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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Hello Dr., Recently, I have been through many rough experiences.

Resolved Question:

Hello Dr.,

Recently, I have been through many rough experiences. I am usually great at dealing with stress and can take a lot of it - school, money, etc. However, that all changes when the stress has to do with loved ones. In a 4-day span, my father suffered a series of mini-strokes and my girlfriend of 2 years had a setback (tiny, however worried me because of where she could end up) in her ED treatment.

Before this week, I had been dealing with my own health problem for 2 weeks. A simple thing to do with IBS. Certainly not life-threatening, but as someone who had not gotten sick in 5 years (no flu, colds, stomach aches) or even experienced more than 3 headaches a year, it was different for me. I am only 20.

After the stressful week of incidents, my body reacted on a Monday. I had panic attacks for an entire day and felt very jittery the next. It was the scariest experience I ever felt. I believed I was having a stroke, regardless of me being 20 and weighing a mere 135 lbs at 5'9".

By Wednesday, my parents took me to the doctor, so he could explain to me that I was not dying. He did so. I felt relieved. The relief lasted for 3 days. Though I was not having panic attacks during those days, it was on mind. I was prescribed .25 Mg of Xanax but felt I did not need to take it.

I experienced for the next days everything from dizziness to migraines to cold-like symptoms. It's as if I was in an all-out war with every disease imaginable. I relented and took Xanax, my mom split the pill in two (half before bedtime, half in the morning for the day - .25 Mg a day) I desperately searched for solutions. I managed to fix the dizziness by remembering my glasses (+5 years old) had lost a support pad and were very, very crooked. This was causing me a great deal of headaches as I've had a strong prescription since I was a child.

My headaches worsened as I felt I was not rooted in reality, not fully alert, and very clumsy in my movements. Again, I was scared out of my wits. I felt I was dying. Why did I feel like this? The answer was in the Xanax. I've never used drugs, and have drank about a six-pack of beer in my entire life. What I was feeling were the effects of Xanax, the doctor told me. I was "high" and "up in the clouds". Not a pleasant experience.

That marked 2 weeks of being scared. I've never felt this horrible ever. During this time, the scariest of all symptoms is that I've begun to have horrible thoughts about a loved one. I have to add that I have an excellent relationship with my parents, and I love them greatly. Most of my best friends I have known for over 6 years. I love the people in my life dearly. That's why it disturbs me a whole lot to be thinking these things about them. It's horrible. It makes me feel disgusting and it's enough to make me throw up.

I have read it is a form of OCD, common after period of long stress and anxiety. I certainly qualify there. It's been a year since I found out about my girlfriend's ED and she's made amazing strides. My parents health concerns me as well. I care about these people tons, and anything that happens to them is rough on me - I'm an only child, and I'm not close to any other biological family other than my nuclear one. My friends are my brothers, family friends replace aunts/uncles and such. I've read that during these rough times, serotonin decreases itself horribly. And that OCD is an effect of it, my biggest fears intruding in my mind.

My question is, do I need SSRI's to regulate my levels, if that really is the cause of my OCD thoughts? I am in a city where we have not gotten much sunlight, my appetite (once legendary) is no more, and it's too cold to exercise. I've made an effort to eat better and today I took in an hour of sunlight. I was instructed to take Xanax at night only so as to minimize the effects during the daytime, so hoping that will calm me down enough to replenish my chemicals.

I don't feel I am depressed, but I'm sure chemically I must be. I haven't rested properly either during this time period - this week was finals week at college (full-time student) and I also run my own business and help my parents out too. I don't get the time. I'd really prefer not to go down the med route. My question is with proper rest, exercise, sunlight, stress relief, the whole works...is it possible to recover? I've started spring break tomorrow. It's been 3 bad weeks for me. I've gotten past 70% of my fears of me dying, now it's these OCD thoughts that make me want to puke all day and cry. I want to get better.

What is your take on this? Please provide me with your opinion on my situation and the options I have for recovery. May God bless you for taking the time to read this novel of a question, it means a million.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

I can understand how worried you are about your health and wonder if you will ever get your life back together.

Customer:

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. L :

The answer is that Yes...you will get your life back together again. What happened was that your body went into fight flight flee or appease. This is a stress response. And..stress is supposed to be a temporary state. However, your stress experience was prolonged...and your body has been pushed to its limits.

Dr. L :

That means that the chemical balance in your body has been greatly disturbed. Taking the Xanax was meant to calm down your body...to help re-balance it. But because this chemical was foreign to your body...and since your body was in such a high level of strain...it had a more powerful impact then normal.

Dr. L :

Anxiety attacks are about fear. It would be helpful for you to sit down and make a list of all the things that have happened in the last few weeks that were fear producing. Then, go over the list and see what is really true and what is not.

Dr. L :

All of what you are experiencing is temporary. What we call "situational".

Dr. L :

The things you have been doing lately are really right on: getting more sunlight (there is a special light for seasonal affect disorder that might be beneficial), exercising (even if its just a short walk in a mall), eating more often (even if it is snacking every few hours) will have a tremendous impact. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga are all other alternatives. I will post a few websites for you to take a look at.

Dr. L :

I'm glad spring break is starting! During this time concentrate on relaxing...get out of the house, break out of your daily routines, eat the foods you love (even if a small portion), put on some music you enjoy, have lunch with friends...

Dr. L :

And...most of all...trust that this is temporary and that you can and will beat this.

Dr. L :

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

Dr. L :

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

Dr. L :

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/understanding-anxiety-treatment

Dr. L :

Take a look at the above links and let me know what you are thinking.

Dr. L :

Thanks.

Customer:

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I'll take a look at them right now.

Customer:

Is recovery from this possible without anything such as SSRI's and such medication?

Customer:

I will make a great effort to exercise and go out during this spring break. I've suspended my business for spring break, to coincide with the school break.

Dr. L :

Yes...there is the possibility that you can recover without medication. Since you are reluctant to rely on medication...then my best advice is to try the holistic strategies...deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, a positive attitude, and maybe even consider a few sessions of therapy. I think it is a good choice to close down the business during your break!!

Dr. L :

Do your best to stay away from stressful situations and to focus on relaxing, having fun, and enjoying each moment.

Dr. L :

Is there any last thing I can help you with tonight?

Customer:

That's all Dr. L. Thank you so much for everything. Take care!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Dr. L
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Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist