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It Is Not All Psychological

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

I was reminded this morning, while listening to National Public Radio, one of my favorite early morning past times, that just because something looks like a psychological problem does not mean that it is. In this case, something that looked like ADHD in a ten year old boy, was not ADHD. What was the story?

The story was that this ten year old boy was never a good student in school. However, he recently became a management problem at home. His mother became alarmed when he became irritable and oppositional at home, something that never happened before.

At around the same time his school teacher contacted his mother and reported that she suspected that he was suffering from ADHD.

The mother brought her son to his pediatrician who, in answer to his question about snoring, admitted that he did snore. The Pediatrician having seen this type of thing before in other children, referred the mother and her son to a Medical Doctor who was a specialist in sleep disorders in young children.

The specialist did a complete examination of the ten year old and discovered that he was experiencing Sleep Apnea, something associated with middle aged people. Further examination revealed that he had very enlarged tonsils that were interfering with his sleep. Surgery was ordered and performed. Within weeks, the boy returned to school and academically moved from the bottom tenth of his class to the top tenth.

At home, he returned to being the wonderful child that his mother had remembered and he reported to his mom that he was amazed at how much better he felt everyday.

Not everything is ADHD, depression or some other psychological problem. What is to be learned from this?

Always take the medical route first in order to rule out a medical problem. The fact is that symptoms of a medical disorder can mimic many psychological problems. In those cases, therapy will not help much at all, at least not until the physical problem is corrected.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

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