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May 26

8 Signs You Should See a Therapist


Mental illness can be difficult to diagnose. Look for these indicators to see if you need a therapist.

Anything that makes you feel overwhelmed or limits your ability to function can be helped through therapy.Anything that makes you feel overwhelmed or limits your ability to function can be helped through therapy.

Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, grief and conflict, so when you’re feeling off it can be hard to know if it’s time to see a professional about the problem. And apparently, those who would benefit from some therapeutic intervention are not seeking it enough: While one in five American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, only about 46-65 percent with moderate-to-severe impairment are in treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

And while identifying and managing diagnosable mental illness is a priority in the psychiatric community, psychological help for those without a clear condition to manage can be just as important. Aside from suffering needlessly, those in distress may actually make the problem worse by avoiding professional help.

“The earlier someone gets help, the easier it is to get through the problem,” says psychologist Daniel J. Reidenberg. “There will be less time and less strain and stress involved in that.”

Psychologists attribute this low rate of treatment to the stigma and many myths attached to seeing a therapist. Among them, the concern that only “crazy” people need therapy or that accepting help is a sign of weakness or that the treatment options will be time-consuming and expensive. These are not true, says psychologist Mary Alvord, Ph.D.

“Your treatment doesn’t have to be analysis four times a week; I have some patients who come for just two session consultations or for a cognitive behavioral therapy for a year,” she says. “People feel like they’ll get stuck and that’s just not true.”

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And while treatment can be very expensive and is not always covered on par with other medical treatment in most health insurance plans, there are cheaper options out there, including many university-associated treatment centers and therapists who will charge on a scale of affordability.

“There is still an unjustified stigma around mental illnesses, but we’re not even talking about mental illness,” says Reidenberg. “We’re just talking about life and how hard life can be. The benefits of pscyhotherapy [can be viewed] more like stress-relievers like exercising and eating right — just strategies that help make life easier and help to remove stressors.”

So what are some signs it might be time to set up an appointment? We asked Reidenberg, Alvord and psychogist Dorothea Lack to reveal some indicators we can all look for during times we’re feeling low. The biggest takeaway? It’s simply a question of measuring to what extent you can manage — anything that makes you feel overwhelmed or limits your ability to function is fair game for a therapist, social worker or psychologist.

Everything you feel is intense

“We all get angry and sad, but how intense and how often? Does it impair or significantly change your ability to function?” asks Alvord.

Feeling overcome with anger or sadness on a regular basis could indicate an underlying issue, but there’s another intensity to be on the lookout for: catastrophizing. When an unforeseen challenge appears, do you immediately assume the worst case scenario will take place? This intense form of anxiety, in which every worry is super-sized and treated as a realistic outcome, can be truly debilitating.

“It can be paralyzing, lead to panic attacks and even cause you to avoid things,” says Alvord. “If your life gets more constricted because you’re avoiding a lot, it is probably time to see someone.”

You’ve suffered a trauma and you can’t seem to stop thinking about it

The pain of a death in the family, a breakup or job loss can be enough to require a bit of counseling. “We tend to think these feelings are going to go away on their own,” says Alvord, adding that this isn’t always the case. Grief from a loss can impair daily functioning and even cause you to withdraw from friends. If you find you aren’t engaging in your life or those around you have noticed that you’re pulling away, you may want to speak to someone to unpack how the event still affects you. On the other hand, some people respond to loss with a more manic reaction — hyper-engagement with friends and acquaintances or an inability to sleep. These are also signs that it is time for professional help.

You have unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system

“If we’re emotionally upset, it can affect our bodies,” says Alvord. Research confirms that stress can manifest itself in the form of a wide range of physical ailments, from a chronically upset stomach to headaches, frequent colds or even a diminished sex drive. Reidenberg adds that more unusual complaints like muscle twinges that seem to come out of nowhere (read: not after a big workout) or neck pain can be signs of carried stress or emotional distress.

