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: Anger

  • Battle of the Bulge: Weight and Mental Health

    The fight against weight gain, and even weight loss, is on!

    What does mental and emotional health got to do with it?

    Actually, a lot. If you're feeling stressed, upset, angry, or sad, do you ever reach for that gallon of ice cream? Or do you lose your appetite altogether? Either way, it's not healthy for anyone. In a perfect world, we would all be an average, normal weight. We wouldn't have things like stress and life issues bombarding us on a daily basis. However, we don't live in that perfect world (Which ultimately is probably a good thing! Otherwise, things would be pretty darn boring.). Stressors are a part of our way of life. It's all about how we manage them that makes the difference. And how you're feeling can be directly related as to whether you seek solace in food or engage in eating disorder behaviors. Fluctuations in weight and our physical health are impacted by whether we are in an emotionally and mentally healthy spot. When we feel good or are making healthy choices, we take care of ourselves. When we feel bad or are not managing our mental health successfully, our physical health pays the price.

    I know I'm having difficulty regulating my mood. What now?

    Identifying that you're struggling is the first step. That opens the doors to seeking the help and support you need to get yourself to a better frame of mind. This in turn will lead to a happier existence, where mental and physical health are in balance. Locate a trainer, see a dietician, talk with your primary care doctor, seek counseling/therapy, and/or ask for emotional support from family and friends. Don't know where to start? Feel overwhelmed? Get a physical. That will give you a baseline of where you're at right now- whether you're overweight, underweight, have any physical issues beyond weight, etc. From there you can determine your next plan of action.

    I don't know if I can beat the way I'm feeling. How do I feel better? And get my weight under control?

    Feeling unsure, scared, and overwhelmed can be common feelings when you're mental and emotional healthy are out of whack. It takes some effort to reach out for the help you need. It's ok to not be able to do it on your own. Journaling, taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, talking to clergy/friends/family, and doing some realistic goal setting are good ways to get started. By getting the depression, anxiety, panic, stress, confusion, anger, and/or apathy under control, you WILL see results in terms of your physical health (i.e. weight gain/loss). Counseling can be a helpful tool to use- especially if you feel you can't really depend on someone in your life currently. Counseling gives you an objective, nonjudgmental individual to help support you through your life's issues.

  • Anger Management: Signs, Symptoms, and Tips

    Ever get that feeling where you feel like you just can't hold your anger in and you might just burst? Ok...maybe some of you can say yes I've definitely felt this way, others of you may not be able to relate as closely. Either way, everyone gets angry. It's a normal human emotion that everyone experiences in some form or another. However, there are definitely healthy and unhealthy ways to manage your anger, and that's what this article is about. How do you know if you have an anger management problem? If you do, how do you work to take your unhealthy behaviors of anger management and make take them to healthier outlets? These questions and more will be answered below; But, before getting started ask yourself the following questions:

    1) Do you feel like you cannot control your anger at times?

    2) Do you ever take out your anger on loved ones when it isn't deserved? Whether verbally or physically?

    3) Do you feel guilty or ashamed after you have lashed out at someone when being angry?

    4) Have people told you you have an anger management problem?

    5) Does your anger seem to consume your normal life activities?

    *If you said yes to any of these questions, then it might be fair to say that you need assistance in gaining some anger management skills.

    This article is definitely not a quick fix for these issues. It is encouraged to take steps through talking with a counselor, seeing a psychiatrist, and looking into anger management group therapy to assist you in your journey through managing this emotion. However, there are ways to work on this daily with just a few of these tips:

    • Note when you physically START to feel angry: turning red, feeling hot, clenched fists, tightening of muscles, heart racing
    • Note when you mentally START to feel angry: racing thoughts, increasingly focused on the issue(s) that have triggered your anger, inability to control your emotions or physical body
    • Journal when you start this process- if you can see these signs and symptoms, you know it is time for a TIME-OUT
    • Usually anger comes from sadness, being upset, depression, feeling hurt- this may be your way of displaying those emotions; if this is so, you should look into yourself and your past and see what is really at the root of the problem
    • Is your anger warranted? It's ok to be angry about things! Just don't take it out on others, especially those who don't deserve it- or channel that anger into something positive (i.e. upset with something your child has done- it might be helpful to take a five minute break before you come back to the situation to sit down and talk to your son/daughter instead of instantly going into yelling mode)
    • Outlets for stress, anxiety, depression, and ANGER: exercise, relaxation exercises, playing music, drawing, painting, writing, meditating, talking it out with a spouse or friend (venting-but appropriately)

    These are just a few things you can start to do in order to begin the process of healing and managing your anger. Seek counseling for more extensive assistance in keeping your emotions under control. When you can check your anger, manage it healthily, it will really give you a new lease on life.

  • Tips & Tools in the Counseling Trade: Ideas to Promote Peace of Mind

    I thought that this week a focus on sharing tools of the trade would be helpful. Sometimes, I think as both a client and a therapist, you really want to reach solution-focused help. Talk therapy can be very therapeutic, cathartic, and releasing. However, when you walk away from a session- do you have homework to do between sessions? If not, then maybe ask yourself, why you don't.

