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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10566
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I have been under some major stress recently. Financial matters

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I have been under some major stress recently. Financial matters that were not handled a couple of years ago but I also had PTSD from a violent attack back then.. I thought I was over it.. I went to counseling, did all that "good stuff"..now I am acting the same way and feeling terrified..what is going on?

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe i can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

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

Dr. Z :

Many individuals that have suffered from a serious mental illness, like PTSD, can suffer a recurrence of symptoms from tremendous stress like you mentioned you have been experiencing.

Dr. Z :

Typically once the stress is lessened or you find an outlet for the stress, the recurrence of symptoms can lessen, but for some they do stay

Dr. Z :

Since you have been in therapy in the past, I would urge to possibly revisit your therapist to help with this recurrence of symptoms or I can recommend some good techniques that can help you as well.

Dr. Z :

I would like to recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as this is the most evidence based therapy to effectively treat 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 your symptoms. It can help you focus on the big picture and the objective/positive thoughts and outcomes.

Dr. Z :

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

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 symptoms and is very similar to a style of meditation.

Dr. Z :

In addition, I believe these books can be very effective for you as well

Dr. Z :

Since you have taken medications in the past for similar symptoms related to your past PTSD, you can request from your prescribing physician similar medications that were effective for you in the past. If you do not want to take medications, I would recommend these supplements of St. Johns Wort, Valerian Root, Omega-3, Glutamate, and KAVA as they can lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety that is commonly associated with PTSD.

Dr. Z :

I see that you are offline right now, but when you get back online I would be very interested in continuing this discussion with you and talking about anything further you would like to share regarding your concern, so if you respond in the chat box I will be able to get back to you as soon as possible.

Dr. Z :

I see that you just entered the chat, so please feel free to ask any questions that you may have

Customer:

I am back..thank you! XXXXX think you are right about the supplements..just concerned why I am flashbacks..and getting angry for little or reason then I am fine two minute later...also waking up not able to breath..

Dr. Z :

These are called panic attacks is what you are feeling and they are caused by extreme amounts of anxiety and stress. The Progressive Muscle Relaxation will help and so will the CBT techniques, but if you really want a quick fix for this there is a medication called a benzodiazepine (e.g. Ativan, Xanax, or Klonopin) that can be taken and you feel calm within an hour or two after ingestion. This medication should only be used as needed because it can be very physically addicting, so if you use it regularly then you must wean off it gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Dr. Z :

A lot of your symptoms seem like they are related to your past PTSD, but that does not mean it has come back. It just means that the current stress you are in is triggering memories of your trauma, which can cause these symptoms, or possibly the stress is causing you to relapse temporarily

Dr. Z :

Stress can have a strong impact on the mind and the areas of the brain that are effected by PTST (e.g. Temporal Lobe and Amygdala)

Dr. Z :

*PTSD

Customer:

Wow that is a relief..I feel like I am losing it again..and it has only been the last couple of days but does not feel good....I have yelled at my husband..thank god..my kids are in college..for little or no reason..like a crazy person..at the moment it feels good within literally 65 seconds I realize I am out of control ..there was no need for my yelling and I am destroying are relationship..damage done..two night in a row..

Dr. Z :

The stress you are under is most likely causing a relapse of the PTSD symptoms, but like I said usually this will go away once the stressor is over, but to hasten this process I would recommend using the CBT techniques and the natural supplements, or the medication as well.

Dr. Z :

Anger out bursts, irritability, panic attacks, etc... are all symptoms associated with PTSD and since you have not had a recent trauma, but are under stress then this anxiety is caused by that stressor and most likely similar to your earlier PTSD symptoms.

Customer:

Any ideas on how I would us Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques when I just go from 0-100 in a second flat and back...it is Friday night and I know I should see someone but that is not going to happen until the beginning of next week..in the mean time..I dont want to be my own worst enemy

Dr. Z :

Well CBT, like all therapy is a gradual process and takes time to ingrain in the brain, but the Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a great exercise to help you calm down, also these relaxation exercises can be used and calm you down within minutes.

Dr. Z :

In addition, the use of this worksheet can help you express your anger in a more assertive and appropriate manner.

Dr. Z :

The only real quick way of stopping this rapid mood shift of anger and irritability is the use of a benzodiazepine as that is very quick acting, but that would require a prescription from a medical professional.

Customer:

Thank You, XXXXX XXXXX have a nice weekend.. and NO I am Not upset..Ha, Ha!

Dr. Z :

Anytime, I am always happy to help. I hope that these symptoms lessen very quickly for you. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Dr. Z :

Before you sign off though, I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much

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