You’re using a substance to cope

If you find yourself drinking or using drugs in greater quantities or more often — or even more often thinking about drinking or drugs — these could be signs that you’re hoping to numb feelings that should be addressed.

That substance could even be food. As Reidenberg notes, changes in appetite can be another sign that all is not well. Both over-eating or not wanting to eat could be signs that a person is dealing with stress or struggling with the desire to take care of himself.

You’re getting bad feedback at work

Changes in work performance are common among those struggling with emotional or psychological issues. You might feel disconnected from your job, according to Reidenberg, even if it used to make you happy. Aside from changes in concentration and attention, you might get negative feedback from managers or coworkers that the quality of your work is slipping. This could be a sign that it’s time to talk to a professional.

“Adults spend most of their time at work,” says Reidenberg. “So people who notice are those who have to compensate, just like in families.”

You feel disconnected from previously beloved activities

If your clubs, friend meet-ups and family gatherings have lost their previous joyfulness, it can be a sign that something is amiss, explains Reidenberg. “If you’re disillusioned, feeling like there’s not a lot of purpose or a point or feeling a general sense of unhappiness, seeing a therapist could help you regain some clarity or start in a new direction,” he says.

Your relationships are strained

Have trouble communicating how you really feel — or even being able to identify it in the moment? If you find yourself feeling unhappy during interactions with loved ones on a regular basis, you might make a good candidate for couples or family therapy, according to Alvord.

“We can help empower people to make better choices in how they phrase things — and we teach people that it isn’t just about what you say, but about your body language and overall attitude,” Alvord says.

Your friends have told you they’re concerned

Sometimes friends can notice patterns that are hard to see from the inside, so it’s worth considering the perspectives of those around you.

“If anybody in your life has said something to you along the lines of: ‘Are you talking to anybody about this?’ or ‘Are you doing okay? I’m concerned about you’ — that’s a sign that you should probably take their advice,” says Reidenberg.

May 24

When is Flirting a Sign of Sexual Addiction?



young man and wemen at the barFlirting is a normal part of life. Not only is it enjoyable, it is a healthy part of courtship. And yet flirting is problem for a large proportion of the sex addict patients I see, I’m guessing maybe a third or more of them. For some it is the only sexually compulsive behavior that is out in the open. And if they are in a relationship, compulsive flirting often drives their partners up the wall and across the ceiling.

When should you or your partner be concerned that excessive flirtatiousness is the tip of the iceberg? When is excessive flirtatiousness a sign of a secret sexual addiction?

Part of a larger pattern of sexually addictive behavior

When I say that excessive flirting may be part of a larger addictive picture, I do not mean that it necessarily indicates that the person is engaging in affairs, although this could be the case. But if a person has a problem with sexual addiction and compulsive sexual behavior they will usually (although not always) have more than one type of sexual behavior. In other words a person who flirts a lot may also be engaging in cybersex, or frequenting sexual massage parlors or any of a number of other hidden activities.

So what should you look for if you don’t know how big the problem is?

Sexual preoccupation

For one thing, sex addicts are excessively focused on sex. One of the accepted core beliefs of the addict is: “Sex is my most important need”. So the flirting is one area among several in which you may see the addict as viewing the world through sex colored glasses. The addict may exhibit their sexualized world view by:

making off color remarks more than other people
frequently telling sexual jokes even with people he or she doesn’t know that well
frequent scanning for and ogling of sexually attractive people, often combined with
giving a running commentary on people’s looks, their age, their bodies and their sexiness or lack of it.
The extreme focus on sex goes hand in hand with the sexual objectification of people. If the person has a sexual addiction they will very likely see people in terms of sex to the exclusion of other factors. People are then not really people in the fullest sense (are they happy? Sad? Studious? Kindly? Struggling? Instead they are seen as objects of sexual utility. If the sex addict attributes any inner life to the person they are looking at it will usually be some fantasy or projection about that person’s sexuality.

This doesn’t mean that addicts want to have sex with every attractive person they see, but it does imply that they can go off into a sexual fantasy or store an image into a database in their mind for later use in fantasy.


