency. Share this plan with the school as well. It is important, because your child spends a good amount of time there and the school will know exactly what to do to help your child.

By becoming knowledgeable about your child’s Asthma, avoiding triggers, and following a good Asthma Action Plan you are taking important steps in keeping your child healthy. Have your child see his/her doctor at least 2 times per year to make sure their Asthma is under control. Do not forget to make sure your child and family receive a yearly Flu vaccine. Your child should be able to enjoy everyday activities and participate in sports without any problems breathing if their Asthma is under control.

Improving Self Esteem by Zach Clay, LMFT

Let’s face it, we are our own best critics. Most everybody has some sort of area in their life in which they doubt themselves. If you’re saying “no I don’t” or “I’m perfect,” then you can stop reading here. LOL. The rest of us have some measure of self-worth. Self-affirmations are a great way to trick your brain into truly recognizing those things that make you unique.
Positive self-affirmations are a way to strengthen aspects of ourselves that have constantly been playing on constant negative beliefs which are seemingly on a loop in our heads, typically from an early age. Short, positive messages can combat these long-held beliefs. These new, positive messages can be rewritten to rewrite your new life story.

Here are just a few simple positive self-affirmation techniques for you to try at home:

  • Write index cards or post-it notes you can put in an area that you frequently look at (ex. a mirror, refrigerator, or on your car dashboard).
  • Write a daily journal to be more aware in those positive aspects and personality traits which can boost your self-esteem (see ‘Self-Esteem Journal’ handout below for a printable copy you can use).
  • For those who enjoy a poetic method to increase awareness of your ‘good-stuff,’ you can fill in the blanks on the printable “I Am” poem below and put it where you can see it or better yet, take a cell picture to look at daily from anywhere you are.
  •  Sing these self-affirming messages to one of your favorite songs.
  • Say these positive messages out loud, in your head silently or record them on your phone to play back later.
  • Identify some common personality traits which most of us aspire to achieving.

These short, positive statements benefit:

  • Physical health.
  • Improve success and wealth.
  • Challenge self-defeating behaviors.
  • Aid and heal emotional pain or trauma.

Try them! What do you have to lose?

At NOAH, we offer behavioral health consulting and traditional outpatient counseling programs and services where these highly skilled and trained behavioral health staff work alongside our #medical and dental teams to assess, diagnose and effectively treat the core-symptoms of our patients.

Phone Apps to Use for Mental Health by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

In recent months, there’s been quite a few mental health apps available to smart phone users. These, most often free apps, offer a wealth of resources at your fingertips. Our behavioral health expert, Katelyn Millinor, LPC, recommends the following apps for you to try out at home.

Anxiety/Depression

  • Happify – help reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts.
  • What’s Up – utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance commitment therapy to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Sanvello – teaches cognitive behavioral therapy through journeys that combine videos, audio exercises, mood and health tracking.
  • Mood Kit – utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy for mood improving activities.
  • Worry Kit – short (under 2 minute) activities designed for those in between moments in life where you need to reset your brain.
  •  MoodFit – create/track daily goals, understand relationship between mood and lifestyle factors, gratitude journal, mindfulness.
  • Mind Shift – designed for teens and young adults with anxiety that focuses on riding out intense emotions and facing challenging situations.
  • IMoodJournal – record everything from mood symptoms, sleep, medications, and energy.
  • Panic Relief – better manage and move through panic attacks.
  • Breathe2Relax – teaches breathing techniques to manage stress.

Meditation

  • Calm – guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music.
  • Headspace – meditation and mindfulness.

Other

  • Quit That! – help users beat habits or addictions (drinking, smoking, drugs).
  • eMoods – designed for people with bipolar disorder to track symptoms.
  • notOK – suicide prevention app that users can add trusted contacts and let them know they are not okay.
  • PTSD Coach – education, assessing, and offering easy to understand tips to manage common symptoms.