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Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

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Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects approximately 5.7 million adults or about 2.6% of the U.S population ages 18 and older. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, treatment for bipolar disorder through medication and counseling can help you not only manage mood swings but better function within your daily tasks and relationships.

Moreover, those that suffer from bipolar disorder may wonder about the additional challenges of raising a family. Parenting is a difficult role for anyone, as you learn how to balance your own needs with your children’s needs. Though bipolar disorder has its own set of challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a loving and caring parent to your children.

Below we discuss living with bipolar disorder as well as tips for parenting with bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mental illness where a person experiences extreme changes in mood, including mania and depression, and struggles to complete day-to-day tasks. These mood shifts can vary from multiple times a day to a couple of times during the year. In some cases, people with bipolar disorder can experience both mania and depressive emotions.

The four common types of bipolar disorder include:

  • Bipolar I Disorder—Those with bipolar I disorder have extreme manic episodes that last for a minimum of 7 days and may require hospital care. A person can also experience depressive episodes or a combination of both manic and depressive episodes.

  • Bipolar II Disorder—Those with bipolar II disorder have one or more extreme depressive episodes as well as an episode of hypomania. The hypomanic symptoms are not at the same level as full-blown manic episodes found in bipolar I disorder. Normal moods between extreme depressive episodes can occur.

  • Cyclothymic Disorder—Those with cyclothymic disorder have several hypomanic episodes and less severe depressive episodes for two-plus years. Although this is a milder form of bipolar disorder, the intensity can vary over time.

  • Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)–Those with NOS have a bipolar disorder that doesn’t follow a specific pattern of the three disorders listed above.

Although there is no single cause for bipolar disorder, some risk factors include family history, genetics, and brain structure/chemistry.

Coping with bipolar disorder

Living with bipolar disorder is more manageable than it may seem when proper treatment is in place. Those that struggle with bipolar disorder are those that fail to become an active participant in learning about their condition and being involved in developing and executing their treatment plan. That said, it’s important to create a long-term treatment plan with your physician that includes both medications as well as counseling. Ask questions and through trial and error, find what helps you overcome your mood swings and helps you function in your daily life. Learn more about some of the therapy methods used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Furthermore, Adele C. Viguera, MD, psychiatrist and associate director of the perinatal and reproductive psychiatry program at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio explains, “Parenting with a bipolar disorder can be immensely challenging, but is often a good motivation for patients to stay compliant with their medication.” As mentioned above, in order to take care of your family, it’s vital that you take care of yourself.

In addition, part of coping with bipolar disorder is involving your family and friends in your treatment. Have them attend doctor’s visits, therapy sessions, etc. so they can understand your illness better and know how to help you.

Tips for Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Develop a schedule and stick to it

In order to maintain treatment, you’ll most likely need a schedule set in place. Your daily actions have a direct impact on your emotional well-being. When you have a schedule in place, it can stabilize your moods. This is especially important when it comes to sleep. Too little sleep can trigger bipolar symptoms.

In addition, it may be beneficial to create a routine around your child’s schedule. If you need more sleep, try to sleep at the same time as your child. Make doctor and therapy appointments while your child is at an activity or school.

Keep track of your symptoms

As with any emotional or behavioral illness, it’s important to monitor your symptoms. If you feel like you’re starting to experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, seek help as soon as possible. Have emergency plans in place that put your children in proper care while you can tend to your symptoms.

Develop your parenting strengths

It’s easy to get down on yourself, especially when you suffer from bipolar disorder, but instead of focusing on your faults, work to develop your strengths as a parent. The more positive behavior you display to your children, the better they can model after you as well as see the benefits of developing their own talents.

Set healthy living goals

In addition to treating your mental health, it’s important that you also look after your physical health. This includes eating a healthy diet, incorporating exercise and getting enough sleep. Such goals can include going to the gym 3-5 times a week, eating 5-10 fruits and vegetables daily and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Avoid alcohol as it could trigger bipolar symptoms.

Make time for your children

Lastly and most importantly, give your best time to your children. Plan activities that they love to do that won’t cause stress or anxiety on your part. It’s a great way to create memories with your children and to develop a deeper bond.

At Well Street, we are proud to be the only e-counseling service designed for parents, families, kids, and teens. Our services include treating those with ADHD/ADD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, conduct and oppositional defiant disorders, depression, and sleep disorders. Our low-cost subscriptions give you 24/7 access to a counselor and weekly 1:1 sessions by chat or video.

