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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3183
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Some days I just feel brain dead. During these times, I

Resolved Question:

Some days I just feel brain dead.

During these times, I will find my brain "jumping ahead" of what it is taking in. I just watched a talkshow where a guy made reference to something do with with the Vietnam war and he mentioned the number "260 people" and I thought, "Did he really mean 260,000?" when he obviously didn't.

Or I didn't sleep much one night last week and had to catch a flight early in the morning, and after I got my suitcase I think I might have even looked at the name tag and saw that it was wrong, but I took the suitcase anyway. When I got home, it was not my suitcase.

Or sometimes I feel like I really have to think when I talk or else I'll say the wrong word. I notice when I mix up words in a sentence (saying something like, "The laugh clowned" instead of "The clowned laughed") and it seems like I might be doing it too often. It feels like I have to think too hard sometimes to talk.

Or sometimes I will quickly misread things. I will read a news article and misread a word I don't see that often for a word I see often. Sometimes, I will quickly read a headline online and feel like I have a preconceived notion of what it should say, so I read it as that and then halfway through the story I have to scroll up and see, "Oh, it said 'Hilliary Clinton upstaged', not 'Bill Clinton upstaged'," as an example.

SOmetimes it feels like talking requires a lot of energy, especially if it's for something mundane. I'll mean to say, "It's not a bad thing not to want to settle" and instead say "It's not a bad thing to want to settle" and then realize a couple of seconds later that I neglected to put another "not" in the sentence.

I don't know, am I just fatigued? Is this just residual anxiety from a traumatic experience? Is it just overflowing brain circuits? What can I do?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 6 months ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concerns

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that you have been experiencing these symptoms, I can imagine how distressing this is for you

Dr. Z :

I would like to ask a few questions, so that I can get some more information to better help you

Dr. Z :

You mentioned wondering if this was residual anxiety from a traumatic experience, have you suffered a trauma that may cause this?

Dr. Z :

Also may I ask when did these symptoms start for you?

Customer:

I was very close with a girl who turned out to have BPD. She used me as a weapon to hurt a man she falsely accused of rape and she lied about having an STD, which made me go a bit hypochondriac. She borderline stalked me for a while and caused embarrassing conflict within my family. That all happened almost two years ago.

Customer:

I had been on Celexa primarily for insomnia. It was right around the time I came off it that this happened. I went back on the drug because of severe anxiety then tapered myself off of it earlier this year.

Dr. Z :

Well anxiety can definitely cause these symptoms of not being able to focus or concentrate well and feeling "brain dead," as you described it, so it may be anxiety for you.

Customer:

I have a sex phobia. I am afraid to have sex for fear of asymptomatic STDs, and the uncertainty that causes for my future relationship prospects makes me very sad and angry.

Customer:

I just feel mentally worn out way too often.

Dr. Z :

The sex phobia can cause anxiety and panic as well.

Customer:

It does.

Dr. Z :

I understand that you may not like the medication route, although I think Celexa for insomnia is not that good of a choice, so have you tried therapy? In particular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Customer:

I've been seeing a psychologist on Skype for well over a year.

Dr. Z :

And has that been working well for you?

Customer:

We haven't done much on CBT, I don't think.

Customer:

Some days it feels like it, some days not so much. It has definitely overall made a big difference.

Dr. Z :

CBT is very good for anxiety, phobias, and panic actually. CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then your symptoms will lessen.

Dr. Z :

I can show you a few good CBT techniques to help you

Dr. Z :

And recommend some good books too

Customer:

My experience with the BPD girl also included nine days of me wondering if my HIV test was going come up positive. All I knew is that she was crazy. It was negative.

Customer:

I believe in the premise you mention. And am open to suggestions and books.

Dr. Z :

Thank goodness it was negative. I am so sorry that you had to experience being in a relationship with someone who was BPD, that can be a nightmare.

Customer:

I meditate every day already.

Customer:

I didn't even know what BPD was.

Dr. Z :

Well CBT goes beyond meditation, it is meant to change your thought process completely

Customer:

Unintentional harm she caused, but unintentional is still harm, right?

Dr. Z :

Yes it is definitely still harm and it is obvious that what she did was traumatic and that may have caused a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for you. Although I think your symptoms are more related to the anxiety realm of PTSD

Customer:

So things like getting words mixed up and watching a talkshow where a guy made reference to something do with with the Vietnam war and he mentioned the number "260 people" and I thought, "Did he really mean 260,000?" when he obviously didn't.... that's part and parcel of anxiety?

Dr. Z :

Yes it is the difficulty concentrating and focusing part of anxiety

Dr. Z :

It happens because you are so stressed that your body increases the amount of cortisol and that impairs your brain functioning.

