Sunday, September 11, 2011

5 Things Happy People do Naturally

Several years ago I read a book by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a positivity psychologist and researcher. Her book, The How of Happiness (2008), suggests a number of things that happy people do instinctively. The 12 things she suggests actually increase an individual's level of happiness. Although all 12 suggestions are wonderful, I picked out my favorite five. If these peak your interest, check out her book or blog.

1.Be More Optimistic: We all know those people that truly do make lemons out of lemonade all the time. Sometimes they make us crazy when we are struggling to find the sunshine in the recent hurricane. But what Dr Lyubomirsky found is that people that are optimistic most of the time can genuinely spin their failures into life lessons. Optimistic individuals understand that often failures are open doors that we may not understand until in the future when we look back and realize that if it had not been for that job loss, break up, disastrous event, these other amazing thing would not have happened. Steve Jobs speaks about this very issue in his commencement address to Stanford University in 2005. He explains that "it is impossible to connect the dots looking forwards, you can only connect them looking backwards."

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People. When you start to compare yourself with anyone (positively or negatively) it will ultimately be disastrous. If we focus on being "better" than someone we are coming from a point of ego and superiority. If we assume we are not as good as someone else, we often exaggerate our failures and minimize the things we have done well. This happens because we feel we aren't as perfect as we should be. If you don't remember much about this post, please remember this: NO ONE IS PERFECT! And there will always be someone that knows more or less than you. But that has nothing to do with what your goal in life is. Focus on how you have grown and changed in your lifetime - you are the only person you should compare yourself to!

 3. Express Your Gratitude. When I was actively involved in Al anon (a 12-step support group for friends/loved ones of Alcoholics) we had an exercise called a Gratitude List. Every night before bed I wrote a list of five things that I had been grateful for on that day. Even if the day had been total crap, I forced myself to write in my journal about five people, experiences, or moments that I was grateful for. On those really hard days, I might just write down the names of five people in my life that I loved, or that loved me. Sometimes I had to pull really hard to think of things. But as many great people have said, sometimes you need to fake it until you can make it. So I started to look for good moments during the day, instead of waiting until night time and looking back. If I made it to an appointment on time, I'd remember and write it down. I stopped trying to be grateful for the huge things that weren't appearing at that time (like winning the lottery or marrying Prince Charming) and focused on each little moment that connected the bigger moments in my life. By writing it down before I went to sleep each night, I found I went to sleep with a sense of peace and positivity. And with each passing day I became more grateful for the little things and didn't notice that I was lacking the big things.

4.Practice Random Acts of Kindness. We've all seen the bumper stickers about practicing random acts of kindness. But how many times do you actually do it? Lyubomirsky has discovered that when you do something kind and random (like paying the toll for the person behind you or buying coffee for a stranger) there is a chemical reaction in your brain. It releases Serotonin - the "happy, feel good" neurotransmitter solution that is adjusted in all of those anti depressants that are SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Dr Sonja is suggesting that the "pay it forward" concept really does make you happy. So when you are feeling down in the dumps in the line at Starbucks, offer to pay for a cup of coffee for the person in the line behind you. Times are tight; you don't have to buy the expensive Venti with extra shots and whipped cream, but buy them a cup of regular coffee. You never know, maybe they will sit down and share it with you. And maybe, just maybe, they will pay it forward like Jonathan Stark did. Oh, make sure you see how Mr. Stark's experiment was shut down before you head to Starbucks!

5. Forgiveness: Learning to forgive the people in our lives that have hurt us is vital to living a happy life.This makes a lot of psychological sense to me. Unhappy people are often harboring grudges. When you don't release your grudges it's like carrying around a large, heavy, bag of emotional bricks - all day every day. Not only are you exhausted (it takes a lot of energy to carry all of that rage and disappointment) but when you are angry with someone you are focusing a lot of energy on that person or the situation you were put in. But more than likely, you are only punishing yourself. The individual that you feel wronged or hurt you has probably emotionally moved on and isn't wasting time worrying about what happened to you. So, who is being hurt by the anger? Only you.

But remember, releasing anger, living in a place of happiness is a journey that isn't begun and completed by reading an article. Life is a journey, not a destination. Every time you get upset, or can't let go of something someone did to you, don't beat yourself up. There isn't a race to find bliss. Take it a step at a time. Hopefully, with each day that passes you can become calmer, more at peace, gentler, and happier.

So what are the things that you do that help you to let go of your anger or pain? Please leave comments about the things that help you crawl out of an abyss of anger and hopelessness. You never know when your comment will help someone struggling with the same issue (remember Tip number 4 - Random Acts of Kindness).

Until later...Dr Karen signing off and looking forward to your comments and thoughts!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hypnosis Finally Awakens the Health Community

Photo by Adrein Van Leen

Just stare into the flickering candle...or my swinging watch...close your eyes and take a deep breath and begin to focus on the sound of my voice...

All of these are ways someone might begin a hypnotic induction.

For 8 years before going to graduate school I studied and worked as a Hypnotherapist. I spent hours a day helping people quit smoking (I had a success rate of 90%), lose weight (um, my success rate was not great with weight loss), deal with stress, and help with pain of Childbirth, Chronic Illness/Chronic Pain. I also helped individuals that were having flashbacks from childhood abuse put the pieces together on what they were remembering. I loved it, but eventually got bored of working with smokers every day. I adored helping the abuse victims with their memory blocks, but I was ethically unable to do the interesting work - which was helping them to understand the psychology of what they remembered under Hypnosis: that was left to the Licensed Ph.D.'s. So I went back to school to get a Ph.D. so I could be able to use Hypnosis as a tool with the Gestalt Therapy I was studying.

I found that back in the 90's people were still under the belief that Hypnosis was something scary and evil. I had problems with some Christians who believed that this technique was opening their mind to Satan. I got around that pickle by allowing them to pray before we began (prayer actually puts your brain in an "alpha brain wave" state - which Hypnosis does- so they actually got themselves into self-Hypnosis before I even said a word!).

I had worked as a volunteer at a Hospice and offered to use my skills with patients or family members (for free) to help with the stress of having a loved one die. The Hospice I worked at was too afraid of the technique at the time (this was in the 80's) even though in California they were using it a lot in Hospices. But I was in Cincinnati and as Mark Twain once said, "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always 20 years behind the times."

It is now 2011 and I have a private practice in Colorado. I don't do as much hypnosis as I used to - usually when I have a sexual abuse victim that wants to remember specific details or if someone is having panic attacks then I will make a CD or MP3 with a hypnotic induction (by the way, WARNING - SHAMELESS PLUG, if you are interested in a Stress Management session, sign up for my MONTHLY NEWSLETTER on the <---- side, and you will get a link to be able to listen to or download a 25 minute session to help your stress - a $100 value, FOR FREE!).

Well, I digress.... today, I picked up my iPad and the first article that I saw was one on MSNBC. It told the story of a woman who had struggled with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for years. It was so severe she was unable to leave her home. She began working with a Hypnotic CD to help with the symptoms of IBS. Bingo! She isn't cured, but she is much better. When she has pain, she uses the CS and feels less pain within "15 minutes."

It's 2011, why has it taken so long to get good press about hypnosis?  And what IS hypnosis anyway?
What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural state of focused attention. The APA (American Psychological Association Division 30) gives a very brief description of what Hypnosis actually is:
"Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion for using one's imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure is used to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Persons can also learn self-hypnosis, which is the act of administering hypnotic procedures on one's own. If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it is generally inferred that hypnosis has been induced."

OK, now you know WHAT hypnosis actually is (not as scary as you thought, I hope!). Many people want to know exactly what is happening to your brain when you are in a state of hypnosis. In order to explain that we need to learn a bit about brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta (See they aren't only Fraternities or Sororities!)

Beta is the state we are in most of the day. It is when we are completely alert, wide-awake and interacting (your brain waves are functioning at 15-40 cycles per second -"cps"during Beta). Alpha occurs when you are in a state of light relaxation, daydreaming, praying, meditating, and sometimes in a very light state of hypnosis (brain waves: 9-14 cps). Theta is common during REM sleep, dreaming, and very deep Hypnosis (5-8 cps). Delta occurs during deep sleep and unconsciousness (1.5 - 4 cps). So as you can see, you pass through the Alpha and Theta states (light and deep hypnosis) every day when you fall asleep and when you awaken in the morning.

During Alpha and Theta States your body is very relaxed but your brain has created a bridge from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind. This is why someone often can remember their hypnotic sessions, but has a strong desire, or compulsion, to quit smoking. Their subconscious mind also gives them a message that "makes sense" to let go of a
nxiety or phobias, as well as many other issues. Their mind is open to accepting Post Hypnotic Suggestions that they WANT to accept. If they really DON'T want to quit smoking or lose weight, then they won't.

