Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is it ADHD or is it something else?

     Don't you wish all children came with an instruction manual? At the vary least a troubleshooting guide to go to when problems arise? Well when you are a parent of a child, or in my case children, with mental illnesses that would be extremely helpful. I have a Bipolar child who is 8 years old but according to the medical system cannot be diagnosed until she is of age, usually the late teen years. So the official label is Mood Disorder not other wised described. The diagnosis at this point doesn't really matter because the treatment approach is the same. Usually it involves medication in the form of a mood stabilizer, a antipsychotic, sometimes a antidepressant and therapy. Lots and lots of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy for the child as well as for the family.

     Normally if you are lucky the medication and therapy work and you don't have to do to much leg work. Or if you child is unique they will require some trail and error. Unfortunate for my daughter she doesn't respond to medication like you would normally expect. Initially when she was a small child before we learned she has a mood disorder we thought she just had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It wasn't until we tried her on ADHD medication that we learned of her mood disorder.

     A little fact about mood disorders they co-occur with ADHD or they look like ADHD.  The common signs of them are: impulsively, inattention, hyperactivity, physical energy, frequent behavioral and emotional changes, learning problems, and motor restlessness (they can't sit still). What is different in mood disorders is these children typically have angry outburst and temper tantrums that seem to last for 30 minutes to hours. Also children with mood disorders seems to be triggered into angry outburst usually by limit setting and conflict with authority figures where as ADHD children tend to be overly stimulated. Another common sign in mood disorder is irritability, especially upon waking. Also another key is their moods, ADHD children are generally very pleasant and their moods for the most part remain the same. On the other hand the mood disorder children have a mood that is ever changing they can be happy one second, sad the next, mad, then back to happy again.

     If you suspect that your child has ADHD or that something is off it is best to trust your intuition. There are a few ways you can seek out help and advice. You can seek out the advice of your child's pediatrician. Ask for a free evaluation at your child school. And if your child is under 3 you can also request a evaluation at your local school district, where they will screen for their early childhood intervention if needed. There are many resources at your disposal and don't be afraid to use them. But remember that every child is uniquely made and they are not all one size fits all. There will be trails and you will have to adapt but that is part of this journey. This is what our parenting journey is about and writing our own instruction manual.

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