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: Addiction

  • 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