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: Therapy

  • 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.

  • Making Change: Life's Main Hurtle

    Change is what makes us human. It is a natural way of life as we know it- integral to growth, both physical and emotional. Change occurs whether we are ready for it or not, and sometimes we do everything we can to abstain from change because the fear of the unknown holds us back. Do you consider yourself fear-based? Or a worrier? Do you make decisions or choices based on your fears about what will happen or do you think about the rational and realistic consequences to situations? If you answer yes to any of these questions or know people who would answer affirmatively, then this article is for you.

    One of the biggest obstacles in getting life on track can be a person's comfort level with making change. Many people dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or stress seem to be stuck in the same unhealthy patterns. Without making even small changes to how we go about doing things, you will get the same result by making the same actions. This seems rather simple, but for many people suffering from negative life issues, actually doing something different can feel scary and foreign.

    It is important that if you decide to keep engaging in the same patterns of behavior, the outcomes will almost always be the same. If you truly want to feel better about yourself and your life situation, consider how you can change the ways you go about doing things. This can be as minor as discontinuing that unhealthy relationship with an acquaintance to something as major as changing careers or moving locations. Always ask yourself, is the reason I am unwilling to change because I am scared or worried about the consequences? Then follow that question up with what are the possible outcomes or worst case scenarios. Typically the worst case scenario, realistically speaking, is actually not that bad. Get comfortable with the what if's and prepare yourself for possible negative and positive outcomes. Without change, everything will stay the same.

  • Back to Basics: What is Therapy?

    A large amount of people often wonder what true mental health therapy and counseling is. These concepts can be quite ambiguous, and there are so many different approaches to therapy that it can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. Many would agree that therapy is an inexact science in that there isn't one right or wrong way to handle particular issues. In most cases, it is very individualistic depending on a person's personality traits, genetics, upbringing, social economic status, culture, religion, ethnicity, and so on and so forth.

    So how is a lay person to know what he/she should be looking for when searching for the right counselor or therapist? It does truly depend on the person. You should start by identifying what you hope to gain out of therapy. Are you looking to cope with grief? Are you trying to manage a behaviorally challenged son or daughter? Are you having marital problems? Making sure that you have a good grasp on what you want to change or improve on in your situation is key to finding the right fit in a therapist.

    The next step is to do a little research. Contact your insurance carrier for referrals. Look up therapists in your area via your internet search engine. Take a careful look at the options you have in front of you. You will want to have a handle on how much you can afford to pay. Take note of the location and hours of the person you are interested in seeing. Would you feel more comfortable seeing a male versus a female? What is the therapist's areas of expertise? Do they fit with what you are trying to work on in your life?

    Make an appointment. I always encourage people to make the jump. You will never know until you try. Now remember, every person has their own personalities, quirks, and abilities. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error in finding the right fit in a therapist. Do not get discouraged if you feel like something does not click after a few sessions. A good therapist will also be aware of these things and should be checking in with you on how you feel things are going. It does not mean there is something wrong with a therapist if you are having difficulty meshing with him/her. It just means you need to find someone that better suits your tastes. It is important to feel comfortable with your therapist as you will need to be honest and open in order to get the most out of your treatment.

    Typically therapists will explain their theoretical orientation towards therapy in the initial session.  What this means is that, again, there are many different approaches to dealing with certain stressors, issues, and mental health concerns. A few different, but common approaches to be on the look-out for are:

    -Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

    -Psychodynamic Therapy

    -Person-Centered Therapy

    -Bio-Feedback

    -EMDR

    Don't know exactly what these entail? That's ok. Educate yourself by looking them up via the internet. Ask your therapist to explain what his/her approach will look like for you and your treatment. All therapies that are in good standing should encompass confidentiality, caring, a level of being non-judgmental, and a place where YOU, the client, feel HEARD. As this post is just a stepping stone in the right direction to finding your fit within the world of therapy, remember that there are a lot of resources out there. Sometimes the hardest step is making that first phone call and setting up an appointment. It can definitely be well-worth it.