Sex addicts by definition cannot control their problematic sexual behavior. A person who is not an addict may just be an outgoing, charming, playful person. But if their partner feels threatened and asks them to tone it down they will be able to do so. Addicts, on the other hand, will be more likely to guilt trip their partner and defend their right to flirt, or try to re-frame it as something that is not really sexual.

If the person agrees to rein in their flirting and doesn’t seem able to do so they could have a problem. Or if the person does stop flirting an addictive person may find other ways to subtly put out sexual signals, such as pointedly staring or making ambiguous remarks that could be taken as suggestive. See also my post on predatory flirting and ogling.

Self-objectification and negative self-concept

Sex addicts who flirt a lot are often indiscriminately seductive. Although this can be a sign of problematic sexual behavior, it does not necessarily mean that the addict has any intention of trying to have sex with the person toward whom they are being seductive.

Many sex addict patients are flirtatious and seductive across the board with almost anyone; a colleague, the checker in the market, the nurse, even their therapist. This can mean that the addict is scanning his/her environment for sexual possibility, but it can also mean that the addict tends to objectify him/herself.

Somewhere along the line most addicts have acquired the belief that they are unworthy, and some have come to feel that the only reason anyone could possibly want to associate with them is sexual attraction. Therefore these addicts express their insecurity by needing to be sexually interesting to everyone they associate with.

Excessive flirting, ogling and seductiveness can be signs that there are other sexually addictive behaviors or they can be sexual addictions/compulsions of a sort in their own right. It will not always be possible to get to the bottom of the issue without a full assessment by a professional. This only underscores the fact that what is an addiction or a problem is very often self-identified in terms of the amount of distress or destructiveness experienced by addicts and those around them.

May 16

By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor

Social Groups Influence Our Opinion – but Only for a Few Days For most people, group pressure and the desire to fit within a group makes a person amenable to the opinions of a particular group — for a while.

New research suggests people do change their own personal judgments so that they fall in line with the group norm, but the change only seems to last about three days.

“Our findings suggest that exposure to others’ opinions does indeed change our own private opinions — but it doesn’t change them forever,” says psychological scientist and study author Rongjun Yu of South China Normal University.

“Just like working memory can hold about seven items and a drug can be effective for certain amount of time, social influence seems to have a limited time window for effectiveness.”

Yu’s research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Prior research has demonstrated that personal judgments are often swayed by the opinions’ of others.

However, researchers wanted to study if the social conformity reflects a motivation to fit in with the group and avoid social rejection, or private acceptance, which leads to a genuine change in personal opinion that persists even when social influence is removed.

Yu and colleagues Yi Huang and Keith Kendrick decided to investigate this question in the lab.

They recruited Chinese college students to participate in a study exploring how “people perceive facial attractiveness.”

The students looked at 280 digital photographs of young adult Chinese women and were asked to rate the attractiveness of each face on an eight point scale.

After rating a face, they saw the purported average of 200 other students’ ratings for that face.

Importantly, the group average matched the participant’s rating only 25 percent of the time. The rest of the time, the group average fell one, two, or three points above or below the participant’s rating.

The students were brought back to the lab to rate the faces again after either one day, three days, seven days, or three months has passed.

The data showed that the group norm seemed to sway participant’s own judgments when they re-rated the photos one and three days after the initial session.

There was, however, no evidence for a social-conformity effect when the intervening period was longer (either seven days or three months after the first session).

According to the researchers, the fact that participants’ opinions were swayed for up to three days suggests the group norms seem to have had a genuine, albeit brief, impact on participants’ privately held opinions.

“These studies are notable,” says Yu, “because they were able to control for methodological issues that often arise in studies that use a test-retest format, such as the natural human tendencies to regress to the mean and to behave consistently over time.”

The one question that Yu and colleagues still don’t know the answer to is why the effect lasts for three days.