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Parenting with Bipolar Disorder2018-02-11T00:09:07-07:00

Therapy Methods

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Therapy Methods and What to Expect

[/fusion_title][fusion_separator style_type=”single solid” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”#f7941d” top_margin=”0″ bottom_margin=”0″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_content_boxes layout=”icon-on-top” columns=”1″ title_size=”” title_color=”” body_color=”” backgroundcolor=”#ffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_radius=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” icon_size=”” icon_hover_type=”” hover_accent_color=”” image=”” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link_type=”” link_area=”” link_target=”” icon_align=”left” animation_type=”” animation_delay=”” animation_offset=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””][fusion_content_box title=”COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) is a widely used and highly effective form of talk therapy with a very simple design; revealing how behaviors, thoughts, and feelings get in a never-ending cycle that feeds off one another.” backgroundcolor=”#fffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” image=”https://mywellstreetonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Depicting_basic_tenets_of_CBT-300×289.jpg” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link=”” linktext=”Read More” link_target=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]

Stressors and negative life events can color this cycle with unhelpful thoughts, leading to bad feelings, leading to poor behaviors, and back to more unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts feelings and behaviors are guided by our underlying core beliefs about ourselves, others and the future. Insecurities about yourself, distrust of others, hopelessness for the future etc., can create and reinforce a vicious cycle of self-destruction. So, for example, “I feel disappointed and frustrated about my bad grade in math, so I think I’m stupid. Therefore, I don’t do my homework or pay attention in class. I don’t get good grades, and I’m reinforcing that I’m stupid.”

Because of CBT’s focus on “what can I do now to help move forward quickly and effectively?” CBT is commonly used in the treatment of:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • PTSD
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders
  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • conduct disorder
  • bipolar
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

How does CBT work?

CBT is an action-oriented therapy model and looks for strategies to solve problems and decrease symptoms immediately. The goal of CBT is to plant a more positive and productive thought, feeling or behavior in the cycle. This disrupts the destructive cycle and allows us to start a new pattern of positive motivation, with a significant reduction in symptoms. A CBT therapist’s main goal is to help guide you through the cycle to break the negative pattern of thought, feelings, and behaviors while replacing them with positive and motivational thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The simplicity of the model is a key reason CBT is so effective with a large range of mental health concerns. It addresses the underlying insecurities and stressors we all face, helps us gain insight, and leads us to learn coping skills fast.

What to expect in a therapy session using CBT:

There is no rush, but CBT does tend to work quickly. A therapist utilizing CBT would immediately address the symptoms. Sadness, anxiety, fear, stress, insecurities etc. and attempt to uncover where they are stemming from. “What beliefs, thoughts, feelings or behaviors have lead to these symptoms? Is there anything in the cycle that isn’t working? If so, how can it be challenged and changed?” Any change that can be made to the cycle to help promote growth and a reduction in the symptoms will be explored. Now our earlier example becomes “I feel disappointed and frustrated about my bad grade in math, so I think I need to get some afterschool tutoring. I can do my homework with my tutor and pay attention in class. I’ll feel good about myself when I get a better grade on the test and want to continue getting good grades in math.” Breaking the negative cycle will help you acknowledge those core beliefs that may be holding you in the destructive cycle and find ways to improve their impact on your life. The therapist acts as a guide and a motivator to help you face these challenging thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with support.

[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes][fusion_separator style_type=”single solid” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”#f7941d” top_margin=”0″ bottom_margin=”0″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_content_boxes layout=”icon-on-top” columns=”1″ title_size=”” title_color=”” body_color=”” backgroundcolor=”#ffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_radius=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” icon_size=”” icon_hover_type=”” hover_accent_color=”” image=”” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link_type=”” link_area=”” link_target=”” icon_align=”left” animation_type=”” animation_delay=”” animation_offset=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””][fusion_content_box title=”DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT), is a type of therapy most commonly used to treat personality disorders, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.” backgroundcolor=”#ffffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” image=”https://mywellstreetonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Dialectical_Behavior_Therapy_Cycle_EN-300×300.jpg” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link=”” linktext=”Read More” link_target=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]

Although originally designed to treat borderline personality disorder, the therapy style has been seen successful in the treatment of a wide variety of mental health concerns. The basis of DBT is to accept life’s stressors as they come and learn coping skills to combat them. It very much focuses on awareness, mindfulness, and acceptance of the here and now. DBT is designed to increase emotional regulation and mindfulness. If you can acknowledge the stressors and distressing emotions coming your way, you can accept them and prepare for them by using the coping skills you have developed with your therapist and supporters. DBT can be done individually and in groups. Individual sessions allow us to gain insight into our individual emotional reactions, triggers, and levels of anxiety, while group sessions offer their members support and a common goal for a more fulfilled life.

