Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is your ADHD teenager ready for hostel?

Life skills for ADHD teenagers
ADHD teens with appropriate life skills can live independently

Does your teenager with ADHD have the life skills to survive in hostel? She did well in her 12th board exams and scored high in the CET. To attend the engineering college of her choice she has to move from home to a hostel in another city. Given her difficulty organising her daily schedule, would she be better off doing the same subjects at the local engineering college? The answer would depend on her personality and the life skills she has acquired.

ADHD teenager personality types

Teenagers with ADHD are of 3 character types: the optimistic, the terrified and the lost. They are placed into these categories depending on their productivity and anxiety (either too much or too little).
  • The optimistic teen does not worry. He is excited about the independence that college life will bring, but may not realise that freedom comes with responsibilities (financial, social and personal). If he's still disorganised at home he will be more so in hostel where the distractions are multiple and there is no guiding hand.
  • The terrified teen is intensely anxious. She needs reassurance and help in planning the future step by step. If she still waits for you to clear her way round a difficulty she will hesitate to seek help when she is in hostel.
  • The lost teen displays a lack of energy and positive view towards life. He is easily depressed and defeated. He has to be repeatedly reminded and encouraged to do what needs to be done. If you still have to push him to get work done he's unlikely to function well from hostel.

Life skills for teenagers with ADHD

ADHD hinders development of the  coping and self-management component of life skills due to inattention and impulsivity. Adolescents with ADHD need to focus on three aspects of this component for transition to independent living away from home.
  1. Motivation is first – there has to be the will to achieve. The ADHD teen needs clear goals and has to evaluate them objectively — are they achievable? Clear short-term, mid-term and long term goals are necessary – persistence is required. If a particular course is not available in the local colleges, can he take the initiative to locate an alumnus from school who is pursuing the same elsewhere? He must make a list of pros and cons  – then make a choice – and not procrastinate.
  2. Time management is a big challenge for most students with ADHD. They should not take on too much initially. ADD adolescents should concentrate on their classes, keep track of assignments, and organize daily notes. They should use a planner to schedule daily activities. A large calendar on the wall for upcoming assignments, project submissions, and exam dates is a big help. The teenager with ADHD needs to get to know her limits, then push them a little at a time to see if more is achievable. She should set some daily routines – get up at the same time everyday, have healthy, regular meals (this is often neglected when staying away from home), and do the laundry.
    Attendance at classes is non-negotiable (all colleges insist on a minimum attendance). The teenager with ADHD must ensure she takes her medication on time and follow-up regularly for refills. When taking a break she should do something that has a limited time span. For example she could read a few pages of a book, watch TV for 15 minutes, or chat with a friend for 10 min.  She must make time for the additional administrative tasks college entails: paying her college fees, creating and sticking to a budget, making time to go to the ATM. These tasks should be entered in the weekly planner.
  3. Self-understanding and awareness of strengths and challenges is the key to making intelligent choices. The ADHD adolescent should not hesitate to seek help, from teachers, friends and the counsellor specially if falling back in his schedule. Strategies for learning and study skills training with the counsellor are helpful.
The ADD teenager, like any other adolescent, is transitioning from dependence on the family to increasing adult independence. The life skills he acquires would dictate the ease of this transition. Teenagers with ADHD who have acquired the necessary life skills would be better able to cope with the transition from home to hostel without adversely affecting academic performance.

References
  1. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Life Skills Training Guide for Young People. United Nations. 2003 (Accessed 08-Nov-2014)
  2. ADDitude. The Real Whirled: 8 Essential Life Skills for ADHD Teens. Accessed 25-Nov-14.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Work style and employee selection

Work style, ability and job performance
Use work style assessment to hire the best - and avoid the rest

Work style is a combination of personality traits that are relevant and specific to the workplace. Work style is highly predictive of job performance and employee behaviour. Differences in working style explain how people with similar knowledge, ability, goals, and desire to perform differ in the actual performance of their jobs. In today's complex business environment talent selection is critical and is at the top of a manager's list of priorities. Selecting employees for job-relevant personality traits improves job performance in the organisation.

Work style and job performance

Individuals differ in job performance despite having similar task abilities. The personality traits the individual brings to the organization along with abilities, interests, education, and experience, are responsible for this difference. Personality traits are a major contributor to variations in job performance. The unique personality an individual brings to the workplace is visible as working style - a combination of work habits and self-regulatory ability. Work style has two aspects - work habits and self-regulation.

