May Awareness: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Also called: ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles – the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice

  • Trouble walking or running
  • Trouble writing
  • Speech problems

Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure.

The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival.

Information provided by NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


For more information on ALS you can go to the ALS Association at

May Awareness: Mental Health

Mental Health

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Mental Health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Mental illness has no boundaries or limitations.  It can affect any gender, race, age or socioeconomic status. End the stigma of mental illness and educate yourself on what it means.  Mental illness can be any of the conditions mentioned below:


  • ADHD
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Autism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Related Conditions:

  • Anosognosia
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Psychosis
  • Self-harm
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Suicide

For more information on Mental Health go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at

May Awareness: Sturge-Weber Syndrome


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Struge-Weber Syndrome

Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurological disorder indicated at birth by a port-wine stain birthmark on the forehead and upper eyelid of one side of the face.  The birthmark can vary in color from light pink to deep purple and is caused by an overabundance of capillaries around the trigeminal nerve just beneath the surface of the face.  Sturge-Weber syndrome is also accompanied by abnormal blood vessels on the brain surface and the loss of nerve cells and calcification of underlying tissue in the cerebral cortex of the brain on the same side of the brain as the birthmark.

Treatment for Sturge-Weber syndrome is symptomatic.  Laser treatment may be used to lighten or remove the birthmark.   Anticonvulsant medications may be used to control seizures.

Although it is possible for the birthmark and atrophy in the cerebral cortex to be present without symptoms, most infants will develop convulsive seizures during their first year of life.  There is a greater likelihood of intellectual impairment when seizures start before the age of 2 and are resistant to treatment.  Prognosis is worst in the minority of children who have both sides of the brain affected by the blood vessel abnormalities.

Information provided by:  NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

For more information on Sturge-Weber syndrome you can go to The Sturge-Weber Foundation at

May Awareness: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome


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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Also called: Causalgia, CRPS, Reflex sympathetic dystrophy


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition. It causes intense pain, usually in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. It may happen after an injury, either to a nerve or to tissue in the affected area. Rest and time may only make it worse.

Symptoms in the affected area are

  • Dramatic changes in skin temperature, color, or texture
  • Intense burning pain
  • Extreme skin sensitivity
  • Swelling and stiffness in affected joints
  • Decreased ability to move the affected body part

The cause of CRPS is unknown. There is no specific diagnostic test. Your doctor will diagnose CRPS based on your signs and symptoms.

There is no cure. It can get worse over time, and may spread to other parts of the body. Occasionally it goes away, either temporarily or for good. Treatment focuses on relieving the pain, and can include medicines, physical therapy, and nerve blocks.

Information provided by:  NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


For more information on CRPS go to The American RSDHope Organization at

May Awareness: Neurofibromatosis


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Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder of the nervous system. It mainly affects how nerve cells form and grow. It causes tumors to grow on nerves. You can get neurofibromatosis from your parents, or it can happen because of a mutation (change) in your genes. Once you have it, you can pass it along to your children. Usually the tumors are benign, but sometimes they can become cancerous.

There are three types of neurofibromatosis:

  • Type 1 (NF1) causes skin changes and deformed bones. It usually starts in childhood. Sometimes the symptoms are present at birth.
  • Type 2 (NF2) causes hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and poor balance. Symptoms often start in the teen years.
  • Schwannomatosis causes intense pain. It is the rarest type.

Doctors diagnose the different types based on the symptoms. Genetic testing is also used to diagnose NF1 and NF2. There is no cure. Treatment can help control symptoms. Depending on the type of disease and how serious it is, treatment may include surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy, and medicines.

Information provided by NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


For more information on Neurofibromatosis go to the Children’s Tumor Foundation website at


May Awareness: Lupus


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Information about Lupus

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a widespread and chronic (lifelong) autoimmune disease that, for unknown reasons, causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue and organs, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood or skin.  The immune system normally protects the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials.  In an autoimmune disease like lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissue.  The immune system then makes antibodies directed against “self.”

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Symptoms of lupus often mimic  other less serious illnesses.  They can range from mild to life threatening.  Other common symptoms include:  achy joints, frequent fevers of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, arthritis, prolonged or extreme fatigue, skin rashes and anemia.

