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Ask Dr B – about Addressing the Complexities of Depression, Anxiety & ADHD - 044

adhd anxiety depression podcast Sep 21, 2017

Welcome to the twentieth Ask Dr B episode, and the forty-fourth episode overall of Harness Your ADHD Power, a podcast show I created to explore the many facets of adult life with ADHD and how you can learn to harness your personal ADHD power to become unstoppable.

Hey ADDers! I’m so glad you could join me today, and hope that you’ve taken the time to listen to Monday’s episode on H.O.P.E., which stands for Help One Person Everyday and That Person Is YOU! I feel the message is relevant to everyone, whether you live with ADHD or not.

I’ve received a lot of questions lately about the complexities of living with depression, anxiety and/or ADHD, so that’s today’s focus. I’m also going to focus on what family members can do to help a loved one who is suffering with any or all of these.

For you to break free of the limitations of any of these, and have things get better for you, you’re going to need to change your attitude or mindset. I don’t mean to make it sound simple, because it’s not. However, you can make changes, even in the throes of any of these and improve the quality of your life and your relationships. So, what do I mean? I mean that the way you’ve been thinking isn’t going to get you there. And if you never knew until right now that you can think about how you think, and what you think, and change all of that, I’m here to tell you that you can. Probably no one taught you how to think; they may have taught you “what” to think, but not “how” to think. Being more specific, you attitude is how you view life; the lens you view it through and how you give events and experiences their meaning. Your attitude is your perspective or viewpoint. It’s how you make sense of things for you.

If this seems overwhelming and you feel you’re going to need some help working with the complexities of these conditions and developing the skills to increase your happiness and productivity, I suggest you put your name on the Waitlist for my online program, ADDventures in Achievement. Enrollment closed the end of August and I’m not planning on opening up again until later this year, however that could change. So, be sure to get on the Waitlist now if you’d like to learn more about this program. I plan on recording some informative videos for those of you on the Waitlist so you can benefit while you’re waiting for enrollment to open up again. I’m adding some exciting new content to the current program that is well worth the wait! ADDventures in Achievement is definitely the place to be if you want help understanding what’s been holding you back and want to learn the skills to break free of your stuckness.

Every WIN you acknowledge and celebrate with emotional authenticity, is changing your neurology, meanings and mindset in a positive way.  The proof is in the posts I read regularly in the program site and the community group.  Seems like a great return on your time investment.

Please don't short-change yourself by thinking that it’s pointless or stupid to reward yourself for things you’re “supposed to do.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Are you really going to wait until something HUGE happens to celebrate?  Does something HUGE happen everyday?  Probably not!  But the kind of WINS I’m talking about do.  And based on the feedback I get from the students in my program, this regular practice of celebrating their WINS is changing their lives.

Today’s episode is all about answering the questions you have about issues or challenges you experience as an adult living with ADHD, and offering you hope. How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.

 

Full Episode Transcript Hey ADDers! I’m so glad you could join me today, and hope that you’ve taken the time to listen to Monday’s episode on H.O.P.E., which stands for Help One Person Everyday and That Person Is YOU! I feel the message is relevant to everyone, whether you live with ADHD or not.

I’ve received a lot of questions lately about the complexities of living with depression, anxiety and/or ADHD, so that’s today’s focus. I’m also going to focus on what family members can do to help a loved one who is suffering with any or all of these.

For you to break free of the limitations of any of these, and have things get better for you, you’re going to need to change your attitude or mindset. I don’t mean to make it sound simple, because it’s not. However, you can make changes, even in the throes of any of these and improve the quality of your life and your relationships. So, what do I mean? I mean that the way you’ve been thinking isn’t going to get you there. And if you never knew until right now that you can think about how you think, and what you think, and change all of that, I’m here to tell you that you can. Probably no one taught you how to think; they may have taught you “what” to think, but not “how” to think. Being more specific, you attitude is how you view life; the lens you view it through and how you give events and experiences their meaning. Your attitude is your perspective or viewpoint. It’s how you make sense of things for you.

If you’re familiar with the word “bias” – it refers to a prejudice or distortion of information or facts. This affects your attitude or mindset, and we all have biases. A few examples of biases that impact your attitude would be: skepticism, cynicism, idealism, or realism.

And it’s not about having a good attitude or a bad attitude, because attitudes also have positive and negatives sides to them. I’ll give you an example. If you’re a skeptic, and you have a positive attitude, you would most likely investigate things; where if you have a negative attitude, you would most likely be suspicious. Every attitude has a positive and negative side.

