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Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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Hello- I recently lost my mother quickly due to pancreatic

Resolved Question:

Hello-

I recently lost my mother quickly due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 58. The stress of the six months of going through this brought on shingles doctors think. It is on the upper left quadrant of my stomach and on my left back. The pain is debilitating. I am a teacher and can barely get through my day. Stress magnifies the pain. My anxiety has also been heightened due to this. I have tried lexapro and cymbalta. The side effects were brutal for me. Sexual side effects, very down, and lethargic were just a few. I have been prescribed lyrica and was wondering if this might serve as a double med helping with my shingle pain and anxiety? Stress just makes the pain worse. Completely magnified. Thanks for your time and advice.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Hi there! I am so sorry for your loss, and for the anxiety and stress you have been facing. I taught school for ten years; I can verify that this alone is stressful!


 

Heidi LPC :

I have done a little checking; Lyrica is specifically designed to block pain signals, nerve pain specifically, and is used as a seizure drug. It has some side effects, as well, and the warnings state to let your Dr. know if you have had any issues with depression, etc... so I doubt somewhat that this drug will help with the anxiety factor, sadly.


 

Heidi LPC :

Shingles are very, very painful, and I am thinking that if you can get this pain under control, you will feel more in control otherwise, as well.


 

Customer:

Thank you Heidi. I just recently got back in school last week after a leave to be w/ my mother. This nerve pain is absolutely debilitating when it flares and I feel I know that stress magnifies it ten fold---especially May at a school:) I do not like the way SSRIs make me feel. Has there been anxiety success with Lyrica?

Customer:

I agree w that Heidi. The chronic pain is very depressing, especially since it will go away and then resurface. Other than SSRIs what are some other anxiety options as this has now become a magnified issue.

Heidi LPC :

It seems to be successful on a case by case basis, with the chemistry of the brain being altered in terms of pain signals being transmitted in a weaker fashion.


 

Heidi LPC :

Anxiety is just a simple result of looking at life and situations and circumstances from a basis of fear vs. that of love, acceptance or understanding. The self-talk we engage in must be changed; and we must get in touch with our physical sensations of stress and tension, learning how to relax and feel safe. You tube has some fantastic, free tutorials on "progressive muscle relaxation"... I will attach one here....


 

Customer:

my next step I suppose is a pain management center. I feel if i can get my pain under control the rest of my life would under control----however, this is pain that almost makes me pass out---and I have a pretty high pain threshold. Its like nothing ive ever felt. Do you have any tips on simply how to calm down in an organized chaos setting like a middle school classroom?

Customer:

Any advice on hypnosis or acupuncture for anxiety?

Heidi LPC :

Oh, you poor man!! LOL!! Middle school, yet?? Oy vey!! ;-)


 

Customer:

Haha...I know, glutton for punishment;) Its like all the stimuli of the classroom creates 'panic'....like sensory overload if that makes sense. Sometimes I feel as though I cannot catch my breath.

Heidi LPC :

Hypnosis is worth a shot; I have had no experience with acupuncture, but many many people rely on it; it is simply getting the body to release it's natural pain-killing chemicals into the system. Exercise, sunlight, hugs, etc... do the same thing. Dopamine and endorphins and serotonin are released as a result, which can be helpful in calming us, as well as taking deep breaths, closing the eyes, self-talk that is positive (I can do this, I am safe, I am in control, I am capable, etc...)


 

Heidi LPC :

Hypnosis helps calm the mind and improve self-talk... as does the link I've attached...


 

Customer:

Right....sometimes I feel like the process of trying to calm down creates more anxiety....blurred vision, blood pressure going up, tingling.....really an awful feeling.....and then some days none of this is apparent.....inconsistent. I have been having it in three major locations

Customer:

school

Customer:

highways

Customer:

big box stores (wal mart)

Heidi LPC :

And, of course, the body.... once you learn these techniques and practice using them, it becomes second nature. All we have to fear is fear itself. You may have to really begin asking yourself in each situation, what am I afraid of happening, and is there any real evidence that this will happen? What are the odds? And then argue with yourself, trying to dispute these irrational fears... as you would do for a friend or family member. What is it that you fear the most in these situations? Being out of control?


 

Customer:

I think thats accurate....that ill pass out or have a heart attack.......its like im outside of my body.