Who gets lupus?

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that approximately 1.4 million Americans have a form of the disease.

It develops most often between the ages 15 and 44 and is two-to-three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans.

What causes lupus?

Researchers do not know what causes lupus.  Environmental factors play a role in triggering the disease.  Some of the triggers include infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, certain drugs and hormones.

How is lupus diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by a careful review of a person’s entire medical history and a physical examination, coupled with an analysis of the results obtained in routine laboratory tests and some specialized tests related to immune status.

How is lupus treated? 

Treatment approaches are based on the specific needs and symptoms of each person.  Commonly prescribed medications include:  nonsteroidal anti-flammatory drugs (NSAIDS), acetaminophen, corticosteroids, antimalarials, and immunomodulating drugs.

With current methods of therapy 80-90 percent of people with lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan.

For more information on lupus you can go to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) website:

Information provided by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

May Awareness: Celiac Disease

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Wheat And Gluten Intolerance: An Introduction To Celiac Disease


Written by Scott White

Celiac disease, or celiac sprue, officially known as “gluten intolerant enteropathy” is a genetic auto-immune disorder, this means that a gene carries a physical trait, and that trait can be passed down from one family member to another.
“Auto-immune” describes the way that the disease does damage; “auto” means “to oneself” so it is saying that the immune system of a celiac mistakenly does damage to the celiac rather than to the supposed invader. What happens is that the immune system believes that a portion of the food eaten needs to be attacked, and as a side-effect of the attack, the lining of the small intestine gets damaged.

It appears as though the gene for celiac disease may ride on the same gene as diabetes, and like diabetes, you can carry the gene but not have the disease. It takes some “triggering event” to start up the process (little is known about this mechanism, but suspected “events” include physical or emotional stress, pregnancy, over-exposure to wheat, other diseases, and even antibiotics); and, of course, the celiac must be exposed to wheat in the first place.

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is another form of celiac disease. Anyone who has DH is a celiac. In this form of the disease, lesions that look like a herpes sore appear on the skin, usually in very symmetrical ways: on the hands, arms, head, elbows, knees, buttocks, etc. They are often extremely itchy. (Please note that the name of this disease is misleading, it has absolutely nothing to do with herpes.

A very common wheat allergy happens when your body sees wheat as an invader and attacks it. Symptoms of a wheat allergy could be eczema (different from dermatitis herpetiformis), sneezing, increased acne, or if you have a very serious allergy to wheat, you might have an anaphylactic reaction in which your throat can swell up to the point where you can no longer breath. However, these are not typical symptoms of celiac disease.

The main effect of celiac disease is the damage that is done to the small intestine; if you have symptoms that are caused by damage to the small intestine (for example, flattened villi as seen in a biopsy, or any form of malnutrition that is caused by the damaged villi) then what you have is not a wheat allergy, but rather celiac disease.

Traditionally, experts have seen very few people with a simple “wheat allergy”, and many more with celiac disease, so many experts predict that celiac disease is more common than wheat allergies. If you have problems with wheat, you should visit with a gastroenterologist and get tested for celiac disease.

Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure, and no hope for a cure any time soon. Once the disease has been triggered there is no way to turn it off, though in the far future there might be hope for gene therapies or other mechanisms which might work; none of these are likely in the near future. However, while there is no actual cure, a gluten-free diet solves most of the problems associated with the disease.

“Gluten-free” is another slight misnomer, since it’s probable that “gluten” isn’t the problem, and it certainly isn’t the whole problem, however this term has come to represent the celiac diet and so we define what we eat, or what we don’t eat, by this term. A gluten-free diet just means strict avoidance of wheat, rye, barley and oats, even in the tiniest of amounts. This is more easily said than done, but once one becomes familiar with the diet it becomes routine.