They plan on investigating whether there might be a neurological reason for the duration of the effect, and whether the effect can be manipulated to last for shorter or longer durations.

Source: Association for Psychological Science


Getting to the Good PartWhen I was young, my mom would drive me to the airport for my return flight to California after a visit. The trip to the airport was about 20 minutes.

Inevitably we would get into an intensely personal conversation where I would share whatever fears and insecurities I felt. At that time in my life, I was troubled and confused.

My mom would sometimes comment on how we talked more in the 20-minute car ride than we did over my whole visit. I noticed this, too, and I found the conversations in the car to be satisfying but also unsettling. I enjoyed feeling closer to my mom, but was also aware that I felt vulnerable.

The intensity of these conversations was scary. The expression of intense feelings wasn’t commonplace in my family, so the talks in the car were atypical.

As I became more psychologically aware, I realized that what allowed me to feel safe enough to share was the fact that our contact was limited to 20 minutes. We each processed the experience in the safety of our solitude, me on the plane and her in the car.

As a therapist I have had the experience where my client will spend the first 40 minutes relating details about what happened that week. Then, with only ten minutes left in the session, without warning, the client will drop down into a deeper part of herself or talk about difficult feelings.

At the next session the client might comment that “we didn’t get to the good part until it was time for me to go!” Sometimes there’s an implicit or even an explicit plea to help her get to “the good part” sooner in the hour.

The phenomenon of getting to the good part in the last few minutes of therapy is commonplace. Some therapists call this “doorknob therapy,” where clients express important material just as they are walking out the door.

Therapy clients often come to therapy with a conscious agenda of what they want to talk about, but there is always an unconscious agenda as well. The top item on that agenda is the preservation of safety.

Some people find it difficult to feel safe in the presence of another person. In their experience, closeness and intimacy lead to shame, rejection, punishment, or domination. Even the most empathic therapist can feel like a formidable obstacle to a person whose vulnerability has been exploited or disregarded, particularly in their earliest relationships.

The invitation to allow oneself to be known is like a double-edged sword. We long to express our deep, personal thoughts and feelings, but we dread the negative consequences we’re used to experiencing when we do so. The psyche protects itself by only allowing access to material that has already been processed and is therefore safe to be known.

However, as the process of therapy continues and the client repeatedly experiences the therapist as caring, understanding and nonjudgmental, the psyche’s self-protective defenses begin to loosen. Sometimes it may only feel safe to “know” certain memories and their attendant feeling states for short periods of time, like in the last few minutes of the therapy hour.

I have heard “doorknob therapy” spoken of as something that should be avoided, as if it’s not good for clients to leave the therapist’s office in an emotionally raw state, or that it’s an indication of the client’s “resistance” to the therapeutic process. Clients may feel they are wrong to leave important material for the end of the hour and that they should try to access it earlier.

But the value lies in trying to understand what it means in terms of a particular client’s psychic landscape. It can be a barometer of the client’s developing trust in herself and in her therapist. It can be an unconscious way of testing the therapist to see if she can handle the client’s scarier feelings.

Observing and exploring the phenomenon fosters a sense of safety in that there is no need for the client, or the therapist, to “do” anything other than what is already happening.

Once the meaning is better understood, client and therapist may come to some agreement on how to deal with it. Or they may simply anticipate that it will happen again, respecting the client’s need to protect her vulnerability.

When therapist and client can be curious together when important material comes to light at the end of a session, there’s a lot to be gained in terms of trust, understanding, and tolerance of intense feelings. It’s important for clients to be able to progress at their own pace, because while risk-taking is an important aspect of therapy it can only occur in an environment where the client feels safe enough to take a risk.

Sometimes we can only experience “the good part” for short, infrequent periods of time. The therapeutic pair — client and therapist — both trust that the good part is always there, waiting to be discovered and processed, and there’s plenty of time to get there.

May 10

4 Ways to Stop Being Needy and Start Being Confident


Are you coming across as needy or confident? Find out!