TRUTH OR FICTION: Myths About Hypnosis

1. The hypnotist will have complete control over you during the session.
Fiction. When you are in a state of hypnosis you will not do anything that you wouldn't normally do in a waking state. So if you wouldn't normally quack like a duck, dance around taking your clothing off, or do anything embarrassing you won't do it under hypnosis. You have to WANT to do something in order for it to work in Hypnosis.Many individuals have seen a Stage Hypnotists "cause" individuals to dance around on act foolishly. Please note that many times these individuals have been specifically chosen by the hypnotists. They are chosen because of their extroverted personality (often the "class clown" type), possibly because they have had a few drinks and are loosened up, and during the exercises before the hypnotist does his show, he is putting people into light states of hypnosis. If someone doesn't respond, the hypnotist pulls them off the stage. S/he realizes these people won't make good subjects. And the most important thing to realize is every time you go into hypnosis you go deeper and faster. So by the time the real show starts the subjects have gone up and down multiple times so they will be able to go much deeper by the time the show has them do the harder things (like becoming stiff like a board). Please remember, it's about WHO was chosen. Many of these people would do a lot of these things without being hypnotized.

2. During Hypnosis you will reveal secrets or do things that you will regret.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Just because you are hypnotized it doesn't mean that you are under a "spell" or truth serum. You are aware of what is being asked of you. You will hear what is going on, and you are ALWAYS in full control. This is why Hypnotically Recalled Testimony is not always allowed in a court case. Depending on how you interview someone you can interject images or situations that didn't occur. One of the ways we help you quit smoking is to have you visualize yourself doing things that normally would have triggered a desire for a cigarette except you "see" yourself doing the activity without smoking. Now these visualizations did not happen, It is not in your memories. But I have suggested it to empower your subconscious mind to see your life as a non-smoker. But in a court case this can be dangerous (for all the obvious reasons).

Where did this rumor come about? I believe that TV and Movies have given individuals this impression. Someone is hypnotized and then walks around, arms straight out in front of them, eyes open, and the next thing you know they have a gun and are shooting someone, they drop the gun, "wake up" and are shocked to realize that someone they love or know has just been THEM! If you would not normally shoot this person  in the Beta Waking State, you aren't going to do that in the Alpha or Theta States!

3.Hypnosis is part of a cult.
Absolutely not! Technically you pass through a Hypnotic State (or an Alpha or Theta State) every day when you start to wake up, you hear the alarm but you are not quite awake yet. You also go through it every night before you go to bed. Highway Hypnosis occurs when you drive down the highway and suddenly you realize you passed a bunch of exits and don't remember driving past them! Technically, you were in an alpha state - you weren't completely alert (brain waves in BETA) but you weren't totally asleep (Brain waves in Delta or Theta). You were just "zoned out." Like when you meditate or pray. There are no wands, wizards or scary stuff in Hypnosis. It is just a technique to help you utilize your subconscious mind to help you attain the goals or changes you want to make in your life.

4. People who are hypnotizable are weak.
Wrong again. Actually, people that are very bright and strong willed make the BEST candidates for hypnosis. Hypnosis is about following instructions. All I do is talk to you and tell you to "relax parts of your body “or "Imagine X or Y". If you are strong willed, and WANT to quit smoking, or eliminate a habit you don't like, you will be very motivated, therefor you will want to do what I am asking you to do in order to feel more in control of your life.

So, back to the woman with the IBS: if you want to learn more about her case go to this article in MSNBC. If you want more information on Hypnosis, or what I actually do during a hypnotic induction, leave me a message and I will write more about how hypnosis can help you and things to ask a Hypnotherapist before you book an appointment.

The bottom line is that hypnosis has been around for a very long time. It can be beneficial for a multitude of situations, but it isn't magic. And often you need more than one session. I usually record sessions for my patients so they can work with the CD before they go to sleep at night. But no hypnosis is 100% successful. Sometimes you need to sort out why you have the phobia or anxiety so that when you remove it (such as biting your nails) you don't end up with another stress reliever (like eating, or twisting your hair!). So sometimes this needs to be dealt with either a post hypnotic suggestions to NOT create another stress symptom or by doing regressive hypnosis to discover WHY you are doing the behavior you are.

The next blog will briefly go over the basics of a Hypnotic Induction (or at least how I do it!). Stay tuned and don't forget to sign up to get that free hypnotic session. If you want the session but just aren't interested in the Psychological Newsletter just send me your email and I will send you a link to the MP3.

Thanks for reading.

This is Dr Karen, once again, signing off...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Social Media Guilt

I know, I know...I haven't posted in weeks! Don't feel completely blown out of the water, I am behind on ALL of my social media!. Keeping up with Social Media alone is a full time job. There is Facebook (my business page, I don't even remember if I HAVE a personal page!), Twitter, 2 Blogs, G+ ( the new kid in town), a Newsletter that I don't have a lot of people signing up for (sigh), and my new website. Yes, I am making a new business website that I thought would be a snap. Until I realized that it would NOT be because I wasn't making it on iWeb again. I decided to join the big shrinks and (take a deep breath now...) do it on WORDPRESS to make it look more professional.

If you are reading this, it probably means you may be blogging on Blogger and that is how you found me. If you are on Blogger you made a choice to be here. It's quick. Easy. And you don't need to know code. Wordpress is none of the above. It is difficult, slow, and you can do it without code, but you don't get a very creative website.

I found a theme (which of course was NOT free)  which is easIER (not simple of course) than the typical WP themes. But it has taken up a HUGE amount of my time and I am not finished yet.

So I have spent a HUGE amount of time working on the new and (hopefully) improved website, as well as helping my darling daughter with her IB project on The Girl Effect (which means I am macraming my arthritic fingers to the bone to make bracelets, necklaces, and the occasional lanyard. All made with hemp and expensive beads!

"What does this have to to with ignoring The Couch Trip", you ask? Well what happens when you are trying to build (or in my case REbuild) a business - every article you read includes two words:
 Excessive and CONSISTENT involvement in Social Media is the ONLY way to market any more (I know-what ever happened to running a paper ad?). And you can't just do one, you have to be actively involved in it all...Facebook Business Page, Twitter, Newsletters, Blogging, Google+ (which I love btw - it is kind of like Facebook for Grownups), LinkedIn, and a whole host of others that I have dropped the ball on and am not involved in.

When real life occurs, or I have patients, or I'm being a Mom, or a Web Site Developer, how do I keep up?

I have been "silent" on my Facebook business page for about a week. I checked my impressions : (FB can tell who has read your post, where it went, how many people shared or liked it, and practically WHERE they were when they read it!) I posted yesterday. ONE person read it. ONE!

Now I probably should have written a Mea Culpa or at least told them I was on hiatus building a site and macraming but everyone else seems to be able to juggle a job, single parenting, and writing copy for 4 or 5 different social media sites, why can't I?

I've thought about this a lot. Because while I have been struggling to create an amazing shrink-site, I realized the cost. I may have to start completely over on Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter to rebuild an audience. Not to mention if I don't get another newsletter cranked out soon there may be a full blown mutiny!

Or, perhaps I over estimate my existence...maybe no one even noticed I was off line for a while?

When did Social Media take over our lives? Remember that woman that was in jail for playing a game on Facebook and got so involved that her child drowned! Have you ever been busy with life that you couldn't tweet or blog? What happens? Do people write and ask if you are OK or do they blow you off? And does it make a difference if you are doing this for fun, or as a marketing tool. Now for me, it is kinda for BOTH. I love writing. I used to have a blog when I was very sick. I wrote about Knitting as an escape from Lupus and extensive hospital visits. But is it becoming excessive (and yet this shrink is CONSTANTLY preaching from her Shrink Chair about SHADES OF GREY! "It's not Black or White...look for the GREY!" )?

Physician heal thyself!

So are YOU involved in Social Media? In ALL of it or just one piece? For fun or business? And what happens when life interferes? How do YOU deal with it? In order for me to write or tweet about something behind the scenes, that 140 character blurb equals an hour of reading articles to find one that is worthy of people reading, and I have to sum it up in 125 characters + the link to the article. And if you are posting different places you can't just post the same thing every where - you need to be creative, post different places (more reading, sorting, deciding, summarizing).

It all reminds me of the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Ann Hathaway is standing in Meryl Streep's office wearing a "lumpy blue sweater." Meryl gives Ann a brutal  lecture on how many hours and dollars went into creating that ugly blue sweater, which was chosen for her by the people in that very room they stood in as Ann snickered about thinking she was so above this "fashion" thing.

