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Dr. Steve
Dr. Steve, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience:  19 years conducting therapy; book author; newspaper columnist; former co-host of radio show
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I AM 55 AND HAVE SUFFERED FOR MOST OF MY LIFE WITH GENERILIZED

Resolved Question:

I AM 55 AND HAVE SUFFERED FOR MOST OF MY LIFE WITH GENERILIZED ANXIETY AND PANIC. HAVE ALSO BEEN TREATED FOR SEX ADDICTION AND IN RECOVERY FOR 6 MONTHS AND HAVE REMAINED SOBER. SINCE EARLY APRIL I HAVE EXPERIENCE PANIC ATTACKS MOOD SWINGS AND ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY. IN THE PAST WEEK THE PANIC ATTACKS AND MOOD SWINGS HAVE SUBSIDED BUT NOW EXPERIENCING INSOMNIA AND OBSESSIVELY WORRIED ABOUT NOT SLEEPING. I AM FEELING VERY UNEASY THREATENED DISTRESSED AND HOPELESS. COULD THESE BE SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL SINCE THIS IS THE LONGEST PERIOD OF SOBRIETY. THANKS
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Steve replied 6 years ago.

Greetings:

 

Great question, and one which (I believe) requires immediate attention. If you are not in a 12-step program or are in some kind of outpatient psychotherapy, now may be the time. In my opinion, and I have worked with addicts quite a bit, it sounds like you are poised on the brink of a relapse, and I would hate to have that ruin a strong period of recovery and sobriety.

 

Here is the other issue: I am hoping that the trauma in your childhood (that fueled the addiction) was completely treated when you went to deal with your sex addiction. When I hear that anxiety and panic (OCD is in the same family) is still leaking through, I wonder about PTSD and childhood trauma. Obviously, you are probably genetically predisposed toward anxiety, but I would bet that there is trauma lurking beneath the surface that is really ratcheting up the worry (this is what will trip the trigger of relapse too, BTW).

 

Anyway, I am delighted that you have enough insight to ask the questions and notice the signs... but take the next step and take care of this escalation before it is too late, and you drop your sobriety, okay? If you are satisfied with the response, please hit "Accept." That is the only way I can receive credit for my answer. Thanks-

Dr. Steve

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr.Steve,

I am in a 12 step group and have been in and out of outpatient therapy most of my adult life. At this time I am not
tempted to relapse but feeling more anxious about my lack of sleep and obcessing that lack of sleep is dangerous and that if I don't sleep I may die.Please give me some encouraging info that may give me comfort.
Thanks

Expert:  Dr. Steve replied 6 years ago.

Hello again:

 

Glad the computer snafu was fixed...

 

Okay, I am relieved that you have been so diligent in taking care of your sobriety. Given that this aspect seems to be handled, we will move in and remedy the genetic component of the anxiety. I think that cognitive therapy combined with an anti-anxiety medication in the SSRI family (stay away from the benzodiazepines and SNRIs - although I'm sure you are already aware of that!) will help to settle your mind. Starting something like melatonin will help with sleep quality without side-effects or the possibility of re-kicking-off your addiction.

 

As for the sleep loss... Believe me, nobody has ever died from losing sleep. If your body absolutely needs it, it will get its need met. Think about this: Can you hold your breath until you die? No... the brain stem will take over and ensure survival. Same with sleep. Anxiety will pound you until you are fried and worn out, but if you absolutely have to sleep to survive, your brain stem will shove the limbic system (where anxiety lives) out of the driver's seat and hijack the whole process.

 

You'll be fine. Stay away from energy drinks and caffeine tablets - they will put a charge in your anxiety AND end up not helping in the long run. If you are sensible and treat the anxiety, you will pull out of this.

 

Best of luck to you-

Dr. Steve

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