Dr. Z :

So here are some good CBT techniques that I want to show you

Dr. Z :

So this link may help you, it contains a technique I use with patients called a thought record. It will help you keep track of any negative thoughts you have. You put the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want you to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more objective and plausible). This will help you change your way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.

Customer:

It just makes me feel stupid sometimes. Or another example... I'm a journalist by trade, and I was having a conversation with a guy who was trying to convince me that two doctors who had gotten into a fight and were suspended from a hospital had endangered public safety with their nonsense... even though replacement doctors were brought in.... so I just conceded the guy's point, but later I realized, "How was public safety endangered if replacement doctors were brought in? I should have kept arguing. That made no sense to concede his point."

Dr. Z :

In addition, these two worksheets are very good at helping lessen anxiety symptoms. It can help you focus on the big picture and the objective/positive thoughts and outcomes.

Dr. Z :

The anxiety can make you mentally exhausted and also can cause your insomnia as well that you had. Are you still having issues with insomnia?

Dr. Z :

Also individuals with severe anxiety have a poor coping mechanism, so this worksheet will help you develop a better coping strategy to manage your symptoms better.

Customer:

It didn't "click" automatically like it should have, you know?

Dr. Z :

Here are also some good books for managing anxiety and symptoms related to PTSD too

Dr. Z :

I understand how it did not click automatically, your brain is so on edge because of the anxiety and using a lot of mental energy to help combat that anxiety that there is not enough mental energy left to function at optimal performance.

Customer:

I don't have that bad of an issue with insomnia, really. And that was my chief symptom when I went on Celexa, and it's a symptom that hasn't returned.

Customer:

Is this chat box available for me to visit later after this conversation ends?

Dr. Z :

That is good, I am glad it went away. Usually Celexa would not be prescribed for insomnia, but it sounds like your insomnia was related to anxiety and that is why you were prescribed the Celexa.

Dr. Z :

Yes even after you rate me the chat will be available to you. You can log back into JA and the chat will be under My Questions. Or you should have received a link of this chat to your email and you can click on that link to get to this chat

Customer:

No, this was years and years ago. My doctor told me that he thought I had low self confidence and that it would help me, but all I cared about was sleeping again.

Dr. Z :

Oh okay I understand now. Celexa is an antidepressant, so it will help with low self-esteem too.

Customer:

In a nutshell, what is the easiest way to overcome a fear that is unavoidable, such as the possibility of disease? This experience with BPD took away my innocence and my ability to "ignore" or downplay risks, like normal people do in order to live happy lives.

Dr. Z :

Well the CBT techniques will help with that because you are focused on the worst case scenario, therefore negative thoughts. So the CBT techniques will help you think more objectively and help you weight all the options available and not just the negative ones.

Dr. Z :

For instance, here is a really good health anxiety/fear CBT technique.

Customer:

Okay, one last thing... are there long-term side effects from having been on Celexa?

Customer:

I took it for 10 years... someone should have really suggested I get off them, but no one did and that bothers me.

Dr. Z :

No, there are no long lasting side effects at all.

Dr. Z :

I think the antidepressants should be used temporarily to help relieve symptoms, while someone goes through therapy. And then when the therapy techniques really start to take hold the person should be weaned off gently from the medication

Dr. Z :

Only few people should be on psychotropic medication for a long time.

Customer:

I agree... but my family doc hands it out like candy, and if you keep feeling better, he keeps giving it to you. Irresponsible... though my problem was never that I was depressed as in sad, you know? It was just never sleeping and I think it was because of the lack of sleeping that I didn't have the concentration I should have had.

Dr. Z :

Yeah I understand, some doctors just feel the medical model is the most trouble free model for them and it is the easiest for them, but they are not the most beneficial way to help patients. I am sorry that you had to experience that from your doctor. Are you using any natural supplements to help with your anxiety and "brain dead" feeling?

Customer:

Yes, lots. I take fish oil, St Johns Wort, Vitamin D, blue-green algae pills and some SAMe.

Customer:

I am also a vegetarian, could that play any role?

Dr. Z :

Those are all very good, I just wanted to make sure

Customer:

Could vegetarianism play any role?

Dr. Z :

You should supplement with B12 if you are a strict Vegetarian

Customer:

Not strict. Lots of eggs still.

Customer:

Small amounts of cheese.

Dr. Z :

Okay, then I think your diet is fine

Customer:

Okay, thank you for these links and for your expertise.

Customer:

It was just a scary experience I still deal with.

Customer:

Scary and humiliating, absolutely humiliating.

Dr. Z :

Anytime I am always happy to help. I understand that it was a scary experience, but I think with these techniques you will be able to beat this level of anxiety and panic.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3183
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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