Trust me, you need to read this article. Why? Because I was that needy girl. Fine on the first date, content if I was not that into him, but as soon as I liked him I fell apart. I did not know what to say, how to behave and bit by bit that gorgeous guy smiling across from me would disappear.

To make matters worse, the more I would not hear from him, the more I would blow up his phone asking him where he was, what he doing, when he wanted to meet. I know I am not the only one who does this, so if I am talking to you, my hope is that this article can give you some insight.

You Are Too Agreeable?

When we really like someone, we want them to like us back. We become vulnerable and become ultra-agreeable with that person. He likes football, but you absolutely hate it. Three dates later you are hanging on his every word and you agree to go to a football match with him. Now, at the game you are the most miserable person there.

The smart confident women he asked out has now turned into the worse company he has ever experienced and your handsome man has disappeared. He has sensed your need to be agreeable and his attraction level plummeted.

Men like women who have their own opinions, interests, and hobbies. This leads me to the next point…

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Dropping Everything For A Man

It’s Friday night and you have agreed to have a wine and cheese night in with your girlfriends, and you told your mother you would call at 7 p.m. Brad calls at 6:50 p.m. asking you out at 7:30 p.m. A little short notice, but you forgive him anyway.

You laugh at his jokes, listen to all his excuses as to why he could not call you earlier in the week and then you agree that you will be ready to meet him at the local bar.

On your way there, you text your mum saying you can’t make the call tonight and you send a mass text to your friends that this great guy wants to see you and the only night he is free is tonight. Are you coming across as needy? I think so! And now because of your neediness his respect and attraction for you has plummeted. Ouch!

Follow-up Phase

The most important part of dating is his ability to follow-up in between dates. Your job is to sit on your fingers while he is thinking sweet thoughts about what a great time he had with that confident brunette until he calls back. That means you!

You don’t need to play games, you don’t need to hint to him that it has been four days since you spoke, and you don’t need to remind him it has been a week since you last saw each other.

Men do what they want and if he wants you, he will make the effort. All you have to do is mirror his actions by answering the phone when he calls as your happy, positive, “I have it altogether” self.

Men like to win you over. Needy girls put words in his mouth, stalk his Facebook page, and are jealous of every girl he mentions. Sit back, relax and let that boy work for you. You will be gracefully rewarded.

Futuristic Thinking

One of the most common mistakes women make in the early stages of dating is putting the cart before the horse. You see, men are a little slower in knowing what exactly they want and need time to figure it all out. Yes, I know it is frustrating, but please believe me, you will be vastly rewarded if you choose to live in the present moment instead of the future.

Show him your fun, light hearted self. Dating is the selling and buying stage. This is you at your best or your worst. A confident girl is at her best, a needy girl is at her worst.

So, let go of the need to plan the future. If you feel yourself going into need mode pull out your nail file and relax. No future thinking!

Juicy Tip!

Every time you feel the need to be needy, ask yourself this one question: What would a confident girl do in this situation?

Extract your emotions from the situation, look observantly and pull that cupid arrow out of your butt long enough to think to yourself is this man of good character and a good fit for me. Am I coming from a place of neediness or confidence? If I were you, I would choose the latter.

This guest article from YourTango was written by Lorna Poole.

Help your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder child finish her school assignments — and learn how to work independently — by following these readers’ best tips.

ADDitude asked: How do you make sure your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) student does her homework? And you delivered these five guidelines.

Devise ADD-Friendly Homework Rituals
“Learn your child’s rhythms — when he needs to relax, when he needs to work. We have a structured homework time, and work for short periods. Always check your child’s work — he is more interested in getting it done than getting it right.” -Kathy Zimovan, South Carolina

“I let my son sit on an exercise ball. Being able to move about while doing homework helps kids with ADHD concentrate better. I don’t have to nag him to do his homework, and he does not complain about needing to get up and move around.” -Diane Spriggs, Virginia

“I offer my daughter a piece of carrot or cucumber every 10 minutes or so. She loves the treats, and they motivate her to keep working.” -Eve, New York

“I issue lots of warnings. An hour before my son is supposed to start his homework, I say, ‘Time to adjust your brain for homework!’ I issue the same warning a half-hour before. I found that it really helps smooth the transition.” -Kimberly Forness Wilson, North Dakota

Know your child’s learning style? Help your ADD/ADHD student achieve school success by focusing on study methods that play to his visual, auditory, or tactile ways of learning.