    In order to engage in the therapy/counseling process, it takes work on the client's part to make changes and be held accountable for the goals that he/she has set out in seeking therapy/counseling in the first place. A good place is to start learning techniques that can ease stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness- basically giving a person a better state of mind.

    I am going to touch upon a few here. There are so many out there- and with the world of Google, many of you can find similar and additional ideas. But, for the sake of this article, I'd like to stick with some of the powerful ones that I utilize in my practice with individuals.

    1) Guided Imagery:

    Gently inhale and exhale until you feel yourself calming down from your activities. Now, gradually allow an image of yourself to emerge from within your mind. See yourself sitting in the middle of a Triangle–as a point in the middle …

    (You can put on quiet, transcendental music as you begin to imagine yourself).

    Feel the Triangle forming itself all around you … right where you are … Let your senses really create this sensation … Now, notice how you feel sitting in the midst of this great structure … how are you sitting, what you look like. Notice as much as you can … (long pause).

    Now, very slowly, allow this Triangle to become filled with a warm and gentle blue light … until you can feel yourself being enveloped in it … Bring this light into your solar plexus … and on up into your heart … (long pause).

    When your heart is full, imagine a point in the center of the sun … way out there in space where the heart of God resides … Gradually now, allow yourself to merge with this heart in the center of the sun … (long pause). Feel your mind … your heart … your body becoming filled with the energy of the sun … (long pause).

    Now, sit for awhile in calm reflection … in the center of the sun … and just let this experience fill you to the very core of your being. Breathe it in with long, slow breaths … (long pause).

    Very slowly, now, feel yourself returning here … and coming back into your body. Feel your feet, your arms, your face. You may want to move around a little to bring your consciousness fully back … Take some time to feel yourself being totally present in your ordinary reality.

    ~This was taken from: HEALING THE EMOTIONS by Jacquelyn Small, Eupsychia Institute

    2) Positive Affirmations:

    By using the power of affirmations you state what you want to be true in your life. You see reality, as you want it to be. For a while, you ignore your current circumstances and your doubts, and concentrate on a different reality.

    - I am healthy and happy.
    - Wealth is pouring into my life.
    - I am flowing on the river of wealth.
    - I am getting wealthier each day.
    - My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
    - I have a lot of energy.
    - I study and comprehend fast.
    - I am getting A's in my exams.
    - My mind is calm.
    - I am calm and relaxed in every situation.
    - My thoughts are under my control.
    - I radiate love and happiness.
    - I am surrounded by love.
    - I have the perfect job for me.
    - I am living in the house of my dreams.
    - I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband.
    - I have a wonderful satisfying job.
    - I have the means to travel abroad whenever I want to.
    - I am successful in whatever I do.
    - Everything is getting better every day.

    ~ Copyright 2001-2005 Remez Sasson, SuccessConsciousness.com

    3) How to do the Grounding Technique:

    1. Bend your knees slightly and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth. Focus on your feet and imagine them sinking down into the ground that supports them.
    2. Place the fingertips of one hand beneath your lower lip and the heel of the other hand on your navel with the fingertips pointing down towards the ground (see arrow on diagram).
    3. Hold your hands on the points for about 30 seconds, or 4 - 6 complete breaths. Then switch hands and repeat.
    Breathing slowly and deeply encourages relaxation and further enhances the benefits of using this technique.

    How it Works:
    When you hold your hands in these positions they are contacting key points on the central vessel of the energy system. By simultaneously stimulating the beginning and end points of this meridian the brain is stimulated and mental fatigue is relieved.
    This simple exercise is useful during breaks from repetitive tasks, when working in front of a computer, or after long spells of driving.

    The Grounding Technique helps with:
    - General co-ordination
    - Organizational & sorting skills
    - Reading without disorientation (smoother tracking along lines of text)
    - Promoting grounding
    - Mental alertness
    - Improved posture (discourages slouching)
    - Relaxes the eyes

    ~From livingbydesignonline.com

    4) Anger Management Techniques:

    Anger is a very strong emotion. Uncontrolled anger is a life-long pattern. It is not easy to overcome anger; it requires determined commitment. It requires honesty, courage, and tremendous inner strength. It also requires help from others. To overcome anger, these steps are important:

    • Consciously determine to be calm. Don't react, think! Remember your goals and respond appropriately. Choose to remain calm!
    • Communicate. When someone upsets you, tell them. Calmly talk to them about how you feel about their words or actions. Learn to express yourself better -- clear and composed. Choose to!
    • Remove yourself from the scene until you can respond without anger.Your success will not happen overnight. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Remember to relax. Relaxation exercises or music can be helpful. Keep in mind you can reach out to someone you trust for help. Choose to!
    • Frequently take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy like walking in the park, swimming, reading the Bible, or seeing a feel-good movie. Do something nice for someone you admire. It's okay to feel good about yourself. Choose to!
    • Look for the positives. Don't dwell on the negatives. "Don't sweat the small stuff." Learn to be forgiving. This is difficult, but we need to start by learning to forgive ourselves!

    ~ From allaboutlifechallenges.org