An Unhealthy Gut & Anxiety


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I always like to consider thinking, “outside of the box,” and I believe some “alternative ideas” really can and do work. Please take a moment to read:

I have known about Dr. James Greenblatt, a Boston-area psychiatrist, for some time now. He worked at McLeans Hospital when I was receiving my clinical training. McLeans is a premier mental health facility that works with Harvard’s Medical School.  Greenblatt does not practice “alternative medicine,” rather he is an expert psychopharmacologist. He has since left McLeans and is now a clinical faculty member at Tufts Medical School.

“Dr. Greenblatt, like many others, are beginning to recognize the power of healthy gut bacteria. The average adult carries up to five pounds of bacteria — trillions of microbes — in their digestive tract alone.

A recent study in the journal Science showed that thin and fat people have different bacteria — a discovery that could lead to weight-loss programs. Doctors have also been using fecal transplants to seniors when their gastrointestinal health is compromised in nursing home living.”

Dr. Greenblatt believes there may be a link between what’s in your gut and what’s in your head. He goes so far as to suggest that certain bacterias actually may play a role in the following disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia and autism. “In some patients, the strep bacterium has been linked to OCD in a condition known as PANDAS.”

“According to, Jane Foster, associate professor of neuroscience and behavioral science and part of the McMaster University & Brain-Body Institute.

“Anyone who has a mental health disorder that coincides with a GI disorder is a good candidate for probiotics,” she said.

One such candidate was Adam Johnson, who since the age of 5 has struggled with ADHD, anxiety and some mood disorders, and has been treated with a variety of medications.

“We know now he had too much stimulation and realize his brain worked differently than everyone else’s,” said his mother, Kay Lynn Johnson of Massachusetts.

“Adam is a very slow processor and deep thinker and has an incredibly divergent brain going a thousand miles an hour all the time,” she said.

For many years, he was treated by a well-respected pharmacologist and a therapist, according to Johnson. But prescription medications were not working well enough, and by the time he was 14, his family turned to integrative medicine looking for a “broader range of tools.” His urine and blood tests found a bacterial imbalance.

“I don’t want to bad mouth drugs — they have a place,” said Johnson. “But I think there’s more to learn.”

Last year, he was taken off all medications, put on a special diet and treated with probiotics. “Friends, family and his teacher were amazed,” said his mother.

Today, Adam is in honors classes, playing clarinet in the band and doing well. “It’s been a real triumph,” she said.”

For a more in depth look on this topic, I recommend reading:

ADD Couples: Managing the Anxiety


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Relationships fulfill our lives, bring enrichment…and sometimes stress.  Add to the mix a scenario where one or both partners has/have ADD, and relationship issues can lead to heightened anxiety. Take, for example, an ADD partner who may be feeling anxious over not completing tasks, not having the ability to listen effectively, and feeling perpetually scattered. As these feelings of anxiety mount, frustration and anger may follow.

Susan is a wife and mother who felt like she could never catch up with her daily tasks. At times she felt like a frustrated “OCD’er.” Completing simple tasks were rarely done to her satisfaction and some days her husband, Sam, would come home to a chaotic home and would throw his hands up in exasperation. Sam said he couldn’t understand how Susan had all day to complete tasks, and yet, little was accomplished. Susan would sometimes misplace the family bills and then stress when it came time to pay them. Susan ruminated about her “failures” and felt depressed. Susan would find herself snapping at her children late in the day, simply because she felt so overwhelmed about the work she still had to finish before the evening ended.
Sam was often told by his Susan that he zones out, doesn’t listen, or follow through on what he’s promised. Sam felt edgy and worried. He said he felt like everyone else has an easier time in life. I talked with Sam about how people all cope differently, and so it may appear that they have fewer problems.  Sam eventually began talking about his impulsive behaviors and admitted that his temper flares without warning.

