Who can help me with my mental issues?
January 10, 2012 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Looking for someone to help me with practical aspects of my ADHD - life coach, psychiatrist, therapist? What am I looking for?

In contrast to previous years, I'm sticking to one new year's resolution, but it's a big one. I'd like to get my time management under control. I'm fighting this on a number of fronts (including medication from my primary care physician), one of which I've decided should be some form of therapy or coaching to help me address ADHD, anxiety, and depression. I think addressing some of the ADHD issues related to time management could lessen the effects of the anxiety and depression, which tend to be at their worst when deadlines are looming or I haven't allotted enough time to give a task my best.

Last summer I consulted a therapist at my university. While it was somewhat helpful, it didn't provide me with practical insights or tools that would help me address ADHD and time management. I'd like to see someone who specializes in ADHD (and secondarily depression and anxiety) that can help me with some of the practical tools.

I'm interested in hearing from those who have gone down this road. From whom should I be seeking help? A clinical psychologist? Other type of therapist? Some sort of life coach? (If a life coach is the way to go - how do I find one? I live in the Dallas area.)

Any other thoughts and tips are welcome and appreciated.
posted by SNWidget to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
As well you know, a lifetime of untreated ADHD builds up a lot of shitty habits. You probably want to find someone a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy for this sort of thing.
posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on January 10, 2012

A psychiatrist can get you meds. By reputation, ADHD responds better to medications than many other psych conditions while therapy/counselling won't get you all that far without it. On the other hand, if the idea of taking powerful stimulants regularly makes you nervous you may be right to feel nervous. It might be worth a consult to weigh your options.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:32 AM on January 10, 2012

Response by poster: I am on meds at the moment - Ritalin LA, along with Welbutrin for depression and Buspar for anxiety. It generally works, but there are a few days where shit just goes off the rails.
posted by SNWidget at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2012

A lot of exercise will do you good. Find activities that require a lot of energy and attention. Boxing is a good example. Also... do it regularly.
posted by bbxx at 1:48 PM on January 10, 2012

Does your university have a list of professionals they can refer you to, like psychologists in the area? (many do). A psychologist could be very helpful, particularly because you're bringing anxiety and depression into the ADHD mix. You could also go to the website of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder -- here -- and see if you can find a group in your area, or some place to start looking for a therapist.

It's hard to say if you should look for a psychologist/therapist (mental health professional) or a life coach. A coach can help you organize your life better, and that in itself could help you with your mood, but you also might want to explore your mood symptoms themselves -- in which case a therapist might be more helpful.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:27 PM on January 10, 2012

I think you're asking for something that no one profession does. That doesn't mean you won't be able to find one professional that fits what you want, but you might need to look hard. I agree with the others that a psychologist is probably closest.

I used to work as a mentor doing study skills support for undergraduate students with mental health problems including depression, anxiety and attention issues. In theory I was helping with planning, time management and the process of academic work, but in practice this widened to include all kinds of life skills relying on planning and time management. I was employed by the disability office at my university and you should definitely consult yours. I was not professionally qualified, though I did have two degrees in psychology and was studying for a clinical degree at the time. This is why I think that a good life coach with relevant background experience might fit you just as well. Someone with a PhD is likely to have good experience in academic contexts and with the specific barriers.

One other factor you may want to consider is how often you can see them. I worked with my students for one hour per week and I found that very helpful because it allowed us to plan and then keep them accountable for following through. This was so helpful in finding out what worked and what didn't, and then in building new habits. Also allowed me to give generous constant praise for the things that are working, which is so important on days when it seems like an uphill struggle.

Best of luck.
posted by kadia_a at 10:55 AM on January 11, 2012

I got some helpful answers to a similar question last month - of course, I haven't implemented any of them yet. :)
posted by lunasol at 2:46 PM on January 12, 2012

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