Work habits are patterns of behavior that people learn over time that can facilitate or interfere with job performance. They include characteristic motivational responses such as choices for the amount, intensity, and duration of effort to expend. They explain why you would give the job to Neha in certain situations and to Riya in some others.  Work habits include characteristic responses that are not necessarily motivational in nature. This is seen when Rahul, your sales representative who has been trained in the best way to deal with an angry customer and has shown the ability to do so,occasionally reverts to pre-training habits of reacting with hostility.

Self-regulation is the thinking process that allocates attention, time, and effort toward attaining a goal. Self-regulation protects an intention from distraction. Priya’s characteristic tendency may be to exert as little effort as possible, but she may choose to go against that tendency in response to the new bonus structure that rewards productivity. Habits influence behavior despite intentions to behave otherwise because they require very little attention. To implement an intention that goes against habitual tendencies and distractions, one must engage self-regulatory or volitional mechanisms. This self-regulatory construct of working style is very important because it is strongly related to personality.

Modern psychometric tools that accurately measure human potential have been proven to
  1. enhance overall productivity
  2. reduce employee attrition
  3. reduce overall hiring costs significantly.

Work style assessment measures traits such as initiative, integrity, persistence, leadership, stress tolerance, analytical thinking, and interpersonal skills. Higher performance can be obtained across all jobs if one hires employees who are highly conscientious and emotionally stable. Other personality traits (Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience) result in higher performance depending on whether these traits are relevant to the actual job activities.  Hiring right mitigates short- and long term damage to the business from a very bad hire. Work style assessment generates a profile of personality traits that can be matched with requirements for successful performance in a particular job.

References
  1. Bouton M, Moore M. J Med Pract Manage. The cult of personality testing: why assessments are essential for employee selection. 2011 Nov-Dec;27(3):144-9.
  2. Jeff W. Johnson. Toward a Better Understanding of the Relationship Between Personality and Individual Job Performance. In: Personality and work : reconsidering the role of personality in organizations. Murray R. Barrick, Ann Marie Ryan, editors; foreword by Neil Schmitt. John Wiley & Sons, USA. 2003. Pg 83-120


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ADHD Diet - practical family meals

ADHD diet
Practical ADHD diet for the family

ADHD Diet

A high-protein, low-sugar ADHD diet can help improve ADHD symptoms in children. Parents of children with ADHD are overwhelmed with dietary advice that is often time-consuming and disruptive to the household. However, this need not be so. Research shows it is feasible to incorporate an ADHD diet as part of an ongoing ADHD treatment program. Medication with behaviour modification is the backbone of ADHD treatment. A practical diet can be incorporated into the family routine to supplement ADHD treatment.

High Protein

Foods rich in protein - poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, mutton and low-fat dairy products (milk, paneer, cheese) - may have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms.

Protein-rich foods are used by the brain to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity. Giving your child protein for breakfast will help his body produce brain-awakening neurotransmitters. Combining protein with complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre and low in sugar will help your child manage ADHD symptoms better during the day.

Low Sugar

Eating simple processed carbohydrates, like white bread and jam, is almost the same as feeding your child sugar! Sugar surges are shown to increase inattention in children with ADHD. The body digests these processed carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) so quickly that the effect is virtually the same as eating sugar from a spoon.

For children with ADHD symptoms serve breakfasts and lunches high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fibre — like cereals, dalia, upma with vegetables and nuts, and a glass of milk. Peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread would also be good. The sugars from these carbohydrates are digested more slowly, because protein, fibre, and fat eaten together result in a more gradual and sustained blood sugar release. The result? A child can concentrate and learn better at school.

Supplements

Additive-free and oligoantigenic or elimination diets are time-consuming, disruptive to the household, and impractical. They have no proven role in ADHD treatment. Iron and zinc are best supplemented in children with known deficiencies. Omega-3 fatty acids supplements may be tried in some children with ADHD.

Greater attention to a healthy diet while omitting food that predisposes to ADHD symptoms, is perhaps the most effective and practical ADHD diet.

References


  1. Millichap JG1, Yee MM. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/2/330.long The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics. 2012 Feb;129(2):330-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2199. Epub 2012 Jan 9.
  2. Howard AL, Robinson M, Smith GJ, Ambrosini GL, Piek JP, Oddy WH. http://jad.sagepub.com/content/15/5/403.abstract?ijkey=d7ce9f17e13e896d1e6b00f2684ad29523c1c5a9&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha ADHD is associated with a “Western” dietary pattern in adolescents. J Atten Disord. 2011;15(5):403–411
  3. Wender EH, Solanto MV. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/ijlink?linkType=ABST&journalCode=pediatrics&resid=88/5/960 Effects of sugar on aggressive and inattentive behavior in children with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and normal children. Pediatrics. 1991;88(5):960–966.
  4. Yehuda S. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/external-ref?access_num=3305401&link_type=MED Nutrients, brain biochemistry, and behavior: a possible role for the neuronal membrane. Int J Neurosci. 1987;35(1–2):21–36

