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Mood and Stress Management

All of us at some point has felt extreme stress, anxiousness, sadness, irritation, or another difficult emotion. When these emotions become a persistent pattern and begin to stop us from functioning it becomes pathologic and should be addressed. Unfortunately, our society stigmatizes concerns about mood to the point where even discussion of moods and emotions is awkward and difficult. Similarly, attention to emotional wellbeing is neglected in much of western medicine; it is often not addressed adequately, ignored or referred to specialists which may require many months wait.

“We here at Norwell Pediatrics believe in treating the whole person, including any emotional difficulties.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Moreover we will help support the emotional wellbeing of the whole family.

At Norwell Pediatrics we will be open with you about our concerns about mood issues. If anyone in the family is having difficulty we will discuss it. We hope our frank discussion will allow you and your child to feel able to confront difficult emotions and empowered to ask important questions. We will also routinely screen for mood disorders or stressors in the family including postpartum depression or other excess stress in the home.

“The first step in treating a mood disorder is acknowledging it.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Initial treatments of mild difficulties may include adequate sleep, meditation, exercise, fresh air, and nutrition. Beyond that counseling may be layered onto this as necessary. At times medication may be necessary as well.

“We are skilled with treating simple mood disorders and will not shy away from this sometimes challenging medical concern.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

The best course of action will be jointly agreed upon by both parent and child with constant consultation with your primary care provider at Norwell Pediatrics.

Postpartum Depression

We will use standardized measurement questionnaires during each well child visit for the first 6 months to identify any concerns of parental depression. While we do not treat parents for depression we will urge you to contact your adult physician team. Many parents feel stressed, anxious, or sad soon after their baby is born. Getting help at this stage may prevent escalation to a full blown anxiety or depression disorder. It is important for parents to find opportunities for self-care. Including socializing, going out for walks or taking other self-time, eating well, and trying to get good sleep.

Norwell Pediatrics - Dad holding infant toes

Beyond the postpartum period

Parental stress continues beyond the postpartum period. It is important to be aware and proactive if you are experiencing overwhelming stress. Your baby crying non-stop can be emotionally draining. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is ok to put your baby down in a crib or other secure location and walk away. Everyone has a limit and you’ll need to recognize your own.

Unfortunately each year many parents will unintentionally hurt their baby after succumbing to frustration. Babies are fragile and traumatic brain injury can occur with simple shaking of the infant for just a few seconds. This happens enough, that we have a medical term for the resulting syndrome – shaken baby syndrome – which causes eye, ear and brain damage that can be permanent. It can even result in death. Letting your infant cry in a safe location is sometimes necessary. Getting support from friends or family for some time off of parenting may be necessary for your health and the health of your baby, but in the moment you should be secure in the knowledge that just walking away is preferable to staying in some tense situations.

Parents have a lot of pressure on them to achieve an elusive perfection. Parenting is difficult and perfection is impossible. Everyone will give you advice, but ultimately you’ll need to decide what works for your family. This pressure does not stop after the first year parenting, either.

Norwell Pediatrics - Stressed out father holding a crying baby

Toddlers can be very challenging. They are often willful. They are, by definition, immature. They are little humans with their own wants and needs who constantly push boundaries to influence their surroundings to achieve those wants and needs.

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Recognizing that there is no malice behind their manipulation and providing for them age appropriate boundaries and choices can both meet their needs and decrease parenting stress. Positive parenting books abound and more are written every year. These can be very helpful with a willful child. Some of our favorites are by Jane Nelsen, Daniel Siegel and Laura Markham.

Remember that parental stress will lead to stress in your children as well, further enflaming the situation. Stress can be expressed by young children in a myriad of ways, including chronic medical complaints such as headaches, bellyaches or musculoskeletal complaints. Sleep can be disrupted and apathy can be a clue to emotional stress. Usually, for the first few years, these stressors are within the home; that all changes during later years.

Childhood Stress

Childhood Stress During school-age years the stress begins to become external from the home. Social relationships are critical to all people, even young ones. As your child begins to explore the social networks beyond your home, new challenges arise. These stressors can include concerns about “fitting in” or being bullied. It can center around sports or school achievements. It is important to be supportive while also nurturing independent conflict management, since these external social challenges will only become more pointed during the teenage years.

Teen Stress

Teens have a lot to deal with emotionally. The movement to independence, the mounting expectations both in and out of school, the intense social network stress, and stress at home all contribute to a turbulent time, not to mention puberty. During these years a burgeoning sense of self-identity begins to settle. There is much conflict and strife.

“Social networks can be finicky and can lead to isolation if a teen is outcast from their social group.”

– Dr. Natalya Davis, Norwell Pediatrics

Norwell Pediatrics - Teen Social Isolation

Online networks are presenting with increasing challenges as every teen is spending more and more time communicating with their peers online.

Norwell Pediatrics - Teens using smartphones together

This can be supportive and healthy, but can also be toxic and isolating. Loneliness can be debilitating. These can be hard for both parent and child. These difficult challenges often lead to an anxiety or depression disorder.

Lonely teen
Teen looking out window
Lonely teen
A young girl with sickness
Teen girl bullied through social media
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We will screen all older children for these mood disorders and will offer help, including medication treatment if warranted and agreed upon.

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Dad stressed with toddler
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