We Need To Embrace Unorthodox Methods In Healthcare
We do everything within our power to make sure our children are healthy and happy. When something does go wrong, it can be difficult to diagnose exactly what the problem is due to the simple fact that children cannot express themselves the same way adults can. Unorthodox diagnosis techniques can help medical professionals to properly determine the best treatment techniques. These techniques can also be broadened into adult healthcare, particularly when it comes to mental health diagnosis and treatment.
1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Sometimes the best way to diagnose problems is to simply set a child loose and observe how they interact with other children and the world around them.
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, or ADOS, is designed to do just that. It gives medical professionals a tool set, including structured activities that make it easier to formulate a diagnosis. The advantage of this style of diagnosis is that it can be used for any person, regardless of their age, developmental level or language fluency. That means even children on the autism spectrum who are non-verbal can benefit from this style of diagnosis.
While it’s not a traditional method, it is effective and can be extremely beneficial for the patients themselves. Utilizing these methods to diagnose ASD enables medical professionals to assist each individual patient as quickly as possible. You don’t have to worry about scrambling for bits of data or struggling for a diagnosis just because your patient is a child, is non-verbal or just doesn’t want to talk about how they’re feeling.
Studies have shown that unstructured play is also helpful when it comes to learning, for children of all abilities. Instead of forcing children to sit in a classroom for six to eight hours a day, being able to play and learn on their own increases the ease of learning and fosters a joy for study that traditional school cannot achieve.
2. Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder, better known as ADHD, is a disorder that is often synonymous with childhood, and it’s usually treated with medications like Ritalin or other similar prescriptions. Alternative treatments for ADHD are starting to become more widespread, especially for parents who don’t want to expose their children to the potential side effects of ADHD medication.
Many parents have had great success utilizing elimination diets, such as the Feingold Diet, to manage their child’s ADHD symptoms. By removing things like artificial color, artificial flavors and preservatives, parents may be able to lessen the symptoms of disorders like ADHD.
On the other side of the coin, though, there are people who believe ADHD is less of a disorder and more of a difference in cognition, making it something that should be utilized rather than just treated away.
Alternative treatments for ADHD, both in childhood and adulthood, may work very well, but they should still be discussed with a doctor before beginning them.
Depression might seem like a problem only adults face, but more and more children every year are being diagnosed with depression, an anxiety disorder or both. Right now, as many as many as two to three percent of children from the ages of six to 12 have depression, and that number goes up to six to eight percent for teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17.
In children and young adults, depression is often treated the same way — with medication and therapy, but there are some other methods that may be equally beneficial.
Daily exercise, for example, has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety in both children and adults. While there hasn’t been a definitive link made between exercise and depression, there is quite a bit of evidence to support this conclusion.
One theory suggests that exercise induces the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain — chemicals like endorphins and endocannabinoids — that help to reduce depression symptoms.
Therapies like this can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional treatment options. If a patient comes to you with an idea for an alternative treatment, don’t close your mind to the idea. Some of these therapies, known collectively as complementary or alternative medicine, or CAM, can be very useful to assist the treatment of patients of all ages and shouldn’t just be dismissed.
Anxiety in children and adults is a lot more common than people think. General anxiety disorder, for example, affects 6.8 million adults. Other anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, have been seen to begin around age 13, and phobias can begin as early as age seven.
Just like with depression, exercise and other relaxing techniques — such as yoga and meditation — have been shown to help relieve anxiety when used either alone or in conjunction with more traditional treatments.
Keeping the Unorthodox in Mind
Medical treatment and diagnosis techniques are in place because they have worked for so long, but to provide the best treatment possible. It is important that, instead of flippantly dismissing them, we expand our horizons and consider more unorthodox and non-traditional options. There is so much about how the mind works that we don’t understand yet, so sticking to hidebound techniques might have worked in the past, but today they aren’t enough to provide the best treatment plan possible. Sometimes unorthodox methods provide the best results, even if they’re a bit unexpected. Investment in these areas would benefit us all.
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