Oh, if you want the link for Macrame Bracelets (many made by this very shrink) go to: Smoky Hill Girl Effect.   I know, a shameless plug.

Until I can get another blog cranked out,

Dr Karen

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Deathly Hollows Part 2 - Not Just The End of Harry Potter

One of the very first posts I wrote for this blog was about going to see Harry Potter with my daughter. This has been a tradition between us for 10 years. We went to the first movie when she was...well I guess 6. And we fell in love. With each passing movie we went on the first day the movie was out, right after she got out of school.

For those of you that are Harry Potter fans, you are aware that the very last Harry Potter movie was released on Friday. Shelby and I went at the 10:45 am showing. Like all of the rest of the movies in the series, it was brilliant. But about 3/4 way through, when a major character dies (I don't want to give spoilers here), I started to cry. Shelby started to cry. I also noticed a lot of snurfing and blowing of noses from other people in the audience.

Now most people who saw the movies have read the books, so I would guess that seeing this character die was not unexpected. But what I realized in that moment was that it was over. This was not just the end of the series, but the end of an amazing personal adventure.

A decade of events that Shelby and I put in our calendars, counted the days for, was over.

When we walked out of the movie my darling teary, red-eyed daughter said, "I feel like my childhood has ended." Now at 16, clearly she isn't quite an adult yet, but this part of her childhood has finished. Yes, we have all of the books and CD's so we can revisit Harry, Hermione and Ron's journey whenever we want to, but I wonder if what she was referring to was that OUR part in the journey was over.

Prior to J. K.  Rowling an entire generation of kids had considered "reading a story" to be the skimming the instructions on the back of a video game box. She created a series of books that not only kids loved, but adults loved as well. And yes, there were those people that found the books morally reprehensible ("WIZARDS!"). But for the most part, those voices were drowned out by the millions of children and adults world wide that got lost in the story where good actually does finally win out.

In a world where we are surrounded by real "boggy men", abductions, school shootings, 9/11, wars, and economic terror, it was nice to be able to fall into a world created by a woman who was on welfare and struggling for her very existence. Talk about an amazing ending to HER story! She created a world that I am sure, she wished would sweep her out of her personal trauma, and in doing so she took millions of us with her.

For those hours that Shelby and I read the books or saw the movies, we could be swept up into the adventures of three children and their amazing world. We could forget our problems.

I understand the sadness that the actual Journey has finished. But that world is still there (especially with J.K. Rowling's  POTTERMORE  and all of the kids and adults writing Harry Potter Fan Fiction).

But as the books progressed we watched three children grow up and realize that things and people are not always as they seem:
 To look back at the first film now — with the unbearable Dursleys, the bullying Draco, the sardonic Snape, the gently paternal Dumbledore — is to see a movie full of broadly drawn, almost Victorian-era villains and heroes. But remember that we were seeing them through Harry’s eyes then, and those people were as a child would have seen them.
Watch the new film and you’ll see many of them from a more mature viewpoint. And you’ll realize they were often far more complicated than we, or Harry, first realized.
Because if growing up means anything at Hogwarts, it means acknowledging how little we know of people’s real problems, and potential. Ferocious werewolves may turn out to be heroes; motherly teachers may turn out to be fiends. Everyone is vulnerable to envy or despair; everyone is capable of remorse and rebirth.
Everyone, that is, except Voldemort — which is why it is only Voldemort who is finally, fully, beyond all redemption.
                                               Stephen Whitty

And as for Shelby, she and I have over a decade of memories to relive.We just need to grab our wands, close our eyes and the journey can continue if we want it to.

Remember, when you are doing things with your kids - they don't always remember the isolated over-the-top birthday party when they were 5, they will remember the journey that YOU create with them. Make it real, even if it is an imaginary journey with Wizards!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Are Children Really Bipolar?

In 1994, Psychiatrists met for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual conference. About 10 of these esteemed Psychiatrist met for a discussion on Bipolar Disorder and Children. At this time, only 2 of the psychiatrist had seen any children that might have had bipolar disorder (it was not believed that Bipolar Disorder occurred during childhood).

Fast forward three years later...same convention, same conference. The only difference? Instead of a mere 10 psychiatrist discussing Bipolar Disorder in Children, the room was packed with hundreds of Psychiatrists discussing a "new" diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder in Children.