According to experts, celiac disease is known as “The Great Mimic” because patients who ultimately end up diagnosed with the disease come to the doctor’s office with such a wide variety of symptoms that it can be very hard to diagnose. What this means is that there is no typical set of symptoms. There is a classic set of symptoms (diarrhea, thinness, malnutrition, pot belly) that is associated with the disease, but classic is not the same as typical. People with celiac disease who are not following a gluten-free diet may have just one symptom (maybe just anemia, or feeling run down, or behavioral problems) or they may have several.
That said, here is a list of possible symptoms which can include short term symptoms such as: diarrhea, constipation, steatorrhea (fatty stools that float rather than sink), abdominal pain, excessive gas, fuzzy-mindedness after gluten ingestion, burning sensations in the throat, irritability, inability to concentrate, pale, malodorous, bulky stools, frequent, foamy diarrhea, and an itchy rash (in dermatitis herpetiformis).

Longer term symptoms can include: any problem associated with vitamin deficiencies such as; iron deficiency (anemia), chronic fatigue, weakness, weight loss, bone pain, easily fractured bones, abnormal or impaired skin sensation (paresthesia), including burning, prickling, itching or tingling, and edema, as well as, white flecks on the fingernails, failure to thrive (in infants and children), paleness, wasted buttocks, pot belly with or without painful bloating, and persistent itchy rashes (in dermatitis herpetiformis).

Celiacs who are not following a gluten-free diet will suffer from damage to the lining of their small intestines (specifically, to the “villi” the little hair-like growth that helps process food in the small intestine). This damage slows and even prevents the digestion of food, which can lead to malnutrition (anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, and more).

Over the long term, the constant damage to the small intestine can cause enough wear to lead to intestinal cancers. In the short run, many annoying symptoms can also make life downright uncomfortable. Following a gluten-free diet reduces the risk of cancer down to that of the general population, and will improve digestion enough to sustain the body normally, as well as getting rid of the usual short-term side effects.

The primary indicator test for celiac disease involves three biopsies (one before going on a gluten-free diet, showing damage to the villi; one during a gluten-free diet, showing healed villi; one after going back to eating gluten, again showing damage), but many knowledgeable physicians now accept one biopsy, an antibody blood test, and improvement of symptoms while on a gluten-free diet (the biopsy showing damage to the villi prior to a gluten-free diet; the antibody test showing elevated antibodies to gluten while still eating a gluten-filled diet). A less formal diagnostic process would just involve the blood tests, and improvement on a gluten-free diet.

It should be noted that the blood tests look for elevated IgA antibodies as an immune response to gluten, but a fair percentage of people with celiac disease are IgA deficient, and so their tests would give a false negative. There is another test now being manufactured (Tissue Transglutaminase Testing or tTG) which looks at IgG antibodies, instead of IgA antibodies, that is proving very reliable for diagnosing celiac disease.

Although the disease itself has been around for quite some time, it gets the name “sprue” from the similarity of symptoms to “tropical sprue” which is an older known disease, the cause of the disease was not recognized until the middle of this century, when war-time limited supplies of wheat to local populations, and a physician noticed after the war, that several of his “sprue” patients who had improved during the war, were now ill again. It was not long before he realized that wheat was the culprit.

From that point, continued investigation added rye, barley, and oats to the list of grains that made celiac sprue patients sick. Still, for quite a while it was thought of as a childhood disease that would be outgrown, so it was not that long ago that the medical community recognized that adults suffered from the disease as well. Until very recently, it was thought of as a “rare” disease in the United States, and most medical practitioners are still unaware of the growing evidence that celiac disease is actually quite common


March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month


What is Multiple Sclerosis and How Can It Be treated?

Author:  Robin Doughty

Multiple sclerosis іѕ а disease thаt affects thе central nervous system аnd mаkеѕ іt attack thе sensitive membrane thаt protects thе mаnу nerve endings thаt саn bе fоund thrоughоut thе body. Whеn оnе оf thеѕе attacks occurs thе sense thаt corresponds tо thе affected nerve endings іѕ damaged аnd іn ѕоmе cases it\’s temporary lost. Fоr example, thе patient саn temporary lose his/her vision оr suffer severe balance problems.