[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes][fusion_separator style_type=”single solid” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” sep_color=”#f7941d” top_margin=”0″ bottom_margin=”0″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” /][fusion_content_boxes layout=”icon-on-top” columns=”1″ title_size=”” title_color=”” body_color=”” backgroundcolor=”#ffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_radius=”” circlecolor=”#f6f6f6″ circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” icon_size=”” icon_hover_type=”” hover_accent_color=”” image=”” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link_type=”” link_area=”” link_target=”” icon_align=”left” animation_type=”” animation_delay=”” animation_offset=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””][fusion_content_box title=”INTERPERSONAL THERAPY (IPT) is based on the idea that life events, poor relationships, crisis, or a struggle to adapt to new circumstances, result from poor communication with self and others.” backgroundcolor=”#ffffffff” icon=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordersize=”” circlebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” image=”https://mywellstreetonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2-IPT-diagram-300×236.jpg” image_width=”250″ image_height=”250″ link=”” linktext=”Read More” link_target=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]

Foundation and Goals:

Interpersonal therapy is one of the few therapeutic techniques that has been empirically proven to show results quickly. Interpersonal therapy was founded in the 1970’s as a branch off from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, to treat major depression. Over the years, interpersonal therapy has been developed to address a variety of mental health concerns regarding relationships. The goal is to develop skills to better acknowledge our emotions and how our emotions affect relationships with others.

Interpersonal therapy greatly relies on increasing relationships with others for support. By addressing the most problematic communication symptoms first, the therapy lends its self to adapt to more symptom management. For example, a child is quiet, reclusive and does not like to interact with peers. Interpersonal therapy would address why the child struggles to want to engage. Focusing on expectations of self and others, or unrealistic expectations may help him gain insight as to why he feels unable to engage. Perhaps he is afraid that people will laugh at him, or he will “mess up.” Teaching the child coping skills for anxieties, communication or stressors and slowly introduce the child into social interactions with peers would be next in assisting him to gain confidence in the interactions between self and others. All while under the guidance and support of a therapist, parent, teacher or peers.

What to expect in Interpersonal Therapy sessions:

Many seek treatment utilizing interpersonal therapy to cope with various life stressors. This model of treatment works well for issues concerning grief or loss, relationship conflict, difficulty adjusting to a new situation or environment, depression, anxiety and social isolation because of its primary interest in acknowledgment of emotions and improving communication with self and others. For example, when a close family member passes away, it is often observed that family members will attempt to grieve separately when perhaps sharing in the grief would allow the family unit to move through the difficult transition together. This technique can also be used to help with substance abuse, and eating disorders because of its belief that support from others is key to a healthy and fulfilled life.

The interpersonal therapist’s job is to help us acknowledge our underlying emotions, observe the impact moods have on our relationships and learn communication skills to better involve others, or set healthy boundaries with our friends and family. A therapist will help us track the use of these interactions with self and others while assisting us to fine-tune those skills to become lifelong and easily accessible coping tools.

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CBT, DBT, and IPT are shown to be highly effective in online therapy environments.

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Therapy Methods2018-02-12T11:56:45-07:00

Parent Training

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Parent Training for ADHD and other Childhood Disorders

Parent training is a treatment modality in which parents are provided with resources to help them parent a child with a behavioral, emotional, or developmental disorder. It is essentially a program of education to help parents adjust their behavior to the developmental needs of their child. For instance, parents of children with disruptive behaviors are taught how to set rules and define consequences for disobeying those rules. There are many different types of programs available – each specifically designed to address the symptoms of the disorder.

Parent training has become increasingly more popular as a form of treatment due in large part to recent research supporting its effectiveness. One study on the effectiveness of parent training in preschool children with ADHD found it reduced symptoms in a number of indexes, including the participants’ inattention and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, aggression, and rule-breaking behaviors. Parent training is also shown to be effective in decreasing anxious symptoms, withdrawn/depressed symptoms, affective problems, poor social skills, somatic problems, early conduct disorder, disruptive behaviors, and overall improve a child’s well-being.

In addition to helping parents cope better with their child’s symptoms, these programs help improve parent-child interactions. With many parents reporting to have improved relationships with their children after participating in a program. Parent training programs are also shown to have a positive influence on parents’ own view of their mental well-being and a decrease in family stress.

These type of training programs typically last about 10 weeks. Participating in a program with an online therapist can be highly effective as well as convenient for busy families. Therapists at Well Street are available today to design a parent training program for you and your family.

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Parent Training2018-02-12T11:56:27-07:00

How to Help a Depressed Friend

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How to Help a Depressed Friend

Do you have a depressed friend or classmate? Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects day-to-day activities and interactions. Worse, it’s a growing epidemic among adolescents. Recent studies indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. From feelings of persistent sadness to fatigue and changes in eating and sleeping habits, depression can take on different forms—especially in teens.

If you know of someone—a friend, classmate, etc.—that’s suffering from depression, it’s important that you give them the support, help, and encouragement they need on their road to recovery.