For those of you who take medication for any of these three conditions, medication alone isn’t enough for things to change for the better for you; since there are no skills in pills. I do know from personal experience as a clinical researcher that medication can certainly make a significant difference in all three situations, however, it will never fill the gaps left by missing skills; those have to be learned, and the sooner the better.

Having a responsibility in the outcome of how your life works or doesn’t isn’t what many people want to hear me say. There are those who feel like they’re a victim of their depression, anxiety or ADHD and that there is nothing they can do about it. They’re depressed or anxious and that’s just how it is. And they live with ADHD and it makes their life really hard to manage, and that’s just how it is. I really feel for those that think and feel that way; I do. And if I didn’t know differently, I might think or feel the same. But I do know differently; I know that my attitude or mindset is critically important to the successful outcome of any treatment or approach I take to improve the quality of my life. The best treatment in the world doesn’t work so well if my attitude or mindset aren’t working along side of it; that’s just how things work.

So get comfortable, perhaps take a couple of deep relaxing breaths and help yourself as best you can to be fully present for the next 30 minutes or so.

I want to introduce you to depression and its many manifestations; and they are on a spectrum of not too severe to very severe. There isn’t just “generic depression;” there’s Major Depression (also known as Major Depressive Disorder or MDD), Persistent Depressive Disorder (which used to be called Dysthymia), Bipolar Disorder (also called Manic Depression), Seasonal Affective Disorder (often referred to as SAD), Psychotic Depression (which is MDD with psychosis), Postpartum Depression (which can occur after childbirth), Premenstral Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD (which can occur at the start of one’s period), Situational Depression (might be called Stress Response Syndrome), Atypical Depression (the symptoms can improve temporarily when a positive event happens), Substance Induced Mood Disorder (a mood disturbance due to substance abuse or dependence), and even Depressive Personality Disorder (your view of the world is through the lens of being depressed)

Next, I want to introduce you to anxiety and its many manifestations; and they are also on a spectrum of not too severe to very severe. Again, there isn’t just “generic anxiety;” there’s Generalized Anxiety Disorder (which is a persistent and excessive worry about any number of different things), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD (which brings unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings as well as behaviors as an attempt to get rid of the distressing feelings), Panic Disorder (which brings a sudden period of intense fear and many physical symptoms that can send many to the ER), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (severe depression and anxiety for months or longer after a traumatic event such as a serious accident, sudden death of a loved one, or other life-threatening event), Specific Phobias (often an irrational fear or anxiety about specific objects or situations), and Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder (an extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations).

And then there’s Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD or ADD; so many names; and this is also on a spectrum of not too severe to very severe. However, the name and symptom list of ADHD doesn’t begin to cover the problems that adults with ADHD experience. In my 30+ years of experience, it seems that the EFS are the bigger issue for most all the adults I know and love. However, if I stick with ADHD for the moment, we are talking about Inattention (a lack of attention or distraction), Hyperactivity (a state of being unusually or abnormally active) and/or Impulsivity (acting on a whim, little or no forethought, reflection or consideration of the consequences). And if I add in some of the executive function skills that are so often lacking, we have Organization (allows you to keep things and thoughts in order as well as keep track of things), Task Initiation (allows you to begin a task right away with excessive procrastination or stalling), Impulse Control or Self-Control (allows you to think and process information before acting on it), Emotional Control or Self-Regulation (allows you to control your feelings (thinking and meaning given) and emotions (automatic reactions) in a way that is appropriate to the situation), Working Memory (allows you to keep key pieces of information in your mind which you are learning a new piece of information and integrate the two), Flexible Thinking or Mental Agility (allows you to adjust to the unexpected situations or stimulus), Self-Monitoring or Self-Awareness (allows you to accurately evaluate how you are doing), and Planning and Prioritization (allows you to set goals and take the actions needed, when needed, to achieve those goals.

So, now that you have met the three “conditions” of our times, what do they have in common? A lot. They all have stigma attached to them. No one seems to want to talk about ADHD or depression or anxiety because “it’s all in your head” and you should be able to control what’s in your head. It’s not like it’s a “real condition” like bronchitis or diabetes or anything; especially because there’s no blood test you can run for it to prove that you have this condition.

Also, all three are “syndromes,” which means they are all a configuration or cluster or list of “symptoms” that will qualify you for that diagnosis, rather than blood test values that are outside the range of normal. They are considered a “disorder” rather than a disease, which is assigned to the physical or body conditions, generally speaking.

And there is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about all three conditions that people who don’t have them think that people are just making things up and that it couldn’t really be true that this is what they are dealing with. Absurd!

