Dr. Gabe on Divorce, Depression and Faith


Dr. Gabe Crenshaw, a youth and family psychologist, is answering your questions on divorce, depression, faith, abuse and much more.

Q: Dr. Gabe, What are the long-term effects something like this could have on a child, and do you think Jon and Kate are actually taking that into consideration?-- E from New York -- Posted 05/29/09 01:49 PM

A: Hey E. from NY. I appreciate your question and concern regarding John & Kate and their kids. Research suggests that children are very impressionable, and that the people they meet, and their parents and teachers can have a huge impact in the lives. TV is seen as being a total entertainment medium. In general, no matter what is depicted, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure.

Consequently, children in the role of entertainment -- voluntary or not -- could possibly feel that they are here for the public's amusement or pity. To be forced to continue to "entertain" the public against your will could lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and oppositional/defiant behavior. The child could possibly start to resent the parents or other the responsible parties. This sets up rude, obnoxious and disrespectful attitudes and behaviors toward parents, other adults, and peers -- all for a few dollars! I hardly think it's worth the wellbeing of our most precious resource... our children!

Dr. Gabe

Q. How do u deal w/a clinically depressed person in your family? how can u help & How do u deal w/guilt from being far away? - Anonymous-
Posted 05/27/09 11:40 PM

A: Hello, Anonymous. Experts typically treat clinical depression with meds. There are many doctors who prescribe with the idea of "Better Living Through Psychopharmacology." Sorry. Just a little "doctor humor" to help the medicine go down (lol). At any rate, clinical depression is a very serious medical illness. It adversely affects the way the individual feels, thinks, and behaves. Here are some clear ID markers. 1) Loss of interest in activities that used to be fun and enjoyable. 2) Feelings of sadness and hopelessness for extended periods of time. 3) Eating habits -- too much or too little. 4) The ability to work, study and have healthy social interactions. 5) Sleep disturbances -- too much or too little, chronic headaches and stomachaches, and other physical symptoms not explained by other physical conditions. 6) Neglecting personal hygiene/appearance.

You've got to know this is not the same as an individual feeling sad or depressed for a few days and then feeling better. Nope. Clinically depressed people are unable to function as they used to. Now to keep you from getting depressed because of your feelings of guilt and a seeming inability to "be there" for your loved one... consider supporting them through this without judgment or ridicule (i.e., send a supportive text message, email, twitter), or if you care enough to send the very best -- try a Hallmark! You don't have to be in the same city to be an effective helper. What's critically important is that your family member gets the appropriate help. Encourage them to seek professional care!
Hang in there,
Dr. Gabe-

Q: Dr. Gabe, I am a teacher. I lost my job last year in September due to the economy. I lost everything and have moved back home with my mother. I was told that I should go back to school to pursue a different career. I am 32 years old and not sure what to do with my current credentials as a teacher.- LAPosted 05/27/09 10:12 PM
A: Hello Friend! Remember this -- you are not defined by "things." Whatever you have, had, or lost has little to do with who you are. I, too, constantly remind myself -- "Gabe, never fall in love with things that can never love you back." Your parents' loving home can offer you the support, love, and understanding you need to get through this challenging period. It's not the house but rather the people in it. Get it? I won't say this is not tough for you. I know better. But, I've been there. I made it through successfully -- and you can, too! Your qualities and skill-set weren't lost with the job. They came with you. Are you doing your passion? If you're not; now may be a good time to start. Going back to school to further your education and become more competitive might be a good thing. Spend some time seriously thinking about what you want and then just do it!... in spite of the fear. ☺
I Believe in You,
Dr. Gabe-

Q.: Dr. Gabe, How do u keep your the faith when someone u love/trust betrays u? I was wondering where you were good dr.!- TinaPosted 05/27/09 10:24 PM

A: Lol. Well Tina, I'm still here! You raise a very important question. But, let me ask you one. What is your faith in? If your faith is in a person, you're sure to be let down, disappointed and hurt by them. It's not that folks are necessarily bad or inherently evil -- just human. Your partner devalued the sacredness of your relationship by abusing the love and trust; but that has absolutely nothing to do with you or the value you place on love and trust. Think about it. Doesn't your love/trust extend beyond the culprit? It should. When love is unconditional, it is not circumstance or people dependent. Your lover blew it -- not "Love" or "Trust." Tina, deal with the hurt. Experts encourage us to cry, reflect during pensive moments, lean on our support systems, and even seek therapy for closure. It's perfectly normal to grieve the relationship, not the attributes of love, trust, and loyalty. Holla back, if you need to talk more, okay?
Dr. Gabe

Q: Dr. Gabe, Is aggressive behavior 'nature' vs. 'nature'? Yes, I think the environment where both grew up have a lot to do with it. -Morena-

