Therapy Blog

  • ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

    Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

    1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
    2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
    3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
    4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
    5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

    So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

    There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

    • Inattention
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Easily Distracted
    • Unable to Sit Still
    • Fidgety
    • Frequently Interrupts
    • Struggle to Complete Tasks
    • Frequent Forgetting
    • No Filter
    • Restless
    • Talk Excessively

    Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

    • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Keep a Consistent Schedule
    • Take Breaks
    • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
    • Eat Healthy
    • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
    • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
    • Use You Support System
    • Relaxation Techniques

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.

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Meghan L. Reitz, MA, LCPC, NCC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Meghan has worked within the counseling profession for over ten years. Her experience includes providing individual, family, group, crisis, and substance abuse counseling. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Anthropology and Psychology and her graduate degree from Bradley University in Human Development/Community Counseling.

Meghan has worked and volunteered in the following settings as a therapist:

  • Non-profit social service agencies
  • Mental health hospitals
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Therapeutic day schools
  • Managed Care/Insurance companies
  • Private practice
  • Geriatric settings- including nursing homes, older adult care centers
  • Non-profit fundraising agencies

Please check out her daily tweets on Twitter and periodic blogs on mental health topics. You can also chat with her live and/or email her through this site.

Everything listed under: Resources

  • Weight Loss and Its Link to Stress Reduction

    Weight. The never-ending battle. If you yourself isn't dealing with weight issues, you probably know someone who is. There is definitely a link between stress and weight gain. There are a number of studies that have found that stress can increase a chemical in the body called cortisol to be produced at higher rates. This in turn can cause weight gain by slowing down the metabolism. So the question is: How do you reduce stress in your life?

    In previous blog articles I have mentioned different techniques and tips that you can do manage stress more succesfully. However, I feel that there can't be enough of techniques and ideas shared on stress reduction since it is such a pervasive issues for most American lives. Stress is a way of life for most. Some stress is positive like major life changes such as getting married, having a child, graduating, etc. Some stress is negative like work, school, family and interpersonal issues, loss and grief, etc. Either way, stress is present and something that we all need to learn how to manage.

    The following website links are great resources in finding different ways to manage stress:

    http://www.holisticmed.com/stressfree.html

    http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

    Know that you can't rid your life of stress. However, accept it and practice techniques like journaling, drawing, painting, cooking, baking, music (listening or playing an instrument for example), knitting, jewelry making, fishing, playing catch, exercising, eat healthier, taking a walk and enjoying nature, deep breathing, counting, positive self-talk, and the list goes on and on. Don't know where to start? Try starting one technique. Doesn't work? That's ok. Try another. Also, make sure you know who is in your support network. List these individuals out so you can readily access them by phone, email, text, etc. Sometimes when we are most stressed we don't reach out for others. Try not to isolate. It is ok to need help!

    Find more information about stress and it's connection to weight gain/weight loss through the following sites:

    http://www.advance-health.com/cortisol.html

    http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/assist-weight-loss-with-stress-reduction/

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/can-stress-cause-weight-gain

    If you feel like your stress is out of control, and you're having trouble managing your stress even if you are trying the above techniques, talk to your MD, talk to a dietician, find a counselor if you don't already have one, and reach out to friends and family. You are not alone.

  • Sexual Assault Victims: Past, Present, and Future

    Do you know someone who has been sexually assaulted? Have you been the victim of sexual assault. Chances are that you probably at least know one person that has. Although Sexual Assault Awareness month (April) has came and gone, it is never NOT a good time to discuss the topic. What I hope to accomplish in today's article is to look at some statistics on sexual assault, what it means to a person's past, how it affects his/her life now, and what it all means for the future of that individual.

    According to this site, the following statistics stood out significantly on this topic:

    How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?

    • One in Four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.
    • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?" Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime.
    • In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur.
    • In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour.
    • A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident.
    • Rape is common worldwide, with relatively similar rates of incidence across countries, with 19%-28% of college women reporting rape or attempted rape in several countries. In many countries, survivors are treated far worse than in the U.S.

    Are Men Raped?

    • 3% of college men report surviving rape or attempted rape as a child or adult.
    • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 4% of men answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?"

    Who are the Perpetrators?

    • 99% of people who rape are men, 60% are Caucasian.
    • Between 62% and 84% of survivors knew their attacker.
    • 8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape.
    • 35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn't be caught or punished.
    • First-year students in college tend to believe more rape myths than seniors.
    • Sexual assault offenders were substantially more likely than any other category of violent criminal to report experiencing physical or sexual abuse as children.
    • In one study, 98% of men who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. 

    Who are the Survivors?

    • 41% of college women who are raped were virgins at the time.
    • 42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape.
    • False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time.

    Circumstances of Rape

    • 57% of rapes happen on dates.
    • 75% of the men and 55% of the women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack.
    • About 70% of sexual assault survivors reported that they took some form of self-protective action during the crime. The most common technique was to resist by struggling or chase and try to hold the attacker. Of those survivors who took protective action, over half believed it helped the situation, about 1/5 believed that it made the situation worse or simultaneously worse and better. 
    • 84% of rape survivors tried unsuccessfully to reason with the man who raped her.
    • 55% of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternities, 40% by sports teams, and 5% by others.
    • Approximately 40% of sexual assaults take place in the survivor's home. About 20% occur in the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative. 10% occur outside, away from home. About 8% take place in parking garages.
    • More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor's home or in her home.