Learn When to Stop Doing it for Them
“I made my son responsible for his grades. He has to face the consequences of bad grades, and he gets rewards for good ones. If he wants me to help him with homework, he has to ask.” -May Beth Thomas, Michigan

“Once your child is in middle school, let her be accountable for getting homework done. When I was young, getting me to do my schoolwork was a battle. Mom finally said, ‘Fine. If you don’t do your homework, I won’t write you an excuse.’ Translation: I would be in trouble with the teacher — and when I got home, I would be in even more trouble with my dad. I learned the hard way, once!” -Ed, Arizona

hare the Responsibilities With Your Partner…Before You Burn Out
“My husband and I have resorted to tag-teaming our child in order to get homework done. LOL.” -An ADDitude Reader

Get Help From the School
“Shorten homework assignments. I asked my son’s teachers to assign one page of grammar homework instead of two, 20 math problems instead of 40. He feels less overwhelmed.” -Lisa, Florida

“Joining a homework club is a godsend. My son gets help right after school, while his meds are still working. He can then come home and relax, and I don’t have to be the screaming mom!” -Sheri, California

Remove All Distractions
“No television, and a clear, clean workspace. The smallest thing, an extra pencil or a piece of paper, can distract my son.” -An ADDitude Reader

“Do it right after school, in the quietest place possible. Try to be patient with your child, even though it’s hard!” -Amy, Florida

“Turning off my children’s text messaging.” -Kay, Colorado


Common Mistakes Adults with ADHD Make in Managing the DisorderWhen you’re managing any disorder, you’re bound to make mistakes. (Life is filled with them.)

For instance, making mistakes when managing ADHD symptoms is normal, said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

It’s “part of the journey.”

Also, part of that journey is learning from your errors. Below, ADHD experts share the most common mistakes people with ADHD make when managing their disorder and how to prevent or fix them.

Not accepting the diagnosis.

“The biggest mistake someone with ADHD can make is not accepting the diagnosis in the first place,” Olivardia said. “Denial only makes everything worse since you are still suffering from symptoms, without any strategy or plan to combat them.”

The best way to accept the diagnosis is to educate yourself about what ADHD is and what it isn’t, he said. Also, learn about other people who have ADHD, including successful entrepreneurs and musicians, he said.

Plus, if you’re a parent, there’s a great chance that one of your kids has ADHD. “Accepting the diagnosis at that point is beneficial not only to you, but it enables you to set a healthy, accepting frame for your child.”

Relying solely on medication.

It’s also common to assume medication is the only treatment for ADHD, Olivardia said. “Medication can be an important part of treatment … but only as a complement to behavioral work and management one must make in many areas of life.”

For instance, that includes getting enough sleep and learning to manage your time. For specific tips, here’s more on sleep, organization, helpful programs and apps and other healthy habits to incorporate into your days.

Not planning.

“ADHD individuals enjoy the spirit of spontaneity and dread the thought of planning and structure,” said Rudy Rodriguez, LCSW, a coach who specializes in ADHD and founder of the ADHD Center for Success based in Asheville, N.C.

As such, many make the mistake of not planning out their days, which can lead to little productivity. Rodriguez cited Benjamin Franklin’s quote: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Rodriguez suggested writing down a plan for your day. He tells his clients, “if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.” That’s because people with ADHD have an impaired working memory, which can lead to forgetfulness, he said.

He also suggested creating your to-do list the night before. Doing so means “you’ll wake in the morning with a clear idea of what you need to do and what you need to do first.” This prevents you from “meandering mindlessly.”

