Archive for the 'Mental Health' Category

Jan 16, 2013 Posted Under: Mental Health

Opinions on ADHD

Opinions on ADHD vary widely and are molded and packaged to fit neatly into one point of view or another. A couple of these opinions on ADHD that most accept as fact are that ADHD is solely neurologically or biologically based and prescription stimulant medications are without a doubt the best way to treat the disorder. In this article we will explore these two so-called facts in a little more depth.

In our discussion why don’t we start with the first of these opinions on ADHD and see if we can’t shoot some holes through what most medical professionals, and parents of over 10,000,000 children taking stimulant medications have been lead to believe, accept as fact.

When scientist, researchers, drug reps, and doctors talk neurological or biological based they are talking about an imbalance in brain chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. When it comes to ADHD the two most often mentioned are dopamine primarily and norepinephrine secondarily.

Honestly, from where I am sitting it sounds like a viable possible cause, and after all there have been hundreds of thousands of articles written on the subject by those with many extra letters in front and behind their names giving them that extra credibility we all look for when doing our research.

But when you get right down to it there is no objective test to identify dopamine or norepinephrine abnormalities in the brain. There have also been two very important studies released as of late pointing to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder being a bigger picture problem than just simply a biological disorder.

The first, study used brain scan technology to link differences in the pace of brain development in children and adolescents with ADHD behaviors. Put simply, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to develop the areas of the brain linked to self-regulation slower than their peers. As these areas begin to mature ADHD symptoms disappear. If these areas remain underdeveloped symptoms persist.

Now let’s take our premise a step further and say since we don’t know for sure if neurotransmitter chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine are the cause we really don’t know what type of long-term effects stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall may have on brain development.

Could these drugs actually slow growth in the areas of the brain in charge of self-regulation to a point where someone might become dependent on the medications for the rest of their life?

The truth is no one can tell you without a doubt that our radical statement above if false. The fact is we simply don’t know and likely will not know the answer for decades if ever.

According to Professor John Breeding, Ph.D., Psychologist ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) could be caused by any combination of physical problems, emotional problems, system problems, educational shortfalls, over stimulation through excess video game playing or television watching, sleep irregularities, family trauma, physical trauma, and child abuse. He goes on to deliver the thought provoking statement that “Failure to adjust is the result of mental illness and failure to adjust in school is ADHD.”.

Our medical professionals seem to be quick to tell us that prescription stimulants are safe and there is nothing much to really worry about. Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration classifies prescription stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall as controlled substances right alongside cocaine and methamphetamine?

Once again we have an opinion on ADHD that prescription stimulants are generally the best treatment option and very safe but this seems not to be based in fact.

Few would argue that a child that concentrates poorly, doesn’t remember well, regularly loses things, exhibits impulsive behavior, and is incessantly disorganized will be at a disadvantage in school.

What seems to be clear is that stimulant medications do help level the playing field in the short-term but what we don’t know is at what cost. Additionally, new research seems to suggest that these harsh medications lose their effectiveness over time and do not provide any long-term benefits.

On the other hand statistics seem to support the belief that behavioral therapy combined with homeopathic ADHD remedies do provide side effect free long-term benefits about 60 percent of the time.

In conclusion, opinions on ADHD seem to multiply with each passing day with many gaining undeserved factual status. For parents trying to determine the best treatment option for their children this creates a slippery slope.

According to John Breeding, Ph.D., every parent should ask these three questions when someone tells you attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is biological thus requiring stimulant medications: ” Could you show me the lab tests. Can you do a test to diagnose or identify this chemical abnormality? Could you show me the scientific literature whereby you can identify the signs and distinguish between someone who has this disorder and someone who does not?”.

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Dec 19, 2012 Posted Under: Mental Health

Why You Deserve Panic Attacks

Believe this or not, you choose panic. You egg on your panic like that girlfriend or boyfriend you pretend not to be interested in. Sorry to break this to you and it may upset you but unconsciously you are very deserving of your panic attack no matter how severe your attacks are.

Let me explain. The way you react to your panic attack never changes. There are situations in life that we can never change and will happen whether we like it or not. But one of few things in life we can change is ourselves. I am sure you have tried medication, therapy, different doctors and plenty more. I know because I did the same. No one ever really helped me personally. It was all methods that involved me being on medication or something that was going to cost a lot of money (which I didn’t have). I had plenty support from my family (some panic suffers on medication) but none from medical professionals on the outside world.

I decided if I wanted to beat panic, it was down to me. Me and only me. These words got me thinking, about me. I am a strong, independent person but when panic showed I became a scared, anxious, uncontrollable being. Frustrated and unhappy. My panic controlled me. Stopped me going where I wanted. Stop me attending dinners or nights out. Stopped me sleeping. If panic was a human being I could have them locked away for the years of mental abusive I had suffered.

