Interview with Neuro-psychologist Dr. Michelle Conover – Relationships and Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders or Attention Deficit Disorders

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1. How might the relationships of people with Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders or Attention Deficit Disorders differ from those who don’t suffer with these issues?

Individuals suffering with emotional and cognitive problems have a harder time navigating their lives. Depending on the severity and diagnosis, the person may not be willing or able to engage in relationships with others. It takes a lot of cognitive and emotional effort to initiate, establish and maintain relationships.

Also, depending on which disorder the person has the more problems they have to contend with. Not everyone is aware that they are suffering from a particular disorder and know to seek treatment. In fact, individuals with emotional difficulties self-medicate with alcohol or other mood altering substances. Those with impulsivity problems may have difficulty controlling their emotional states which can lead to abusive or self-harming behaviors.

2. With the rate of autism and asperger’s syndrome on the rise, what do we know about the difficulties people with these impairments might face in adulthood?

The number of difficulties reflects the level of functioning. Individuals on the lower end of the autism spectrum can have severe impairments in understanding and communicating. Their obsessive focus or repetitive movements can make it extremely difficult to interact with one’s environment. Social cues can be hard to interpret which leads to problems with establishing relationships with others. They can also have accompanying disorders such as ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, or OCD. While those with autism have difficulty with verbal information and social interaction, those with Aspergers syndrome have deficits in nonverbal skills such as visual-spatial problem solving and visual-motor coordination. Individuals with Asperger’s are considered to be on the higher end of the autism spectrum. They do not possess the same language and cognitive delays as those with autism which allows them a higher probability for career success. For example, their obsessive and intense interest in one or two subject areas can be beneficial for jobs such as geologist, paleontologist or accountant.

3. How common are sexual and gender identity disorders? What kinds of treatments might you offer to people suffering from these disorders?

Since there are no recent epidemiological studies in the US the data that is available is from smaller countries in Europe with access to total population statistics and referrals suggest that roughly 1 per 30,000 adult males and 1 per 100,000 adult females seek sex-reassignment surgery. The treatments that are available are psychotherapy, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery. Most transgendered individuals are not looking for psychological treatment; they are seeking hormones and genital surgery.

4. How might a sleep disorders affect a person’s life, and specifically, their sex life?

Sleeping problems can affect all aspects of your life. A lack of sleep can reduce your mood, energy level, motor movements, and cognitive abilities. It can negatively affect your job and relationships. Sleeping problems can lead to depression or other mood disorders. In regards to sexual activity, a sleep deprived individual may not have interest or the energy level needed to become aroused and perform. He or she may reject their partner which in turn may cause marital discord.

5. What are three tips you would give to someone who’s considering entering into a relationship with a former addict?

Always communicate. You need to ask the difficult questions. For example, ask how long they have been in recovery, if they have relapsed and what were the triggers. Also, it’s important to know if they have ever been sober while in a relationship. You don’t need to give the person the third degree but you need to know what to expect and to problem solve potential problems. Establish the rules. When you decide to enter into a committed relationship it is important to set some standards. You need to know whether or not drinking a glass of wine with dinner or traveling to a particular part of town will cause your mate to relapse. Therefore, consider potential lifestyle changes. Maintain your role. Most former addicts deal with ongoing emotional difficulties or other issues. These problems are better suited for a professional to manage. Since there is only so much a mate can do to comfort their partner it is important to know when to recruit help.

About Dr. Michelle Conover:,,

Dr. Michelle Conover is a licensed psychologist specializing in clinical and forensic neuropsychology with particular training and experience with neurodegenerative disease, traumatic head injury and cognitive rehabilitation. She has worked with children, adults and geriatric populations as well as working with specific populations such as professional athletes, CEO’s and incarcerated juveniles and adults. Dr. Conover has treated individuals with chronic mental illness, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADD/ADHD, and other complicating diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s disease. She is the President of Southern California Neuropsychology Group in Woodland Hills, CA where she provides neuropsychological assessment, cognitive rehabilitation treatment and performance enhancement training. She is also the Founder and CEO of Dream Big Career Center where they utilize a scientific approach to career identification, development and implementation.

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