Below are five tips to keep in mind when helping a friend and what to say to someone that is depressed.

  1. Research

One of the first things you can do is research depression topics. There are tons of resources and information on the web to help you better understand where your friend is coming from. The more informed you are, the better help and encouragement you can provide.

Moreover, Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan explains, “The key thing is to help the [depressed] person know that you understand that they’re ill. A lot of people view depression as some sort of character flaw. To let someone know that you understand that this is an illness that needs to be treated is important.”

Besides the basics (what it is, symptoms, and treatment) it’s important that you also understand that recovery is different for each person and learn what part you can play in the treatment process. Learn about the different kinds of therapy methods.

  1. Be there to listen

Talking to someone with depression should first involve more listening on your end. If your friend feels like talking, ask where they’re at, what you can do, and what they find helpful in treating their depression.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are some safe questions to ask:

  • How can I best support you right now?
  • When did you begin feeling like this?
  • Have you thought about getting help?
  • What makes you feel worse?
  • What makes you feel better?
  • How much stress are you dealing with?

Remember to be a sounding board first before offering advice. Give your friend a chance to open up so you can be more informed about their situation.

  1. Provide company

In addition to being a sounding board, offer to accompany your friend to their treatments, such as doctor appointments, therapy sessions, even tag along when they’re picking up their medications. This can show your friend just how treatable their illness is and the importance of being persistent in the recovery process. Check in with your friend every once in a while and ask what assistance you can provide. You’ll not only be a huge help but give them additional company throughout their treatment.

  1. Do something fun

Organize a fun outing with your friend. Plan something that you both enjoy doing, whether that’s watching a movie, going out to eat, bowling, shopping etc. It’s a great way to show that you care and support your friend, which is what they need.

In addition, if your friend is up for it, try exercising together. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant—take a yoga or spinning class together, go for a hike, go to the driving range or shoot some hoops. It’s a simple way to get your friend out and about as well as create some great social and bonding time.

  1. Help with the little things

Lastly, look for ways to help your friend out within their day-to-day activities. If they miss some school, work with your teachers to get class notes and homework assignments and deliver to them. Help pitch in if they have household chores, such as cleaning their room or taking the trash out. The little help you provide can go a long way for someone with depression. It can also give your friend extra time to focus on their personal recovery. Just remember not to take on too much, as you don’t want to suffer from burnout!

Keep these five tips in mind when helping out a depressed friend. Remember that depression varies from person-to-person and it’s important you work with your friend to see what’s best for them and provide the best support and encouragement as they recover.

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If You Need Immediate Help

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or is in danger, please seek immediate help.

Call 911

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-8255

Text HOME to 741-741

Crisis Text Line

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How to Help a Depressed Friend2018-02-11T00:26:39-07:00

ADHD vs ADD

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The Difference Between ADHD and ADD

ADHD vs ADD – what’s the difference? When it comes to attention disorders in children, two common chronic conditions are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s important for parents to know the difference between the two in order to properly create and execute a treatment plan for your child. If these conditions are not treated, they can have a significant impact on your child’s emotional, academic and social environments in childhood, adolescence and even in adulthood.

What are the differences between the two conditions and what types of treatment are best?

ADHD

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a condition of the brain that makes it hard for children to control their behavior. Furthermore, children with ADHD have frequent, severe problems that interfere with their ability to live normal lives.

Additionally, ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Inattentive ADHD—Lack of focus, disorganization, and forgetfulness.
  • Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD—Restlessness, impulsive decision-making.
  • Combined Presentation ADHD—A mix of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Children with ADHD have frequent behavior issues that include high activity levels, failing to stay focused long enough to accomplish tasks, and difficulty remaining still for long periods of time.

ADD

On the other hand, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is classified as the inattentive ADHD subtype. Though the term is still used by many parents and teachers, ADD is now an outdated term, as doctors recognize ADD as inattentive ADHD.

Medical News Today explains that “the difference in children with inattentive ADHD is that their lack of ability to focus and pay attention is greater than what is expected for their age.” Children are distracted when focused on tasks, unable to pay attention, unable to organize or manage time, and often lose items needed for daily activity.

The biggest difference between inattentive ADHD and ADHD is that children with inattentive ADHD do not have impulsive or hyper tendencies. Furthermore, children with inattentive ADHD may go undiagnosed because their symptoms may be written off as daydreaming.

Treatment options for ADHD vs ADD

Before creating treatment plans, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends performing ADHD evaluations in any child ages 4-18 who present academic and/or behavioral problems plus symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. This evaluation involves gathering information from parents/guardians, teachers, and other mental health clinicians.

For children with ADD (inattentive ADHD), treatment plans often revolve around medication, behavioral, and psychological interventions. Medication is commonly used to help manage and reduce a child’s inattentive behavior.