My method is simply. When panic showed I was ready, I welcomed it. I would face all the sensations, intense feelings, urge to flee and ride the storm until it was calm again. I returned to all the places I had always avoided, I tried to be more social. If panic showed I told myself I can deal with it. You are the only person in control of your life. No one or nothing else. No human being has ever controlled me so why should panic. I’m sure there have been times you thought you might die. But you never have because you never will. Believe in yourself that you are safe and can overcome this.

Please remember, I didn’t one day wake up and took on my panic attacks head on. I make it sound easy but I have worked hard to achieve my goals. I incorporated other confidence building techniques and simple prevention tips. But please understand this, confronting your fears is a sure way to keep them away. Panic is like that school bully, everyone is scared of. Until you stand up to them. Your behaviour has to change towards you fears, because your fears will never make any changes towards you. You run and cower, so panic chases.

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Sep 25, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Do I Have Depression?

Do you think you have symptoms of depression? Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy, or lost the zeal you used to have for life or suddenly adopted some dangerous lifestyle? If yes, it could be you have depression. But if it’s depression, what type of depression? That is, are you suffering from major depression also known as clinical depression or a less serious form of depression?

Some types of the common depression are:

*Major depressive disorder also known as major depression and clinical depression

*Dysthymic disorder

*Manic depression

*Symptoms common to the above types of depression are:

*Lost of interest in daily activities

*Regular feelings of sadness

*Regular feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

*Feelings of worthlessness

*Significant weight lost or weight gain as a result of your lack of eating or over eating.

*Changes in sleep pattern.
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*Feeling restless and on edge all the time.

*Easily agitated.

*Regular feelings of lack of strength or energy. Feeling fatigue, sluggish and physically drained.

*Finding it difficult to concentrate.

*Regular feelings of aches and pain. Headaches, back pain, aches in the muscles and stomach pain.

*Thoughts of death or suicide.

*Having trouble making decisions.

If you are experiencing most of these symptoms consistently for at least two weeks, then you’re suffering from clinical depression. But don’t panic, clinical depression can be successfully treated with a combination of antidepressant and cognitive behavioral therapy.

If it turns out you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about it, he or she will be able to direct you to a qualified doctor who will discuss with you effective treatment options.

What if it is Adjustment disorder or Situational Depression?

Adjustment disorder also known as situation depression is depressive symptoms developed in response to specific stressful situation or event. A depression that result due to a significant change in your life. If you have moods, try to remember the last events and think if they could cause your depression. This is the way used to determine whether a person is suffering from clinical or situational depression.

Often this type of depression doesn’t need medicine and it’s short lived, at most 6 months. You may overcome it without doing anything or simply my building your coping skills and/or talking through your feelings with a therapist.

To build your coping skills, find what makes you feel good about you and your life. Resist getting caught up with people’s perception of you. Live your life and do what you want. Find what is going to make you happy regardless of any other factor and aim to achieve that for yourself. If you find it difficult to do it alone, get a therapist and do some soul searching.

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Jul 15, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people during the winter months. It generally begins as the days shorten in September and begins to go away as spring begins in April. Also known as winter depression, seasonal affective disorder is responsible for around 10% of all cases of major depression. Research has also shown that SAD is more prevalent and lasts longer in the higher latitudes. It is not disorder that is found in more tropical latitudes.
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The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are much the same as major depression and include:

Sleep disorders – Chronic fatigue, oversleeping but not feeling rested and needing afternoon naps.

Depression and anxiety – Daily tasks that are normally accomplished easily become frustrating to do.

Weight gain – Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates leads to weight gain.

Family and social withdrawal – Sufferer becomes increasingly anti-social and irritable.

Physical symptoms – Stomach and digestive problems, muscle pain and joint pain and headaches.

As spring approaches some individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder may begin to exhibit signs of mania and have boundless energy and creativity. If these seasonal episodes of depression and mania are severe enough the sufferer may diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

The cause of SAD according to most research is a lack of bright light. It is thought that bright light sends signals to the brain suppressing the release of melatonin. Melatonin is released during periods of dim light or darkness and helps the body relax and sleep. Research has also found that while an increase in melatonin exists in the brain chemistry serotonin is not properly being accessed across neurons in the brain. Serotonin is considered the happy hormone and depressed individuals nearly always have low levels of it.

The treatment for seasonal affective disorder is exposure to bright light. During the winter months with cold temperatures and short days those afflicted with this type of depression do not get enough light exposure. Although outdoor light is the best treatment sitting in front of a 2500 to 10,000 lux light for 15 to 45 minutes per day will normally alleviate the symptoms.