Customer:

....and again......the pain that came on after the stres of watching my healthy mother deteriorate just 'changed me' mentally

Heidi LPC :

Right... very common anxiety response. Remind yourself that you are safe, and that anxiety is induced by the mind. And we DO have control over our thoughts; it is a simple choice to change the way we look at situations. Your stress over losing your mom is intense. You need time to grieve, and to recover, and to make sense of this horrible situation. Allowing yourself permission to grieve and hurt and not try to repress it will be helpful to your healing, physically and emotionally, and mentally. If you have a second, can I give you a quick primer on the thought process that leads to anxiety?


 

Customer:

that would be great

Heidi LPC :

It is a simple A-B-C concept;


A = activating event

Heidi LPC :

C= the consequences


 

Heidi LPC :

So, for instance, WalMart gives you a case of anxiety. Shopping activates the anxiety, and anxiety is the consequence.


 

Heidi LPC :

But, the B is the most important part. B = BELIEFS. Our beliefs about the situation. So, if you tell yourself that you will be, I don't know, robbed, or your cart crashed into, or won't have enough money, or someone will sneeze on you, etc... your BELIEFS (thoughts) about the situation are actually activating the anxiety.


 

Customer:

ok....even though it feels involuntary because it just sort of happens? It sounds like I have to actively talk myself down.

Heidi LPC :

And these irrational fears are what you must become aware of, and then dispute them wholeheartedly, to eliminate them,

Heidi LPC :

Yes!!! Your self-talk is the KEY!! YOU have to TELL YOURSELF that you are safe... over and over... until it becomes natural.

Heidi LPC :

This is therapy; it is rational-emotive behavior therapy, known as REBT in the field.


 

Customer:

ok...sounds like my thought process needs to change....i think i get spiraling which makes it worse

Heidi LPC :

Otherwise known as CBT, cognitive-behavior therapy... it is simply 'mind over matter' thinking.


 

Customer:

right....and i know this would help the shingle pain.......i feel mentally vulnerable right now...just fragile

Heidi LPC :

Once you get this, you can never have to use a medication for anxiety or depression again! This, in combination with learning the physical relaxation response, can save your life!


 

Heidi LPC :

You are! You have just experienced a serious loss and an extremely high level of stress. Feeling vulnerable and fragile is par for the course. It will lessen with time; I promise. I lost my mom, too, at 59... it hurts like hell.


 

Customer:

Is it accurate that heavy emotional toll can cause physical toll on the body?

Customer:

....Mothers Day tomorrow isnt helping

Heidi LPC :

You MUST take good care of yourself now. Absolutely. This is where ulcers, shingles, migraines, etc... come from... and I was thinking that Mother's Day would be a huge trigger for you.


 

Heidi LPC :

Rest, do things that you find comforting and nurturing. Cry. Talk about it. Grief is hard work, and takes it's toll on the entire system. But, the good news is that it will subside... eventually.


 

Customer:

right......trying to...trying to make good choices...easy to fall in substance traps (ie booze, cigs, pot, benzos) but dont want that. I know I cannot speed up the process but do you have any grief tips if that makes sense?

Heidi LPC :

Yes... just be in the moment. Trying to repress it or self-medicate will only prolong it. Now, I am all for a glass of beer here and there, etc... in a measurable amount so as not to induce any dependency. But, crying is extremely valuable and a good release... and talking about it helps. Take life one hour at a time, maybe 5 minutes at a time, if necessary. Do what feels good for now. Try to find comfort where you can, and just accept that you will hurt for quite sometime over this. It generally takes a good year, getting through birthdays, anniversaries, memories, once around before the pain begins to lessen in intensity.


 

Heidi LPC :

Just accept that fact, and allow yourself to grieve. It is perfectly natural. You don't have to stay strong.


 

Heidi LPC :

Your body has a natural system of healing; let it work, and reassure yourself that it is perfectly normal to feel as you do right now.


 

Customer:

right....just frustrating not feeling like myself and cannot believe at 32 I cause shingles!!!!!! im not a convalescent;) Its just hard to fathom right now

Customer:

the mind is truly powerful when it comes to the body's health

Heidi LPC :

Listen, you are just reaching your breaking point with stress, and you will now learn some highly effective stress management techniques. ;-) So many people don't take the time to try to relearn how to manage it and rely on pills. It is simple to learn, and once you do, your life will take a complete 180 degree turn for the better. I promise you.