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Corex cough syrup - no more OTC opioid dependence

corex cough syrup addiction change
Reducing codeine supply forces Corex users to the spiral of change

Corex Cough Syrup opioid dependence

Codeine cough syrup is no longer available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Record keeping by the dispensing pharmacist is now mandated by a new government notification. This one legislation will aid relapse prevention in abstinent Corex cough syrup addicts. Many former codeine addicts have relapsed after visiting their dispensary for another medication; the pharmacist casually offers opioid containing Corex cough syrup and provides a visual cue to trigger craving and retard their progress through the stages of change.

Codeine cough syrup addiction is fuelled by dispensaries that distribute litres of codeine in the form Corex Cough Syrup and other brands like Mits Linctus. The key ingredient in these ‘cough syrups’, Codeine, is derived from opium and is an addictive substance. Codeine containing cough syrup abuse made its entry to India in the 1990s and since then has contributed to the steadily increasing opioid dependence case-load.The estimated number of opium users in India is well over 5 million with codeine being a major oral source. Opioid dependence in a de-addiction centre increased significantly from 37 to 52% over the last three decades.

Relapse prevention at the pharmacy

Codeine dependent individuals are exposed to visual cues of Corex and other codeine containing cough syrups at every visit to the dispensary. Modification of addictive behaviours involves progression through five stages of change - precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Individuals cycle through these stages many times before termination of the addiction. During relapse individuals regress to an earlier stage of codeine use. Stimulus control - avoiding or countering reminders of codeine use - is a key process for relapse prevention on the spiral of change. Cutting off easy access in the dispensary aids stimulus control and helps prevent relapse to codeine use. The common sight of multiple discarded codeine cough syrup bottle on stairwells would also disappear (see image).

Codeine cough syrup abuse prevention

  1. Pharmacy-based approaches help in minimising the harm associated with OTC medicine abuse, and supporting and treating affected individuals.
    • Removing products from sight
    • Alerting or counselling customers to the abuse potential of products is effective.
    • Refusing sales without a prescription
    • Suggesting customers contact their doctor
    • Supplying only limited amounts.
  2. Raising awareness of the addiction potential of codeine cough syrup is necessary for both the public and the prescribers (many doctors are unaware of the ingredients that go into Corex and other cough syrups).

Nature's vengeance

Unexpected help in relapse prevention by restricting supply has also come in the form of mother nature. Opium growers in Mandsaur, MP are ruing the increasing numbers of nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) that have developed opioid dependence after chance grazing in farms that were once grassland. The nilgai now run amok and destroy swathes of poppy fields in search of their fix.

References

  1. Debasish Basu, Munish Aggarwal, Partha Pratim Das, Surendra K. Mattoo, Parmanand Kulhara & Vijoy K. Varma. Changing pattern of substance abuse in patients attending a de-addiction centre in north India (1978-2008). Indian J Med Res 135, June 2012, pp 830-836
  2. Richard J. Cooper. J Subst Use. Over-the-counter medicine abuse – a review of the literature. Published online Oct 3, 2011. doi: 10.3109/14659891.2011.615002. Apr 2013; 18(2): 82–107.
  3. Gary Reid and Genevieve Costigan. Revisiting ‘The Hidden Epidemic’ A Situation Assessment of Drug Use in Asia in the context of HIV/AIDS. The Centre for Harm Reduction, The Burnet Institute, Australia. 2002. 
  4. Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC, Norcross JC. In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors. Am Psychol. 1992 Sep;47(9):1102-14.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mental Health and Academic Performance in Children

mental health and academic performance in children
10yr window to treat mental health problems affecting academic performance

Mental health & academic performance

Mental health has a direct impact on academic performance in children. Neglected childhood psychiatric disorders like ADHD and Learning Disorders adversely affect the child’s academic performance and educational attainment. Poor educational outcomes affect the child’s health, employment, and status as an adult. This is especially so for psychiatric conditions that are seen at 7 years and persist beyond 16 years of age.

Mental health disorders in children have a greater impact on academic performance than chronic physical illness. The presence of a single mental condition results in morel board exams failures and backlogs. This association is more than for chronic illnesses of the neurological, lung, heart, or digestive systems. Physical impairments are not associated with exam failures. More than half the teenagers who fail to complete their secondary education have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems in childhood impede academic performance as the student is unable to take advantage of learning opportunities at school and at home.

