Friday, November 13, 2015

Drugs, Greed and a Dead Boy

Andrew Francesco was a rambunctious, athletic and joyful child, but also a handful. When he was 5 years old, a psychiatrist prescribed Ritalin. As he grew older, he disrupted classes and was given a growing number of potent antipsychotic and other medications.

These didn’t work, so he was prescribed more. Pushed out of one school after another, Andrew grew frustrated, unhappy and sometimes alarming. His parents hid the kitchen knives. Then his mother died at 54; the family believes that the stress of raising Andrew was a factor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

These Illustrations Perfectly Sum Up What It's Like To Have ADHD It's so much more than being "not focused."

ADHD, also known as as ADD, affects 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17, according to the CDC

Defined as a chronic condition that includes symptoms such as fidgeting and impatience, as well as difficulty concentrating and processing information quickly, ADHD isn't just limited to children:  50 percent of children who are diagnosed with it experience symptoms of ADHD into adulthood
In an effort to break down the stigma surrounding ADHD -- and unfortunately there still is one -- Buzzfeed's Caroline Kee put together illustrations that will hit very close to home for anyone with ADHD

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders Children are more anxious and depressed than ever before. Why?

Oko Laa/Shutterstock
Source: Oko Laa/Shutterstock
Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past fifty to seventy years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depressionand/or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant.

Friday, August 28, 2015

7 Qualities That Make a Great ADHD Doctor

Mark Aro sketch: I think one of my kids might have ADHD.
I think one of my kids might have ADHD! (© 2015 Mark Aro)
My husband thought our new family doctor was doing a great job relating to him when he offered up his own experience: “I took Ritalin,” the doctor admitted.
Eagerly, Mark asked, “So you have ADHD, too?”
His doctor’s response shocked him: “No, I just tried it, you know, in college.”
The doctor tried to laugh it off and cover his limited knowledge of ADHD by asking my husband how long he’d had the disorder. He looked shocked when Mark told him he’d had it all his life.

Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis

CreditLeonardo Sonnoli 
AMERICAN psychiatry is facing a quandary: Despite a vast investment in basic neuroscience research and its rich intellectual promise, we have little to show for it on the treatment front.

With few exceptions, every major class of current psychotropic drugs — antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications — basically targets the same receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain as did their precursors, which were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Sure, the newer drugs are generally safer and more tolerable than the older ones, but they are no more effective.

10 Things I’d Tell My Former (Medicated) Self

CreditYann Kebbi
In the fall of 2014 the author decided to quit the prescription medications she has been taking to treat her anxiety, depression and insomnia, and began the process of gradually reducing her dosages. In Going Off, a series of Anxiety posts that began in February, she has chronicled the challenges she has faced from both the drugs and the withdrawal. This is the final installment.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

How to Cut Children’s Screen Time? Say No to Yourself First.

CreditPaul Rogers
Parents are often at fault, directly or indirectly, when children and teenagers become hooked on electronic media, playing video games or sending texts many hours a day instead of interacting with the real world and the people in it. And as discussed in last week’s column, digital overload can impair a child’s social, emotional and intellectual growth.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Today’s Exhausted Superkids

There are several passages in the new book “Overloaded and Underprepared” that fill me with sadness for American high school students, the most driven of whom are forever in search of a competitive edge. Some use stimulants like Adderall. Some cheat.

But the part of the book that somehow got to me most was about sleep.

It’s a prerequisite for healthy growth. It’s a linchpin of sanity. Before adulthood, a baseline amount is fundamental and nonnegotiable, or should be.

But many teenagers today are so hyped up and stressed out that they’re getting only a fraction of the rest they need. The book mentions a high school in Silicon Valley that brought in outside sleep experts, created a kind of sleep curriculum and trained students as “sleep ambassadors,” all to promote shut-eye.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Parents’ Denial Fuels Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Not only was the 16-year-old boy 60 pounds overweight, but a blood test showed he might have fatty liver disease. At last, his mother took him to a pediatric weight management clinic in New Haven. But she did not at all like the dietitian’s advice.

“I can’t believe you’re telling me I can’t buy Chips Ahoy! cookies,” said the mother, herself a nurse.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Medical Model Discovers Heroin Addiction

Heroin Epidemic

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of heroin addiction and a sharp rise in opiate over-dose death. Contrary to addicts being introduced to opiate addiction through street heroin, 75% of new addicts became addicted through prescription opiates. When the OxyContin becomes too expensive ($80/pill), people switch to the cheaper street heroin ($5-10/hit). Nora Volkow of NIDA, Tom Frieden of the CDC, and Michael Botticelli of the President’s Office of Drug Control Policy have advocated the expansion of methadone programs and buprenorphine treatment to respond to the epidemic. SAMSHA, the federal agency which regulates methadone maintenance programs, suggests that we call these interventions “Medication Assisted Treatment” (MAT) rather than opiate substitution programs so as not to stigmatize people.

Mind Your Body: Inward Bound

The mysterious connection between emotion and physical sensation is coming into ever-sharper focus.

