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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I am 50 years old and father of 2 daughters. Currently

Customer Question

I am 50 years old and father of 2 daughters. Currently operating several restaurant business. In the past year I had very stressful time in my life due to many things. In past month I started having problem in my head. My thoughts are beginning to pop into my head and making me worry about things that are not happening. thoughts are about "what if". I started having difficult time sleeping at night. It feels like I am going to die in my sleep and making me scare to go to sleep. My thought would focus on some problem things like a blur spot in my vision that occured during the eye corrective surgery long time ago and i focus on it till It makes me feel more suffocating and feel like I am goning to go crazy over the spot i see in my vision. The physician M.D. told me that I have lack of male hormone, testosterone and this is one of the reasone for the problem at my age. He tells me that I need hormone medication. In the mean time
I am taking 5mg. brintellix pill a day.....
Is my M.D. diagnoses correct and do i need to take this medication for rest of my life to keep me from going crazy with these thoughts and feelings? Please help?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 2 years ago.
This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area.
Hello, I believe I can help you with your question. It sounds like you have a general anxiety disorder where you are constantly having ruminating thoughts and worries about different issues in your life. This causes you great stress and worry so much that you cannot focus as well, it causes disruption in your daily routines, and can even affect your sleep cycle. Brintellix is one of the newer antidepressants on the market (came out less than a year ago), but I am surprised that your doctor provided that medication for you since so far it has only been approved to treat depression, not anxiety. This is not unusual as most antidepressants are used to treat depression when they first come on the market and then later research shows they are effective in treating anxiety as well, for which the drug manufacturer gets FDA approval for treating anxiety other possible disorders (e.g. OCD, phobia, social anxiety, etc...). But Brintellix so far has shown a mixed success rate in treating anxiety disorders, so I do not believe this would be the right medication for your level of anxiety. Other more established SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro or Zoloft may be a better fit for you.
But to answer your question on if you have to take this medication for the rest of your life, the short answer is no. The medications only treat the symptoms of the disorder, not the core cause. Try to compare an antidepressant to a pain killer, where as the pain killer reduces the pain, but does not actually aid in healing the part of the body that is in pain. That is the same for the psychotropic medications. For truly healing and addressing the core causes for this anxiety I would recommend a form of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 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, then your symptoms will lessen as well. Right now you are focused on this worst case scenario that drives your anxiety, so by changing that thought process it will help to eliminate the anxiety. Here are a few techniques that you may find helpful, even one called "What if."
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.
In addition, these two worksheets are very good at helping to lessen negative type thinking and the associated anxiety you have. It can help you focus on the big picture and the objective/positive thoughts and outcomes.
CBT therapy should be done by a psychologist/therapist so that you can get the most out of it. CBT, like all therapy, is a gradual approach so it will take a few weeks to a few months to really ingrain the principles, which is why the medication is helpful to lessen the symptoms now so that you can focus solely on the therapy.
I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. I truly wish you all the best with your treatment and I hope this level of anxiety lessens very soon for you. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.
*If you are satisfied with my answer, I would appreciate it if you can provide me with a positive rating so that I can receive credit for helping you today. Thank you