Treatment plans for ADHD vary by age.

  • For children ages 4-5—treatment options include first with parent and/or teacher administered behavioral therapy and then methylphenidate if behavioral interventions do not lead to improvement.
  • For children ages 6-11—treatment options include FDA approved medications and parent or teacher-based behavioral therapy.
  • For adolescents ages 12-18—treatment options include FDA approved medications and behavioral therapy.

If you believe your child may be suffering from ADHD, try our free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker.

If your child has a confirmed ADHD diagnosis, it’s important to first create a long-term management plan that serves as ongoing treatment. What should be included in a long-term management plan? From establishing structure and consistent rules in your home to creating good sleeping habits, there are various ways you can help your child and your family deal with the challenges of ADHD. Click here to read our six tips on how you can help your child overcome daily challenges and bring greater calm to your home.

Finally, at Well Street, we believe it is important for your child to receive help from a behavioral health care professional as soon as you suspect your child is suffering from ADHD. When behavioral interventions and/or parent training therapies are used as initial treatment, it might improve ADHD symptoms in both children and teens.

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ADHD vs ADD2018-02-11T00:28:58-07:00

When Parents Suffer from Anxiety

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Parenting with Anxiety

Parenting with anxiety can have you feeling like you’re failing the most important people in your life, your children and spouse. Joy can become swept away and special moments turn into grey ones, clouded by constant worrying. Anxiety can prevent you from being the parent you want to be. Irrational thoughts begin to flood your mind, your heart begins to race uncontrollably and your body can turn into jelly. You suddenly find it difficult to be present with your children because you have become a captive to your thoughts. Often times, leaving you feeling powerless.

While everyone has some degree of anxiety, those of us with disorders have an overwhelming amount that can seep into our daily lives, making parenting harder. If you do have anxiety, know that you are not alone. In fact, 18% of the adult population has some kind of anxiety at any given time.

With proper treatment and adoption of any or all of the seven strategies below, you can reclaim your life from anxiety and be the parent you want to be for your child.

  • Go for a walk or exercise. Exercise has been shown to be a great way to relieve anxiety and can include anything from running, joining an aerobics class, circuit training, or yoga.
  • Take a timeout. Finding time to meditate or just taking a break for 15 minutes and engaging in deep breathing exercises can help you calm down when you feel your anxiety creeping up.
  • Play with your hands. You can even involve your children on this one, depending on their age. Play with modeling dough, build something with Legos, color, paint, draw, etc. because by doing so you are taking your mind off your worries. Plus, you’re accomplishing something tangible!
  • Sleep. I know this can be difficult with children, especially with younger ones. But, keep in mind that sleep is paramount to good mental health. Try to sleep when your kids are sleeping and not stay up too late when they are sleeping.
  • Eat well. Nutrition plays a big role in your mood and overall health. Try to eat a balanced diet that includes fiber and protein, giving you longer and slower energy to burn. For some parents, cutting back on caffeine has also shown to help reduce their anxiety. Some parents have also found chamomile tea to be helpful and provide a sense of calm.
  • Connect with friends. Having someone in your circle to talk to can really be helpful in gaining a new perspective. You may also find that voicing your concerns can help you feel more empowered. It’s also helpful to have someone that you can rely on to help you with your children when you really need it. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help!
  • Seek therapy. Therapy can really help you learn more about your anxiety and reshape your automatic thoughts before they impact your feelings. A therapist can also help you learn new relaxation techniques and retrain your brain. With therapy, you may find that your high anxiety days are fewer and farther between. You will also learn to recognize potentially bad days or moments much faster.

Keep in mind that there is hope and that your anxiety is treatable. It’s a work in progress and some people benefit from a multifaceted approach to treating it. Don’t’ let your anxiety deny you the joys of parenting and watching your children grow.

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When Parents Suffer from Anxiety2018-02-11T00:34:28-07:00

Parenting the ADHD Child

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Parenting a Child with ADHD

If you have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you know how challenging and overwhelming it can be when your child doesn’t listen, finish what was started, or do what was asked. Not to mention, how physically and mentally exhausting it can be to constantly feel like you have to monitor your child. Despite the difficulties ADHD can cause both you and your child, there are some simple strategies that can help control and reduce the symptoms related to ADHD. If you suspect your child may have ADHD, try the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. The following tips can help your child overcome daily challenges and bring greater calm to your family.

Establish structure in your home.