Both Susan and Sam talked about their thoughts about taking medication. One felt it might help; the other was against taking any medication at all. Although their views differed, both agreed to use coaching as a part of their therapy. With coaching, they worked on specific goals, and the therapy helped them to find coping skills and learn more about how ADD affected their lives. In therapy, both opened up about their sensitive natures. And that sensitivity coupled with their feelings of failure when they couldn’t complete tasks, contributed to a sense of low self-esteem.

The most effective tools to use when dealing with ADD are:

Talking through issues to discover the root of the anxiety will ensure a more balanced and happy life.

ADD/ADHD & Texting Turmoil


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Texting, who doesn’t do it? For the person with ADD/ ADHD this can spell disaster. Did you know that texting can cause sleep issues, which can lead to memory processing problems? I watched a news story (aired on CBS New York on 2/28/11) that focused on texting and the affect it can have on sleep patterns. Here’s another issue: For those individuals with ADD, texting tends to reinforce positive feelings because of the instantaneous responses. Texting gives us the false sense that we are connected; texting fuels the impulsive nature of the ADD brain. However, all this instant quasi-relationship building just feeds into an already overloaded brain.

I often have clients tell me about their texting and relationship issues. They mistakenly believe they only use texting infrequently and when quick communication is necessary. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” “Yes, 8pm is perfect”―in other words, bullet point communication. And yet, partners will complain about their “text-a-holic” tendencies that cause heated arguments and ultimately, the unraveling of the relationship.

A scenario I’ve heard many times too often―one spouse complaining because the other is so busy texting he/she can’t pay attention to dinner or the kids. In one case, the husband had no idea that this was bothersome. Once the behavior was brought to his attention and after a couple of sessions talking about how important communication with family is, he was able to put his phone away during dinners, be engaged and participate in thoughtful conversation.

Many clients have asked, “Is it possible to be addicted to texting?” For those with any type of social anxiety, texting has become an easy way to feel like part of a group with simple keyed responses. But be cautious of the downside. Texting may affect time management when one becomes lost in a series of long texts back and forth. It happens; trust me!

However, the positive affect texting can have on time management results when you can send someone a short message, rather than call and have a long conversation. For those with the ADD/ADHD brain, texting feels good because thoughts come up like speeding bullets and can then be dispersed in their hand-held device―like a video game. If you have ever watched a “20-something” text, it’s at warp speed.

Texting is not a horrible invention. It can be marvelous and fun. But for those with ADD/ADHD, there is a need for boundaries to be set. Enjoy your texting, but watch the clock. Nurture your relationships and don’t forget that eye contact feels better than finger-to-key contact.

ADULT ADD – Finding Therapy in Tampa for Chronic Disorganization


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Most of us are familiar with the terms adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It’s hard to operate in today’s society and not feel affected by the various entities vying for our attention. Not being able to focus is an obvious symptom of adult ADD, but we all experience bouts of lack of concentration at some time or another. Let’s look at another symptom that may require treatment in therapy (Tampa).

I’d like to ask you if this scenario sounds familiar… Just yesterday you felt as though you could not get out of your own way. You didn’t accomplish anything and yet, you were so exhausted at the end of the day! Maybe your partner complained again about a task you forgot to manage. So you begin to ask yourself, “Could I have adult ADD? Seems like I do. I’m disorganized, my home has overwhelming clutter, and I feel as though I am always late. Maybe I need therapy (Tampa).”

I’m here to explain to you that adult ADD is a complicated issue, and so is defining its symptoms. Some individuals end up feeling so stressed that their “organized mind” shuts down. Others have a long-term history of feeling perpetually behind the eight ball, never able to catch up.

Seeking advice and therapy from a specialist can help you determine if you are going through a stressful period and just dealing with a temporary state or if you are chronically disorganized, which is commonly associated with adult ADD.

A patient of mine, who we’ll refer to as “Janie,” came to me for therapy because her husband was fed up with the ongoing chaos in their home. Janie worked with me to find solutions to her daily concerns. And with hard work, she was able to make small changes that had lasting, transformative results. For someone like Janie, a combination of therapy to help anxiety and depression, combined with coaching to address areas of disorganization, can help.