    What Happens After the Rape?

    • Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police.
    • Of those rapes reported to the police (which is 1/3 or less to begin with), only 16% result in prison sentences. Therefore, approximately 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison, 95% of the time he does not.
    • 42% of rape survivors had sex again with the rapist.
    • 30% of rape survivors contemplate suicide after the rape.
    • 82% of rape survivors say the rape permanently changed them.

    As I mull over these statistics, and as you read them as well, a mixture of emotions runs through me as I am a therapist, a female, and a survivor. It is difficult to take an objective standpoint on these issues with numbers glaring you in the face of the prevalence of rape- particularly among high school and college students. It is equally as scary that there are men who have admitted they would sexually assault someone if they new they would not be caught. It makes you wonder where the values and morals were instilled in the male psyche and how our culture possibly continues to perpetuate a dominant role for males and a submissive role for females. These meanderings are just food for thought.

    So what DOES someone do with being a rape victim and survivor? Usually, victims tend to feel shameful, guilty, and as if it the rape was his/her own fault. Kind of like a "I was asking for it" mentality- especially if there was drinking involved. It's easy to go back to the situation and say, if I had only done this or not done that. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and RAPE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. No means no. Period.

    It is strongly suggested that someone who has been sexually assaulted seek counseling in order to work through the issues and baggage that comes with being a victim of such trauma. If help is not sought, often times individuals turn to other means in order to cope such as eating disorders, becoming a workaholic, self-harm, and sometimes even suicide. It cannot be stressed enough that if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, that you or that person should contact the police. This perpetrator could and probably will do it again to someone else.

    There is a future beyond going through someone as traumatic as rape or sexual assault. With the proper support and working through issues of guilt and shame, you can learn that it was not your fault. You may not be able to forget- but you can definitely move forward. There are support groups, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in this very area. There are also many different therapeutic techniques to move past the flashbacks, the feelings of depression, and the anger you or the victim is experiencing. In order to find some local resources in your are on sexual assault, I recommend taking a look at this site:

    http://www.rainn.org/

    In closing, SEEK HELP for being a victim of sexual assault. There are a lot of therapies, techniques, and resources to gain back your life.
     

     

     

     

  • Could I have a sexual addiction?

    Many clients have been requesting assistance with what they feel is possibly a sexual addiction. Some individuals define it as the need to masturbate daily. Others feel it's the need to use pornography in their sexual experiences. And still others indicate a more severe need for masturbation, the necessity of pornography for any sexual satisfaction, or engaging in more bizarre and risky acts of sexual behaviors to fulfill their "needs."

    As I broach this taboo topic, I feel it is neccessary to tackle it at least briefly as there are many individuals out there seeking validation and assistance in what they feel is something that is problematic for them. In my counseling experience, sexual addiction would include anything that has started to interfere with your every day functioning- not leaving the house, negatively affecting your work/school, affecting your interpersonal relationships, etc. It is also something that may come into conflict with one's on belief set or faith. For this person, he/she feels that he/she cannot stop the need for this "sexual satisfaction," and feels guilty, ashamed, and overwhelmed.

    Do you or someone you know have a sexual addiction? How DO you know? I encourage you to ask these questions while considering this "diagnosis" of sorts:

    1) Are your actions negatively affecting your relationships with others?

    2) Are your actions interfering with your ability to be successful at work or school?

    3) Are you engaging in increasingly unsafe/more bizarre behaviors in order to meet your sexual needs?

    4) Do you feel shame, guilt, or worry about your behaviors?

    5) Has someone suggested that you might have a problem?

    If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, it might be time to seek counseling. If for no other reason, but to put your fears to rest as to what is healthy sexual behavior and what is not. There are many counselors and therapists that specialize in this area. Sessions are confidential- so a fear of discussing these issues could be laid to rest with just knowing that your personal information is kept from outside knowledge. Trying Live Person online counselors could be a start in the right direction if you are looking for immediate but anonymous help.

    With that, I would like to leave some resources for you to look into as you make your way through this journey of emotional and physical confusion:

    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/sexual-addiction/content/article/10168/55141

    http://www.medicinenet.com/sexual_addiction/article.htm

    http://www.sexualcontrol.com/index.php

    Remember: “This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” ~Susan Polis Schutz

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder

    What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? Do you know someone who has it? Do you think you may have it?

    • DID used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)
    • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illiness (NAMI) it is described as a "dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control the individual's behavior at different times."
    • People who have it, may not know that they actually have it- instead they may be experiencing boughts of amnesia or memory loss, which prompts them to seek initial professional help.
    • Auditory and Visual hallucinations affect about a third of those diagnosed with DID according to NAMI.
    • DID can often be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.
    • Some kind of trauma can often trigger DID- so that the person develops multiple "personalities" or "alters" that help them "cope" with the trauma.
    • There is debate whether DID is really an appropriate diagnosis among professionals.
    • It also is a primarily North American diagnosis.
    • There is a high co-morbidity rate with having DID along with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
    • Two websites that are VERY helpful to look into what types of symptoms DID presents with as well as how it is treated:

    http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Dissociative_Identity_Disorder_(formerly_Multiple_Personality_Disorder).htm

    http://www.medicinenet.com/dissociative_identity_disorder/article.htm

    Remember: If you have someone in your life diagnosed with DID, or you have DID, there IS help out there. Try locating a therapist and psychiatrist in your area if you haven't already. You can also reach out to therapists like myself who are online on sites like LivePerson to get you started in the right direction.