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Our Mental Health Blogs

Unique Challenges Facing Women with ADHD

What happens to…girls with ADHD when they become adults with ADHD if much of the focus is on men with ADHD? That is the concern of Terry Matlen, ACSW who is a psychotherapist, consultant, writer and coach, specializing in adult attention deficit disorders.

Unique Challenges Facing Women with ADHD

ADHD is popularly thought of as a boy’s mental condition, and although it is diagnosed two to four times more often in boys than girls, with up to 3% of the global population of children having ADHD, that still makes for a lot of girls with ADHD.

What happens to those girls with ADHD when they become adults with ADHD if much of the focus is on men with ADHD? That is the concern of Terry Matlen, ACSW who is a psychotherapist, consultant, writer and coach, specializing in adult attention deficit disorders.

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Treating ADHD: More than Medication

Treating ADHD: More than Medication

ADHD is a genetic, neurobiological disorder characterized by disregulation of attention, not an inability to pay attention as is commonly thought. In other words, adults and children living with ADHD are able to focus, but they cannot control when they focus. Laura MacNiven, an ADHD coach and our guest on this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, explains that urgency activates the ability to focus, pointing out that adults with ADHD work well under pressure. In fact, she says, “If it’s harnessed appropriately it can help you. If not, it can hurt you.” Treating ADHD according to the individual’s needs and degree of symptom severity using a variety of approaches often makes a big difference in how disruptive ADHD is or isn’t in the lives of those living with it. ADHD coaching can be a vital part of that treatment.

What Is ADHD Coaching?

laura_macnivenLaura MacNiven, M.Ed. is the Director of Health Education at Springboard, an innovative ADHD clinic that combines medical and educational services to assess and treat focusing challenges in youth and adults. Treating ADHD, she says, often involves a combination of medication and ADHD coaching. As an ADHD coach, she works with individuals and families to explore and identify physical, social, emotional and academic/vocational areas of need.

Laura joined us on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show to discuss the unique challenges ADHD presents and how ADHD coaching can substantially improve the lives of those with it. Successfully living with ADHD isn’t just about medication. Watch and learn more about what an ADHD coach does, and how one might be able to help you.

Video on ADHD Coaching

Watch our video interview with Laura MacNiven as she talks about treating ADHD and her work as an ADHD coach on How An ADHD Coach Can Help You.

You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.

Share Your ADHD Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with ADHD? How do you navigate the challenges of living with ADHD? Is ADHD coaching a part of your treatment plan? What other tools do you use to manage your ADHD symptoms? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on treating ADHD. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Adult ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment: Why Things Can Go Wrong

Adult ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment: Why Things Can Go Wrong

Some doctors and mental health professionals know just enough to be dangerous.

“When my doctor entered the exam room he asked me ‘How are you doing?’ I reviewed my experience with him for a minute or two. He then began to tell me how important it is to balance the side effects with the clinical effects of the drug. I sort of watched him speaking, wondering what he was getting at. Then he explained how I will need to take ‘drug holidays’, and that I ‘can’t be on this forever’. So then I began to wonder if he thought Strattera was a stimulant medication. I have close to zero faith in my family doctor’s knowledge about ADHD.”

“I told him that I had read ‘drug holidays’ are no longer recommended to patients who take stimulant medications. And I said either way, it didn’t apply to me as Strattera is a non-stimulant medication. I didn’t even bring up his ‘forever’ comment – I was thinking instead about what my new doctor will be like, the one I intend to switch to from this idiot.” – From Mungo’s Adult ADHD blog

Doctors, Therapists Acting Like They Know Everything About Mental Health

While there are many good, educated doctors and mental health professionals practicing today, there are also many who haven’t read a journal in their field or gone to a professional conference in years. Then you have others who have only a cursory knowledge of adult ADHD (or name your psychological disorder), but pretend like they are experts.

As a patient, it’s difficult enough to get an accurate adult ADHD diagnosis from a competent mental health professional, so imagine what happens when you go to someone who isn’t.  Not only can you get an incorrect diagnosis, but now you’re turning to this person for treatment of adult ADHD!

Incompetent Doctors, Mental Health Professionals Equals Poor Adult ADHD Treatment Outcomes

Veteran journalist, Gina Pera, is the author of the award-winning book Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?, a comprehensive guide to understanding Adult ADHD, especially evidence-based treatment strategies. A long-time advocate and expert in the area of Adult ADHD, Pera claims many doctors aren’t using evidenced-based treatment practices to the detriment of adult ADHD patients who depend on them.

What is Evidenced-Based Treatment?

It’s a phrase that’s starting to make the rounds in psychological circles, especially among consumer mental health advocates. Evidence-based treatment is just that, treatment based on outcomes from scientific studies that shows a certain treatment works best for a specific group of people.

In the mental health field, especially, there are doctors and mental health professionals who diagnose and treat patients based on their own personal experiences with a psychological disorder or from anecdotal evidence. In other words “it worked for me, so it will work for you.” Or, “I heard other doctors are doing this, I’ll do this too.” That’s a lot different than following established clinical practice guidelines. For instance, here are the Guidelines For Diagnosing ADHD in Children and ADHD Treatment Guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In our interview with Ms. Pera, we delve into this further and discuss how you find a competent professional to diagnose and treat adult ADHD. You’ll want to watch it. It’s an enlightening interview.

