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: Suicide

  • Suicide and You

    Suicide. This is a topic that can be quite taboo in the rather inconsistent, chaotic, and difficult world we live in today. As the topic has slowly gained more recognition, instead of talking about it behind closed doors "per se," it has become a realistic issue that children, adolescents and adults all face in some way or another.
    This could mean that you, yourself, may be having some suicidal ideation. It could mean you have tried to hurt yourself in the past. It could also mean you have a close family member or friend who has experienced suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or actually committed suicide. If you fall into any one of these categories, then I encourage you to read on.

    I recently attended a conference on "Counseling Suicidal Persons." It was interesting because suicide rates are higher among young females who are sexually active- meaning the more adolescent females that were sexually active had higher rates of suicidal ideation and attempts. It was also noted in this particular conference that about 80% of elderly suicides are male. These pieces of information alone threw up red flags for me as a counselor as I realized that suicide can touch female, male, young, and old.

    If you have suicidal thoughts, it is important to reach out for help. Calling 911, going to the nearest emergency room, or calling 1-800-784-2433 will get you immediate assistance. If you feel that someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can do the same for him/her.

    A majority of people have contemplated ending their life in some way. It's about what people DO with those feelings that is of concern. If someone is describing being depressed and not wanting to "go on" but does not have a plan, this is probably a matter of the depression talking and seeing a psychiatrist and a talk therapist would be most helpful- unless there has been a history of suicide attempts (psychiatric care may be needed immediately). Other resources for people in any stage of the suicidal thought process can be found at the following links:

    www.mentalhealth.org/suicide/prevention

    www.surgeongeneral.gov/library

    www.survivorsofsuicide.com

    www.afsp.org

    Remember: Life IS worth living. It is a gift and a blessing. Even the hardest of times can be overcome. It's ok to reach out for help and hurting yourself should never be the answer. If a loved one you know is dealing with suicidal issues, seek out assistance as soon as possible. Counselors, like myself, can be found on www.liveperson.com to chat with live or met with in person by setting up an appointment.