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Demystifying the ADHD Evaluation

Where do you go if your child’s teacher tells you your child has symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? What if you see your child struggling in school?

It can be overwhelming if your child is not doing well academically, behaviorally or socially. However, there are professionals available to guide you through the process of finding a diagnosis and getting treatment.

Your pediatrician or family physician is one type of professional to approach for assistance. At the first visit, your physician most likely will get a complete academic, learning and activity history from you and your child. It would be helpful to bring information such as report cards and past evaluations.

If you have had the same physician for years, he may not take a full past medical history, while a new physician more than likely will take one. He or she will want to look for any neurological problems, hospital admissions, history of trauma, poisonings or prematurity as well as a developmental history (milestones such as walking and first word). The next step should be a complete physical exam, including a full neurological workup.

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Introducing Her Bipolar Life

Living with mental illness is rarely easy. Everyone faces their own challenges, but perhaps being diagnosed with a serious mental illness -- like bipolar disorder -- is most difficult when you’re younger.

So that’s why I’m pleased to introduce Her Bipolar Life, with Kat Dawkins. I’ll let her explain the purpose of the blog in her own words...

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Brain and Behavior

Resolutions, Exercise Trackers & Operant Conditioning

“... To get in shape” is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and arguably the one most often broken.

For some, the solution may lie in the new wave of exercise trackers. Wristbands and other gadgets rely on operant conditioning -- the potential for feedback from the environment to affect desired (or undesired) behavior.

Depending on the gadget, trackers provide can provide personalized information about information including: the number of steps taken per day (which is then converted into miles traversed or calories burned); total calories consumed; and the length and depth of nightly sleep. Some of these trackers also will provide daily, weekly, or monthly trends.

The idea is that making people aware of their daily activity and caloric intake will motivate them to make better choices and achieve health-related goals.

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Announcing the 1st Annual Psych Central Conference

I'm pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 1st Annual Psych Central Conference -- a meeting designed to bring together people with a passion for mental health, psychology, self-help and relationship topics. This is a conference for ordinary folks who are interested in these kinds of topics, and who love reading them on Psych Central.

Years in the making, we're taking the conference plunge because I felt it was time to feature all the great writers, bloggers, therapists and contributors to Psych Central -- and elsewhere online and in real life.

It's an opportunity to learn how to become more mindful in your life, become a better parent, or help improve your relationship. It's also a chance to hear some great writers speak, to meet some of your Psych Central favorites, and hang out in a historic New England mill town to boot.

Interested? Read on for more details or go register now!

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: January 22, 2013

Do you see the challenges in your life as problems or opportunities? I know the latter sounds a little pollyanna. I'm sure you weren't searching the web to find opportunities that ADHD or Bipolar Disorder bring. What you were probably looking for is strategies, help or advice.

I can understand both perspectives. At least initially, anything that happens in our life that seems abnormal feels like a huge insurmountable problem. It can feel like chaos, an wanted gift, a horrible nightmare. But over time, we might find an unexpected gift if we're open to seeing it. This takes more work. It takes a conscious effort to find the silver lining. It requires change. If you allow it, whatever you are going through can take you from the life you thought you wanted to the life you need.

If you're opting for this type of life, you might want to read our top post. It's all about how to consciously co-create your life instead of live passively in a world of fear. It's the type of life story that can change the way you view your problems and life challenges. If there was a way to change our perceptions on the gravest issues that come across our path, we can live our life courageously, stronger, and more confident that we can conquer anything.

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In Memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This entry originally appeared here in 2008. Five years later and little has changed. So it seemed appropriate to re-run it (with some editing) to remind ourselves that we still have a long ways to go.

We have a long way to go for equality in health care and mental health care amongst different races and ethnicities. In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a supplement to its ground-breaking 1999 report on mental health. This supplement focused on issues of culture, race and ethnicity and, not surprisingly, found:

Minorities have less access to, and availability of, mental health services.

Minorities are less likely to receive needed mental health services.

Minorities in treatment often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.

Minorities are underrepresented in mental health research. On this day we honor a voice for those oppressed, not solely by unjust laws, but also by unjust prejudice that infected much of our country and much of our culture. Today, everyone with a mental illness faces prejudice and discrimination similar to -- but distinct from -- the prejudices and discrimination that Martin Luther King, Jr. fought so eloquently against.

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Overcoming Information Overload

As a writer for the web, I’m well acquainted with information overload. One bit of information leads to five facts, which leads to three articles, which leads to an interesting interview you must listen to right now, which leads to 10 pages in your browser.