Thе саuѕе оf multiple sclerosis hаѕ nоt bееn discovered yet, іt іѕ nоt knоwn whу whеn thе nervous system іѕ affected bу multiple sclerosis sends thе white blood cells аnd antibodies аgаіnѕt thе myelin steath membrane whісh protects thе nerve endings. Thе cells mentioned аbоvе аrе ѕеnt tо attack viruses аnd bacteria thаt enter thе body аnd саn саuѕе аn infection, ѕо thе reason fоr thе attacks іѕ mysterious.

Sо bесаuѕе thе саuѕе іѕ unknown thеrе іѕ nо treatment thаt саn cure multiple sclerosis, but mаnу thіngѕ саn bе dоnе аgаіnѕt it.
Currеntlу thе goal оf thе multiple sclerosis treatment іѕ tо decrease thе frequency оf thе attacks аnd thеіr severity, аnd tо mаkе thе disease advance slower.

Onе оf thе mоѕt popular treatments fоr multiple sclerosis іѕ immunotherapy. Immunotherapy drugs аrе uѕuаllу injections wіth substances thаt саn reduce thе frequence аnd severity оf thе multiple sclerosis attacks bу slightly modifying thе wау thе immune system works.
Immunotherapy іѕ dоnе wіth thе hеlр оf drugs called beta interferons, thаt aid thе immune system іn іtѕ fight аgаіnѕt infections аnd mаkе thе multiple sclerosis attacks lеѕѕ severe.
Unfоrtunаtеlу immunotherapy drugs hаvе side-effects thаt include fever аnd coughing, indigestion, skin irritation, аnd drowsiness, аnу mаnу patients avoid uѕіng thеm fоr thіѕ reason.

Sоmе doctors ѕау thаt Mitoxantrone,a chemotherapy drug uѕеd tо treat cancer, hаѕ great effects аgаіnѕt multiple sclerosis, but it\’s side effects аrе rеаllу bad аnd іt саn еvеn damage thе body іf it\’s administered fоr а long time.
Othеr medication muѕt bе administered іn thе multiple sclerosis treatment, depending оn thе symptoms thаt іt presents.
If іt causes loss оf balance аnd muscle coordination thеn thе patient ѕhоuld receive physiotherapy аnd tаkе muscle pain reliving drugs.

If thе visual sense іѕ affected аnd thе patient experiences blurry vision, оr еvеn loss оf vision thеn doctors recommend steroids. Steroids саn fight аnd relieve thеѕе symptoms.

Othеr drugs depend оn thе nerves thаt multiple sclerosis affects. Consult уоur doctor fоr mоrе information аbоut thе secondary multiple sclerosis treatment.

Drug therapy саn bе combined wіth alternative therapy fоr bеѕt results. Alternative treatment fоr multiple sclerosis іѕ acupuncture, yoga оr massage.

If уоu suffer frоm multiple sclerosis уоu ѕhоuld аlѕо consult а support group. Thеrе аrе mаnу organizations thаt hаvе thе purpose оf aiding thоѕе thаt suffer frоm multiple sclerosis аnd tо give thеm thе bеѕt treatment options.

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Child Mental Health Awareness Month: ADHD

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ADHD: An Overview


Author:  Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed. LCPC

ADHD is neither a ‘new’ mental health problem nor is it a disorder created for the purpose of personal gain or financial profit by pharmaceutical companies, the mental health field, or by the media.  It is a very real behavioral and medical disorder that affects millions of people nationwide.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents.  According to research sponsored by NIMH, estimated the number of children with ADHD to be between 3- 5of the population.  NIMH also estimates that 4.1 percent of adults have ADHD.

Although it has taken quite some time for our society to accept ADHD as a bonafide mental health and/or medical disorder, in actuality it is a problem that has been noted in modern literature for at least 200 years.  As early as 1798, ADHD was first described in the medical literature by Dr. Alexander Crichton, who referred to it as ‘Mental Restlessness.’  A fairy tale of an apparent ADHD youth, ‘The Story of Fidgety Philip,’ was written in 1845 by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman.  In 1922, ADHD was recognized as Post Encephalitic Behavior Disorder.  In 1937 it was discovered that stimulants helped control hyperactivity in children.  In 1957 methylphenidate (Ritalin), became commercially available to treat hyperactive children.