The other things they have in common are executive function skills. The ability to self-regulate one self is paramount with depression, anxiety and ADHD. And there are working memory challenges in all three as well.

How are you going to fight back against this? One-way is by celebrating what’s right with you and in your life; seriously! I talked about attitude and mindset earlier today and this is precisely what I am referring to. You are able to shift your mindset and your attitude when you pay attention to what’s right instead of what’s wrong. That means it is essential that you look for your WINS every day and celebrate them, whether you live with depression, anxiety and/or ADHD. Every WIN you acknowledge and celebrate with emotional authenticity, is changing your neurology, attitude, and mindset in a positive way. Every single one of them matter; big or small if you celebrate them!

So please don't short-change yourself by thinking that it’s pointless or stupid to reward yourself for things you’re “supposed to do” like get up in the morning or pay your bills or take out the trash cans. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Are you really going to wait until something HUGE happens to celebrate? Does something HUGE happen everyday? Probably not! But the kind of WINS I’m talking about do. And from what I see, they are an absolute necessity to getting yourself out of the ditch of depression, anxiety or ADHD and onto a better way of living. And based on the feedback I get from the students in my program, this regular practice of celebrating their WINS is changing their lives for the better.

So, what’s it going to be for you today? Maybe you decided to pay attention to what you’re really good at doing and write those things down; that’s a WIN. Perhaps you’ve chosen to work on strengthening one of your weaker executive function skills and to do so with kindness and patience; that’s certainly a WIN. Maybe you’ve decided to take something off your plate because it really isn’t necessary right now; that’s another WIN. You get the point; celebrate all of them. And none of this “half-hearted celebrating”; mean it. Exaggerate your emotions. YES!!!! WOW!! AWESOME!! You want your acknowledgement and celebration to register in your neurology. Many of us need a higher level of stimulation or intensity for things to register. So, if that’s you, give that to yourself and exaggerate your celebration so you can actually feel it.

And whether this is your first or forty-fourth time of listening to my show, you’ll hear me say time and again, that you are NOT what you do or don’t do; that you are more than that. WE are not defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently, and that difference doesn’t have to be a limitation, once you understand what activates you, how to sustain effort with the least amount of stress possible, and have a lot of new tools to live your best life. It’s my hope that you’ll get some of what you need here.

Today’s episode is all about answering the questions you have about issues or challenges you experience as an adult living with ADHD, and offering you hope. I have three stories for you about the complexities of depression, anxiety and ADHD plus action steps. How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.

Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world.


So let’s Transition to our first story about depression…

· This was Carolyn’s first experience with depression. Many of her friends had episodes of depression on and off over the years but not Carolyn. She was pretty resilient and seemed to have some skills that helped her to bounce back from the adversities of her life, but not this time.

· She graduated college with honors, found her place in the business world shortly after graduating, and had been doing exceptionally well for about 8 years now. She knew about her ADHD and how it affected her life, and thought she had everything handled.

· Feeling confident that she was well established in her career, Carolyn decided that it was time to start her family before she got much older. The company she worked for had a great maternity package that she wanted to take advantage of, and so at 36, Carolyn conceived and at 37 she gave birth to twins. Certainly more than she had counted on but she felt she would be fine.

· Prior to conceiving and during her pregnancy, Carolyn felt she needed to stop taking the medication for her ADHD, as she didn’t want any complications or problems. Everything seemed to go well as she continued to work during her pregnancy until her 8th month and then decided she needed to take the last 2 months off work and transition into her maternity leave time, and prepare for her baby, which was fine with the company.

· Her pregnancy continued to be uneventful as was the delivery of her twins. However, after giving birth something changed for Carolyn. At first she thought it was because she hadn’t been taking her ADHD medication and was ready to return to it since she wasn’t going to be breast-feeding. She did so under the supervision of her prescribing doctor. But something was different this time. The medication didn’t seem to handle her ADHD symptoms the way it did previously.

· She felt overwhelmed like she was never going to be able to handle motherhood. She didn’t feel that she was bonding with her twins and this really concerned her. She didn’t understand what was happening to her because so many of her symptoms were just like her ADHD symptoms, and the medication had taken care of those symptoms in the past. She even thought about changing her medication since it didn’t seem to be working for her.

· She couldn’t concentrate or focus or think of the right words to express what she was thinking or feeling. She couldn’t remember what she was supposed to do some of the time and even starting missing appointments.

· She seemed irritable and impulsive; she had no patience with her twins at all, which horrified her. She started to feel hopeless, like this nightmare was never going to end and she would be trapped here forever.

