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Agoraphobia – Symptom Attacks, Triggers, Panic, & Avoidance Behaviors

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Let’s dispel a common misconception about agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is not a fear of the outdoors. Many people mistakenly believe this myth, due to the word’s Latin roots.  Because agoraphobia can be broken down into the roots agora (“marketplace”) and phobia (“fear of”), many people assume that agoraphobia is a “fear of the marketplace” or a fear of being in wide open spaces. What is agoraphobia? However, this literal interpretation is different than what psychologists mean when they use the term agoraphobia. Clinical psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists conceptualize agoraphobia as a fear of experiencing physical symptom attacks in certain types of situations (Zuercher-White & Pollard, 2003). Symptom attacks include full-blown panic attacks, limited symptom panic attacks (sweating, dizziness, disorientation, difficulty breathing. heart pounding, nausea), diarrhea, other gastrointestinal (GI) issues, vomiting, headaches, and feelings of dissociation, depersonalization, or derealization. Agoraphobia-related Situations The...

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The Power of Being Selfish: Selfishness as a Key to Mental Health

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I’m about to tell you something that your mother might not approve of…so for those of you sensitive souls out there, you might want to click on something less controversial. Here it is: It’s okay (and sometimes even essential!) to be a little bit selfish. Conventional wisdom, and our parents, often tell us that it’s not okay to be selfish.  If you want to be an effective parent, you must learn to put your kids’ needs before your own.  Likewise, to be a good spouse, you must learn to  honor your partner’s needs.  These are truths, and if you aren’t living these truths in your daily life, it is likely that your relationships have suffered. However… As with anything, these truths must not be taken to extremes. I found myself thinking about this idea over the weekend as I...

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School Refusal & Parental Stigma: Am I a Bad Parent?

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Like any other behavior, school refusal does not have a singular cause. This is pretty self-evident, but in the heat of the moment when your child is having a tantrum, this fact is quickly forgotten. It is simply too easy to conclude that you have raised a “bad child.” Sadly, much of society might wrongly agree with you. For many, the term “school refusal” has automatic negative connotations. Although school refusal is a behavior that has many different potential causes, it often gets lumped together with rebelliousness, conduct problems, and oppositionality. This is unfortunate because many cases of school refusal do not actually involve any of these factors. Am I a Bad Parent? Parent Social Stigma in School Refusal. Regardless of the origins of your child’s school refusal, it is important to consider a separate parent-related factor that maintains...

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School Refusal Causes (Social & Anxiety-Related Factors)

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With the summer quickly fading to black and the academic year looming largely, we will soon be entering the season of school refusal. When I use the term “school refusal,” I’m not talking about that once-in-a-blue-moon occasion when a child forgets about an important test or project and decides it’s easier to feign illness than face the music. That’s pretty typical for nearly all kids, and it doesn’t necessarily establish a pattern of problematic behavior. What I’m talking about is school refusal that is pattern-based, recurrent, and results in academic or social impairment. For assessment or treatment of school refusal, feel free to contact me at my private practice, which services Palm Beach (Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach), Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. What causes school refusal? Why do kids refuse to go to...

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Test Anxiety Treatment & Diagnostic Considerations

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When considering treatment for test-taking anxiety, make sure that you have a comprehensive diagnostic assessment to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.  Not all cases of test anxiety are alike, and sometimes symptoms of test anxiety actually reflect a separate, underlying condition.  If you’re located in South Florida (Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, & Miami), I would be happy to meet with you to conduct an assessment of your symptoms and provide treatment (if appropriate). Regardless of where you live, here is a short list of factors to consider when getting help for your symptoms: Test Anxiety Diagnosis & Treatment Strategies 1. Don’t assume that just because you have test anxiety that the problem is only test anxiety. Test performance issues may also have an independent panic component. If...

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