What happened in just 3 years? And why are 60-90% of these children also diagnosed with AD/HD? Dr Stuart Kaplan, a noted psychiatrist practicing for almost 50 years questions this in an incredible article in Newsweek Magazine Online . This article was taken from his book, Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder.

According to Kaplan, in 1995 there were 20,000 outpatient visits for Bipolar Disorder in Children. By 2003 that number had gone to 800,000! Now, 1/3 of adolescents released from psychiatric institutions have received the diagnosis.

When I read about Kaplans book on Amazon, there were very few reviews (well 4 to be exact - 2 thinking he was brilliant, and 2 wanting to hang him from the nearest tree). What I wondered is if, perhaps, the parents had some how become attached to the diagnosis. FINALLY something fit their children that were out of control. I understand how that must be incredibly comforting to know "what is wrong." I hear that a lot from Adults with a chronic illness that goes undiagnosed for years. By the time they get a diagnosis, they are one step away from feeling that it is all in their head. Finally they have a name. A disease. They read everything they can, join support groups, and push for more research dollars for a cure. PLEASE do not think that I am slamming these people. I reacted the same way when I found out I had Lupus.

But, what was MORE important to me than a label, is a CORRECT label. Don't tell me I have Lupus and flush me full of drugs only to find out years later that I actually have MS and have been on all the wrong drugs, in all the wrong support groups, and have to deal with all of the emotional issues all over again (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance), and start googling for a new disease that was really the RIGHT disease all along.

I've seen these parents in my office when I worked with AD/HD kids. They were exhausted, upset, frustrated, and even in one case that I may not ever forget, terrified of their deepest, honest feelings, "I just don't think I like my child. Am I horrid?"

No, they weren't horrid - they were over the edge and needed to know who needed help- their child or them.

We see "labels du jour " all the time. In the 90's everyone's child was AD/HD. But do pre-school children really have bipolar disorder? The problem is so many symptoms of Bipolar overlap with other childhood disorders, including AD/HD ,Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Symptoms of abuse, depression, conduct disorders, and others. So why is this happening and what do you do?

Now in my humble, and often wrong opinion, I believe that Big Pharma and those cute, perky young drug reps have a lot to do with what diagnosis is trending (remember my blog that mentioned the movie Love and Other Drugs). A drug comes out, promises to fix EVERYTHING wrong with your child (or you) and they run advertisements on TV, and every magazine,so patients come in BEGGING for XYZ drug by name. 

So the bottom line is this. When your child is acting different and you go to a therapist, don't rush to get a label. Bring a list of behaviors to the appointment. DON'T try to make them fit a diagnosis that you have read about. I know that is hard, because many people are afraid their therapist will miss something vital. If this therapist immediately  believes your child needs to be filled to the brim with a lot of mood stabilizing drugs I would get a second (or third) opinion.

Make sure you are going to CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS, not therapists that work predominately with adults, but see Children. After all, no matter what is going on, therapy should be part of the treatment. And even if all of the therapists come up with the exact same diagnosis after interviewing your child several times, find someone  that your child clicks with. And child therapy means entering their world through play, so find a therapist that works with toys, sand tray work, or art therapy.

So, are children really bipolar? Maybe some... What do you think?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Positive and Negative Effects of AD/HD in Adults

Every morning a multitude of families awaken to a seemingly insurmountable battle: an onslaught of non compliance. arguments, and impulsivity from their children resultant from the simple request to get dressed for school. The battle rages on in the classroom as these children successfully alienate their teachers by perpetually blurting out verbal statements that may or may not have anything to do what is being discussed, losing or not completing assignments, failing tests and daydreaming excessively. During recess it is obvious which children have issues with impulsivity and AD/HD because they tend to miss social cues, they are bossy, demanding, and often act out physically as a desperate attempt for attention.

It was believed that ADD kids hit puberty and they outgrew the symptoms. So most pediatricians, pulled AD/HD kids off of meds around 13. For the past 20 years or so, we know that about 50% of these kids did outgrow the symptoms of AD/HD. But, 50% go on to be symptomatic throughout adulthood.

The diagnostic criteria of AD/HD is well know. Many adult ADDers have a life-long history of inattention, impulsiveness, and some struggle with hyperactivity. They often have problems staying on task, and being focused. Multiple jobs and multiple marriages often go hand in hand with AD/HD. If not diagnosed and treated during childhood, many grow up and often "self medicate" with excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs.

