Enjoying some extended time away from the office and with my family this Holiday season.  I’ve been able to catch up on changing my fair share of diapers and some early morning feedings with my son, Kash, who recently turned one year of age.  My wife could not be happier to get a little more relief than she usually gets.  My daughter, Reese, turned the ripe old age of five the day after Christmas and told me she did not want to grow up.  Needless to say I did not discourage this idea.  We’ve exhausted ourselves wrestling and singing Christmas carols while she’s taught me the finer points of “Polly Pockets” and “High School Musical”. Blessings to you for a remarkable 2008 as a “Purple Cow” parent!  Make a resolution to spend more time with your spouse and your children and less time watching TV, surfing the Internet, or working more hours at the office.  No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time working.  I’ve never attended a funeral where income, promotions, and career accomplishments were shared in the eulogy.  Its all about their relationships and their impact as a parent, spouse, sibling, son or daughter, and friend to those they’ve loved and left behind.  Live remarkably and love your family deeply each and every day in 2008.  Happy New Year!

ADHD Kids Have Slower Brain Maturity

New brain imaging research indicates ADHD kids’ brains can lag as much as 3 years in crucial areas that suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts, focus attention, remember things from moment to moment, and in areas where one works for rewards and controls movement.  This research confirms the biological nature of ADHD and also helps explain why some kids seem to ‘outgrow’ it with time.  However, one-half of these kids do not outgrow it and and require treatment into adulthood.  While the disorder itself is neurological in nature psychologists like myself work extensively with these kids and their families because of the ‘psychological’ consequences of living with this condition over time.  Delayed development in these crucial brain areas explains why I work diligently with ADHD kids to ramp up their social, emotional, and academic coping skills.  These kids are trying to play ‘catch up’ with their same age, same grade peers.  Many of these kids struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence along with anxiety and depression.  While their peers and teachers are plugging along they are chronically frustrated trying to keep up academically, emotionally, behaviorally, and socially.  It gives credibility to my suggestion to hold these kids back a grade when they are young so the gap can narrow while we work to accelerate development in these important areas. 

Research Says Talk Therapy Important for Depressed Teens

A recent study that followed 600 teens with chronic depression for one year demonstrated that 80% of the participants recovered entirely or almost entirely when treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.  This is the most comprehensive and long-running study ever conducted on depression treatment in teens.  Another noteworty discovery was that talk therapy cancelled the risk of suicidal thinking in those taking anti-depressant medication.  Since 2004 the public has been scared stiff with ‘blackbox warnings’ about the increased risk suicidal thinking for teens prescribed anti-depressants.  Unfortunately, I have encountered many teens who surely could have benefitted from medication used in conjunction with regular counseling sessions.  I’ve always believed this risk is the most over-hyped, exaggerated scare tactic the field of mental health has faced.  I hate to know the number teens who could have benefitied from this type of treatment but were denied due to over-zealous types looking to demonize psychiatric medication.  I certainly cannot be characterized as ‘pro-medication’ due to the fact that as a Ph.D. psychologist I do not prescribe medications.  However, I see the importance of medication in helping some teens with chronic and serious depression obtain more immediate relief from these symptoms while I teach them the cognitive and behavioral coping skills necessary to manage and relieve depression over the long-haul.   Unfortunately, important studies such as this do not get the kind of attention by the media that the ‘blackbox warnings’ did just a few years ago.  I along with other mental health professionals are left to slowly erode the concerns of anxious parents who were frightened by what was blown completely out of proportion.