I’ve always loved the scavenger hunt research requires. Every clue leads to another. Every clue uncovered is a prize in itself: learning something new and interesting and getting one step closer to the carrot (such as the answer to your original question).

But there’s always one more thing to look up, learn and digest.

Whether your livelihood lives online -- like mine -- or not, you probably use the Web quite a bit. The Internet makes research a breeze. Want to know what triggered the World Wars or how the states got their shapes? Want to know how to bake a tasty tilapia or buy a reliable used car?

Information is merely a click -- or, more accurately, a Google search -- away. Depending on your query, there’s likely at least a dozen, if not hundreds, of blogs on the topic, a similar number of books and many more articles.

This is a good thing, but it also can overburden our brains.

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Sick & Tired? Take this Sleep Quiz

Sleep research has been around for more than 90 years. In the last 15 years, though, researchers have been focusing on partial, or short, sleep rather than total sleep deprivation.

Such research looks at the way sleep affects cardiometobolic disease, the name given to disruption of a variety of physical and cognitive functions. These disruptions can affect basic skills such as appetite regulation and mood. Sleep researchers apparently are issuing the rest of us a wake-up call.

Each of us has an internal clock, a circadian rhythm that regulates our sleep needs. This is synchronized by the amount of sunlight we are exposed to.

But when we are tempted by the demands of our social clock -- such as reading that last email, staying up for late-night TV, or going out and staying out late with our friends -- we fall out of sync and the effects can take their toll. This circadian disruption often is at the core of numerous problems.

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4 Strategies to Help You Bounce Back from Adversity

We all face difficult times at some point in our lives. Sometimes, adversity comes in waves, with one hardship or misfortune following another. These times can change our lives and challenge our beliefs about the world.

What makes for adversity is different for each person. For example, while one person might see the loss of a job as an opportunity, many (if not most) would find it stressful.

These life-changing situations often happen when we experience a death, job loss, serious illness or other traumatic events.

How you act when faced with setbacks and hardships can be as unique as you are.  But according to the American Psychological Association (APA), what you have in common with anyone else facing adversity is “a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.”

So how do we overcome adversity?

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Taylor Swift Goes Red

“I started writing songs ‘cause it’s kind of like a message in a bottle. You write a song, and you can send it out into the world, and the person you wrote it about might hear it too.”
~ Taylor Swift In October 2012, Taylor Swift became the first female artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to break record sales twice. "Red," her latest album, sold over one million copies in its first week, and she reached that impressive mark with "Speak Now" (2010) as well. Not to mention, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” her catchy hit single, is taking over the radio airwaves.

Since "Speak Now," I’ve become somewhat of a “Swiftie” listener myself (apparently that’s the name of her fan club), and I was curious to see how her stories in "Red" would unfold. While her vocals matured, and the styles of music blur between pop, country and some rather eclectic dub step, I was even more pleasantly intrigued by her songwriting. Its bold nature discloses personal details about her life, her words reminiscent of words you would only find on a page in a diary.

Is this why so many adolescents and twenty-somethings can relate to her music?

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4 Personality Types: Which One Are You?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how different people respond to rules -- and I use "rules" broadly (see below for examples) to mean any kind of instruction to do or not do something.

I love to identify categories. Abstainers/moderators. Leopards/alchemists. Radiators/drains. And I now I can’t stop thinking about these four categories.

To see if you spot yourself in these categories, ask yourself:
How do I respond to an outer rule? A law, a traffic sign, a "request" from a spouse; a work deadline, an admonition from your doctor, an appointment with a trainer, social protocol?

How do I respond to an inner rule? A New Year’s resolution; a decision to exercise more; putting in work on a self-generated project (writing a novel, planting a garden).
With that in mind, consider whether any of these types rings a bell...

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Brain and Behavior

NeuroTalk Community Featured in Newsletter

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA) is an advocacy organization that promotes public and professional awareness of CRPS and to "educate those afflicted with the syndrome, their families, friends, insurance and healthcare providers on the disabling pain it causes.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) -- also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy -- is a chronic neurological syndrome characterized by: severe burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling, and extreme sensitivity to touch.

Recently the RSDSA featured one of our NeuroTalk communities in its quarterly newsletter, the RSDSA Review, "NeuroTalk's RSD and CRPS Forum: An Online Community with Valuable Resources" by Franklin Michaels, Jr.

Here's what they had to say about the NeuroTalk community...

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