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Dr. Harriet
Dr. Harriet, Doctor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 117
Experience:  Board Certified Family Practitioner with 25 years of psychiatry medication management experience
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I am a mess. My husband has just taken a new job, which

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I am a mess. My husband has just taken a new job, which requires him to travel by airplane. Understand that I, at nearly 30 years of age, have NEVER flown before and am scared to death of flying. My husband has never had to fly during the nearly 10 years we have been together. When he flew out of town last week, I was an anxious wreck. I could not sleep, could not eat, and resorted to cutting my arms with a razor blade (which surprisingly made me feel better, for the moment). I also tracked his flight online religiously. I have talked to him about how I feel and showed him my cut arms, hoping he would tell me he would never fly again. No such luck. I am afraid of so many things: the plane will crash, he will miss his flight, there will be a delay. Plus, I hate being separated from him when he has to travel. We have no kids, just pets. I feel like I have so many issues going on right now. I am a wreck. What can I do? I also take Zoloft; it worked great up until recently.

Hi there,
the dose of Zoloft you are on is at the low range for treating depression and is at the very low range for treating anxiety. If the anxiety -provoking issues are going to be continuing into the indefinite future, you may want to talk with your doctor about raising the dose of Zoloft; most people need 150 mg to 200 mg to control anxiety symptoms.

The cutting and overboard anxiety symptoms also suggest that therapy could be a great option for you as well. Therapy, especially cognitive/behavioral, can help you figure out what the thoughts are that are triggering your anxiety reaction and cutting behavior. It sounds like you might have some deep seated abandonment issues that are bubbling up from the past. It is important that you recognize the problem here as yours, and not your husband's, and that the power to get better belongs to you. It is important that you work on changing your reaction to his traveling, rather than demand or expect that he stop traveling. It is not the traveling that is the issue; it is your reaction to it; the reaction is probably coming from somewhere else that may well have nothing to do with your husband...

There is a lot you can do to get better. Anxiety is actually a very manageable problem as long as you don't take a passive stance toward it. You need to get mad at the anxiety and work hard with a therapist to figure out how to overcome it. The more you feel like a victim, though, the worse the anxiety will be, and the harder it will be to control. Anxiety provoking situations are going to keep popping up in your life, so tackling the issue now will give you benefit far into the future.

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