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Mental Health Treatment - Parenting Child with Mental Iillness

Can you teach self-regulation to children with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) when the inability to self-regulate emotions is the hallmark of the disorder? Anything and everything seems to trigger emotional meltdowns. What can we do as parents and caregivers, especially when we feel so frazzled ourselves? A few strategies for teaching self-regulation for children with DMDD do exist.
The transition from your teen's inpatient psychiatric care facility to home can mark an exciting change for your child. However, without a detailed plan for her transition, leaving inpatient psychiatric care can exacerbate her mental illness issues. Creating a solid plan for the transition period after your teen's inpatient psychiatric care can help your child be a success as she transitions back into regular life (Coping with Life After Residential Mental Health Treatment).
Putting a child in residential psychiatric care is one of the hardest decisions a parent has to make. Five years ago, I put my teenager into a residential psychiatric care facility for a year. Housing my child out of my home and in a residential mental health treatment center was a very painful decision that probably saved—and definitely changed—my child’s life.
The main symptom of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is chronic irritability. "Irritability" is a vague word, though. It doesn't adequately describe how angry and mean our kids with DMDD can get or how demoralizing it feels. As parents, we work hard to raise decent human beings, then a DMDD outburst erupts and that decency seemingly flies out the door.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), spotlighting the fact that every year "approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner," according to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project. Awareness of violence in teen and 20-something dating is an important key to turning these statistics around, especially in teens with mental illness, yet three out of four parents never talk to their children about domestic violence. As parents of mentally ill children, it is vital that we address this issue and speak to our teens about dating violence and what to do.
At 18, when our mentally ill children are no longer minors, it is important to encourage them to waive their privacy rights through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and allow parents to participate on their mental health team. To assure that adult children waive their privacy rights, parents need to develop a relationship of trust.
My daughter just graduated from a year of shock therapy for major depressive disorder (electroconvulsive therapy [ECT]). It gave her life back. Her severe major depressive disorder had stopped her from functioning in life and kept the threat of suicide lingering over her like a vulture waiting to pounce. Yet, today, a year after beginning shock therapy, she has finished her college program, gotten a job and is socializing and taking care of herself with a kind of sparkle that had once seemed impossible. Shock therapy for my daughter's major depressive disorder created a miracle for her.
For two years I refused to even consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for my severely depressed daughter. After all, I saw those 1950s movies—I saw those patients emerge zombie-like with no memory. But then my daughter’s life became so bleak we had no choice but to try electroconvulsive therapy, and I’ve kicked myself for letting her suffer so long.
My daughter and I have a mental health safety contract. She violated the conditions of the contract, and I had to call the police. Since my daughter and I have used mental health safety contracts since she was a teenager, we both understood the rules. By having a mental health safety contract, I took what could have been a volatile, extended fight with my adult child with bipolar disorder and turned it into a straightforward contractual arrangement. It made a difficult situation easier.
According to our emergency plan for mental health crises, I had to call the police. After melting down for an hour, my daughter with bipolar disorder had locked herself in the bathroom threatening to kill herself. Knowing the signs of suicide, my daughter and I (with the help of her therapist) had created a safety contract—she violated it by locking herself away from me—I had to call according to the emergency plan for mental health crises.
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