The symptoms that most individuals are aware of tend to be viewed as "negative" or "problematic." I'd like to suggest that perhaps some of the negative symptoms of AD/HD can actually have positive outcomes.

1. SENSITIVITY: Many AD/HD children and adults are very sensitive. I noticed when working at the Montgomery Center for AD/HD in Cincinnati, OH, that most of my ADD kids wore their heart on their sleeves. They knew that something they were doing was wrong, they just didn't know how to stop doing it! Being sensitive also allowed them to be acutely aware of details that non-ADD people missed. This was acutely aware when they were focused on other people. Because of this sensitivity, many ADD-ers are warm, loving, and compassionate.

2. CREATIVE: ADD-ers are brilliant at thinking outside of the box. They are creative, passionate, and fabulous at finding interesting and unusual solutions for problems. They are great at brainstorming because they tend to be very open minded.

3. ENTHUSIASM: Rarely are Add-ers boring ! Hyperactive people can be fun, exciting and stimulate others to be creative. They are interested in a large variety of things. They also tend to be enthusiastic. Their lively and perky minds often make them great conversationalists. They can take a conversation and run with it (and run...and run). They have a boundless energy level. When something catches their mind they can have a tremendous amount of creativity about it. They can become immersed in a project for hours (think about an AD/HD child and a video game - they can sort out all of the puzzles, move fast as lightening and not hear you as you call their name, over and over and OVER! In adults, this sense of Single Minded ability can lead to significant accomplishments or discoveries! It's a matter of getting them focused, like a laser beam, then they can break through anything in their way.

.4. INTELLIGENCE: Some people wrongly believe that AD/HD means they are stupid. This is not the case. Many individuals with AD/HD are quite gifted. They can absorb new information very quickly and thoroughly - the main caveat? They need to be INTERESTED in it! Being gifted AD/HD is probably the most difficult type to diagnose when they are children. When a child isn't terribly intelligent they tend to get caught with their impulsive pants around their ankles (ie: deciding to steal something and getting so caught up in the moment that they leave their ID at the scene!). The brighter ADD-ers know the rules and tend to be quiet so they don't call attention to themselves. This means that a lot of teacher don't complain about their behavior, so they manage to slip through the system for a while. Especially if they aren't failing classes.

5. FLEXIBILITY: AD/HD children and adults often look at a lot of options at once. This makes them more open to lots of different ideas, not stuck on one specific idea or plan at once.

6.ENERGY AND DRIVE: When motivated, ADD-ers strive very hard to succeed. They can work and play very hard.

Now 6 things may not seem like a lot but here is a list of 151 things that are rated as the Positives of having AD/HD.

Yes, you are different but so are a lot of people. So I made a list of a few people that you may know of that all had/have AD/HD.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Terry Bradshaw, Michael Phelps, Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, Michael Jordan, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Samuel Clemens, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, George Bernard Shaw,Tennessee Williams, Virginia Woolf, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Christopher Columbus, Jim Carrey, Jack Nicholson, Robin Williams, name a few!

Here is a larger list of famous people blessed with AD/HD. When you are sad and tired of being different, having to make lists and then losing the lists...then print this list out and put it up on your fridge, your mirror, or any place that you see every day if you need to feel better about yourself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Am I moody or Bipolar?

Being moody is a normal part of life. You get up this morning feeling great, even perky. You put on a short skirt (that makes you look super thin) and your favorite heels for that important meeting at work. Mid way to work it starts to rain. Your car runs over a pot hole that was filled with water and you blow out a tire. It takes AAA an hour and a half to come. Meanwhile, you have checked in at work five times giving them car status reports. By the time AAA finishes, your car (and the AAA dude) has been plummeted with hail, you have missed the meeting and are now driving like a bat out of hell to work. Every car that has slowed down for the weather makes you angrier and angrier. When you finally arrive at work you realize that you left your umbrella in the front hall closet, not expecting it to be raining. Your skirt is wet, and you can feel it shrinking tightly around your hips (suddenly you aren't feeling quite as thin as 2 hours ago).Y Your designer shoes are soaked. As get out of the elevator you run into a coworker says, "Did you take your shower AFTER you dressed this morning?"
You suddenly realize you are holding back the tears because you are so angry you want to choke someone. And I don't mean that metaphorically.

