Archive for April, 2009

n64272810705_9010I had the pleasure of watching Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope last night. I like Dave Ramsey’s approach to money and I often recommend his “Financial Peace” program to my patients who are struggling with financial difficulties. I appreciate his take on the family’s budget as being just that: the outline of the family’s priorities as determined by the entire family together. His focus on personal responsibility resonates with me as well. I thought his presentation was uplifting and encouraging as he reiterated his common sense financial fundamentals to allay the “spirit of fear” that has come over most of America. If you missed it, I would encourage you to check out his website: .

Mr. Ramsey concluded his presentation with three action steps to combat “fear, panic, and hysteria.” They are: “take action, don’t participate in loser talk, and be giving”. I was struck by the need to apply these same principles in all areas of our life where we experience hopelessness: concern about a down-turned economy, dealing with difficult life situations, and most certainly, dealing with depression. Hopelessness can be one of the most challenging aspects of depression due to its invasive and destructive nature.

Let’s look at each step of the action plan as it pertains to mental health:

Take Action: “Get up, take action, get moving.” My treatment plans almost always include a recommendation for exercise. This type of “action” gets people off the couch and “out of their heads” at least for the moment. The mood enhancing effects of exercise have been well documented: improving levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain, boosting endorphins, releasing muscle tension, reducing stress –hormone cortisol levels, as well as improving sleep, confidence, and potentially reducing isolation. Exercise and music therapy remain some of the best non-pharmacologic steps individuals can take to improve their mental and physical health.

Don’t Participate in Loser Talk: This is one of the basic principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Specifically, don’t stay stuck in negative thinking. There really is power in positive thinking. Seek to identify and correct any distortions of thought that might be keeping you mired in negativity. Hopelessness is associated with many such “loser thoughts” that lead to poor self-esteem and creating a self-fulfilling negative spiral of thoughts and beliefs. Surround your self with optimistic and encouraging people and avoid those besieged with the “Spirit of Eeyore”.

Be Giving: Of all the recommendations I make to patients, giving can have the most profound effects on peoples’ lives. Giving is empowering. It improves self-esteem, imparts a sense of connectedness, and can foster an optimistic attitude. Altruism is one of the surest ways to restore hope as well as restoring an individual’s sense of purpose and meaning. Being a part of a cause larger than oneself and the feeling of making a difference in others’ lives are crucial for mental well-being. Giving, especially gifts of time and service, can grant a person perspective thus enabling him to look beyond his problems for a little while.

So no matter what obstacles or challenges you might be facing in your life, I join with Dave Ramsey in encouraging you to choose HOPE now.


logo_waadThis also happens to be my son’s 2nd Birthday. 

I have neglected my blog over the past six months; a fact kindly brought to my attention by one of my patients.  This neglect has occurred, not due of lack of material or interest- I still have a small pile of clippings on various mental health topics of interest- but because at the end of September 2008 my world changed significantly. 

 I had concerns about my son’s lack of appropriate speech development, but was assured that he was “normal” and that boys just are “late talkers” at his 15-month appointment.  By his 18th month appointment, he had lost his one word “cat” and all babbling of “mamamama”.   We initially were concerned that he might have a hearing problem, as he didn’t respond to his name or to other communication; but after multiple failed hearing tests (and nightmare scenarios of having to teach a language that I don’t know to a child who won’t make eye contact with me) a sedated ABR revealed his hearing to be normal.  We joked for a few weeks that he didn’t know that we knew he could hear since he slept through the test.  All in all, we are blessed.  Our concerns were heard and we were referred to our state’s program for children 0-3 yielding a whirlwind of evaluations, leading to multiple therapy sessions with some very gifted and dedicated professionals: including a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, child psychologist, and resource coordinator.

 There are so many ways that Autism affects our lives:  from the frustrations of communications challenges; the lack of sufficient research and recommendations for safe & effective treatments; the burden of time and financial commitments for therapies (that insurance companies are not mandated to cover); to the feelings of guilt and helplessness at not knowing…because there are no answers to most of the questions, including “What causes this? What can be done?”  Currently, there are no effective means to prevent autism, no single effective treatment, and no known cure. In the absence of scientifically proven treatment, people turn to “folklore” of anecdotal treatments that may potentially cause more harm than good.  Without proper funding for research, this “folklore” may be all that is available.  


So, in honor of my son’s second birthday, I am doing what I can to raise awareness for this condition and the organizations that are working hard on research to find scientifically proven, safe & effective treatments for this devastating condition.  Please join with me in supporting Autism Speaks as we celebrate the second annual World Autism Awareness Day.  Together we can increase the knowledge of the Autism epidemic and convey information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, we will give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Please join us in our effort to inspire compassion, inclusion and hope. 

Facts about Autism

Did you know…

• 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism

• 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum; Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism

• 67 children are diagnosed per day; that means a new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes

• More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined

• Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.

• Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade

• Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases

• There is no medical detection or cure for autism, but early intervention improves outcomes

For more information on this condition and how you can help, please visit any of the following website:

 We will be participating in the Oklahoma City 2009 Walk for Autism Event on June 6th, 2009 at the OKC Bricktown Ballpark.  For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit us on the web at: