Have you ever said, I might as well not try, I won’t be able to do it right anyway? Or how about, my work on this project really sucks, I’ll just hide it under my bed and forget about it. … READ MORE
Scientists are discovering the physiologic connections between adversity, stress and academic performance. Children living in poverty are particularly at risk. They often endure toxic stress from adverse experiences, such as exposure to violence, abuse, neglect, loss of a loved on . … READ MORE
ADHD and Depression is Serious Business
It’s important to start this post by saying that depression can be a serious, life-threatening condition. If you are feeling hopeless, worthless, irritated, chronically exhausted or have lost interest in things you once loved, you shouldstart by talking to your physician or a therapist. Look for someone who has experience in diagnosing ADHD and working with the co-occurring conditions that can come along with ADHD. (The last thing you need to do is see someone who doesn’t understand or even believe in ADHD!)
A professional can help you determine what the appropriate course of action to help you break free of your depression. You don’t have to suffer depression alone. Get some help for yourself, right away. Talk to your parents, friends or even a crisis hotline. Don’t suffer alone!
What to Do About ADHD and Depression Starting NOW!
Sure calling a doctor or therapist is a great idea, but you may be wondering what you can do for depression right now. After all, depression is something that can be hard to overcome. (And it doesn’t take holidays!) You can use all the help you can get to breaking through to the other side of depression! Why not try what Gayle Wilson, ADHD coach, shares with her clients. She calls it her “Depression Busting Toolkit” or “12 Mental Lifesavers.”
ADHD Depression Busting Toolkit: 12 Mental Lifesavers
- Talk about it. Pour out your soul to a sympathetic ear.
- Go to the dogs (play with your pets).
- Run away (literally). Do something physical. (Yes, we keep saying this over and over. Exercise is critical to healthy living with ADHD!)
- Laugh your head off. Watch a funny TV show, ask someone to tickle you, Google “funny” or “hilarious,” check out the comedy channel on hulu.com, or watch an old Road Runner cartoon, etc.
- Get to work. Lose yourself in work.
- Compartmentalize. Focus on what you can do right now. The old adage, one day at a time, has stood the test of time because it works! Sometimes getting off the couch and doing something, anything, can make a big difference to feeling better.
- Write. Right now. Paying attention to what you are thinking. Write it down. Be sure to turn off the critical inner voice and just let your thoughts go.
- Identify something you care about more than yourself. Is that a friend? A charity? Your grandparents? Now do something, anything about it.
- Bring beauty into your life. Buy some flowers, take some pictures, make a painting, clean your room.
- Learn the lesson. Explore what there is to learn in what you are experiencing.
- Be well read. Let fiction carry you away.
- Have faith. Turn to your spiritual practice
- Curb self-defeating and negative thoughts with an ANT.
Daniel G. Amen, M.D., author of Healing ADD and Change Your Brain, Change Your life, coined the acronym A.N.T.’s — or automatic negative thoughts. Turns out there is a connection between what we say to ourselves and how we feel. If we control what we think, we can control how we feel.
Gayle Wilson gives each of her clients a little plastic ant and a poem. Print out the poem and put it on your desk. Read it when you need to turn your thoughts away from the dark side. Sure it’s a little dorky, and Gayle’s no poet, but these simple words have helped many other people. So there’s no harm in trying it, huh? You can control what you think and change how you feel about yourself.
Gayla Wilson 12/07
Place this little Ant on your desk, in your pocket or your purse.
Let it remind you, your thoughts can be adverse.
Listen to what your brain tells you
The next time you get into a jam
and you hear “I’m stupid”; “I always mess up”
“Why can’t I ever just push through?”
Write it down, tell it to scram.
Is this thought a fact?
Or, is it the same old you?
If it’s true…change it.
If it’s a lie, answer back.
These are your thoughts
You write the script
Be they pleasant and pleasing
They’re your thoughts,
You can answer back
The damage CAN be reversed.
It is up to you
Their weight and importance
Are set by you. You take control.
Kill the ANT!
Do you have tricks that help you beat the blues? Please share them!