What happened? You were so happy when you woke up, and now you are wondering," could the sentence for manslaughter be THAT bad??"

This type of mood shift happens to all of us. We can wake up in one mood, and then because of a series of life events our mood can shift depending on the situation that life has thrust upon us.

Bipolar Disorder, however, is a Mood Disorder that used to be called Manic Depression. A lot of us have heard about it when celebrities have been outed or have publicly displayed symptoms of very dramatic mood shifts and behavior. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Carrie Fisher, and Linda Hamilton outed themselves. Many very creative people have also been labeled Bipolar including Virginia Woolf , Emily Dickinson and Vincent Van Gogh.

Bipolar is a chemical imbalance that affects between 4 and 6 million American Adults (2.5% of the population). Bipolar affects both genders equally and tends to run in families. This mood disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts between two moods: Mania and Depression. There is no cure and if left untreated it can be devastating: symptoms become more extreme as time passes, individual will tend to "self-medicate" via alcohol or drugs, they may even attempt or succeed at suicide.

The goal of this article is not to help you pass a Psychology Exam, but to just help you understand a bit about Bipolar Disorder. If after reading this you are concerned you or some one you care about may be Bipolar, it is best to get a professional Psychologist or Psychiatrist involved as soon as possible.

There is no test to see if someone is Bipolar so diagnosis is arrived at by using the criteria listed in the DSM-IV-TR while interviewing the individual struggling with these symptoms. Here are the symptoms for the Depressive Mood swing:
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Problems Concentrating
  • Change in Sleeping almost every day (Insomnia or Hypersomnia)
  • Change in eating or weight (5% increase or decrease)
  • Feelings of Worthlessness
  • Thoughts of Death or Suicide (with or without a plan, with or without an attempt)
The key symptoms of Mania include:
  • Increased Energy
  • Inflated Self -Esteem or Grandiosity
  • Decreased need for Sleep
  • Flight of Ideas or Racing Thoughts
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities: Shopping Sprees, Sexual Indiscretions, Foolish Business Investments
  • Distractibility
  • More Talkative than usual, Blurting, Pressure to keep talking
Some patients experience extreme Anger, Irritability, Anxiety/Worry, Pessimism, and Self-Criticism as well.

The key symptoms of a manic episode - high energy and mental activity - at first glance seems like something everyone would like to experience, especially during a very busy week. But, what goes up, must come down. And with Bipolar, coming down is dramatic and fast. Remember, when someone is bipolar there is no "in between" mood, You are UP or you are DOWN.

Optimal treatment is Medication and Psychotherapy.

Life long medication is inevitable, initially to address the presenting mood, Mania or Depression, and to stop the cycle from returning. The categories of medications that are used are Anti-Depressants (eg:Cymbalta, Lexapro, etc) , Neuroleptics or Anti Psychotics (Resperidal, Abilify and others) , and Mood Stabilizers (Lamictal, Lithium, Zyprexa to name a few).

Psychotherapy is a vital part of treatment. One focus of therapy should be on educating the patient to understanding the disorder. Learning which symptoms predict the return of symptoms so that additional "rescue" medication can be taken. Sometimes individuals stop the meds when they are asymptomatic thinking they are "cured." Therapy can offer the patients a safe place to talk about their mood swings and medication and how they are impacting their life. They are also helped with coping and social skills that are impacted, so they can navigate their private and public worlds more effectively. Some patients also struggle with symptoms of paranoia - a good therapist can help the patient determine when they are buying into their symptoms or when there is a reason for them to feel as if something is really wrong. Therapy can help focus on behaviors that exacerbate stress, help with relationships to reduce the strain that the illness puts upon loved ones, and helps identify and modify certain behaviors that accompany this disorder.

Support groups are also very helpful. Patients can meet people that really understand what they are dealing with. As with many illness, individuals with bipolar can tend to isolate. By joining a group of people all struggling with similar symptoms can help to learn coping skills, and how to give them a safe place to share their concerns.

Bipolar is not a death sentence. It is manageable with medication and therapy. The most important step is getting an accurate diagnosis (Bipolar can be confused with AD/HD, Borderline Personality Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Depression, and even Eating Disorders). For more information on Bipolar check:

Pendulum Resources
Bipolar World
Black Dog Institute
Bipolar Chat Rooms