The formal and accepted mental health/behavioral diagnosis of ADHD is relatively recent.  In the early 1960s, ADHD was referred to as ‘Minimal Brain Dysfunction.’  In 1968, the disorder became known as ‘Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood.’  At this point, emphasis was placed more on the hyperactivity than inattention symptoms.  In 1980, the diagnosis was changed to ‘ADD–Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity,’ which placed equal emphasis on hyperactivity and inattention.  By 1987, the disorder was renamed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was subdivided into four categories (see below).  Since then, ADHD has been considered a medical disorder that results in behavioral problems.

Currently, ADHD is defined by the DSM IV-TR (the accepted diagnostic manual) as one disorder which is subdivided into four categories:

1.  Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type–previously known as ADD–is marked by impaired attention and concentration.

2.  Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive, Impulsive
Type–formerly known as ADHD–is marked by hyperactivity without inattentiveness.

3.  Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type–the most common type–
involves all the symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

4.  Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This category
is for the ADHD disorders that include prominent symptoms of inattention or
hyperactivity-impulsivity, but do not meet the DSM IV-TR criteria for a

To further understand ADHD and its four subcategories, it may be helpful to illustrate hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention through examples.

Typical hyperactive symptoms in youth include:
• Often ‘on the go’ or acting as if ‘driven by a motor’
• Feeling restless
• Moving hands and feet nervously or squirming
• Getting up frequently to walk or run around
• Running or climbing excessively when it\’s inappropriate
• Having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities
• Talking excessively or too fast
• Often leaving seat when staying seated is expected
• Often can\’t be involved in social activities quietly

Typical symptoms of impulsivity in youth include:
• Acting rashly or suddenly without thinking first
• Blurting out answers before questions are fully asked
• Having a difficult time awaiting a turn
• Often interrupting others\’ conversations or activities
• Poor judgment or decisions in social situations, which result in the child not being accepted by his/her own peer group.

Typical symptoms of inattention in youth include:
• Not paying attention to details or makes careless mistakes
• Having trouble staying focused and being easily distracted
• Appearing not to listen when spoken to
• Often forgetful in daily activities
• Having trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
• Losing or misplacing homework, books, toys, or other items
• Not seeming to listen when directly spoken to
• Not following instructions and failing to finish activities, schoolwork,
chores or duties in the workplace
• Avoiding or disliking tasks that require ongoing mental effort or

Of the four ADHD subcategories, Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is the most distinguishable, recognizable, and the easiest to diagnose.  The hyperactive and impulsive symptoms are behaviorally manifested in the various environments in which a child interacts: i.e., at home, with friends, at school, and/or during extracurricular or athletic activities.  Because of the hyperactive and impulsive traits of this subcategory, these children naturally arouse the attention (often negative) of those around them.   Compared to children without ADHD, they are more difficult to instruct, teach, coach, and with whom to communicate.  Additionally, they are prone to be disruptive, seemingly oppositional, reckless, accident prone, and are socially underdeveloped.

Parents of ADHD youth often report frustration, anger, and emotional depletion because of their child\’s inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.  By the time they receive professional services many parents of ADHD children describe complex feelings of anger, fear, desperation, and guilt.  Their multiple ‘failures’ at trying to get their children to focus, pay attention, and to follow through with directions, responsibilities, and assignments have resulted in feelings of hopelessness and desperation. These parents often report feeling guilty over their resentment, loss of patience, and reactive discipline style.  Both psychotherapists and psychiatrists have worked with parents of ADHD youth who ‘joke’ by saying ‘if someone doesn\’t help my child, give me some medication!’

The following statistics (Dr. Russel Barkley and Dr. Tim Willens) illustrate the far reaching implications of ADHD in youth.
• ADHD has a childhood rate of occurrence of 6-8 with the illness continuing
into adolescence for 75of the patients, and with 50of cases persisting into
• Boys are diagnosed with ADHD 3 times more often than girls.
• Emotional development in children with ADHD is 30slower than in their non-ADHD peers.
• 65of children with ADHD exhibit problems in defiance or problems with authority figures. This can include verbal hostility and temper tantrums.
• Teenagers with ADHD have almost four times as many traffic citations as non ADD/ADHD drivers. They have four times as many car accidents and are seven times more likely to have a second accident.
• 21of teens with ADHD skip school on a regular basis, and 35drop out of school before finishing high school.
• 45of children with ADHD have been suspended from school at least once.
• 30of children with ADHD have repeated a year of school.
• Youth treated with medication have a six fold less chance of developing a substance abuse disorder through adolescence.
• The juvenile justice system is composed of 75of kids with undiagnosed learning disabilities, including ADHD.

