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I'm a writer, recently assigned 6 articles on mental health--very broad assignment!
I want to focus on helping families deal with mental health issues. Please share your thoughts...

On what mental health issues do need or want more information and resources?

Thanks for your help.
Kate @ www.katemclaughlin.net

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I will definitely write a piece on ADD and ADHD. It is a huge issue in social circles and educational settings. Regarding your friends daughter...unfortunately one of the side effects of medications to control ADHD is lack of appetite which sometimes leads to delayed growth and development. Another concern is the fact that eating disorders do develop in children at very early ages and are often symptoms or precursors to diseases on the bipolar spectrum.

Honestly, a good doctor should be able to adjust meds to minimize this effect and better control the symptoms. If she is still as symptomatic as you indicate, it is possible that she is misdiagnosed. She could have another illness or mood disorder. ADD or ADHD is often the first diagnosis for children who are ultimatly diagnosed with bipolar 1, bipolar 2, hypomania, or cyclothymia. Your friend might want to keep a log of symptoms, behaviors, and side effects and seek a second opinion. These illnesses are sometimes tricky to diagnose and stabilize.

Your tendency to wonder if the problem is poor parenting skills is one of the most common. We really want to find solutions to children's problems and this seems most likely to consider. I hope you'll continue to support your friend and encourage her to seek additional medical advice. All of the possibilites I mention here are very treatable and she and her children deserve to be well.

I also encourage you to go to my website at www.katemclaughlin.net and look at symptom charts, checklists, and links to other mental health support sites.

I hope to hear back from you.

Kate
Jessica said:
ADHD- I have a friend who I love dearly, but her children are out of control! She has her daughter on medication, she is 8 years old, weighs 40lbs and is out of control. She is so thin and her mother has to force her to eat. She is so concerned with her weight and the military DR'S (and I say Dr.'s because she never gets to see the same Dr.) say it's normal. I'm not sure it is and I'm just making assumptions. Now I feel the out of control part is lack of discipline at home, but do you have any advice on weight and possible control issues. Thanks
Dear Savvy Suzie,

Great suggestion! We forget that all of those kids diagnosed with ADD turn into adults who have the same brain and the same faulty electrical and chemical impulses. While it is true that many people's brains adapt over time to overcome these defecits, some do not. This is likely the case in your situation. Medication and behavioral therapy work wonders for these adults. Kudos to you for plowing through the bureaucracy and paperwork. And thanks again for pointing out a topic that I had failed to consider.

With Appreciation,

Kate

SavvySuzie said:
Adult ADD...I am married to a wonderful, but challenging man with Adult ADD and one of the hardest things we ran into was finding resources that would help us choose a doctor once he (finally) decided to get treatment. His decision to get treated came because he lost a job he really cared about, and when they gave him reasons for termination, they read like an ADD diagnosis - it was a first, most of the time if he was let go from a job they just told him it wasn't working out. Real eye-opener. But we had a real struggle organizing the info out there to make decisions on treatment - I think I killed several trees' worth of paper.
Depression - treatments. Alternatives to medication. When medication is the right choice. How to help your teen fight depression. All of these topics are quite interesting.
I'll do it!
In the meantime, feel free to go to my website where I have some blog posts and other information about teen mental health.
Thank so much for sharing your ideas.
Kate
www.katemclaughlin.net

forgetfulone said:
Depression - treatments. Alternatives to medication. When medication is the right choice. How to help your teen fight depression. All of these topics are quite interesting.
Our family is dealing with Tourette Syndrome in a very personal way, and it can be a subject with plenty to say...let me know if you go that route and need some "inside info"! ;-)
Thanks, Kerry. I'll definitely contact you when I do a Tourette's piece

Kerry - aka Topsy-Techie said:
Our family is dealing with Tourette Syndrome in a very personal way, and it can be a subject with plenty to say...let me know if you go that route and need some "inside info"! ;-)
WOW! Finally something on line that is resourceful to our family! My daughter has been diagnosed with Sensory Integration, ADHD, BiPolar/Mood Disorder, PDD-NOS/Probable Aspergers.

