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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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Please, HELP!!! My mother (age 56, married, working, financially

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Please, HELP!!! My mother (age 56, married, working, financially sound) shows great emotional adversion to my father for tha past few months, and now to me. She cries on a daily basis, has anhedonia, threatens divorse, suicide with a plan and homicide. She has a history of hypothyroidism (under control now with normal TSH), multiple panic attacks, and dysthymia/seasonal affective disorder, possibly depression. She has been overspending lately, but not to a degree seen in bipolar people (we still manage credit card bills). A prominent feature is her need for flamboyant statements and daily (2-3 times a day) verbal fights, completely unprovoked. She adamantly refuses to see a doctor or even consider being treated for depression. Instead she is threating divorce and "a legal hell". She has had problems with every employer for the past 15 years. Family history is positive for depression and Parkinson's disease in her mother, probably Alzheimer in grandmother. What ca we do? What is the possible diagnosis? We thought it was depression, but she is very active when she is fighting. She has mood swings, but not severe enought for bipolar. Her menopause started almost 10 years ago and ended a about 4-5 years ago (as per herself).
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
Hi. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm pleased to try to help you today.

I'm sorry to hear that you are having these problems with your mother. Based on what you have described, I would suggest you look up borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. See if either of these seem to fit her personality and the symptoms she experiences. If so, then the treatment is psychotherapy, usually long-term, as they are both difficult to treat. If one of those fits, then it will explain a lot. Best wishes. Tamara
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Well, as far as I know borderline personality is life-long and manifests itself in the teen years. My mother never exhibited these symptoms before. There were occasional fights, but not this bad. She never had suicidal ideation, she was a very good mother and a successful professional. This doesn't fit with borderline.


Narcissistic personality is also life-long. Her problems, on the other hand, started 10-15 years ago, initially very mild, with occasional irritability, and progressed to this. This seems to be a lot more acute.

P.S. There are no serious objective stressors in her life. Her chief compain in "You two (my father and I) ruined my life." There are no specifics, nothing she would like us to do other than "get out of my life". She seems to get better immediately after fights if everyone esle fights back. Lately this "good time" has been getting shorter and shorter, down to only a few hours. If we avoid the fight or stay calm she will continue for days, will cry for days, call everyone she knows and tell them what an aweful family she has. She still goes to work. Today she left the house and said she is leaving us. I feel no amount of talking to her does any good, and she refuses to see a doctor.

Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
I'm sorry - I must have misunderstood your question. Since these haven't been lifelong symptoms, they likely aren't related to a personality disorder (like you said). One strong possibility is depression, which can manifest for some people in the form of a lot of anger and irritability, as opposed to sadness and crying. So she could very well be an active fighter and still be experiencing depression. If there is a family history of that, I think that makes the most logical sense in terms of where to start. She sounds very unhappy with her life, and is lashing out at whoever is around and convenient. Bipolar is another possibility, as the manic phase in some people exhibits as more anger and irritability. And there also may be some sort of dementia starting, which would explain this slowly getting worse through the years, and some of the irrational behavior. The only way to know for sure is to have her see a Dr. If she refuses to do so, then there really isn't anything you can do, short of putting her in the car and taking her. She has the right to refuse medical treatment. However, if it were my mother, I would just make the appointment and tell her that she's going. It's worth a try. Just don't take no for an answer. Sometimes this works. If in the end you can't get her to go, then you and your father will have to figure out how to deal with her when you spend time with her. At this point, it would probably be worth talking with a therapist so you can get some input and support on these issues. I'm sorry I can't give you a definite answer, but obviously under these conditions, that would be difficult. Good luck. Tamara
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