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When Mood Disorders Co-Occur With Your Child’s ADHD

Mood Disorders That Can be Linked to ADHDmood disorders

Sometimes when an individual is diagnosed with one mental health condition it can trigger another. All children with ADHD will not develop comorbid mood disorders, but some do and parents should be alert to the possibility. Here are some of the mood disorders most commonly experienced by children with ADHD:


Dysthymia is a minor depression. With it children will show signs of depression such as low self-worth, irritability, sleep or appetite changes, trouble concentrating and general hopelessness. To be diagnosed with dysthymia the child would meet at least two of the diagnostic criteria, although symptoms may come and go.

Major Depression

Major depression is characterized by persistent sadness, listlessness, lack of enjoyment, sleep and appetite changes and increasing isolation. In kids, major depression may manifest as frequent crying, irritability without an obvious cause or talk about death. The difference between dysthymic and major depression is largely a matter of the number and persistence of symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder

This manifests as swings in mood which range from one extreme (pole) to the other. Sometimes the person is inordinately positive, energetic and productive. At other times, they are so deeply depressed that even basic self-care feels like a monumental effort. In children with bipolar disorder, symptoms may present as behavioral, social and emotional disturbance.

In combination with ADHD symptoms of mood disorders can be difficult to identify and, at the same time, more intense. Low self-worth, for example, is a common symptom for kids with ADHD. Irritability is the same – frustration with frequent challenges and failures can produce regular problems of irritability. This makes it challenging to see the co-occurring mental health condition.

At Family Guidance Center we have mental health professionals that can help with treatment for ADHD and an accompanying mood disorder. If you suspect your child may be depressed or has symptoms of a co-occurring mood disorder, call us today.

Women More Apt Than Men to Develop a Mood Disorder

Researchers Believe Female Hormones Could Trigger a Mood Disorder for Women

mood disorderWhen studying illness researchers are interested not only in how the disease behaves and progresses, but also in what may cause or contribute to the development of the illness in the first place. Risk factors are those things which seem to make a person more likely to contract or develop specific health issues. Risk factors can be behavioral (e.g. smoking may lead to lung cancer), they can be hereditary (certain illnesses run in families) and they can be environmental (loud work environments may cause hearing loss). For some conditions, even your gender may pose a risk factor. Women, for example, are two times more apt than men to experience a mood disorder.

Hormones Could be Attributed
One reason that women may be more susceptible to developing a mood disorder could stem from their hormone system. Investigators believe that hormones are linked to mood disorders because it is only during a woman’s reproductive years that there is a measurable difference in the prevalence of mood disorder between men and women. Before and after that season of life mood disorders seem to affect similar numbers of males and females.

In fact, hormones and mood disorder could be symbiotic. Women face a higher risk of mood disorder around hormonal events such as menstruation, childbirth and menopause. At the same time, the presence of a mood disorder can impact hormonal events such as early menopause. This means that if you are a woman still in childbearing years, it’s important that you not ignore any signs of a mood disorder.

Mood disorders can become chronic and persistent — but they are manageable with help from experienced mental health professionals. Please contact us at Family Guidance Center. We understand and we can help.

Three Mental Illnesses that Affect Millions of Americans

10855632_sMore often than not, mental illness does not receive the same attention as conditions affecting physical health. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that mental illness is still surrounded by a cloud of stigma making it difficult for society to openly talk about and address such issues.  Other times there is a lack of education and awareness regarding mental health matters and just how many people are truly impacted by them.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that over a quarter of all Americans over the age of 18 have a diagnosable mental illness each year. That equates to almost 63 million men and women. Three of the most common mental health problems include eating disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders.

Eating Disorders. Women tend to be diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia far more frequently than men. Both anorexia and bulimia can leave a person severely malnourished and trigger other serious health problems. In each case, the course of treatment may include individual and group therapy and family support. Sometimes an anti-depressant is necessary to treat symptoms of depression. Additionally, millions of women and men live with binge eating disorder or compulsive eating disorders, and may have untreated coexisting mental illnesses that contribute to the destructive cycle.

Mood Disorders. Two of the more frequently diagnosed mood disorders include bipolar disorder and depression. Approximately 6 million Americans are affected by bipolar disorder, and more than twice that (15 million)  live with major depressive disorder. Without treatment, both can seriously affect family life, careers, finances and every area of life. Per NIMH figures, depression is the leading cause for disability for those between the ages of 15 and 44. Treatment involves medication and counseling.

Personality Disorders. Just under 10 percent of Americans are affected by personality disorders such as anti-social personality disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and avoidant personality disorder. These are serious forms of mental illness that impact daily functioning and social relationships. They can be more difficult to treat and often require medication.

Mental illness doesn’t have to dictate the course of a person’s life. With professional help, such as from Family Guidance Center,  many individuals manage symptoms successfully and lead very fulfilling and productive lives.  If you would like to set an appointment or learn more about available mental health services in your community, contact Family Guidance Center.

Bipolar Diagnosis in Affected Individuals May Help Speed Recovery

13583067_sWhen a person initially finds out that he or she has bipolar disorder, it can be an overwhelming and unsettling experience. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are 5.7 million American adults affected by the disease. Bipolar disorder can take as long as a decade to diagnose and this is because its symptoms of mania or hyperactivity, depression, and risky decision making are often easily confused for something else.

In fact, many individuals diagnosed with depression are later found to have bipolar disorder. Symptoms may gradually worsen over time till the affected individual no longer feels comfortable in his or her own skin. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that when left undiagnosed, can cause significant disruptions to a person’s life. Researchers from Norway’s University of Bergen examined 13 adults with bipolar disorder to determine how finally receiving a diagnosis affected the group – particularly how such knowledge impacted recovery.

According to a recent article on GoodTherapy.org, the acceptance of being bipolar occurs in three phases as adults move toward recovery: 1) doubt and confusion, 2) identifying and trying to understand shifts in mood, and 3) attempting to process the illness in terms of its meaning for the future. In the first and second phases, participants reported feeling out-of-sorts and disconnected from reality. In the third phase of diagnosis, however, even though some individuals struggled to accept their diagnosis – for others, the realization brought relief.

According to lead study author Marius Veseth, being made aware of the illness and recognizing it for what it is can often be a step toward recovery, even though that acceptance can be difficult to process. Once the initial shock wears off, it may be easier to transition into the ‘Okay, I have bipolar disorder, what now?” phase.

If you or someone you know is affected by bipolar disorder, Family Guidance Center can help. Life doesn’t stop because of mental illness. Quite the contrary – with proper support and assistance, many individuals with a mental health diagnosis — similar to a chronic health problem — lead fulfilling and productive lives. Contact Family Guidance Center to learn more about treatment and recovery programs available in your area.


7 Ways to Help Children with Bipolar Disorder Succeed in School

9773503_sBipolar disorder is a mental illness that, left unchecked, can create serious issues for children at school. Symptoms of the disorder such as cycling mania and depression coupled with abrupt mood swings make it difficult for children to concentrate and learn. Much like ADHD, which early onset bipolar disorder is often mistaken for, there are many adaptations that can be made to the classroom environment that allow for a more positive learning experience.

According to a recent article outlined at Families.com, parents can ask that the following reasonable adaptations be made to support their child’s learning.

  1. A five minute warning should be provided to children by the teacher prior to switching activities so that they can properly separate themselves from the task at hand.

  2. Children need to receive praise when they are performing as instructed. In this manner, good behavior is supported through positive reinforcement.

  3. Anyone responsible for supplying a child with medication needs to be properly trained and aware of potential side effects.

  4. Frequent meetings with the child’s teacher may be needed to help identify triggers – such as time of day, onset of certain activities, etc. which may activate manic episodes so that outbursts can be minimized.

  5. Suicidal comments or acts of violence should never be ignored or taken lightly. Additionally, parents and the school counselor should always be notified of such incidents.

  6. Parents can request that another adult be made available in the event their child becomes unruly. Plans for how such situations will be handled need to be arranged in advance. One solution might be to create a neutral zone where the child can unwind without disrupting the class. Another might be to have the child walk off frustration or breathe deeply to regain composure.

  7. Teachers need to receive sufficient training on how to support children with bipolar disorder so they know what to expect, what medications the child is taking, and when the parent should receive a phone call. If the teacher seems unwilling to oblige, follow up with the school principal with regard to placement.

Bipolar disorder, while serious, is both manageable and treatable. With proper support and knowledge, children who have bipolar disorder can lead a very fulfilling and productive life. Check in with your local Family Guidance Center for more resources to help children living with mental illness.