There are 3 items I am interested in:

1 - My mother has passed away but I also think she had very very similar deficits. As a woman who was not raised by a strong, healthy mother, how can I be a strong mother to my own child who struggles so much? How do I know that I myself am not challenged with these areas of concern both environmentally or genetically?

2 - How am I able to parent my child who has a diagnosis that is always changing. She is 6 and as her symptoms manifest themselves differently, her diagnoses have evolved too. I can't keep up with it all!

3 - Because she is so highly functioning and thrives in a structured environment like school, the school professionals do not validate or acknowledge our diagnoses. I feel like sometimes I have gone over the top in trying to 'prove something is wrong with my daughter.' How can I get over this? I want to be a good mom so badly but I can't seem to get my hands around this parenting!
My doctor's don't know what I have yet. But they can tell me what I don't have, and I can run you a whole list of symptoms and how it affects my life, my job, my marriage, and my daughter. I think an interesting article would be on the stigma that plagues people with diagnosis of mental illness and how difficult it can be to tactfully and professionally handle this in the workplace/real world.

For example, my new medications make me sick - do I explain to my boss why? I feel foggy and have stomach aches everyday and they have to know, what do I say? Do I tell them I think I am missing one day every few weeks to see a doctor? Not to mention what to say to my friends/family when they ask how I am. Or my inlaws. It is so hard to know how to appropriately approach a situation like this without sounding like I am crazy.

Would love to hear suggestions on those situations.

Good luck.
Hi Katherine,
Yours is a common situation that does need tactful handling. The bottom line...your employers deserve to know that you are under a doctor's care and that you must go to regular appointments. Details are not necessary, other than you are being treated for a chronic illness and will be struggling with medication side effects until your treatment plan is refined.
Regarding family and friends, you decide. It is your life, your illness, your personal information. You will learn over time who is supportive and who is not able to be. When you're comfortable, share; when you're not sure, wait a while. And you will definitely learn who should not be informed about this part of your life. Trust yourself.
You and your husband should have a frank discussion about what his family should be told, depending on their level of support and involvement. Whatever you decide as a couple, each of you must make a commitment to stick to the plan.
Good Luck!
P.S.--Go to my website if you want more mental health information and resources:
www.katemclaughlin.net
Dear Andrea,
I am not surprised that you suspect that your mother's health and your daughter's illness are connected. Mood disorders are heritable diseases of the brain. Simply put, the chemical and electrical activity in the brain is malfunctioning, much like a diabetics pancreas malfunctions. The good news is, after the inevitable challenge of nailing down a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan, your daughter can be much healthier and work toward wellness.

As you likely already know, all of the diagnoses you list are connected. People with bipolar disorder are often diagnosed with many other illnesses in childhood. And Asperger's is genetically linked to bipolar disorder, even though it looks a lot like the autism spectrum and can be treated with many of the same behavioral therapies.

Your role is to learn everything about your daughter's particular illness and treatment plan. Most parents benefit from reading The Bipolar Child by Janice and Demitri Papolos. It covers all of the behaviors and diagnoses you mention and also helps with suggestions for dealing with the day-to-day stuff.

Also, go to my website: www.katemclaughlin.net for lots of information on mental illness and mental health, including excellent resources and links.

Good Luck!

KATE
As a former psychotherapist , I worked with adolescents and their families and I think one of the most baffling disorders to many parents were the "personality disorders" such as Borderline Personality, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), Narcissistic personality issues. Adolescence often spawns these personality disorders and there is not a lot of information out there for people suffering from it.

Glad you are writing articles pertaining to mental health issues!
Thank you Elizabeth!
This is an area I've done little in... and Borderline so commonly co-occurs with major mental illnesses as a coping mechanism. I'll investigate further.
Kate

Elizabeth said:
As a former psychotherapist , I worked with adolescents and their families and I think one of the most baffling disorders to many parents were the "personality disorders" such as Borderline Personality, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), Narcissistic personality issues. Adolescence often spawns these personality disorders and there is not a lot of information out there for people suffering from it.

Glad you are writing articles pertaining to mental health issues!

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