Just how bright is 2500 lux light? It’s five times brighter then a normally lit office and most living room lights are normally around 100 lux. So simply sitting in your home with all the lights turned on will not be enough to banish the symptoms.

For more severe cases of SAD light therapy may need to be augmented with anti-depressant medications and psychological therapy. It is important that anyone who thinks they may suffer from seasonal affective disorder to seek treatment from their doctor or therapist.

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Jun 23, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Overcome Depression

You have to make a choice right now! You have to decide that you believe you can create and manage your own destiny. You must realize that you are what you think about most. Whatever you choose to think about will become your life experience. When you are feeling low you are thinking bad thoughts and the chances are if you are feeling good you are feeling good thoughts.

It is very important to keep track of your feelings and if you are feeling low, change your thinking immediately. You can do this by imagining something beautiful, a beautiful place, imagining how you wish your life to be, funny times you have had, a loved one, listen to music you love, imagine a beautiful baby etc. whatever works for you. If one thing doesn’t work try another. This will change your thinking and put you back in the right frame of mind.

The most important thing to realize is that it is impossible to feel good and at the same time have bad thoughts. This is a very important point for the depressed person. Depression by its nature makes us think bad thoughts. We all know when we feel good because we are having good thoughts and likewise we all know when we feel bad because we are thinking bad thoughts. According to the laws of attraction your thinking is the primary cause of everything.

What are you feeling now? If you are not feeling good focus on your feelings and purposefully change your feelings to good feelings. You can do this by closing your eyes and focus on feeling good and at the same time smile for one minute. This may take a lot of work for the depressed person but believe me the more you try it the easier it becomes! I have always recommended that people should always seek professional help for their mental illness. So if you need help do whatever you have to do to start on the road to recovery.

People who suffer from depression and related mental illness should take as much help as they can get. That is part of the secret formula to overcoming depression. Seek and you shall find. Correct, well intended help will make you feel better and you will think happy thoughts which will put you in the right future to create the future you desire.

I am a long time fan of an old saying ‘when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear’. Get yourself in the right frame of mind for recovery and your teacher will appear too!

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Jun 16, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Depression – What About Exercise?

Feeling the blues? Take a hike!

Studies show that people who engage in brisk walking for at least 30 minutes cope better from mild to moderate depression.

Experts agree that one of the most probable reasons is the widely accepted fact that exercise promotes release of “mood elevator” chemicals in the brain like endorphins. In addition, moderate exercise boosts the immune system, protecting the body from sickness which could sometimes trigger depression.

It also helps boost one’s self esteem, especially when one would start seeing improvements in his/her condition. Exercise also allows for one to sleep better while ensuring that one is at its peak energy during the day.

In addition, exercise can be a productive form of distraction for someone suffering from depression. It allows a person to take one’s mind off the issues that’s troubling him/her.

Meanwhile, exercise done in groups allow for one to improve his/her social skills and build a network of support.

The biggest challenge, however, when it comes to depressed individuals is how to keep those butts (pun not intended) out of bed and into the gym or field. That is why, it is very important for one to be determined in getting rid of those blues, after all, who would want to feel low all the time?

This is also where one’s support group would come in handy. Having someone to inspire and force you to move would prove to be helpful, because once you start, it would not be difficult to keep going as even brief periods of exercise could help elevate one’s mood for significant number of hours.

Before starting an exercise regimen, however, it would be wise to consult a doctor so that you would know what exercise to engage in and the limits that you should be putting on your body.

Setting a realistic goal, like being able to jog one kilometer on the first run, would also be recommended, rather than frustrating oneself on trying to achieve something that may seem impossible to accomplish for the first few weeks of exercise.

Another great idea that would help encourage one to exercise is the fact that exercise is not a chore, as such, it is but fitting for one to enjoy it. Look for a sport or some physical activity that best captures your interest. Exercise, after all, is not just about going to the gym or finishing laps in the track. Try swimming or basketball, or how about football or cricket? When you decide to engage in an exercise program, start by learning your favorite sport, in that way you not only develop a new hobby but also an enjoyable means of boosting your immune system and mood.

When you have decided the kind of program to engage in, always consider the basic rule of exercise and that is, start with a 10 to 15-minute warm-up session and end with a cool-down session.

Warm-ups and cool-downs prepare your muscles and cardio-pulmonary system before an activity that could stress them out. It conditions the body, preventing exercise related injuries like sprains and strains, as well as unnecessary stress to the heart.

So, the next time you get visited by sad thoughts, get those running shoes out and chase those blues away.