Poor academic performance may be a marker for mental health problems in childhood. We screened secondary school students performing poorly at academics for mental health disorders. 2/3 of these children had at least one mental health disability. ADHD and Depression were the most common mental health disorders in this population. One third of the children had more than one mental health disorder. Our study showed that screening children who had poor academic performance would help in the early identification of treatable psychiatric disorders. This in turn would improve academic performance and subsequent adult outcomes.

Mental health problems in children negatively impact physical health, employment and social status as they grow into adults. These adverse health, employment and social status outcomes are especially seen in those children with psychiatric disorders at age 7 that persist to age 16. There is a large window of opportunity between ages 7 to 16 during which psychiatric disorders can be addressed to prevent adverse outcomes in adulthood.

Mental health problems in childhood have a higher impact on academic performance than chronic physical conditions. Psychiatric disorders account for a large chunk of school failures in children. Poor academic performance in children may be a marker for the presence of undetected mental health problems. Treatment of childhood disorders like ADHD improves academic performance. There is a decade window between the ages of 7 and 16 years to prevent adverse impacts on physical health, employment and social status by treatment of mental health problems that are resulting in poor academic performance.

References
  1. Case, Anne, Angela Fertig, and Christina Paxson. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance." Journal of Health Economics 24.2 (2005): 365-389. 
  2. Stoep VA, Weiss NS, Kuo ES, Cheney D, Cohen P. What Proportion of Failure to Complete Secondary School in the US Population Is Attributable to Adolescent Psychiatric Disorder? Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 2003, 30(1), 119-124.
  3. Neville Misquitta, Sayyara Ansari. Prevalence of ADHD, Depression and Dysgraphia in School Children. 15th IACAPAP. New Delhi. 30-Oct-2002

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What is normal? Dreams, the tiger and normality

what is normal?

What is normal? A 22-year-old man jumped into the tiger's enclosure at the local zoo on Saturday and was mauled on his back, stomach and thighs. The previous night he had dreamt that he was to free the big cat and that it wouldn't kill him. "See, it didn't kill me," he said. Doctors treating him said, "he has received injuries but he would be well soon ... he was not suicidal."


What is normal?

The concept of normality is at the core of mental health. Without a concept of what is normal one cannot identify the abnormal. In this post we explore the concept of normality from a mental health point of view.

Normality as Health

The WHO has defined health as a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Later they added spiritual well-being to the definition. So health is a positive state, not just the absence of disease. This concept looks at normality from a biological or medical point of view.

Suicide attempts are an important marker for mental health illness. However, the mere absence of this particular marker does not rule out mental illness. But the young man’s actions do indicate a lack of judgement - would jumping into the enclosure free the tiger? and after freeing the tiger what next? A display of impaired judgement is often the first visible sign of a mental health problem.

Normality as an Ideal

Normality is a blend of all the elements of the mental apparatus leading to optimal functioning that seeks perfection. However, Sigmund Freud wrote that "A normal ego is like normality in general, an ideal fiction. Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent; and the degree of its remoteness from one end of the series and of its proximity to the other will furnish us with a provisional measure of what we have ...". This psychological interpretation of what is normal was the first to conceive of normality and abnormality as different ends of the same spectrum.

Abnormality

Normality is also defined by the persons internal experience or "personal world" - the way they think or feel. Karl Jaspers, psychiatrist and philosopher, viewed the goal of eliciting signs and symptoms from the patient as an attempt to reach an understanding of their personal experience without any prior assumptions or bias. According to Jaspers, the "personal world" is abnormal when it is based on a disease condition such as schizophrenia, when it alienates the person from others emotionally, or when it does not provide the person with a sense of “spiritual and material” security.

Normality as Average

Normal is also a statistic. The field of psychology contributed further to the concept of normality and mental health by introducing objectivity through measurement. Take intelligence, for example. A graph plotting the distribution of individual intelligence scores (IQ) in the population would follow a bell-shaped curve. The middle range of this curve is considered as normal, and the extremes as significantly low or high intellectual ability. This normal as an average is in the context of the total group. When is it normal to jump into the tiger enclosure?

Normality as Process

Normality is also conceived as being the result of an interacting system. This process-concept emphasises changes over time as against a cross-sectional definition of normality viewed at a particular point of time. The trajectory of development of an infant into an adult is one such process of normal change. When seen against this background an act such as crawling is normal in infancy but would need explanation in adulthood.