A: SEX HORMONES PLAY A ROLE IN AGGRESSION: The sex hormone testosterone (found in males) and the neurotransmitter serotonin (the "emotions" and "mood" brain chemical) appear to play roles in human aggression, but biological factors mix up with one's social world to produce and regulate aggression. So, when we say adolescents are hormonal or we scratch our heads over lovers who continue to baffle us with their B.S. and relationship rollercoaster rides? Mm, Mm, it's because hormones are RAGING!
Dr. Gabe-

Q: DR. GABE I wish the media would Stop reporting one side of the story. Rihanna has admitted that she has slapped Chris around before but the media are only reporting one side of the story. Females should never hit males. Males should never hit females. Let's talk to our children about both sides of the issue.
- -KATE--Posted 03/18/09 06:07 AM

A: IN TERMS OF SEVERE VIOLENCE, WOMEN RATE HIGHER THAN MEN! Kate, you are absolutely right!! One national survey revealed high levels of Wife-to-Husband violence (for example, hitting, kicking, beating, threatening with a weapon, and using a weapon). In terms of severe violence, wives were consistently higher in physical abuse than the level of Husband-to-Wife abuse. Experts report that there are higher rates of wife-to-husband physical abuse in the first few years of marriage! I know -- you're thinking that's hard to believe. Right? Well, believe it! It's true. Studies done between 1999-2005 support these stats and they involve more than 80 published articles, books, and other sources of data concerning aggression between partners in the US, Canada, & the United Kingdom.
Dr. Gabe-

Q: Dr.Gabe, Seeing domestic violence at a young age, does that mean you're more likely to do the same when you grow up? Thanks,Jake P.

A: A CYCLE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE CAUSES KIDS TO ABUSE THEIR SIBLINGS AND THEIR PARENTS. Yes, Jake there is a definite link between violence in childhood and violence as an adult. We call it the CYCLE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE. Children who witness parental violence or who are themselves abused are more likely as adults to act out violently on intimate partners or their children or, perhaps assume the role of the victim in domestic violence environment. This of course will impact their children who are more likely to engage in violent aggressive acts with each other and their peers and even aggress against their parents.
Dr. Gabe-

Q. Dr. Crenshaw, I'm a criminal justice major, and I learned that people who lack a sense of self-control generally have low a self-efficacy. Also you talked about the Social Learning Theory- aggressive skills are thought to be more a learned behavior rather than genetic or biological.
- Charity Taylor Posted 04/18/09 09:48 AM

A: Charity, research that suggests that individual differences in aggression are produced by genetic inheritance, but the overall evidence is somewhat mixed and even we doctor's argue over it. (In a non-aggressive way... lol.) But, the sex hormone testosterone and the neurotransmitter serotonin (the chemical in your brain responsible for mood, emotions, etc) appear to play a role in human aggression! Makes sense, doesn't it? Think about it, whenever "cheating" is discovered, one of the first emotions is anger and hitting the "cheater" usually isn't far behind!

HOW TO REDUCE HARMFUL AGGRESSION: Research suggests that negative thoughts and mood contribute to aggression. Here some ways to beat it:

1. Reducing stressors like frustration, discomfort, and provocation should reduce aggression.

2. Improved economy.

3. Healthier living conditions.

4. Intact social support system.

5. Teaching and modeling nonviolent responses to conflict.

6. Competing behaviors to offset the bad ones (such as thoughtful responses incompatible with anger and aggression like humor, relaxation

Dr. Gabe-


1. Jealousy, distrust, controlling behaviors.

2. Puts you and your friends down -- makes it difficult for you to see them

3. Loses their temper over trivial stuff.

4. Erratic mood swings making you feel as though you have to "walk on eggshells."

5. Crowds and smothers you -- no emotional or physical space

6. Isolates you from family.

7. Criticizes you constantly on your looks and behavior.

Q.: Dr. Crenshaw, what was done here provided some insight from America's inner-city schools. This was South Central Los Angeles, right? I have to say, however, that I am a product of a very physically abusive upbringing. At 25 years old, never receiving any sort of counseling, I have yet to act out or reenact that was demonstrated around me as a child. Would you suggest that I look into getting some counseling to prevent this from ever happening to me? -- Melanie Reed

A: Thanks, Melanie. I'm glad you enjoyed our segment. Those kids were terrific! Your upbringing, while all too common still cuts me to the core. I am sorry that you ever had to endure that type of pain. I understand that you've never received therapy for the abuse you endured. Well, experts suggest adults who've experienced domestic violence in childhood do a "check-in" with a therapist, just as a safety measure. While you may not act out violently or aggressively in your personal relationships, there may be some residual effects from your abusive upbringing that adversely affect certain areas of your life unconsciously (i.e., trust issues, boundaries, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, mutually satisfying relationships, etc.) Be sure to read my answer to Charity re: ways to reduce harmful aggressive behavior.
Dr. Gabe

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