The DSM-IV Defined Anxiety Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association defines 12 anxiety disorders:
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder – with and without agoraphobia
- Agoraphobia – without history of Panic Disorder
- Social Phobia – exaggerated fear of embarrassment or humiliation
- Specific Phobia – e.g. of spiders, elevators, flying, etc.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acute Stress Disorder – symptoms< 30 days
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Anxiety Disorder due to a General Medical Condition
- Substance-induced Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
The 4 most common anxiety disorders associated with ADHD
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The remainder of this article will talk in more depth about the unique characteristics of each of these anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
General Anxiety Disorder is a serious issue for the ADHD community. It is far more likely to occur during the lifetimes of children with ADHD than in the general population (25% ADHD versus 2.9 – 4.6% general population). Half (52%) of adults with ADHD will experience GAD in their lifetimes – opposed to only 5% of adults in the general population.
General Anxiety Disorder is the big anxiety disorder that people tend to miss. With the others – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, separation anxiety, and social phobia – it’s more obvious when you have it. And, since GAD often comes along for the ride with depression, substance abuse, and other anxiety disorders, it may be relegated to a back seat in terms of recognition and treatment.
General Anxiety Disorder is characterized by 6 months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with GAD usually expect the worst. They worry excessively about money, health, family, or work, even when there are no signs of trouble. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia. Sometimes the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder may also grow worse with stress. In addition to excessive anxiety and worry, people with GAD have at least 3 of the following symptoms:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
Separation Anxiety Disorder
About 10 times as many children with ADHD will have separation anxiety compared with the rate in the general population of 2.4%
Separation Anxiety Disorder develops in childhood and can persist into adulthood. Basically this means a child is fearful of being separated from his or her safety net (familiar place or person). The child may develop excessive worrying to the point of being reluctant or refusing to go to school, being alone, or sleeping alone. The child may also experience repeated nightmares and complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting.
Social Phobia (a.k.a. Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD)
18% of people with ADHD will have a lifetime occurrence of Social Anxiety Disorder – half again as common as in the general population.
Social Anxiety Disorder is an intense fear of becoming humiliated in social situations, specifically of embarrassing yourself in front of other people. It includes performance anxiety issues. It often runs in families and may be accompanied by depression or alcoholism. Social phobia often begins in early adolescence or even younger. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. About 13% of the general population will experience social anxiety at some point in their lives. Social Phobia is actually the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States after depression and substance abuse.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
Although there isn’t a lot of information on PTSD and ADHD specifically, there is some evidence that people with ADHD are more vulnerable to developing PTSD. For more information consult Adler LA, Kunz M, Chua HC, Rotrosen J, Resnick SG. (2004). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): is ADHD a vulnerability factor? Journal of Attention Disorders. Aug; 8(1):11-6.
How to manage your anxiety
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, but you have to recognize first that they exist. If you think this might be you, seek the advice of a professional and find out what your options are.
An ADHD coach can also help you learn to identify your anxiety triggers and things you can do to keep your anxiety under control.
Watch for part 3 of our ADHD and Anxiety series where we will talk about some steps you can take to help you manage your anxiety.
Do you have ADHD and anxiety? What have you done to keep it under control? We invite you to share your story here and help others learn what you have to keep your edge! You don’t have to live with anxiety, sign up for an Edge Coachand start taking charge of your life today.
The latest research on ADHD reveals that it is a chronic health problem with almost 30% of children with ADHD still have symptoms as adults and have a much higher risk of mental health problems.
Are you surprised? This study, recently published in the Pediatrics journal stands out because it’s the largest of its kind and was conducted under the esteemed auspices of Boston Children’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. The study tracked 232 people who were born between 1976 and 1982 and were diagnosed with ADHD when they were children.
- Of those who still had ADHD as adults, 81% had at least one other psychiatric disorder.
- Of those who no longer had ADHD, 47% had at least one psychiatric diagnosis.
- Children with ADHD were nearly five times more likely to die from suicide than other people in the study group
- More than 60% of kids with ADHD have a learning disability
- Most children with ADHD develop at least one additional mental-health problem as children
More astonishing than the statistics was the statement by the study’s lead author William Barbaresi. (Barbaresi is director of the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.)