Social Normality

Normality is also assessed from a social viewpoint. Is the person normal to others in the same society? Is the person viewed as abnormal by the person's society but normal by others from outside the person's society? Is the person normal in the person's society but abnormal when viewed by persons outside the society? The answers to these questions are directly impact whether the person will be labelled as mentally ill and associated with the stigma of mental illness. The answers are also medically important as they will impact the decision to seek healthcare.
In a world where young people are exhorted to follow their dream one also needs to consider the dream.
References
  1. Coelho MT. [Conceptions of normality and mental health among prisoners in a correctional institution in the city of Salvador].Cien Saude Colet. 2009 Mar-Apr;14(2):567-75.[Article in Portuguese]
  2. Freud, Sigmund. (1937c). Die endliche und die unendliche Analyse. GW, 16; Analysis terminable and interminable. SE, 23: 209-253.
  3. Kaplan & Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/clinical ...By Benjamin J. Sadock, Harold I. Kaplan, Virginia A. Sadock. 9th Edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Philadelphia. 2003
  4. Jaspers, Karl (1997). General Psychopathology - Volumes 1 & 2. translated by J. Hoenig and Marian W. Hamilton. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press
  5. Sabshin, Melvin. Psychiatric perspectives on normality. Archives of General Psychiatry 17.3 (1967): 258.
  6. World Health Organization. WHO definition of Health, Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19–22 June 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. In Grad, Frank P. (2002). "The Preamble of the Constitution of the World Health Organization". Bulletin of the World Health Organization 80 (12): 982.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Adult ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at work

adult ADHD workplace effects and statistics

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is thought to be a childhood disorder. However ADHD persists in adults in up to 50% of children diagnosed with the disorder. Hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention; the hallmark symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder in childhood have been described earlier. In Adult ADHD, symptoms change to reflect the child's development into adulthood. The symptoms related to hyperactivity gradually disappear by adulthood; however, those related to inattention persist. Adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) are often distracted, and avoid tasks requiring sustained mental effort. This impairs functioning at home and at work.

Adult ADHD at work

Adults with ADHD experience employment impairments at every level; from the initial job search, to the interview and then during the employment itself. People with Attention Deficit Disorder are more likely to be have poor job performance, lower occupational status, less job stability and absenteeism. Men and women with attention deficit disorder earn less money, and are more likely to be unemployed.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has at times been portrayed as advantageous from a work perspective, as in the Economist, "in praise of misfits". This may be so in certain sectors where
  • Hyperactivity and distractability find an outlet in the need to multi-task with multiple apps at a time.
  • Impulsivity manifests as risk taking and an apparent fearlessness. 
This works for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder adults at the entry level of the IT industry. The physical, social and cultural environment help overcome functional limitations of adult ADD. However, the lack of focus, disorganisation and procrastination become evident when they are promoted in the organisation. It is at this mid-career stage that the adult with Attention Deficit Disorder seeks our help.

ADHD friendly workplace adjustments

SymptomAdjustment
Inattention and impulsivity Quieter room/positioning in office
Flexi-time arrangement
Headphones to reduce distractions
Regular supervision to maintain course
Buddy system to maintain stimulation
Hyperactivity/ restlessness Allow productive movements at work
Encourage activity
Structure breaks in long meetings
Disorganisation,
procrastination, and
forgetfulness
Provide beepers/alarms, structured notes
Regular supervision with feedback, mentoring
Delegate tedious tasks
Incentive/reward systems
Regularly introduce change
Break down targets and goals
Supplement verbal information with written material

Adult ADHD is a treatable medical condition. Medication to correct the underlying neurochemical imbalance is the cornerstone of treatment for ADHD adults. The adverse impact of adult ADHD is experienced by the employee and the organisation. At the organisational level, workplace adjustments can provide a safe nidus for the ADHD adult to function effectively. At the individual level treatment can help reduce the associated emotional problems and absenteeism of adult ADHD.

References
  1. Marios Adamou and colleagues. Occupational issues of ADHD adults. BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:59 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-59
  2. Biederman J, Mick E, Faraone SV. Age-dependent decline of symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: impact of remission definition and symptom type. Am J Psychiatry. 2000 May;157(5):816-8.
  3. de Graaf R, et al: The prevalence and effects of Adult Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on the performance of workers: results from the WHO World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Occup Environ Med. 2008.
  4. Jane L. Ebeje, Sarah E. Medland, Julius van der Werf, Cedric Gondro, Anjali K. Henders, Michael Lynskey, Nicholas G. Martin, and David L. Duffy. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Australian Adults: Prevalence, Persistence, Conduct Problems and Disadvantage. PLoS One. 2012; 7(10): e47404. Published online 2012 October 10. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047404
  5. Schultz S, Schkade JK. Occupational adaptation: toward a holistic approach for contemporary practice, Part 2. Am J Occup Ther. 1992 Oct;46(10):917-25.