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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My mum has been caring for my dad for 3 yrs who had a colostomy

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My mum has been caring for my dad for 3 yrs who had a colostomy op in feb. He came out of hospital with a grade 4 pressure ulcer and has been very unwell. His sore has healed and has been in better health the last 6wks. My mum had a fall about 3wks ago and broke her wrist. She also lost her sister in march after a long illness and was bedridden for 2yrs. Last wednesday my mum had some sort of breakdown. She has been on antidepressants since and we are waiting for the cpn to visit her. She just cannot switch off from her worrying. She said its like a wall in her head and she cannot say her thoughts. She is hardly eating and obsessed with me letting myself in and finding them both dead. All her worries are blown out of proportion. If i leave im going to have an accident. She cannot cry and all the time saying we cannot cope and they are going to take her away. She has always been very strong and organised with a set routine. The doctor has onky given me advice over the phone and is sending her for some for tests. Can you please give me any advise. Is this urgent, should i get the doctor to visit to assess exactly what is going on? I feel she needs urgent diagnosis. Your advice gratefully received. Sharon

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like your mother has either had a severe anxiety reaction or she has Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD).


Your mother has experienced some very dramatic stressors in her life with the past 6 months. She experienced the death of her sister, her husband became ill and has not quickly recovered and she got hurt and was handicapped for a while. All of these things have either been about death or illness. The stress of trying to cope with it all has tapped all of her resources emotionally. Her ability to respond to the stressors has become depleted so she is reacting by giving in and fearing the worst.


From your description of her symptoms, I doubt your mother has PTSD. She would be having nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding all things that remind her of her sister or your father, and be agitated. Although she may have some of the symptoms, she does not appear to have enough for diagnosis.


But it does sound like she has developed an anxiety disorder. Excessive worrying, fears of death or preoccupation with death, inability to relax, appetite changes and feeling overwhelmed by her thoughts are all symptoms of anxiety. Also, she may not have had time to mourn her sister's passing, which will cause her to feel preoccupied with death and the sorrow of death. She needs time to work through the stages of grief and time to heal.


Could her doctor call in a prescription for a mild anti anxiety medication? Ativan is an example of a anti anxiety medication. It can be taken as needed (PRN) or on a prescribed basis. It will help your mother relax and rest until she can get further help.


I highly recommend she sees a therapist when she feels better. She can talk to her doctor about a referral or search on line at or Talking about how she feels will help her find better ways to cope and reassure her that she is very normal.


Here are some other resources to help:


Overwhelmed: Coping with Life's Ups and Downs by Nancy K. Schlossberg


The Mourning Handbook: The Most Comprehensive Resource Offering Practical and Compassionate Advice on Coping with All Aspects of Death and Dying by Helen Fitzgerald- when she feels ready to cope with her sister's death


The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life by Susan M. Orsillo PhD, Lizabeth Roemer PhD and Zindel V. Segal PhD


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thankyou for your reply, there are a few other things i forgot to mention. My mum has been staring at myself and dad. When i asked her about it she said she is staring through us. Also she seems paranoid about getting the same symptoms as her sister, incontinent and she stare at her ankles and says she cannot walk and will end up bedridden. Also she is scared to close her eyes as all she sees is black and she will die. she says she has let us all down and on a scale of 1 to 10 she is 10 being a very bad person. She says she feels guilty about everything, even being born.



You are very welcome. I am glad to help.


It sounds like your mother is also depressed. She did not have much of an opportunity to deal with her sister's death in a proper way so she may be transferring some of her feelings about her sister's death to her own anxieties and depression. When you consider all of what she went through, all of it had to do with illness and death. That would cause anyone to think a lot about personal safety, chances of dying, illness and fear of vulnerability.


Her feeling of being a bad person may be her way of saying that because she cannot be strong anymore and hold up the family, she has failed, which could not be further from the truth. But in dealing with all the stress, she is unable to see the logic in what she has been through. She may be running on all emotion at this point.



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