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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Extreme anxiety at work

Resolved Question:

I have started a new job and a women I work with is loud, opinionate and snappy. I have always had depression and anxiety. However, now it has worsened. I have constand anticipatory anxiety and feelings of guilt. I am questioning everything I do and say and afraid to talk at meetings. I am almost ready to quit. I have to take clonazepam just to go to work now. What can I do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 4 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

You likely have a biological predisposition toward anxiety and depression, or what we call mood regulation problems. This predisposition, coupled with a stressful, aversive and punishing work environment, can really be troublesome to deal with. You mention taking clonazepam but of course, this works, but is really quite addicting. I would see your doctor again or a psychiatrist and explain that you would like them to assess whether it makes to tray an SSRI antidepressant or something in that family. Some popular medications here include Zoloft, Paxil, and Effexor.

I'd like to suggest a alternative self-help books for you. Take a look at these:

http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Behavioral-Workbook-Anxiety-Step-/dp/1572245727/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326679296&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Behavioral-Workbook-Depression-Step-/dp/1572244739/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326679174&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Depression-Workbook-Dummies-Charles/dp/0764597930/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326679174&sr=1-12

We also know that for the kinds of symptoms you describe receiving something called cognitive-behavioral therapy is extremely helpful---better IN THE LONG RUN and over time, than medication. This therapy will definitely help you survive the work environment better because how you internalize your experiences at work, how it affects you, how you've LEARNED to allow it to affect you is a huge issue in all long-term cases of anxiety and depression. Learning interacts heavily with biological predispositions to create some chronic, seeminly intractible problems with depression and anxiety for people. For example, one thing that is learned by anxiety-prone people is excessive, self-critical thinking, and they have also learned to not esteem themselves very highly. They have failed to learn appropriate assertiveness and diplomacy skills to deal with stressful, conflictual situations. Anxiety and depression problems have usually caused them to underachieve as well. On the other hand, they tend to be very warm, loving, sensitive and loyal individuals. So life experience and learning, coupled with biological predispositions and emotional regulation issues equates with adults' ongong problems with anxiety and depression in the workplace. So I'm completely convinced that therapy will help. DO NOT go to generic counseling or therapy. You really need someone who primarily does cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

There are also assertiveness training classes or therapy you can no doubt locate in your community. I would call your social service agencies in town and ask for any leads on them. This will help you handle this fellow employee somewhat better---it won't fix the problem but they will have to adjust the way the communicate with you and interact with you because you will be changing how you relate to them. It will help, at least.

I would ALSO very quietly and privately begin checking the job market with the idea of taking a different, better job should one come your way. I'd meet with a quality employment agency and prepare a current resume and then, ask them to help you look at your overall job history, experiences and how the total 'you' might fit some existing AND different, new job categories---to move up and enhance your employment status. Ask them if you need to take some additional classes to do the slightly different work or job enhancement. THIS ISN'T a commitment to find another job, but I can tell you that you will experience some stress reduction if you KNOW you are at least exploring your options, gathering information about other possibilities, etc. Get your resume out there and secure a few interviews if you can. It will help your self esteem and provide you with reassurance that you have valuable skills. You have absolutely nothing to lose by doing this exercise. Do it thoughtfully, plan fully, and really stick with it for a couple of months, step by step.

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