· Her husband didn’t know what to do to make things easier for her. Likely he didn’t have any judgments about Carolyn’s experience that would cloud his support of her. They had gotten all the help they planned for during her pregnancy and thought they had everything covered. Carolyn felt guilty that she had all this help with her twins and yet she was still a mess. She wondered how mothers who didn’t have the help she had were able to handle motherhood.

· One night while Carolyn and her husband were collapsed on the sofa after putting their twins down for the night, they caught a few minutes of a TV commercial about post-partum depression. They were shocked by the similarities of symptoms of Carolyn’s ADHD and what was clearly post-partum depression. Her husband felt badly that she had suffered and not received treatment right away, since there was treatment available for this. Even in her messed up state, Carolyn reassured her husband that it wasn’t his fault and that she truly thought it was her ADHD and probably convinced him of that too. The next day they called for an appointment to get Carolyn treatment for her post-partum depression.


Background Facts:

· Postpartum depression is very common; in fact, more than 3 million women in the USA per year experience this

· Is treatable with counseling, antidepressants or hormone therapy, depending on each unique case.

· It’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to shorten the treatment time; waiting longer usually translates to longer treatment for resolution.

· There is so indication in the literature that having postpartum depression places women at greater risk for a major depressive episode later in life. That said, it’s important for women to know that and take preventative steps to reduce this likelihood.


If you relate to Carolyn’s story, your action steps are:

· Focus on knowing that many conditions have the same symptoms as ADHD, including post partum depression.

· Follow Through on seeking professional help to determine if it is your ADHD or post partum depression or something else that is causing what you are experiencing and do so as soon as you notice your symptoms.

· Self-Management of your feelings of hopelessness or overwhelm and know that this is a temporary situation.

· And, if you are the spouse or life partner of someone experiencing this type of depression or any other depression

o Be sure to educate yourself about their depression so you really understand what they are going through; you need to understand first before you can be helpful

o If they are experiencing what they think are their ADHD symptoms, and you know differently, rather than pointing that out to them, help them to address the challenges they are experiencing with compassion and understanding, rather than judgment or expectation. Learn to validate their experience so they can get through to the other side of it more easily.


Transitioning to our next story about anxiety…

· Cole felt that he must have been born anxious, because he had been anxious for as long as he could remember, and anxious about just about everything.

· When he first learned about his ADHD as a kid, he felt that explained a lot of his anxiety because he was constantly forgetting things and always showing up late and blurting out silly things that he felt bad about, the minute they exited his mouth and worse. He was constantly “anticipating” that horrible things were going to happen throughout his entire childhood.

· However, when he reached adolescence and ultimately adulthood and he was still experiencing this horrible anxiety, he began to wonder if there was more going on than just his anxiety being a secondary factor of his ADHD. Maybe his anxiety was just as critically important to address as his ADHD had been.

· This had never occurred to him because he figured that most people with ADHD were anxious because after all, how could they not be anxious with all the stuff that happens?

· He had never broached the subject with his male friends because he also thought of anxiety as a “girls thing” and not very “manly.” He didn’t want to admit that he was anxiety and be judged by his friends.

· One day Cole just couldn’t stand it any longer and he pulled a good friend aside and talked to him about his anxiety. His friend listened as Cole spilled his guts, and when he was finished, his friend said that he too suffered with horrible anxiety and was receiving treatment for it. And that since he started treatment, it was actually much better. He encouraged Cole to seek treatment too.

· Cole was so relieved that he talked to his friend about his anxiety because now he could be a little more open about it since he wasn’t the only “guy” to be anxious; what a relief!


Background Facts:

· Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the US population in any given year. Even though women are said to be twice as likely to be affected as men, that doesn’t mean that men aren’t affected or suffering. And perhaps they are suffering more than we even know due to the stigma they might feel that it’s a “girl thing” and not “manly” to have anxiety. I’ve heard men tell me that women are anxious and men just worry. Clearly this is not the case.

· Revealing feelings could be judged as a sign of weakness in men even though this is obviously not the case.


If you relate to Cole’s story, your action steps are:

· Focus on what is truly going on and don’t try to push something aside because you don’t think it’s manly or possible that you could be experiencing anxiety

· Follow Through on getting confirmation and appropriate treatment from a qualified professional who understands both ADHD and anxiety; and in men if you can find someone like that.

· Self-Management of your self-judgment feelings or thoughts about having anxiety and what it means as a man. Work with reframing those thoughts to a neutral meaning.