“We have to stop trivializing ADHD as just another childhood behavior problem. The nature and duration of this study show we have to recognize it as a chronic serious health problem that deserves a lot more attention than it has received.”
Researchers are using this study to call attention to difficulties parents face in finding treatment for their children. For example when a child is diagnosed with diabetes, insurance companies have authorized preventative evaluations for co-existing conditions such as kidney or eye problems. When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, insurance companies will not authorize additional mental health assessments until the problem has already occurred.
Do you believe ADHD is a mental health issue? How do you feel when you see ADHD coupled with mental illness? Sound off in the comments below.
Overwhelmed? Anxious? About ready to blow?
When should you worry about anxiety?
Normal anxiety comes and goes in response to real challenges involving potential loss or failure. Normal anxiety helps sharpen your attention so you can meet those challenges.
Anxiety disorders involved anxiety that is more intense or lasts longer than normal anxiety, or that leads to phobias. Basically, if you worry when there’s no real threat, to the point where you can’t function normally, that’s an anxiety disorder.
Why haven’t I heard about anxiety disorders and ADHD before?
People know when they have a cold. If it’s so common, why don’t they know when they have an anxiety disorder?
- People may think the anxiety they live with is normal – it’s normal for them after all.
- People may deny their anxiety because it’s not acceptable to be “afraid”.
- People may be so good at avoiding what makes them anxious that they almost never experience the symptoms.
- People may have symptoms they don’t recognize as anxiety-stomach upset, muscle aches, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, twitches, heart palpitations, hot flashes, clammy hands-these can all be symptoms of anxiety.
The primary symptoms of anxiety disorders are fear and worry. But when people have physical symptoms that may mask the real issue, they will seek treatment for those instead. In fact, people with anxiety disorders are 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor than non-sufferers.
Do you have any of these common symptoms of anxiety?
Emotional and Psychological Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Apprehension, uneasiness, and dread
- Impaired concentration or selective attention
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Behavioral problems (especially in children and adolescents)
- Nervousness and jumpiness
- Self-consciousness and insecurity
- Fear that you are dying or going crazy
- Strong desire to escape
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Heart palpitations or racing heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes or chills
- Cold and clammy hands
- Stomach upset or queasiness
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors, twitches, and jitters
- Muscle tension or aches
The power of positive thinking
Focusing on our problems is normal: Everyone tends to focus on problems. It’s probably evolutionary in nature-we evolved in a dangerous world where being able to notice threats was key to survival. Therefore, negative, troublesome, threatening things tend to capture our attention like nothing else. Yet narrow and negative thinking can lead to stress and depression, which can lower performance and reduce connectedness, both in relationships and in thoughts.
The power of positive thinking: A broad and positive focus helps you identify more resources and make more connections. Positivity-feeling good-helps creativity, perseverance, confidence, competence, and even longevity. It is tempting to feel that health, wellness, and financial success are what contribute to happiness, but it turns out that happiness predicts these things, not the other way around.
In further studies of positivity and negativity, it turns out there is an ideal ratio between the two. The ideal ratio of positivity to negativity is between 3:1 and 11:1. In other words at least 3 positive thoughts to each negative one. In this range, people have the resources to change, grow, and bounce back from adversity. They feel both supported and challenged, which develops resourcefulness and creativity. Business teams operating in this ideal zone have the highest profitability, customer satisfaction, and performance reviews.
Too much of a bad thing: People who live in an environment where the positivity to negativity ratio is below 3:1 languish. They don’t have enough resources and inspiration to pick themselves up out of the muck and see all the things that are available to them. Unlike the more positive folks, they are on a downward spiral. Sadly, it is estimated that 80% of people fall into this category.
Turn up the positive volume!
Notice, remember, articulate and savor what is already there. Practice noticing the good stuff, because there is plenty of it around. From the aroma of that first cup of coffee in the morning (even if we made a mess making it), to the parting “Bye! I love you. Have a nice day!” (even if we had to say it several times because we kept forgetting things as we tried to get out the door), to the great coaching session where both feel pumped by the end, there’s a lot to notice and feel positive about. Notice, too, how we contributed to the good stuff, notice how we are actively creating the positive experiences. Then allow yourself to feel empowered to improve your life and develop your resourcefulness and creativity!