Archives for Parenting
My phone buzzed with a panicked text from Lisa, the mother of Ariana, an eight-year-old girl I am treating for anxiety and school phobia. Ariana's terror at the idea of going to school has often led to explosive outbursts when parents have pushed her to go. The treatment has been stop and go, but Ariana is making some very slow progress with a lot of support.
Kim Asks...My nephew is 24 years old. He tried to kill himself. This has been going on since he was 17. Just Saturday he took 80-85 pills of antidepressant, very close call to his death but he made it. My questions is how can his mom and dad get help for him because of his age? He really needs to stay in the system, not at home, to be a better person.
Dr. Fink Answers...
Approximately a year ago, my wife, Cecie, and I along with a friend and neighbor Kitty Haffner, started a NAMI support group in Crawfordsville, IN. This Wednesday, Kitty and will start teaching the free 12-week Family-to-Family Education Program. This course is for people who...
Maggie asks...My 21-year-old was diagnosed with Bipolar I after an extreme manic episode (he was hospitalized). It was a long and difficult few months (awful treatment, bouncing around to different doctors, etc.) during which his mania tapered down, and then turned into a deep black depression, which he is out of now. No one can persuade him to take medication. Now that he's feeling normal again, he seems to think that he doesn't need medication. So no meds, no therapy, no treatment of any kind. And I am quite sure he's self-medicating with "other" substances. (He lives with us – me/mom, younger brother, step-father.) Advice?
Dr. Fink answers...
Bipolar Disorder Q&A: How Should Parents Help Child with Serious Problems and Multiple Diagnoses and Meds?
Cathi asks...My friend's 9 year old has had severe behavioral problems and several alternating diagnoses. The Dr. has prescribed Focalin, Trileptal, Lamictal, and Seroquel. She has no concentration, violent outbursts, hallucinations, etc. She has been diagnosed, at present, with ADHD, Bipolar, ODD, and PDD. She will not do work at school; instead, she sits and picks at her skin. She has been violent and tried to choke other individuals. Mam says she can't even leave the house with her. My friend has no money. The state has removed an older child due to DMH reasons. She is afraid of the state agencies, but has nowhere to turn. Court appointed attorney said to call if she won the lottery. What happens to these children? These medications seem excessive and risky considering her age, the possibility of adverse interaction, and off label usage. Any advice or help. We are desperate. Thank you.
Dr. Fink answers...This is an all too common situation in children with multiple levels of developmental, emotional , and behavioral symptoms, especially when the family's resources are limited. The first place to start is with the current doctor to get a clearer picture of the reasons for the current medications and to express clearly the ongoing symptoms that are not being addressed.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a Stages of Emotional Responses chart that traces the emotional path people generally travel in coming to terms with their loved one's mental illness. I'm pretty much at the final stage, Stage III: Moving into Advocacy, but I'm still sort of stuck at Stage II: Learning to Cope, which is characterized by Anger/Guilt/Resentment, Recognition and Grief. Yes, we've been living with bipolar disorder for about 12 years now, and I'm still angry and resentful. Now, though, I'm not angry at my wife who has bipolar disorder. I blame bipolar disorder. It accosted my wife, tried to ruin our marriage, emotionally traumatized our children, ruined my wife's career, and stole tens of thousands of dollars.
In an article in The New York Times entitled "Mental Health Needs Seen Growing at Colleges," Trip Gabriel explores the increasing demand for mental health services on college campuses across the country. The college years have always been vulnerable to mental health issues – partially due to the stresses of academic demands and the transition to living more independently and partially because late adolescence/early adulthood is the most common time to see full blown first breaks of major mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. But in recent years it has become clear that more and more students are coming to campus with previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions and taking medications. While this may be a sign of over-diagnosed and over-medicated youth, I see it in a more positive light for three possible reasons:
Rebecca Riley was four years old when she died three years ago. She had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and ADHD and was being treated with clonidine (a blood pressure medicine sometimes used as a sedative for ADHD) and Depakote (for bipolar). (See the Department of Social Services (DSS) case file recounting the timeline of DSS involvement with the family of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley.)
In court last week, during the murder trial of Rebecca Riley's mom, Carolyn Riley, the prosecution presented evidence that questioned mom's truthfulness. They questioned whether Carolyn lied when she told investigators how much medicine she had given to Rebecca the day before Rebecca died. To support their case that the mom doesn't tell the truth, they introduced evidence that Rebecca's parents tried to get the school counselor to help them get reimbursed for allegedly lost gift cards, which in fact the parents had already used.