The sight of a blazing sunset, the sound of a ringing phone, the aroma of fresh bread as you pass a bakery—we tend to think of sensory perception as the way we process external stimuli with our eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin. Yet there’s another form of sensory perception, known as interoception, that involves the feelings that originate within the body, such as hunger, thirst, breathlessness, pain, temperature, heartbeat, muscle tension, and bladder pressure.

None of the Above An emerging group of transgender people is looking beyond “man” and “woman."

OUT OF THE BOX: "This isn't something people are making up," says CN Lester, who is genderqueer.

When CN Lester shows up in the waiting room of, say, a doctor’s office and is asked to fill out a personal information form, the inevitable question arises: M or F? The tattooed 30-year-old has developed a habit of inking an extra box and checking it.

“The sheer act of doing so often makes someone take the form back silently,” says Lester, a classically trained musician who lives in London. “You can sometimes feel like a legal nonentity. It’s really frustrating.”

Lester, who as a child hated being called a girl but never felt quite like a “man trapped in a woman’s body,” came out as transgender 15 years ago. As an umbrella term, the word transgender refers to those whose sense of their gender differs from what is expected based on the sexcharacteristics with which they are born.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation

Like practically everyone else, I gave a commencement speech last week. Mine was for the Paris College of Art, an American art and design school in France whose roughly 200 students hail from 48 countries.

In deciding what to say, I couldn’t rely on my own experience with commencement speeches. When I graduated from college, a United States senator delivered his stump speech on Poland, then wished us luck.

So I listened to lots of commencement speeches online. I quickly realized that the good ones are under 15 minutes; that it helps if you can do impressions; and that just because you starred in a hit sitcom doesn’t mean you possess great wisdom.

I also realized that commencement speeches are mostly an American phenomenon. In Britain there are graduation ceremonies, but no outside motivational speakers. “Every year, thousands of young British people collect their degrees and head into the world in a dangerously uninspired state — not knowing, for example, whether or not they should say ‘yes’ to life, or follow their hearts, or dare to be different,” wrote the journalist Oliver Burkeman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For Some in Transgender Community, It’s Never Too Late to Make a Change

One Friday night last fall, 50 well-dressed guests piled into an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen for a party celebrating Sheela-Marie Padgett, a 57-year-old former dancer with the New York City Ballet.
Waiters passed drinks before a buffet dinner of fancy Indian food was presented. Then came a chocolate cake from the Erotic Bakery made in the shape of corseted showgirl with a male appendage. It was sliced up and served to the crowd.
Which was fitting enough, because the following morning, Sheela — formerly known as Bruce — was scheduled to fly to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the last major procedure in her transition from male to female: gender reassignment surgery.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

If You Love Someone Who Has ADHD, Don’t Do These Things

You wonder if everybody’s life is as chaotic as yours. Something’s not right.

Your child doesn’t act like the other children in the class. Homework assignments guarantee a night of fights, slammed doors, and tears shed. The teachers call you in for conferences weekly. Your husband gets fired again claiming all his bosses are jerks. You work overtime so your car isn’t repossessed. Your sister cancels every time you plan to meet for dinner. Your teenager is hanging out in the local piercing parlor. And your daughter can’t find her car keys whenever she’s walking out the door. Your relationships are constant conflicts.

Guide to Children Affected by Parental Drug Abuse

A conservative estimate is that one in six children in school today has a parent who is dependent on or addicted to alcohol or other drugs. This family situation places these students at high risk for social and emotional problems, as well as for school failure, drug use and delinquency. Most of these children are not identified as being “at-risk” and therefore do not receive assistance. Schools, however, are a logical place to reach them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Loving a Person who has ADHD

A person with ADD is hard to love. You never know what to say. It’s like walking through a minefield. You tiptoe around; unsure which step (or word) will be the one that sets off an explosion of emotion. It’s something you try to avoid.

People who have ADD/ADHD are suffering. Life is more difficult for them than the average person. Everything is intense and magnified. Their brilliant minds are constantly in gear creating, designing, thinking and never resting. Imagine what it would feel like to have a merry-go-round in your mind that never stops spinning.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Lighter To-Do List: When In Doubt, Delegate!

Delegation is one of the best skills an ADHD adult can learn. Follow these tips to get your to-do list under control.

We ADDers spend a lot of time trying to do things that we don't do well or that we don't have to do ourselves. I'm talking about things that people around us can and will do for us, if we are willing to ask them.

What Everyone Gets Wrong About ADHD

Despite an increase in diagnoses, plenty of stigma still surrounds attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Adults with ADHD (or parents of children with the disorder) are often somehow blamed for the condition -- as if they're not trying hard enough to control a wide range of symptoms, which can include difficulty focusing, difficulty processing information quickly, fidgeting, impatience and more.
Every year, ADHD affects more than 4 percent of Americans over the age of 18 -- adults who are learning, working and living fulfilling, successful lives alongside people who assume those with ADHD are somehow less than. Here are a few things we should all know about ADHD.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gay Marriage: Is It Right For Me?

Portrait Of A Happy Gay Couple Outdoors

Gay men have been forced by a homophobic and heterosexist world to question and think more critically outside the traditional relationship structures we grew up with.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015





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