Underestimating time.

People with ADHD have a distorted sense of time, and they underestimate how long tasks take. “We say, ‘I’ll be ready in 10 minutes’ but the truth is we don’t have an accurate internal clock that alerts us to the passage of time,” Rodriguez said.

He suggested what he calls “mindfulness bells.” This can be anything from an alarm on your cell phone to a kitchen timer. For instance, if you’re giving yourself 30 minutes to work on your computer, so you can get to bed on time, set one alarm to go off at 20 minutes and the second alarm at 30 minutes, he said.

The first alarm is your “’get-ready-to-get-ready-to go’ notification.” This gives you 10 minutes to save and close documents and shut down your computer, he said. When the second alarm dings, you’re all set to get up and go to bed.

Assuming perfect solutions.

ADHD coach Mindy Schwartz Katz, MS, ACC, often hears her clients say things like “if I was just more organized, everything would be fine” or “if I could just get out of bed at 6 a.m., everything would be perfect.”

For instance, one client bought a pricey planner. She believed that once she started using it, it’d become the perfect solution to her problems. But she wasn’t using it, because it simply didn’t work for her.

Managing your ADHD is really about figuring out what works best for you and experimenting with it until it becomes part of your life, Katz said. For instance, the goal isn’t to be organized, it’s “to be functional, to feel good about yourself and to live a good life.”

Listening to ignorant people.

People with ADHD also can make the mistake of listening to individuals who don’t know anything about ADHD, Olivardia said. They might say things like “ADHD doesn’t exist” or “Everyone is a little ADD,” he said. “These statements are not true and only minimize the true experience of those living with ADHD.”

“Make sure to get support from people who are at least aware of ADHD and not critical of the diagnosis,” Olivardia said. And when people are dismissive of your disorder, try these tips.

Focusing on what went wrong.

When she first started seeing clients, Katz noticed that they’d mostly talk about all the things that didn’t go well that week. But the things that go wrong only make up a portion of your day.

Today, she starts every session by asking clients to discuss what went well. Collecting the positives actually sets a different tone. Because when you focus on the positive you experience more positivity, Katz said.

She used one of her favorite quotes as an example: “The grass is always greener where you water it.”

Remember that making mistakes is a natural part of learning. Nothing in this world was ever invented without mistakes, Katz said.

Think of babies first learning to walk, she said. The first time they step on their own, they fall down. They get up. Then they fall down, again. They get up, and they fall down some more. They go through this process, over and over.

“We sometimes expect ourselves to be perfect right out of the gate. We all fall before we walk.”

The key is to turn mistakes into learning experiences, which shifts how they affect you. When things don’t work out, Katz always asks her clients: “What’s your takeaway? How are you going to do things differently? How can you do it better next time?”

Also, avoid being critical when you make a mistake. “Calling yourself an ‘idiot’ will not make you remember something better or motivate you the next time around,” Olivardia said. Rather, “the more you devalue yourself for your ADHD symptoms, the more your self-esteem plummets.”

You’re not stupid or less than for making mistakes. Try to shift your focus away from supposed inadequacies and onto the lesson you can learn and the improvements you can make.

May 2

By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor

Use of ADHD Meds as Study Aid — Cheating? New research finds that nearly 1 in 5 students at an Ivy League college report misusing a prescription stimulant while studying, with one-third of students believing the misuse did not constitute cheating.

The study results will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Stimulants are used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recent studies have shown that students without ADHD are misusing these medications in hopes of gaining an academic edge.

This study looked at the prevalence of medication misuse at a highly selective college and whether students believe misuse of ADHD medications is a form of cheating.

Researchers analyzed responses from 616 sophomores, juniors, and seniors without ADHD who completed an anonymous online questionnaire in December 2012.