Children with ADHD are more likely to complete tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places. By creating and sustaining structure in your home, you are helping your child know what to expect and what they are expected to do. The following strategies can help you create and maintain structure at home:

  • Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed. For instance, have your child lay his or her clothing out and his or her school bag packed and placed in the same, accessible spot the night before.
  • Place your child’s schedule in a place that he or she can see.
  • Place clocks and timers throughout the house, especially in your child’s bedroom. A timer can be especially helpful for homework and transitions.  For instance, you can use a timer when you want to transition your child from playtime to bedtime.
  • Make sure your child has a specific, regular place for doing homework, away from distractions.
  • Build lots of regular breaks into homework time.
  • Give your child a special notebook for writing down assignments.
  • Help create a quiet, private space for your child to unwind.
  • Do your best at organizing your home and help your child understand that everything in your home has its own place.
  • Make sure all other caregivers are familiar with your child’s daily routine and everyone adheres to your child’s scheduled routine.

Keep your child busy.

For many children with ADHD, idle time may only exacerbate their symptoms. If this is the case, help keep your child engaged in activities outside of the home that he or she enjoys, such as joining an organized sport, taking an art class, music lessons, or dance.  When home, help your child by organizing activities for him or her, such as helping you cook or bake, playing a game with a sibling, or engaging in an art activity.  Lastly, try to encourage your child to spend time outside.  Recent research has indicated a reduction of ADHD symptoms in children who spend time in nature.  Whatever you do, be mindful of your child to make sure he or she does not feel overwhelmed with all the scheduled activities.

Ensure a proper diet.

All children benefit from healthy, regular meals. Try keeping sodas and foods high in sugar outside of the house. Foods high in sugar can affect your child’s mental state, which in turn can exacerbate hyperactivity in your child. Help create healthy eating habits in your child by scheduling nutritious meals and snacks. It is also helpful to make sure your child eats something nutritious at least every three to four hours, whether that is an apple or granola bar.

Encourage good sleep hygiene.

Lack of sleep makes everyone less attentive than usual. However, it can be even more harmful to a child with ADHD.  Without adequate sleep, your child can become overstimulated and have trouble falling asleep. Below are some approaches you can take to help create better sleep hygiene in your child:

  • Decrease the amount of time your child spends watching television, playing video games, or using a tablet/cell phone. Instead, increase the amount of time your child is engaged in activities and exercises during the day. In fact, it has been shown that exercises lead to better sleep.
  • Eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet.
  • Have your child engage in quieter activities before bedtime, such as drawing or reading.
  • Set a consistent, age-appropriate bedtime for your child and stick with it.
  • Help create a calming bedtime ritual for your child, such as a bath or cuddling.

Establish consistent expectations and rules.

Whatever rules you have as a parent should be clear and easy to understand and follow for your child with ADHD.  When establishing rules, it is helpful to make direct eye contact, give your verbal directions one at a time, and check for understanding. It is also helpful to have the rules written down and placed in a place that is visible to your child. It is also important to establish rewards and consequences and explain what will happen when the rules are followed and when they are broken. Try to stick with the rules and follow through every time with a reward or consequence. Look below for some help in creating a reward and consequence system in your home.

  • Reward your child with privileges, praise, or activities, rather than with food or toys.
  • Change your rewards frequently because children with ADHD get bored if the reward is always the same.
  • Make a chart with points or stars awarded for good behavior, so your child has a visual reminder of his or her successes.  Place this chart next to where you have your rules in the house.
  • Immediate rewards work better than the promise of a future reward, but small rewards leading to a big one can also work.
  • Always follow through with a reward.
  • Consequences should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after your child has misbehaved.
  • Try time-outs and the removal of privileges as consequences for misbehavior.
  • Remove your child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior.
  • When your child misbehaves, ask what he or she could have done instead. Then have your child demonstrate it.
  • Always follow through with a consequence.

It’s also important to note that praise and encouragement are really important for children with ADHD because they usually receive complaints about their behaviors.  Simple praise for appropriate behavior or task completion can go a long way for your child with ADHD. Try to be on the lookout for good behavior, even for small achievements that may not be a big deal in your other children.

Stay positive!

Granted this may seem impossible some days. But, keep in mind that you set the stage for your child’s emotional and physical health. You can help positively influence your child’s ADHD symptoms. Below are some tips to help keep you staying positive:

  • Keep in mind that your child’s behaviors are related to his or her disorder. Often times, he or she is not acting out intentionally.
  • Believe that your child can mature, learn, and succeed because with proper help and changes in the house, he or she will.
  • Take care of your self both physically and emotionally. Your stress levels can spill over to other aspects of your life, including your energy and patience. Try to eat right, exercise, and engage in activities that help you wind down.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have help from family members or friends to babysit your child, use it for yourself. Many parents feel guilty about leaving their child, however, you may find that you feel rejuvenated from just stepping away for a short time. Thus, giving you more energy to handle your child’s behaviors.
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Parenting the ADHD Child2018-02-12T16:18:48-07:00

Exercise Helps Reduce Teen Anxiety

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Exercise Can Help with Your Anxiety

Teen anxiety – over 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder. Moreover, it’s one of the most common mental health concerns found in teens. Though anxiety is a protective mechanism to help increase mental alertness, too much anxiety or anxiety that never goes away and gets worse over time can interfere with your daily function. If you’re curious or concerned about your anxiety level, take the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. The results can give immediate insight into whether you should seek help for your anxiety.

