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Other Common Issues

ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a childhood condition that can last into the adult years in about one-third of people diagnosed with it. It consists of a pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that impairs development or normal functionality. According to experts, these symptoms are not specifically due to defiance, hostility, or the inability to understand instructions.

Note: A person may have primarily Attention Deficit symptoms, primarily have Hyperactivity symptoms, or have a combination of the two.

Typical symptoms of Attention Deficit may include:

  • Failure to give attention to details, and making careless mistakes
  • Inability to maintain focus on work or play activities
  • Often seems unable to listen or pay attention, even when spoken to directly
  • Often doesn’t follow through on, or complete assignments and/or chores
  • May have difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • May avoid tasks or activities that require a lot of mental effort
  • Has difficulty keeping track of items, and may lose a lot of things, especially small items
  • May seem unusually forgetful and easily distracted by external stimuli

Typical symptoms of Hyperactivity Disorder may include:

  • Fidgeting, squirming, or tapping hands or feet
  • May unexpectedly leave seat in situations where remaining seated is expected
  • Running about or climbing on things inappropriately (in adults, may feel like restlessness)
  • Difficulty in engaging in quiet leisure activities, often unable or uncomfortable being still, almost as if driven by an “internal motor”
  • Often talks excessively, completes sentences for other people, or blurts out answers before the question is completed
  • May interrupt or intrude on others, have difficulty waiting for their turn, may use others people’s things without asking permission

ADHD is primarily treated with medication, but a combination of behavior therapy and environmental structuring is also needed.

More information about ADHD from WebMD


OCD

Many people joke about OCD because they are very neat or clean individuals. You can actually be very neat and clean, but not have OCD!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders are generally anxiety-related, and involve intense and intrusive thoughts or fears that “compel” the individual to behave in a repetitive way that they feel will reduce the anxiety or fear.

True OCD interferes with a person’s quality of life, and the quality of life of those around them.

These paired thoughts and behaviors are usually theme-related. For example, a person may have a fear of germs or contamination that seems unreasonable to the average person, and these fears may drive them to unusual behaviors to avoid germs such as repetitive hand-washing or extreme avoidance of people or places they think might be contaminated.

Other themes besides contamination may include a need for order and symmetry, intrusive thoughts of danger or harm to oneself or others, or unwanted thoughts or compulsions that seem immoral or “taboo” to the person. It is possible to have obsessions without compulsive behaviors, and vice versa.

Examples of thoughts/obsessions and possible related compulsive behaviors:

  • Fear of being contaminated by dirty objects, people, or places (repeated hand-washing, avoid shaking hands with others, avoiding hospitals)
  • Doubts that you locked the doors or turned off the stove (repeatedly checking the door locks, repeatedly checking the stove, driving home to check the garage door)
  • Intense distress if things appear out of order or are misplaced (constantly straightening items, counting, placing canned goods so all the labels face outward, needing visual or bodily balance and symmetry)
  • Images of self-harm, or harming others (silently repeating a prayer, special word, or a phrase for protection)
  • Distress about repetitive unwanted and unpleasant or immoral sexual thoughts (generally, people with this type of OCD do not wish to act them out)

It is unclear what causes OCD, but it is thought to be a combination of biological and environmental factors, and can be complicated by stressful life events, poor relationships, difficulty at school or work, or anxiety/depression.

Take this survey to help assess whether you should consult with a professional for OCD. 

More information about OCD from the Mayo Clinic


Disordered Eating/Eating Disorders

Eating disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder. Disordered eating may occur in the life of a young teen. College students, especially females, are at risk of developing eating disorders. However, men can also struggle with body image and comparison with peers. Some concern of body image is normal, however persistent self-criticism of body shape and size can be a precursor of developing an eating disorder. If you, or someone you know, begins to demonstrate symptoms of an eating disorder, please see Health Services, Counseling Services, or your private doctor. More information


Alcohol

In addition to AU school policy which covers this topic, the Mayo Clinic offers a lot of up-to-date information about the medical aspects of alcohol use and abuse.

Despite AU's alcohol policy, we know that many students still struggle with this issue, and we want you to be safe, smart, and educated. Here is another good link that addresses alcohol use in college. Please check it out, and don't forget that counseling services is here for you if you need additional help kicking a bad habit.

Marijuana

Similar to AU’s alcohol policy, the following link contains some of the latest research-based information on the short-term and long-term effects of using marijuana. It is especially crucial to note that marijuana use has been highly correlated with negatively affecting brain development during adolescence and early adulthood. Heavy use can permanently reduce a person’s IQ! The article

Polysubstance abuse

This involves the psychological addiction to being intoxicated, without preference to a particular substance. I.e., alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin, meth, inhalants, etc., may be used in any combination to achieve a state of intoxication. The list of dangers is too numerous to list here, but polysubstance abuse is extremely hazardous to your health and well-being. If you, or someone you know, uses multiple substances to get high, please see Health Services, Counseling Services, or your private doctor. More information


Pornography

This section is for those who find themselves struggling to maintain sexual behavior that is consistent with their own beliefs and values. If you consistently struggle to live up to your own standards, or your faith community’s standards, you may also experience the additional feelings of shame or guilt.

We believe that people largely change from the inside out, and that (no matter how valiant the effort), just trying to “follow the rules” rarely brings about lasting change, especially in this area. There are many approaches to dealing with this issue, and we encourage you to find one that matches your worldview and your personality. Some people find healing and wholeness through pastoral counsel, small groups, and other faith practices, while others do better exploring a combination of psychological and spiritual therapy.

We believe that all behavior occurs for a reason, and it often takes a very thoughtful and sensitive approach to uncovering the complexities that may be involved in your particular situation. Finding a safe person to talk to about this is the first key to success. A trusted roommate or friend, your RD, or a helpful pastor might be your ticket to getting help. If you find that you’d like to explore some possible underlying personal factors, the AU Counseling Center is always here to help you.

Additionally, the following books and links may be helpful:

  • Secular overview for the way sexually compulsive behavior, including pornography use, is currently viewed by the mental health community. 
  • George Collins’ book, Breaking the Cycle, offers a unique approach that has helped many individuals find freedom from sexually compulsive behavior. (Collins, G. N., & Adleman, A. (2010). Breaking the cycle: Free yourself from sex addiction, porn obsession, and shame. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.)
  • Patrick Carnes, a pioneer on this topic, is another author who has written many helpful books, including Out of the Shadows. (Carnes, P. (2001). Out of the shadows: Understanding sexual addiction. Center City, MN: Hazelden Information & Edu.)