ADHD is a genetically transmitted disorder.  Research funded by the National Institute of Medical Health (NIMH) and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) have shown clear evidence that ADHD runs in families.  According to recent research, over 25of first-degree relatives of the families of ADHD children also have ADHD.  Other research indicates that 80of adults with ADHD have at least one child with ADHD and 52have two or more children with ADHD.  The hereditary link of ADHD has important treatment implications because other children in a family may also have ADHD.  Moreover, there is a distinct possibility that the parents also may have ADHD.  Of course, matters get complicated when parents with undiagnosed ADHD have problems with their ADHD child. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate a family occurrence of ADHD, when assessing an ADHD in youth.

Diagnosing Attention Deficit Disorder Inattentive Type in youth is no easy task.  More harm than good is done when a person is incorrectly diagnosed.  A wrong diagnosis may lead to unnecessary treatment, i.e., a prescription for ADHD medication and/or unnecessary psychological, behavioral and/or educational services.  Unnecessary treatment like ADHD medication may be emotionally and physically harmful.  Conversely, when an individual is correctly diagnosed and subsequently treated for ADHD, the potential for dramatic life changes are limitless.

Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors, Neurologists, Psychiatrists, and Pediatricians/Family Physicians can diagnose ADHD. Only physicians (M.D. or D.O.), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (P.A.) under the supervision of a physician can prescribe medication.  However, psychiatrists, because of their training and expertise in mental health disorders, are the best qualified to prescribe ADHD medication.

While the ADHD Hyperactive Type youth are easily noticed, those with ADHD Inattentive Type are prone to be misdiagnosed or, worse, do not even get noticed.   Moreover, ADHD Inattentive Type youth are often mislabeled, misunderstood, and even blamed for a disorder over which they have no control.  Because ADHD Inattentive Type manifests more internally and less behaviorally, these youth are not as frequently flagged by potential treatment providers.  Therefore, these youth often do not receive potentially life-enhancing treatment, i.e., psychotherapy, school counseling/coaching, educational services, and/or medical/psychiatric services.  Unfortunately, many ‘fall between the cracks’ of the social service, mental health, juvenile justice, and educational systems.

Youth with unrecognized and untreated ADHD may develop into adults with poor self concepts low self esteem, associated emotional, educational, and employment problems.  According to reliable statistics, adults with unrecognized and/or untreated ADHD are more prone to develop alcohol and drug problems.   It is common for adolescents and adults with ADHD to attempt to soothe or ‘self medicate’ themselves by using addictive substances such as alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, tranquilizers, nicotine, cocaine and illegally prescribed or street amphetamines (stimulants).

There is no ‘cure’ for ADHD. Children with the disorder seldom outgrow it.
Approximately 60of people who had ADHD symptoms as a child continue to have symptoms as adults. And only 1 in 4 of adults with ADHD was diagnosed in childhood—and even fewer are treated.  Thanks to increased public awareness and the pharmaceutical corporations\’ marketing of their medications, more adults are now seeking help for ADHD.  However, many of these adults who were not treated as children, carry emotional, educational, personal, and occupational ‘scars.’   As children, these individuals, did not feel ‘as smart, successful and/or likable’ as their non ADHD counterparts.  With no one to explain why they struggled at home, with friends, and in school, they naturally turned inward to explain their deficiencies.  Eventually they internalize the negative messages about themselves, thereby creating fewer opportunities for success as adults.