It’s vital to treat anxiety disorders as soon as possible to decrease the negative impact on your mental health, academic, and social functioning.

In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exercise is a great therapy technique for anxiety. In fact, exercise is nature’s anti-anxiety remedy. It releases endorphins, which play a role in regulating mood and relaxation. Best of all, exercise can eliminate the feelings of stress, a big factor in anxiety disorders.

Find exercises you will enjoy

When incorporating exercise into your daily/weekly routine, it should be one that you enjoy. If you don’t know what you like, then try out a few. From team sports such as baseball, basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse to individual sports such as tennis, swimming, running, and yoga—there are many options to choose from. In addition, try finding sports and/or clubs offered at the school so that the exercise is also a social experience.

Yoga

Yoga is a great exercise routine to help you decrease anxiety levels. Yoga can help you develop meditation, focus, and deep breathing techniques. In addition to building a strong and flexible core, yoga can help you learn relaxation techniques. Studies have shown that those who participate in yoga have significant reductions in anxiety, depression, anger, and neurotic symptoms. There are many types of yoga classes you can choose, or search the web for at-home yoga videos to do in the living room.

Hiking

Getting active outside is another great way to help boost your mood. From day-long hikes to an hour-long trail loop, there are many ways to get off of the couch and out exploring nature. This helps give you a much-needed break from the stress of school and social life.

Swimming

If you’re looking for an exercise to help improve muscle strength, consider swimming. Like running, you can set your own pace as well as build up your endurance. Plus, it’s a change of pace and a different exercise environment.

Biking

In addition to improving your cardio health, biking is a great option to build self-esteem. A study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that when people with sedentary lifestyles started biking and exercising, their self-esteem improved after just 10 sessions. Plus, biking in nature has the added benefit of boosting your overall mood. Research local areas where you can take your next bike ride. Remember to wear a helmet!

Dancing

Dancing is another great exercise to reduce anxiety! There are many forms of dance you can participate in—from ballroom to hip-hop, see what classes your local community center is offering. Other health benefits of dance include: better coordination, increased aerobic fitness, improve heart and lung conditions, weight management, increased physical confidence, improved mental functioning, and better social skills.

If possible, try to participate in exercise activities with friends or participate in activities where you can be social. The connection you build can often help to counter the anxiety you feel. Regular exercise not only helps you with anxiety but can also help you sleep better at night, which directly impacts your anxiety levels the next day.

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Exercise Helps Reduce Teen Anxiety2018-02-11T00:30:39-07:00

Sleep Disorder Types

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Sleep Disorder Types

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), two out of every three children ages 10 and under have experienced some type of sleep disorder. When sleep disorders are left untreated, they can negatively impact a child’s overall social and behavioral development at home and at school. Furthermore, children can develop depression and anxiety disorders when they do not get the proper amount of sleep.

In order to properly treat your child, it’s important to understand what type of sleep disorder they may have, the symptoms and best ways to treat it. If you’re not sure, you can use the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker.

Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder is classified as interrupted breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is defined as loud snoring and blocked airflow in the windpipe. When the windpipe closes, it causes your child to awake, resume breathing and go back to sleep. Additional symptoms include: restlessness, pauses in breathing while sleeping and daytime sleepiness. Treatment options include CPAP mask that helps increase breathing, dental appliances or in some cases, surgery to remove tonsils.

Enuresis (Bed Wetting)

Children suffering from sleep apnea are at the greatest risk for bedwetting. Why? Because of a lack of sleep, their reactions have decreased and it prevents them from waking up fully to go to the bathroom. The main symptom of enuresis is urinating in the bed or having a full bladder. Treatment options include restricting liquid intake in the evening and/or prescribe medication from your pediatrician.

Night Terrors

Common among preschoolers (3-6 years old), nightmares and night terrors happen when children dream of a scary situation involving monsters, ghosts, and other scary imagery. Symptoms of night terrors include sweating, awaking scared, heavy breathing, confusion, and fatigue. Treatment options include creating a security object, such as a stuffed animal or blanket to lessen fear, turning on a nightlight and creating a mellow bedtime routine.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)

DSPS is defined as the inability to fall asleep for at least two hours past bedtime. DSPS is more common among teens. Symptoms also include daytime fatigue and difficulty getting up in the morning. Treatment options include bright-light therapy, melatonin supplements, improving evening habits and sleep hygiene.

