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Therapist In Santa Clarita Lists Warning Signs Parents Should Watch For In Kids

Kristina de Bree, a therapist in Santa Clarita, is naming warning signs related to mental health that parents should be watching for in their teens or children as the coronavirus public health crisis continues.

Due to the “Safer at Home” order and ongoing school closures, kids might start to show “moderate warning signs” that should be watched, or “red flags” that warrant immediate action, according to de Bree, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in Santa Clarita.

“During times of crisis or recent big change, which can be very traumatic, that’s when some of these problems can really start to either show themselves for the first time, come back if they had been there before and had gone away, or get worse if they’re already there,” said de Bree on KHTS Radio during a recent “Eye on the Valley” show.

When seen individually, moderate warning signs need to be closely monitored, but when a “handful” of these signs are noticed by a parent, they should seek help, according to de Bree.

de Bree listed the following as moderate warning signs:

  • Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities or doing things they normally love
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, difficulty moving
  • Irritability, restlessness, feeling angry
  • Regression in younger children, such as an 8-year-old behaving like a 4-year-old
  • Negative self talk
  • Eating too much or not enough; significant weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling indecisive
  • Feeling sad or empty, or crying nearly every day
  • Worrying uncontrollably about the future or “what if” scenarios
  • Difficulty with nightmares
  • Sweating, nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach
  • Replaying past events over and over again

While following tips offered by professionals in an effort to help kids stay productive and engaged during the current public health crisis, de Bree noted that this alone may not be enough.

“Once we reach a certain threshold, those tips are not necessarily going to be helpful,” said de Bree. “So if you are trying to work with your kids and hold space for them and do all these other things, and you feel as though that’s not helpful, that’s when you need to start seeking help.”

In terms of red flags, de Bree said that even one is enough to require “immediate attention.”

de Bree listed the following as red flags:

  • Talking about wanting to kill oneself
  • In younger kids, asking questions about death or dying
  • Looking for ways to die
  • Having a plan to kill oneself
  • Saying things like, “I feel trapped,” or “I’m a burden,” or asking, “Am I bad?”
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Any form of self-harm, such as cutting
  • Uncontrollable rage or extreme change in mood

Kids who have previously struggled with any of these problems, particularly suicidal behaviors or thoughts, are at “high risk” now due to the coronavirus pandemic, de Bree said.

Parents are advised to call 911 in the event of an emergency situation. In the case of a non-emergency, parents can schedule a teletherapy session with Kristina de Bree by calling 661-513-4857.

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