Similarly to youths, adults with ADHD have serious problems with concentration or paying attention, or are overactive (hyperactive) in one or more areas of living. Some of the most common problems include:
• Problems with jobs or careers; losing or quitting jobs frequently
• Problems doing as well as you should at work or in school
• Problems with day-to-day tasks such as doing household chores, paying bills, and organizing things
• Problems with relationships because you forget important things, can\’t finish tasks, or get upset over little things
• Ongoing stress and worry because you don\’t meet goals and responsibilities
• Ongoing, strong feelings of frustration, guilt, or blame

According to Adult ADHD research:
• ADHD may affect 30of people who had ADHD in childhood.
• ADHD does not develop in adulthood. Only those who have had the disorder since early childhood really suffer from ADHD.
• A key criterion of ADHD in adults is ‘disinhibition’–the inability to stop acting on impulse. Hyperactivity is much less likely to be a symptom of the disorder in adulthood.
• Adults with ADHD tend to forget appointments and are frequently socially
inappropriate–making rude or insulting remarks–and are disorganized.
• They find prioritizing difficult.
• Adults with ADHD find it difficult to form lasting relationships.
• Adults with ADHD have problems with short-term memory.
• Almost all people with ADHD suffer other psychological problems-particularly depression and substance abuse.

While there is not a consensus as to the cause of ADHD, there is a general agreement within the medical and mental health communities that it is biological in nature. Some common explanations for ADHD include: chemical imbalance in the brain, nutritional deficiencies, early head trauma/brain injury, or impediments to normal brain development (i.e. the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy).  ADHD may also be caused by brain dysfunction or neurological impairment.   Dysfunction in the areas in the frontal lobes, basal ganglia, and cerebellum may negatively impact regulation of behavior, inhibition, short-term memory, planning, self-monitoring, verbal regulation, motor control, and emotional regulation.

Because successful treatment of this disorder can have profound positive emotional, social, and family outcomes, an accurate diagnosis is tremendously important.  Requirements to diagnose ADHD include: professional education (graduate and post graduate), ongoing training, supervision, experience, and licensure.  Even with the essential professional qualifications, collaboration and input from current or former psychotherapists, parents, teachers, school staff, medical practitioners and/or psychiatrists creates more reliable and accurate diagnoses.  The value of collaboration cannot be understated.

Sound ethical practice compels clinicians to provide the least restrictive and least risky form of therapy/treatment to youth with ADHD. Medication or intensive psycho-therapeutic services should only be provided when the client would not favorably respond to less invasive treatment approaches. Therefore, it is crucial to determine whether ‘functional impairment’ is or is not present. Clients who are functionally impaired will fail to be successful in their environment without specialized assistance, services, and/or psycho-therapeutic or medical treatment.  Once functional impairment is established, then it is the job of the treatment team to collaborate on the most effective method of treatment.

All too often, a person is mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD, not due to attention deficit issues, but rather because of their unique personality, learning style, emotional make-up, energy and activity levels, and other psycho-social factors that better explain their problematic behaviors.  A misdiagnosis could also be related to other mental or emotional conditions (discussed next), a life circumstance including a parent\’s unemployment, divorce, family dysfunction, or medical conditions.  In a small but significant number of cases, this diagnosis of ADHD better represents an adult\’s need to manage a challenging, willful and oppositional child, who even with these problems may not have ADHD.

It is critical that before an ADHD diagnosis is reached (especially before medication is prescribed), that a clinician consider if other coexisting mental or medical disorders may be responsible for the hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive symptoms.  Because other disorders share similar symptoms with ADHD, it is necessary to consider the  probability of one mental/psychological disorder over that of another that could possibly account for a client\’s symptoms.  For example, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression share the symptoms of disorganization, lack of concentration, and work completion issues. A trained and qualified ADHD specialist will consider differential diagnoses in order to arrive at the most logical and clinically sound diagnosis.  Typical disorders to be ruled out include: Generalized Anxiety, Major Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Substance Abuse Disorders.  Additionally, medical explanations should be similarly sought: sleep disorders, nutritional deficiencies, hearing impairment, and others.

When a non-medical practitioner formally diagnoses a client with ADHD, i.e. a licensed psychotherapist, it is recommended that a second opinion (or confirmation of the diagnosis) be sought from a psychiatrist.  Psychiatrists are medical practitioners who specialize in the medical side of mental disorders.  Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medicine that may be necessary to treat ADHD.  In collaboration, the parents, school personnel, the referring psychotherapist, and the psychiatrist, will monitor the effectiveness of the medical component of the ADHD treatment.