Insomnia

Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking early. Insomnia can last for a few nights to a few weeks and months. Symptoms include depressed mood, aggressiveness, and irritability. Treatment options are establishing a regular bedtime that includes relaxation before lights out, melatonin supplements, or other medications. However, it’s important that when treating insomnia to find the underlying psychological issues and treat them first, as they are usually the cause of insomnia.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

This disorder causes interruptions in the brain during REM sleep and allows a child to physically act out their dreams, in which they could harm themselves or others. Symptoms include jumping from bed, kicking, yelling, and punching while asleep. Treatment options include therapy and melatonin supplements.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

This is insomnia that results from prickly or tingling sensations that causes your child to want to move their legs. Other symptoms include jerking of legs or arms while asleep as well as restlessness. Because RLS can happen due to an iron deficiency, treatment often involves iron supplementation.

Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking occurs when a child gets out of bed and walks around, with their eyes opened, while still asleep. Nonsensical talking may also occur. Another common symptom is your child not remembering sleepwalking. Problems arise when the sleepwalking disrupts other family members’ sleep. Treatment options include relaxation before lights out, locking the door and removing objects that could harm your child while sleepwalking.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy occurs when the brain fails to regulate sleep-wake cycles. As such, during the day children may have narcolepsy experiences, including immediately falling asleep for a few seconds to several minutes. Symptoms include overwhelming daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and insomnia during the night. Treatment options include medications, scheduling naps during the day, and improving bedtime routines.

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Counseling is a treatment option for many types of sleep disorders. Most often, there are other underlying factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Therapy with a behavioral health professional can help your child create positive behaviors.

At Well Street, we believe it is important for your child to receive help from a behavioral health care professional as soon as you suspect your child is suffering from sleep disorders. In fact, based on our studies, we found that written or video-based material used to convey behavioral skills to parents may contribute to improvements in your child’s behavior.

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Sleep Disorder Types2018-02-11T00:44:26-07:00

Signs of Childhood Depression

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Worried your child may be suffering from depression?

Depression, though not as common in younger children, is a growing issue among older kids and teenagers. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, as many as 2 to 3% of children ages 6-12 and 6-8% of teens may have serious depression, and an estimated 2.8 million adolescents (ages 12 to 17) in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2014.

As a parent, it’s important to know the signs of childhood depression.

Sadness lasting for at least two weeks

All children experience sadness during their young lives. However, this sadness becomes a problem when it’s persistent and lasts for more than two weeks. This sadness can be paired with feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.

Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping

Children who are suffering from depression often have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep during the night. This often has a negative impact throughout the day, as they could suffer from fatigue, difficulty concentrating at school and emotional outbursts. On the other hand, another sign of depression is excessive sleep.

Change in eating habits

Notice if your child is eating more or less during the day. Both extremes could be signs of childhood depression. In addition, look for sudden changes in weight and talk with your child about this change. Especially if your child is fixated on their size and weight, it could also be a sign of depression.

Decreased interest in activities and friends

Another major sign of depression is related to your child’s social interactions. If s/he seems bored and withdrawn from friends more so than in the past, it could be a symptom of depression. S/he may also seem less interested or bored with activities that they enjoyed in the past. Depressed teens often show this behavior of no longer wanting to participate in activities they once enjoyed.

Problems at school

From declining grades to other issues like getting in trouble or refusing to go to school, problems at school can be a sign of childhood depression. Like the point above regarding interests, your child could also withdraw from school organizations and lose overall motivation when it comes to academics. Notice if your child is having a hard time focusing on school work or paying attention in class, as these are also signs of childhood depression.

Running away from home

Because of increased emotions of sadness, anger, and irritability, it could motivate your child to run away from home as a way to avoid any conflict or issue they may be facing. Notice if your child becomes more motivated to avoid problems that arise or if they make an increased effort to leave or be away from home.

Physical ailments

From headaches to stomachaches and other physical ailments, children with depression may suffer from pain that doesn’t have a clear cause. Relating to lack of sleep, your child may also have low energy levels throughout the day and have no energy to go through their regular daily routines. This increase in pain may also lead to the frequent release of emotions, such as crying more often.

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If your child or teen is showing depression symptoms, try the Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. Heads Up Checkup can give you insight on whether you should be concerned about your child’s symptoms. If not quickly and properly treated, childhood depression can negatively impact your child’s physical and emotional growth and may never go away.

Counseling can be an effective treatment to help your child learn better problem-solving skills, replace negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones, learn how to set realistic goals, explore relationships and experiences, and most importantly, regain a sense of satisfaction and control in life. You can learn more about common treatment methods and what to expect here.

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Signs of Childhood Depression2018-02-11T00:48:27-07:00