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Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 278
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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What does the term "altered state" mean? One of my family members

Customer Question

What does the term "altered state" mean? One of my family members is undergoing therapy and was told that he suffers from this situation? How can I help him?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 4 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Hi there! I hope I can be of some assistance to you; can you give any other details in terms of the person's age, condition, any circumstances surrounding the situation? Altered states of consciousness can be described as things as simple as sleep, or intoxication... etc... wondering why this description was used specifically?


 

Customer:

My family member is a man in his mid 50's who is undergoing therapy because he has been suffering anxiety episodes and tends to be immobilized when under stress. He also acts very differently under stress than when not. He lost much of his hearing as a young child and lost his parents to old age in 2004 and 2006. He lived with his parents after coming home from college for 30 years. He has told me that he suffers from altered states, and that he reverts to child-like reactions when he feels overwhelmed. How can I help him when he is under this condition?

Heidi LPC :

Ok... thanks for that information! So, what it sounds like is an anxiety disorder type of reaction, in which his coping mechanism for stress is ineffective or un-developed? There are many great links and articles about anxiety that he can read, one of my favorites is: http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm


 

Heidi LPC :

Learning to control one's fear is the key; helping to remind him that he is safe and in control when he begins to spiral in this fashion can help him to tell himself this type of self-talk when he feels the anxiety increasing.


 

Customer:

I have seen him at night occasionally with a blanket wrapped around him pacing through the apartment. He has indicated that he is aware of his state, but cannot seem to help it. I understand that he taking gabapentin for his condition

Heidi LPC :

In therapy, it would be very beneficial to begin to learn coping skills and to face his fears with the support of a caring professional, as well as supportive family like you. A strong, confident approach in telling him that he is safe, giving him evidence of how safe he is right at that moment... asking him to verbalize his fear--- where he feels it in the body, what it feels like, and reminding him to take slow deep breaths and to focus on releasing tension in his muscles can be helpful. Progressive muscle relaxation can be helpful, as well... I'll attach a link to this:


 

Customer:

What you provided sounds helpful. Thank you

Heidi LPC :

Hopefully, in therapy he can begin to explore a bit more all the fears he has; and develop coping strategies for managing them and eliminating them.


 

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