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Wendy A. Sweeney

April 10, 2021

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a set of symptoms diagnosed into three categories.

  • Inattentive Type: Includes symptoms such as trouble sustaining attention, being easily distracted, trouble organizing and following through on tasks, making careless mistakes, being forgetful, misplacing things, and procrastinating and avoiding tasks that require focus and attention.
  • Hyperactive Type: Includes symptoms such as being fidgety, talking excessively, interrupting and intruding, always being on the go, restlessness, trouble sitting and engaging in activities quietly, and blurting out answers before questions are completed.
  • Combined Type: Includes symptoms of both the inattentive and hyperactive types.

What Causes ADHD?

In the nature (genetics, physiology, and chemistry) and nurture (environmental events, stressors, or rearing habits) debate that surrounds many of the mental health conditions, most research supports that ADHD is caused more by nature.

  • Genetics: seems to be one of the biggest contributing factors in the development of ADHD.
  • Prenatal issues: can include trouble pregnancy and delivery, prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, premature delivery, and low birth weight.
  • Environmental factors impacting brain functioning: Exposure to high levels of lead or

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March 27, 2021

People with ADHD struggle with issues of attention, hyperactivity, or both. These symptoms are usually present and evident from the time they are toddlers to grade school age. ADHD is not something people develop later in life. Because ADHD is present from childhood, it can start impacting development early on.

Impact in Childhood

Some children, as young as infants, see an impact from ADHD in having mild delays in picking up language skills or motor skills. Many kids struggle with gaining independence and sometimes behave younger and more immature than fellow peers. Probably the greatest impact is on social skills and development. Kids with ADHD are often impulsive, hyperactive, are more emotionally reactive and moody, and due to distractibility and inattention miss the social cues and reactions of their peers. These symptoms and behaviors can be very off-putting to peers even at very young ages. Many times, kids with ADHD, especially hyperactive symptoms, end up being socially outcasted or rejected. This can fuel anxiety, depression, or anger which can increase acting out behavior and can create a negative feedback loop of increasing ostracization. It is not uncommon for them to develop the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder later on in adolescence. Academically, kids with ADHD usually struggle and suffer. Distractibility and trouble sustaining at read more

March 14, 2021

Many people use the terms guilt and shame interchangeably and are not even really sure what makes them different. There are important differences; especially in terms of the impact they can have on you and how you address them. Let’s look at what makes guilt and shame differently. Guilt: Is an emotion that occurs as an automatic reaction to acting against one’s own morals and values. For example, if Bill values honesty, but he goes home and lies to his wife, he will suddenly feel guilty. Interestingly, the purpose of function of guilt is that it is designed to get you back in alignment with your values, i.e., to be a good person. In our example above, Bill’s guilt will hopefully propel him to get honest with his wife, or simply stop lying to her in the future. Shame: Is an emotion that occurs in reaction to a perception of self-defectiveness. For instance, Beth might believe there is something bad or wrong with her when a guy didn’t call her for a second date. In many instances shame causes people to hide parts of themselves that they believe are self-defective from others in an effort to avoid humiliation. Most people who do this only allow others to see and interact with the persona they portray, because of the fear that if they were genuine and real, they would be humiliated in front of others. The primary diff read more

February 27, 2021

Most parents struggle with getting their children to comply with directions, get chores done, and simply being cooperative. There is a technique called a token economy system that has been around for a very long time and works quite well with most children. It is based on positive reinforcement and a reward system so that if you are a parent who is reluctant to punish and give consequences, this tool should work wonders.

Token Economy System

A token economy system can work with children as young as two and still be effective with kids up to 13-14 years old depending on their maturity level. The principle is fairly simple. The parents select 2-5 targeted behaviors that they would like to see improve, for example putting dishes in the dishwasher or not hitting a sibling. With young children (2-8 years old) we recommend getting a notebook and listing the goals (dishes and not hitting) at the top. Get a supply of various stickers from any craft store; preferably ones your child thinks are cool. Then sit your child down and let them know that you have created a new system where they have a chance to earn stic read more

February 14, 2021

Why was a Clearinghouse Created?

In January 2020 the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched an internet based national clearinghouse database that all Commercial Drivers License (CDL) regulated drivers were supposed to have registered in, as well as all employers that that hire CDL drivers. The clearinghouse was created largely to function as a fast and reliable way for employers to get information on a prospective driver. Previous to the clearinghouse, employers had to contact the driver’s previous employer to check their record or see if there were any violations. This system was often time consuming, unreliable, or unavailable. The new clearinghouse is intended to help employers get information quickly so drivers can get hired faster.

When Would You get a Violation Recorded in the Clearinghouse?

Violations are posted and recorded in the clearinghouse any time there is a failed or refused urine drug screen or breath alcohol test. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires testing for pre-employment, post-accident, random, or reasonable suspicion tests. Any time a positive test results in a violation that driver must go through the Return to Duty Process and are suspended from using their CDL until all steps are completed.

What is Involved in the Return to Duty Process?

In order to get your CDL back in good standing, and read more

January 30, 2021

What Are the Facts About Domestic Abuse?