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Apr 15, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Dyslexia and Depression

I can certainly see the possible link between dyslexia and depression.

Samuel T. Orton, M.D. was one of the first researchers who talked about emotional problems connected to dyslexia, including depression disorder, especially among children and teenagers.

What usually happens is that before school and before learning to read these children have relatively happy life. As soon as the learning starts and they realize that they can’t read as well as other children and the distance between them and their friends is getting bigger, the stress, depression and anxieties build up and their self-esteem plummets.

Interestingly enough, girls tend to succumb to depression more, while boys practice aggression and denial.

It’s very important to recognize very early that your child or pupil is dyslexic and to treat them differently. A lot of parents and teachers would think that the child is very bright but call him or her lazy and inattentive not even realizing how hard the child is trying.

I’ve got a friend who is suffering from bipolar disorder, and who’s been getting depression therapy for quite a long time. His therapist came to a conclusion looking back at his childhood that a lot of his mental problems started in dyslexia.

People don’t exactly realize how many problems and insecurities you can develop at an early age if you are dyslexic. Let’s see:

– Problems with social interactions as other children think you are not smart enough;

– Fear of making a mistake. You are likely to become a perfectionist and feel unhappy unless everything is up to your very high standards;

– Problems with oral language which doesn’t help your self-esteem especially in your teenage years;

– Difficulties with remembering right sequence of events or words in a sentence, consequently when such children remember what happened and talk about it, they may tell the story differently every time and are called pathological liars.

– Dyslexic performance varies from good days to bad days, some tasks they will do perfectly well and some they can not accomplish.

These are just some of the “perks” of this condition.

It is with a certainty you can say that depression, anxiety and anger are constant features in life of a dyslexic.

That’s why it is very important from an early age:

1. To detect the dyslexia.

2. To help your child to understand the condition and what they are good or not good at.

3. To help them to achieve real goals not perfection that they are striving for.

4. If they are good at something, encourage them to teach it to other youngsters. It does marvels for their self-esteem.

5. And keep listening and encouraging them to express their feelings.

As usual I’m very interested to learn of your experiences, so please, share and take care, guys!

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Apr 14, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Panic Attacks, Breaking the Thought Cycle

Panic attacks are an unusual phenomenon. People who experience them often feel that they are helpless victims of them, like they do not have control over how or when a panic attack will strike them. What’s interesting is that they, themselves are actually triggering them.

If you have experienced an attack, you probably recall (quite clearly) your first encounter with panic. Undoubtedly, as you began to experience unusual feelings in your body, you became fearful of what was happening. This, in turn, caused you to try to resist those feelings with all your might. The more scared you got, the more scared you got, until you were in a full blown panic attack.

This thought process may not have been very obvious at the time because it was the first time you had gone through such an episode, but in future attacks, the process was probably a bit more apparent (though you were not likely to be analysing it at the time.) Having gone through the first panic attack, upon the slightest trigger, you dreaded the idea of going through another.

It goes something like this:

  • Perhaps you feel a strange twinge of an unusual sensation.
  • Maybe you are going into a situation that you fear may cause you anxiety or stress.

Whatever the initial trigger, something makes you feel just a bit like you did during that horrible first panic attack. You then begin to try to fight off those anxious feelings.

You worry more and more that if you can’t stop what’s going on in your body, you will have to go through another episode of panic. All that anxiety over trying to avoid the whole thing then causes your heart to beat faster. This is concerning because it means a panic attack is beginning. That is, of course, frightening so your heart beats faster and harder as you feel the adrenaline surge throughout your system.

The more scared you become, the more your body reacts with frightening sensations. Your chest tightens. Your extremities begin to tingle or go numb. You feel faint. God forbid, your heart skips a beat (in your mind, a sure sign of impending doom.)

You see, through this whole process your mind creates the next level of anxiety based on your body’s reaction to each previous level of anxiety. Because you know how frightening the experience of a panic attack can be, you want desperately to avoid the situation. You try as hard as you can to think your way out of it.

The trick in that situation is not to fight against your thoughts and feelings, but to actually accept that what you’re feeling will not hurt you. An anxiety attack is just your body’s reaction to the fear of fear. Nothing else.

By fighting your body’s reactions you, in a way, reinforce your own idea that you do not feel in control of your body’s reactions and thoughts. In order to truly be in control you must learn to understand that what you are feeling is natural and safe. Though you might feel like you’re going to die or at least pass out, you’re just experiencing the effects of adrenaline.

Though it seems quite contradictory, the key to stopping panic attacks is learning not to fight them, but rather to accept them. In doing so, you break the thought cycle that causes them in the first place. You take the power away from the panic attacks and put it back where it belonged all the time, with yourself!

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Mar 17, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Attention Training Software for the Inattentive Subtype of ADHD

Software tools are often used to test and diagnose the attention problems seen in all types of ADHD but that are especially seen in people with The Inattentive subtype of ADHD. These test tools screen for our ability to divide our attention and our ability to screen out distractions. WM (WM) diagnostic tools not only test our attention capacity they may be used as a training tools to increase our attention span.

The main problem for people with The Inattentive subtype of ADHD (ADHD-PI) is what neurologist call working memory deficits. This term does not refer to our ability to remember it refers to what some neurologist call “divided attention capacity”. A working memory strengthening tool may help increase attention span by improving our divided attention capacity.

Multitasking is the ability to attend to more than one thing. It has gotten a bad reputation these days especially given that many people try to do more than one thing at once while they are driving, caring for young children, or performing other dangerous activities. The most reported danger of multitasking involves cell phone use and driving.

This is not the type of multitasking that I am referring to. I am referring to the ability to divide your attention between information that is coming from two or more different sources. For example being able to watch what is being written on the blackboard while also listening to what the teacher is saying.

For those of us with The Inattentive subtype of ADHD symptoms it is important that we increase attention span for both incoming verbal and visual information. Working memory strengthening tools help increase attention span by strengthening the parts of our brain, the pre-frontal cortex, that control our ability to divide attention.

Brain training is a multi-million dollar industry because people with the Inattentive subtype of ADHD are not the only people needing tools to help to increase attention span. There are several software tools that have been shown to improve our ability to divide our attention and to increase our attention span.

These tools have been found useful for improving the divided attention capacity of aging and teenage drivers. The most well known and respected auto club in the nation has even endorsed the use of these software tools because they have been found to decrease motor vehicle accidents.

Two companies have software tools that help increase attention span and that improve divided attention. The programs are called Drive Sharp and MindFit. Both these software programs are made by very reputable companies and they have both been tested and found to be effective in increasing attention span.

There are several online sites that have WM strengthening tools that are free and that have also been found to increase attention span. While programs you pay for have more bells and whistles, I have found the free online WM strengthening tools to be quite addictive and almost fun. My favorite is the Icy Lime WM strengthening tool but I have found all of the free tools useful for increasing attention span.

Many neurologists believe that the main problem in people with the Inattentive subtype of ADHD is a deficit of working memory which impairs their ability to divide attention when there are competing bits of visual and auditory stimulation. Fee online WM tools such as the tools called ‘DualTask’, ‘TaskSwitching’ and ‘IcyLime’ can help.

Performing the tasks on the WM tools that I have discussed can reinforce our working memory and increase attention span. Those of us with the Inattentive subtype of ADHD and with children who have ADHD-PI should make these tools a part of our ADHD treatment plan.

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Mar 12, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

Services for Autistic Adults

Adults who continue to suffer with Autism have new and advantageous avenues they can choose from as opposed to years before. The health insurance providers together with the medical health care community offer a variety of services to help enhance the pleasures of life. Granted that many of the services offered are contingent to the state the individual resides, but the majority of services for adults who continue to suffer with Autism are nationwide.

  1. Medicaid funded health care treatments
  2. Non-vocational community services
  3. Sheltered work-shop programs
  4. A program to enhance independence
  5. Structured paid employment

The Medicaid-funded united health care treatments are especially designed for the individual who has the desire to learn and improve to the best of his or her ability. There are a variety of health programs offered that include registered nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, and speech therapists. This Medicaid-funded health treatment program works with each individual to ascertain the individual’s level of learning and comprehension.

Structured daily activities that will help with the individual’s coordination efforts in the hopes that one day he or she will have the capabilities required to hold down specified employment. This is a way for the medical health care community to help with teaching the individual ways to gain employment in a local grocery store, one of the local parks or any other community area.

The individual will continue with the learning process to help with increasing independence to a level that is appropriate for the individual. The individual with the assistance of a universal health care provider will learn to fine tune personal grooming habits, simple food preparation, and the necessary skills to understand the value of money and maintain a personal checking account.

The medical health community through the many providers also work closely with those autistic adults who want to learn the art of being a creative and productive citizen now that he or she has reached adulthood. A few of the skilled training will include a variety of responsibilities in a variety of different aspects of the employment world. Having the adult exposed to as many facets of daily living is what the health insurance provider is there to guide.

At the same time are adults with Autism enrolled and participate in any of the workshop programs is completely protected in all activities they want to learn and try their hand. The medical health provider will need to possess a great deal of understanding and patience to see the student through from start to finish.

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