 

Customer:

would a prescription antidepressant really just delay and suppress the grief I NEED to feel?

Heidi LPC :

I am a firm believer that yes, it does. It just numbs a person, at the stage of grief you are at. Now, if it is 2 years later, and you are still stuck in emotional and mental anguish, pills can helpful to unstick any chemistry imbalances that may be occurring as a result of ocmplicated or prolonged grief. But, this just happened. You haven't worked through even six months yet.


 

Heidi LPC :

Feeling emotional pain is natural in this case. Why try to numb yourself? Emotional pain and grief won't kill you... it just hurts temporarily...


 

Customer:

right...its been one month. how about foods or natural supplements that promote mood or being calm? I have gotten in to green tea.

Heidi LPC :

(Unless it becomes so overwhelming that you can't function. In that case, by all means, see someone for a prescription!)


 

Heidi LPC :

There are herbal supplements that can be found in a health-type store that are touted as helping to calm anxiety, etc... these are generally natural and safe, but it is good to read and study a bit before taking them. Here is a link to some reading: http://www.herbportal.com/herbal-medicine-articles/natural-herbs-for-anxiety.htm


 

Customer:

ok thanks...........last question:) any tips to make chronic pain more tolerable from a mental perspective?

Heidi LPC :

The ability to separate yourself from it mentally is key; to distract yourself wherever possible with whatever works to distract you; maybe comedy flicks, a slow walk outdoors in the sunshine, talking? This Lyrica should be helpful to you; and if not, tell the Dr... and keep telling yourself that this is temporary, and take long, slow deep breaths at every possible juncture. You will get past this whole set of circumstances, and keep reminding yourself of this!


 

Customer:

Thanks heidi.....I was skeptical about this format but you really helped....how about technology?;)

Heidi LPC :

Try the progressive musle relaxation thing; it really does work, if you can allow yourself to relax enough to do it!


 

Heidi LPC :

I am happy to help, and to continue to do so!! This chat will remain in the "my questions" tab at the top of your screen... you can access it again for further questions, or if you want to find me again, just type my name at the beginning of your question and I will get it!!


 

Heidi LPC :

I wish you health, happiness and healing, my friend!! :-)


 

Customer:

would that be covered under the initial fee I was charged?

Customer:

Thanks so much

Heidi LPC :

I am compensated for this time when you click accept. If you continue the chat in the same question, you can do so without paying me, or you can click accept on any box in the chat along the way!


Or, you can start a new question, if too much time goes by and the question is then closed, which happens after a bit.

Heidi LPC :

You will see how it looks once we close this one...


 

Heidi LPC :

Just let me know if I can be of any further assistance again... and hang in there!! :-)


 

Customer:

Thanks Heidi...have a good day

Heidi LPC :

You do the same! Take good care!!


 

Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

One more thought; I received an e-mail from the site saying that some customers won't see an accept button, as the site is under-going restructuring. So, just so as not to confuse you, you may not have seen one!! (Just to answer your question!!) You are only charged, and I am only compensated, when you "accept" the answer. If I was helpful to you, any positive feedback is always appreciated... and again, I wish you all the best!!

:-) Heidi

Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
Checking back in--- hope you are getting some relief from the pain, and breathing deeply!!!!! ;-)
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
Just checking in--- I hope you are doing a bit better!!

:-) Heidi
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Heidi! Sorry...going to 'Accept Answer' right after this question:) Sorry for the tardiness. The shingle pain is horrible still but my doc gave me Lyrica which I tried the last couple days. I feel like the pain has become worse. Can this happen with a med?

Also my GP thought I may react better to Prozac than Lexapro. Are there less side effects with tried and true Prozac? Thank you!
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.
Good morning! Lyrica takes time to get into the system, so it won't work immediately... but yes, there are certain medications that we all can be somewhat resistant to or that just don't have the desired effect. Let the Dr. know if within a couple more days you are still struggling with it.

As for Prozac vs. Lexapro, here is a link to a simple comparison; as each person's chemistry is so different, it is worth a shot if he feels you would respond well to it:
http://www.ehow.com/about_6170919_lexapro-vs_-prozac.html

And, here are some simple side effects that have been noted with Prozac:
http://www.ehow.com/about_5408160_prozac-medication-side-effects.html

I hope you find comfort soon!!
Let me know what else I can do to assist you, and I wish you a good day!! :-)
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience: Licensed Professional Counselor
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