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Let's talk life ... Strange behaviour

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Yvonnie Bailey- Davidson.

Dear counsellor,

My daughter has started to behave in a strange manner. She speaks very fast and loud, speaks nonsense at times, gets irritable and is not able to function. She was diagnosed as having manic-depressive disorder and started on a mood stabiliser. She is reluctant to take the medication and so she is improving slowly. She is unemployed and spends the days in her bedroom. How can I help her?

- Maxine

Dear Maxine,

Manic-depressive disorder is the old name for bipolar disorder. This condition can be controlled with medication. You need to encourage your daughter to take her medication. She may need to get an injection to help in the stabilisation of her condition. Many individuals lack understanding of their condition and so are not compliant with treatment. Some individuals with bipolar disorder have depressive as well as hypomanic episodes. Many individuals find that when they are stressed, the symptoms of bipolar disorder return and they need to have their medication increased. Patients need to take their medications and keep their appointments with their doctors. Some individuals visit their psychiatrists while others see their general practitioners. It is important for the patients to be assessed regularly by their doctors so that adjustments can be made to their medication regimes. Some individuals get depressed often while others have features of hypomania. Hypomanic features are irritability, labile mood, restlessness, distractibility and purposeless activities.

Individuals with bipolar disorder can be made to function normally. Counselling of family members is important, as they need to be informed as to how they can help the patient. Information is needed as to what to look for when there is a relapse or a recurrence of the illness. Many people with bipolar disorder need to learn relationship skills, as family disputes are common occurrences.

Learning problems

Dear counsellor,

My son is not doing well in school. He is not reading at grade level and his mathematics is poor.

- Sharmaine

Dear Sharmaine,

Your son has a common problem that is affecting many boys today. Learning problems are very common in children and its causes are many. The commonest reasons are learning disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children have problems like depression, anxiety, child abuse, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental retardation. Sometimes, the children have problems with their vision or hearing. Family problems and community violence impact heavily on children.

Take your son to a paediatrician or a general practitioner to have his hearing and vision checked. Have your son assessed by an educational psychologist or a child psychiatrist. These professionals will determine the causes of the learning problem.

Many children can call words but do not understand what the words are saying. Some children have problems with spelling and phonics. You will need to get a tutor for your son. You will need to read together and tell stories. You can get pictures and ask him to tell you stories about the pictures. Reading fluency is improved by reading often. He will need to learn the spelling rules and the rules of grammar. He can learn to read, so you need to see the evaluations as an investment in the future.

Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson. Tel: 978-8602, Email: