Friday, July 15, 2011

Do I need counseling?

Sometimes it's hard to know when it's time to see professional help for a mental health issue. For some problems, it may be adequate to read some books, do some research, and try to fix mental health or relational problems on your own. But if you've come to a point where you've tried and tried, or you feel like you are not sure where to turn, it may be time to enlist the help of a counselor. Even with problems that may seem simple, it can be extremely helpful to have an outside party give some perspective and guidance.

But how can you tell if you have a really serious problem that almost always requires the help of a professional? Here are some warning signs to look for:

* Suicidal - the person makes comments or shows signs of being suicidal

* The person is no longer able to function in one or more areas of their lives, including their personal or professional roles

*The person feels very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks and it's not due to bereavement

*Overwhelming fear for no reason that comes on all of a sudden. This is often accompanied by a racing heart beat or heavy breathing.

*Severe behavior that puts the person and/or others in harm's way. This may include violence or risk taking

*Not eating, throwing up, or taking laxatives to lose weight

*Intense worry or fear that gets in the way of living life normally

*Difficulty staying still or concentrating which impacts work or school negatively

*Frequent intoxication from drugs or alcohol

*Severe mood swings that interfere with work or relationships

*Drastic changes in personality

*Any behavior that causes a major life crisis, such as divorce, school failure, physical violence, etc.

Monday, July 11, 2011

ADD and ADHD - the myths and facts explored

Is it possible that you or a loved one has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?  First of all, allow me to dispel a common myth.  ADD/ADHD is not simply a problem of not being able to focus.  It's much more complicated than that.  It's more like a syndrome that affects your ability to manage your focus.  So while those with ADD/ADHD may have a hard time focusing, they may also have a hard time stopping an activity they are really interested in.  Another major part of ADD/ADHD that many don't realize is the short term and working memory problems.  Things are easily forgotten and lost, and it is hard to hold information in the brain long enough to work out problems.  This is why many with ADD/ADHD have problems working out complex problems, reading, thinking about consequences, learning from mistakes and punishment, etc.  This is related to their executive function deficits, which make them impulsive, unorganized, irresponsible, and poor at planning.  One author described ADD/ADHD as a condition that rendered you unable to be affected by your past or future, but only by the present.  That is why those with ADHD/ADD may 'do the easy, fun thing' in the moment, and not think about consequences or outcomes. Fortunately, this condition has been extensively studied and written about, and there are many things that can be done to help those with ADD/ADHD compensate for their shortcomings.  If you would like to make an online appointment with me, please feel free to email me.  I offer online and telephone counseling to give suggestions about how to better manage ADD/ADHD.  For more information, visit