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Ask Dr. Z Your Own Question

Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5076
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My mother died a few months ago after a horrible battle with

Resolved Question:

My mother died a few months ago after a horrible battle with brain cancer. I was one of her care givers. Since her death I have become overcome with panic and anxiety. I feel like this disorder was triggered by my moms death. Is this possible?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 11 months ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that your mother passed away from brain cancer, I currently am taking care of step father who is going through treatment for his brain cancer (Primary CNS lymphoma) so I understand what you are going through

Dr. Z :

Yes panic and anxiety can be caused by symptoms of grief and trauma from the loss of your mother.

Dr. Z :

This can be very closely related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the battle with cancer and from her passing

Dr. Z :

I would like to recommend a therapy modality called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that can help relieve you of your symptoms. 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 :

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.

Dr. Z :

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

Dr. Z :

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

Dr. Z :

These books are also really effective in helping manage anxiety and symptoms of PTSD as well

Dr. Z :

This is a link for something called Progressive Muscle Relaxation that can help you create a long term calm by using muscle tension and release techniques; it can help manage your anxiety/panic and is very similar to a style of meditation.

Customer:

Thanks for those links. Things have gotten so bad that I thought I had brain cancer myself (headaches) . I have had All of the tests and MRI to prove otherwise.

Dr. Z :

Yeah anxiety/stress can cause these physical symptoms, were you given an anti-anxiety medication as well?

Customer:

My doctor prescribed Xanax as needed. But I rarely take them.. I do not like medication..

Dr. Z :

I understand. Here are some natural supplements that can help you as well. The St. Johns Wort is very effective, also Omega-3, Glutamate, and Valerian root can be added to increase anti-anxiety effects

Dr. Z :

If you wanted a comprehensive list of medication that may help with your symptoms, here is a link.

Customer:

So.. Have you ever ran across a case like this? I have felt like i was the only one in the world that this has happened too.

Dr. Z :

But you are right the medication will only lessen the symptoms and not cure you. The CBT techniques that I mentioned above will gradually be effective and help "cure" you underlying mental health issues for a sustained period of time. Also if you feel like you need some more help you can always go to a CBT therapist

Dr. Z :

No this is a common case actually, I see them all the time, so this is a normal reaction for what you went through with your mother and there is a high likelihood of treatment success too

Dr. Z :

So you will get better

Customer:

Its been 7 months.. Is this also normal?

Customer:

I have had some bad panic attacks. I am afraid to go to the grocery store

Dr. Z :

This is why I believe it is a mental health disorder and not just bereavement over the loss of your mother. This would be called complicated grief in relation to possible PTSD.

Dr. Z :

When it goes this long, then yes it is a mental health disorder and it does happen to some people.

Dr. Z :

The CBT treatment is the most evidence based treatment with the highest rate of success to help you

Customer:

Will this chat be memorialized so I can refer back to it?

Dr. Z :

Yes it will, this chat will be sent as a link to your email, if it has not already, so you can always use it for future reference. In addition, this chat will be saved in your JA account under My Questions so you can always go back to it when you need to

Dr. Z :

Is there anything else I can assist you with?

Dr. Z :

Are you still there?

Customer:

What is the prognosis do you think?

Dr. Z :

Prognosis is good with these CBT techniques. I would estimate that within 6 months you should feel a lot better

Dr. Z :

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

Thanks. You have been helpful.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5076
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
Dr. Z and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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