· And, if you are the spouse or life partner of someone experiencing this type of anxiety or any other anxiety

o Be supportive and share about other men or adults you know who also suffer with anxiety; especially those who your spouse or partner admires

o Be sure that you never express pity or feel sorry for your partner or spouse for what they are going through; rather statements about how strong they must be to be able to handle everything they have been handling even with their anxiety. How amazing they are!! Seriously! We can all use a little bit of that.


Transitioning to our next story about ADHD:

· Skip learned about his ADHD when he was in law school. He had done well all through school because of the structured environment. In fact, he stayed in school and pursued his advanced education because he knew that he excelled in such a structured environment.

· Once Skip was out of school everything changed. He was responsible for creating his own schedule and structure and planning for his workload and managing his employees and he was losing it.

· In fact, Skip was really angry that all of his advanced education hadn’t prepared him for “real life” and the responsibilities that were more important than what he felt he did learn how to do.

· Skip knew that he could hire an office manager but he would still have to instruct the office manager about how he wanted his law practice to be run even if that person was going to handle all the day-to-day things for Skip.

· He had tried to sketch out an employee manual many times. He had tried to talk to his employees many times about how he wanted things to be handled and run and what he needed in terms of support from them. No matter what he tried, nothing seemed to be working because things just kept getting worse and worse. In fact, he felt like his staff was starting to disrespect him because they could see that he really wasn’t “competent” at his job. This was a horrible feeling for Skip.

· He was clearly more than competent at knowing the law and how to win cases and handle legal matters. In fact, he graduated with honors from his law school; no small feat indeed.

· However, when it came to business relationships and management skills and delegating responsibilities and such, Skip clearly was failing. He hated the feeling of failing because he was used to succeeding so long as he had a structure already created for him to succeed within.


Background Facts:

· Many of the challenges that adults with ADHD encounter are not due to the 3 core symptoms of ADHD, which are being inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive. These do seem to subside as we move into adulthood.

· However, what become more challenging and more apparent with age is the missing executive function skills. To effectively and efficiently run an adult life, one needs to be able to manage time and themselves within time, to plan and schedule and follow the plan and prioritize and sequence events and handle so many different things in the course of a day or week or month.

· Most adults who receive a diagnosis of adult ADHD do not receive a diagnosis of Executive Function Deficits at the same time. If they did and received the skill training they needed, it could make all the difference in the world in terms of their quality of life and personal success.


If you relate to Skip’s story, your action steps are:

· Focus on assessing what you real challenges are and don’t just assume that it’s your ADHD

· Follow Through with what you learn about yourself and your gaps and get the skill training you desperately need to be your best self and succeed

· Self-Management of your feelings about how much you have had to struggle in your lifetime with your ADHD when it wasn’t just your ADHD that was making your life so difficult. Have compassion for yourself and for the fact that there just isn’t the training of professionals that there needs to be in order for them to see what all your challenges were and help you.


So that’s it for our three stories and action steps today.

If this seems overwhelming and you feel you’re going to need some help working with the complexities of these conditions and developing the skills to increase your happiness and productivity, I suggest you put your name on the Waitlist for my online program, ADDventures in Achievement. Enrollment closed the end of August and I’m not planning on opening up again until later this year, however that could change. So, be sure to get on the Waitlist now if you’d like to learn more about this program. I plan on recording some informative videos for those of you on the Waitlist so you can benefit while you’re waiting for enrollment to open up again. I’m adding some exciting new content to the current program that is well worth the wait! ADDventures in Achievement is definitely the place to be if you want help understanding what’s been holding you back and want to learn the skills to break free of your stuckness.


A Favorite Quote:

The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Are you willing to cultivate greater compassion and tolerance to extend to others as well as to yourself?” I hope so because it will make all the difference in the quality of your life going forward.

That’s about it for today’s episode on depression, anxiety and ADHD. It means a lot to me to know that your life is getting a little bit better every time we get together. I do hope that you will take some of the action steps I’ve suggested because for things to change, you have to change. And that means taking action, like checking out the episode links so you can benefit from all of the resources I continue to create for you in addition to this podcast show, if that’s of interest to you. Remember, there’s a PDF transcription of this episode in the resources. Plus, I’d love to get to know you in the community group I created on Facebook and interact with you when I go live there.

If you benefited from today’s episode, take action now and share this show with your friends and family; perhaps rate the show or even write up an honest review of this episode. Whatever you’re willing to take action on today will ripple out into the world and impact the course of your life as well as that of others you may never know about.

And if you don’t want to have to remember to look for new episodes, just subscribe and the newest episode will be in your feed by 1 am Pacific Time on Mondays and Thursdays.

So thanks for listening… Until the next time… Bye for now…

 

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