Gina Pera: How and Why I Got Involved with ADHD?

gina-pera-adhdMy foray into the field of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) began by chance. In 1999, my eclectic reading habits led me to pick up an interesting-looking library book about the brain. What I read radically changed my life, my husband’s life, and, eventually, thousands of other lives through my advocacy efforts and then my own pioneering book.

In that library book, I read about a fascinating syndrome called Adult ADHD, and sensed I’d suddenly stumbled upon a clue why, as much as we loved each other, my then-fiancee and I were driving each other nuts! I showed the book to my husband, a neurogeneticist who fortunately had the deep knowledge base by which to vouch for the authenticity of the material. “Doesn’t this sound like you as a kid?” I asked him. “And, well, doesn’t it sound like you now?” He agreed. And off we went to navigate our mental healthcare maze. Who knew it would be so hard for a highly trained scientist and a well-read journalist to do this successfully?

It’s not enough to say that I was stunned at the widespread ignorance about ADHD, including among mental health professionals. Frankly, I was outraged. There is quite enough suffering in the world that cannot be prevented. The suffering that comes from unrecognized ADHD is not one of them. We have a strong knowledge base about ADHD. We have good ADHD treatment strategies. All we lack is more people willing to step into the 21st Century. And that includes physicians, who far too often do not give ADHD treatment the respect it deserves as a highly complex condition.

Deciding to put to use my background as a print journalist, I became a very persevering advocate for better awareness and evidence-based treatment standards—by lecturing, blogging, writing articles, and leading discussion groups in Silicon Valley and online.

After a few years, the need became clear for a comprehensive nuts-and-bolts guide to Adult ADHD, especially as it affects relationships. A guide not only to understanding Adult ADHD symptoms but also the “emotional baggage” that comes with late-diagnosis — baggage carried by both partners in the relationship because for so many years they had no explanation for their challenges.

I also strove to provide readers with a consumers guide to Adult ADHD treatment strategies — the particulars that all the other books on Adult ADHD lacked, such as the therapy to seek (and avoid), the medication protocol that so few prescribing physicians seemed to know about (and perhaps that’s why so many people had unnecessary side effects), and, that big deal breaker: how to get through a loved one’s “denial.”

That’s why I wrote Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D? And that’s why I conduct workshops and speak at conferences internationally. Especially in hard economic times, people with ADHD and their families need solid strategies to keep them afloat.

Soon, I will be completing The ADHD Roller Coaster Guide to Sleep, because this is one of the top health and cognitive challenges among people with Adult ADHD.

Share Your Experiences

Have you been to a doctor or mental health professional who seemingly didn’t know what they were doing when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

Watch our ADHD video interview with Gina Pera on Why Some ADHD Adults Get Poor Treatment.

And here’s the table of contents for all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

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Living with Adult ADHD and Depression

Living with Adult ADHD and Depression

(Ed. Note: This post was written by Douglas Cootey, our guest on the Dec. 15, 2009, HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on Adult ADHD and Depression. Watch the interview by clicking the on-demand button on the player.)

My name is Douglas Cootey. I’m a 42 year old stay-at-home dad on disability and I have had ADHD all my life. When I was three weeks old, if a parent placed a finger in both of my hands I would brace my legs against them and stand up. My head would flop around, but up I’d be. Performing this trick for my pediatrician introduced my parents to the world of ADHD in the 60s. Back then, it was referred to as hyperkinesis. By third grade, I was taking ritalin daily except weekends to help me in my studies. Before that, I had spent large amounts of time banished to the library room for wiggling in class.

Depression didn’t manifest itself until I was around 15 years old. A day trip to Boston Children’s Hospital to investigate my moodiness, sleep paralysis, and insomnia yielded only an IQ quotient and that I was hyperkinetic, something I already knew. That was 1983. Eight years later, I was married and struggling with college. It was then that I sought out help and was diagnosed with depression. To treat both my ADHD and my depression I took Desoxyn and Zoloft. For three weeks, I was incredibly productive, but the Desoxyn added a new problem into my life. A small percentage of people taking it develop Tourette’s Syndrome. I was one of the lucky few. Because I stopped taking the medicine, I didn’t develop full blown Tourette’s, but the damage had been done. I was neurologically disabled for life with a Chronic Motor Tic Disorder. It was 1992, and I was only 25.

Impact of Adult ADHD and Depression

How this affected me was profound. Besides low self-esteem, a lack of focus, and a third major in as many schools—all due to my ADHD—I now ticked uncontrollably when fatigued or anxious. I withdrew from society and friends. If I thought I had been moody before, this new kink in my life spawned a dark depression full of suicidal ideation and self-loathing that lasted four years. I kept my self-esteem locked away in the basement of my life. (Read-Impact of ADHD on Adults)

Being disabled and having kids meant that my wife worked and I was the care taker. This turned out to be a benefit. My daughters’ unconditional love made me face an uncomfortable fact: I was loved, I mattered, and my daughters and wife needed me. Coupled with therapy and a realization that my depression altered my perception of events around me, I began to train myself to think positively—to enforce optimism where I wouldn’t have before. Opportunities that I had turned a blind eye to before began to present themselves to me. I also began to like myself by using self-deprecating humor. This was the beginning of a ten-year long battle.

Psychotropic medicines didn’t work for me, so I had to train myself to rethink how I processed the world. I reasoned to myself that if my mind steered me into depression, then I could steer myself out of it. First, I learned to recognize when I was depressed (quite a feat to be sure) and then began to find ways to offset it. Soon, months of depression became weeks, and over the years the bouts of depression shorted to days, then hours. What I discovered on my own we now refer to as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, something I am a strong advocate of today.

Nowadays, I blog about my attempts to master my mental health with attitude and cheek, while pursuing my desires to be a novelist, all while running four beautiful girls around Salt Lake County (Blog-A Splintered Mind). My ticking has progressively worsened, but I force myself out more than ever before in the past 17 years. Depression flares up from time to time, but I manage it. ADHD lurks in the background like my own personal Loki, pulling the rug out from under me, but I laugh. Life is tough, then I move on—just like everybody else. I have been to the dark place of my mind and will not return there again. Now, perhaps, my experience will help others avoid that dark place as well.

Helpful Links:

(Ed. Note: This post was written by Douglas Cootey, our guest on the Dec. 15, 2009, HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on Adult ADHD and Depression.)

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Adult ADHD and Depression – Dec. 15

Adult ADHD and Depression – Dec. 15

Like most psychiatric disorders, Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) doesn’t travel alone.  As HealthyPlace Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, mentions in this week’s blog post, many adults with ADHD also suffer with depression, substance abuse and other conditions.

There are two types of depression that can exist with ADHD; primary and secondary depression.  The risk for primary depression seems to be inherited and doesn’t need any specific circumstances, like a job loss or relationship breakup, to make its appearance.  Major depression tends to run in families.

In other cases, depression arising as a direct consequence of the difficulties of living with ADHD is said to be secondary to ADHD.  As you can imagine, many children with ADHD grow up with poor self-esteem and in their later years come to accept the idea they are lazy and stupid.  This especially applies to those who weren’t correctly diagnosed or treated for ADHD in childhood.  It’s no wonder that as adults, they are suffering with depression too.

Living with ADHD and Depression: Our Guest

Douglas Cootey writes an insightful blog on the subject entitled A Splintered Mind.  He’s a 42-year old stay-at-home dad caring for four girls.  Living with ADHD and depression makes it difficult for him to work. His illnesses are complicated by the fact that early on, he was given Desoxyn to help treat his ADHD and depression. A rare side-effect of the stimulant, Desoxyn, is Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, similar to Tourette Syndrome.  He has that too.

The effect of all this on his life has been profound. It took 10-years, but Douglas, who has developed a keen sense of humor, has found some helpful ways of coping.  We’ll be discussing those on Tuesday’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

About the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show

The HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show airs live every Tuesday night at 5:30 pm PST, 7:30 pm CST, and 8:30 pm EST. Our guest will be taking your personal questions.

If you miss the live show on Adult ADHD and Depression it can be watched here.

Share Your Experiences with ADHD and Depression

We also invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience with depression and ADHD. What has it been like for you? What brought on the depression and how has it complicated your life with ADHD? Treatment-wise, what has and hasn’t worked for you? (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Medicating Your ADHD Child: April 7

Medicating Your ADHD Child: April 7

The National Institutes of Health has estimated that between 3-5 percent of all children suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) . The diagnosis of ADHD has never been without controversy. The discussion often focuses on the drugs used to most commonly treat the disorder, which are amphetamine derivatives. These drugs act non-specifically, which some point to as a problem in and of itself. These prescription stimulant drugs for ADHD also carry a risk of abuse and addiction . If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, how do you decide if you should medicate your child?

Our topic for this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV show , airing live on our website, April 7th (5:30p PT, 7:30 CT, 8:30 ET), is “The Pros and Cons of Medicating Your ADHD Child”. While the decision to medicate your child for ADHD is extremely personal and best discussed with your child’s physician, we hope the show and HealthyPlace.com’s Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, will give you several key points to consider when facing the decision (read Dr. Croft’s blog post on treating ADHD children ).

Joining Dr. Croft on our show is Kristy. Kristy is a mother of three. She was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. Kristy made the decision to take ADHD medication for her disorder, but when her oldest son, Connor, was diagnosed with ADHD, she decided NOT to medicate him. Kristy has several interesting reasons for her decisions that she’ll be sharing with us during the first half of the show.

During the second half, you’ll have the opportunity to ask Dr. Croft any mental health question you have in the popular ‘ask Dr. Croft’ portion of the show (just type it on the chat screen or email me). You can also participate in the show by creating a youtube video and emailing me: Producer AT healthyplace.com . I enjoy hearing all your comments and questions and I look forward to your participation!

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