Recent studies and statistics reveal that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This can include shoving, pushing, slapping as well as more severe forms of violence. Roughly 10 million people are impacted by domestic abuse each year. Sadly, 1500 deaths occur each year from domestic violence. In sum, domestic abuse is all too common. Abuse and violence can take lots of different forms. Most people are aware of the physical forms of abuse but are often less knowledgeable about the other forms of abuse. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, and occur in the form of neglect. Domestic abuse occurs across all races, socioeconomics, education levels, religious groups, genders, and sexual orientations. Nurses are typically the first people to encounter domestic abuse, but sadly most perpetrators and victims do not seek out help.

What Motivates and Drives Domestic Abuse?

Most people who abuse others have an intense need to control. Many perpetrators struggle with jealousy issues, low self-esteem, and feelings of inferiority. Many simply cannot regulate their emotions very well, in particular feelings of anger. Unfortunately, for some, it is learned behavior as they grew up in homes with domestic abuse and see it as a way to deal with conflict. Somet read more

January 17, 2021

What is Recreational Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has been around for some time and is legal in most states with a valid medical diagnosis such as glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer, and, just recently in Minnesota, PTSD. Medical marijuana is closely regulated, prescribed by a physician, and used to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is pot used by regular citizens without a medical reason. Recreational marijuana typically has a higher THC content than medicinal varieties and produces a euphoric high that medical varieties typically do not.

How Many States Permit it?

There are currently 11 states (CA, WA, OR, NV, IL, MI, ME, MA, CO, VT, AK) and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana. For many states, recreational marijuana has become a tax revenue boon. For instance, in 2018 the state of Colorado sold roughly $1.2 billon in recreational marijuana. This produced around $270 million dollars in tax revenue for the state, over 5X the tax revenue of the $45 million the stated collected on alcohol tax. With sales producing this sort of revenue, it may only be a matter of time before the other states follow suit with legalizing recreational marijuana.

Are People in Favor of Legalization?

It seems attitudes toward marijuana and its legalization have been changing over the last decade. Nea read more

January 3, 2021

Divorce Facts and Findings

Choosing to get a divorce is one of the biggest and most personal decisions a person can make. It’s a decision that has sweeping implications for everyone involved. It is almost always an upsetting event that leaves people feeling great disappointment and grieving the loss of hopes and dreams. Compounding these losses are people left trying to adjust and cope with the stressors that affect us legally, financially, emotionally, socially, as a parent, all the way down to logistically in terms of living space. For many this is perceived as the lesser of two evils as relationships have become too acrimonious, painful, and toxic. Most Americans believe that it is better to get a divorce than be in an unhappy and unproductive marriage. Overall, the divorce rate is declining, having gone from 50% of all marriages ending in divorce to only 39% recently. Millennials between the ages of 25-39, now comprise 60% of all divorces. Although age 30 is still the average age of divorce, the divorce rate in people over 50 has doubled since 1990 likely giving way to changes in former conservative beliefs in an era that has become more accepting of divorce. Next, let us look at the primary factors that cause divorce.

Causes of Divorce

There are countless reasons and cau read more

December 13, 2020

As an adult, we all grew up experiencing parenting from our caregivers. Undoubtedly, you have your own opinions about the aspects of the parenting you received and which parts were good and which parts were less than desirable. Many of us decide to go on and have children of our own and find ourselves faced with the daunting task of now being in the parenting role. Most of us yearn to do as good or better than what we received as children but realize we may only have a single frame of reference with which to draw upon. In this article, we will discuss the different parenting styles that exist, what they look like, and the potential impact on the child. In the 1960’s an imminent psychologist Diana Baumrind through years of research delineated three distinct parenting styles. In 1983 Maccoby and Martin expanding Baumrind model to include a fourth parenting style. Overarching these different parenting styles are two stylistic attributes that are quite important to discuss. The first is demandingness or discipline. This refers to a spectrum upon which the parent falls in terms of the degree to which they control their child’s behavior and expect them to behave maturely. The other stylistic attribute is responsiveness which refers to the extent to which a parent is nurturing and accepting of a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Some feel it encompasses the degree of lo read more

November 28, 2020

What is Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is self-harm, self-mutilation, or the deliberate act of causing pain or injury to your own body. Self-injurious behavior usually takes the form of cutting or burning, but can include scratching headbanging, or any other form of injury.

Who does Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior can occur at any age and any demographic; however, it is most common in teenagers and young adults. One recent study found that 6-14% of adolescent boys and 17-30% of adolescent girls engage in self-injury at some point. Most adults who engage in self-injury either have mental health issues or a history of self-injurious behavior.

Why People Injure Themselves?

Contrary to common perception, self-injurious behavior is rarely about suicidal ideation or intentions. Interestingly, it is typically about pent up and intense emotions that the person is struggling to deal with. Many people stumble upon this strategy to escape and avoid difficult emotions. When people engage in self-injury, pain receptors are activated and the brain goes into emergency mode to identify and alleviate the source of pain and injury. In the process, the brain prioritizes the physical pain from the self-injury and pushes all the emotions to the side in order to deal with the more immediate crisis at hand – the pain. In short, the infliction of physical read more