In summary, ADHD is a mental health and medical disorder that has become increasingly more accepted and consequently treated more effectively.  To achieve high professional assessment, diagnostic, educational, and treatment standards, it is important that trained and qualified practitioners understands the multidimensional aspects of ADHD: history, diagnosis, statistics, etiology, and treatment. Training, experience, a keen interest for details, a solid foundation of information, and a system of collaboration creates the potential for positive outcomes in the treatment of ADHD.

1.  Genetic factors, not necessarily sex of child, influence ADHD by Jim Dryden

2.  What are the risk factors and causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity

3.  What Causes ADHD?

4.  History of ADHD by Keith Londrie

5.  Taking Charge of ADHD, Dr. Russell Barkley

6.  ADHD Facts by Dr. B, Murray, Ph.D.

7.  Cause ADHD

8. (New Zealand ADHD Support GroupP

9.   Understanding the Causes of ADHD  Keath Low,

10.  Interventions for ADHD: Treatment in Developmental Context  By Phyllis Anne Teeter 1988
11.  Diagnosis of AD/HD in Adults
National Resource Center on AD/HD Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

12. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27.
13.   The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America
The National Institute of Mental Health Website

14.  Historical Development of ADHD Margaret Austin, Ph.D., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Laura Burgdorf, Ph.D.

15.  ADHD, Alcoholism and Other Addictions by Wendy Richardson, M.A., LMFCC
Soquel, CA—1998<b></b>

16.   National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
NINDS Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Information Page

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October Awareness Month: Psoriasis

Is Psoriasis Contagious : Psoriasis within Family

Author:   Tulia Ghobushi

Being diagnosed with psoriasis brings forth many worries, some of it will sound something like this – will I pass on psoriasis to my child? Can we share the same hand towel? Can constant exposure to my husband’s psoriasis contract me with psoriasis? Is psoriasis contagious?

It’s normal to have such worries, since we all are concerned about our family member’s well being. To answer this fundamental question: is psoriasis contagious? We need to first understand how psoriasis develops.

Psoriasis is attributed to genetics. Researchers believe psoriasis is heredity in nature for the most part. Yet, multiple other factors can flare up psoriasis, known as triggers. Psoriasis occurs due to the body’s immune system being falsely triggered causing rapid skin cell replacement than the normal cycle. This causes new skin cells to grow before current skin cells mature and die off. Silvery flakes forms from the affected red patched skin, causing itchy and burning sensation.

The key here, psoriasis is an internally induced disease. So, is psoriasis contagious? The answer is, no.

Contact and exposure to someone with psoriasis doesn’t cause psoriasis. This is scientifically proven. It is possible for family members to have it due to genetic factors. That doesn’t mean if you had psoriasis then your child will have it too. Genes are passed on from generation to generation; it is possible for you to be carrying genes from your great grandmother that causes psoriasis.

Psoriasis can worsen due to triggers; these include certain medications, climate and weather, infections, imbalanced diet, alcohol consumption and so on. These are mainly external stimulus that causes psoriasis to flare up. Psoriasis flaring ups doesn’t make it contagious. The affected area might become worse but it won’t spread extensively to other parts of the body or pass on to someone else.

So, our question ‘is psoriasis contagious’ completely answered?

Do take a note, psoriasis can occur due to triggering factor like an illness or infection. While it is not possible for psoriasis to be passed on, there are possibilities for the illness or infection to be contagious. You won’t be contracting psoriasis, but you can possibly contract the infection or illness from someone with psoriasis.

Taking care of family members with psoriasis during an illness or infection that worsens psoriasis can be vital. First of all, you are making sure their psoriasis isn’t getting worse than it used to be. Secondly, diagnosing the illness or infection can ensure no other family members contract them, which can possibly trigger psoriasis if they having the same types of genes.

Psoriasis is heredity, yet, taking precautions can be helpful, especially identifying and keeping an eye on trigger factors on family members with psoriasis.

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