Results showed:

18 percent reported misusing a prescription stimulant for an academic purpose at least once while in college, and 24 percent of these students said they had done so on eight or more occasions;
Juniors reported the highest rate of stimulant misuse (24 percent);
69 percent of those who misused stimulants did so to write an essay, 66 percent to study for an exam, and 27 percent to take a test;
More students who played a varsity sport and were affiliated with a Greek house reported stimulant misuse compared to students affiliated with only one or neither; and
33 percent of students did not think stimulant misuse for academic purposes was a form of cheating, while 41 percent thought it was cheating and 25 percent were unsure.
“While many colleges address alcohol and illicit drug abuse in their health and wellness campaigns, most have not addressed prescription stimulant misuse for academic purposes,” said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, M.D., F.A.A.P.

“Because many students are misusing prescription stimulants for academic, not recreational purposes, colleges must develop specific programs to address this issue.”

Survey results also showed that students who misused stimulants were more likely to view this as a common occurrence on their campus compared to students who had never misused an ADHD medication.

Specifically, 37 percent of those who had misused an ADHD prescription thought that more than 30 percent of students had done the same compared to only 14 percent of students who had never misused a stimulant.

“The findings from this and similar studies pose a challenge to pediatricians,” Adesman said.

“To the extent that some high school and college students have reported feigning ADHD symptoms to obtain stimulant medication, should physicians become more cautious or conservative when newly diagnosing ADHD in teens?,” he said.

“Additionally, should pediatricians do more to educate their ADHD patients about the health consequences of misuse and the legal consequences that could arise if they sell or give away their stimulant medication?”

“It also is important to consider the ethical implications of prescription stimulant misuse in higher education,” said principal investigator Natalie Colaneri, a research assistant at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

“It is our hope that this study will increase greater awareness and prompt broader discussion about misuse of medications like Ritalin or Adderall for academic purposes,” she said.

“It is important that this issue be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective: as an issue relevant to the practice of medicine, to higher education and to ethics in modern-day society.”

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

May 1

Dog Ownership Can Benefit Children with Autism


By TRACI PEDERSEN Associate News Editor

Dog Ownership Can Benefit Children with AutismMost children with autism tend to bond strongly with dogs, according to new research at the University of Missouri.

“Children with autism spectrum disorders often struggle with interacting with others, which can make it difficult for them to form friendships,” said Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship to the children.”

For the study, 70 parents of children with autism were interviewed. Nearly two-thirds of the families owned dogs, and of those, 94 percent of the parents reported their children with autism had a bond with their dogs.

“Even in families without dogs, 70 percent of parents said their autistic children liked dogs. Many families with dogs reported that they made the decision to get a dog because of the perceived benefits to their children with autism,” Carlisle said.

“Dogs can help children with autism by acting as a social lubricant,” Carlisle said. “For example, children with autism may find it difficult to interact with other neighborhood children. If the children with autism invite their peers to play with their dogs, then the dogs can serve as bridges that help the children with autism communicate with their peers.”

“Families with an autistic child need to consider their child’s sensitivities carefully when choosing a dog in order to ensure a good match between pet and child,” Carlisle said.

“Bringing a dog into any family is a big step, but for families of children with autism, getting a dog should be a decision that’s taken very seriously,” Carlisle said.

“If a child with autism is sensitive to loud noises, choosing a dog that is likely to bark will not provide the best match for the child and the family. If the child has touch sensitivities, perhaps a dog with a softer coat, such as a poodle, would be better than a dog with a wiry or rough coat, such as a terrier.”

Carlisle believes that parents should involve their children with autism in the dog-buying process.

“Many children with autism know the qualities they want in a dog,” Carlisle said. “If parents could involve their kids in choosing dogs for their families, it may be more likely the children will have positive experiences with the animals when they are brought home.”

The study only looked at dog ownership among families affected by autism, but Carlisle said that other types of pets could be a good option as well.

“If you know one child with autism, you know one child with autism,” Carlisle said. “Dogs may be best for some families, although other pets such as cats, horses or rabbits might be better suited to other children with autism and their particular sensitivities and interests.”

The study was recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.

Source: University of Missouri, Columbia

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