Professional Help for Anxiety and Panic
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Professional Help for Anxiety and Panic
Anxiety, panic, depression, OCD
Does anybody have a recommendation for a good therapist who has a lot of experience working
with people who have anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and OCD? Ideally, somebody who is
part of the Mental Health Network, and works near Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito.
Thanks so much!
Not sure if cognitive therapy is an approach that you'd consider, but
Oakland's Center for Cognitive Therapy literally saved my life when I was
dealing with overwhelming anxiety, panic attacks (with obsessive thoughts),
and depression. So sorry you're dealing with this - hang in there.
Regardless of the approach you decide on, there IS hope.
Does anybody know of a great therapist in the San Francisco Financial
District? I have always had anxiety issues, particularly health
anxiety, and it would be great to see someone close to my work. I
prefer a woman but would work with a man if they were highly
nervous in SF
Kathryn Hirt, MFT for anxiety disorders (her area of special interest
and expertise,) who is in SF in the Financial District (and has an
office in North Oakland if that's of use). She's great. Extremely
competent, warm, insightful, and also down-to-earth, real and often very
funny as well, and will help you move through it, manage it, heal it and
finally, be gentler with yourself in the end of the day. Highly
recommend her. 510-220-3558 and www.kathrynhirtmft.com (website gives
lots of great info about her and her work).
Another recommendation for Kathryn Hirt, MFT. She has offices in San
Francisco (on Market right above the Montgomery BART station) and Oakland
(Pill Hill). I went to her based on older recommendations on BPN
(normally would never go to a therapist without apersonal recommendation)
and have been really really pleased. She is kind and compassionate, but
also willing to challenge. Her emphasis on CBT is particularly helpful
for anxiety issues. http://www.kathrynhirtmft.com/
Psychologist or psychiatrist for anxiety?
The past few years have been very difficult for our family
and I have started to think that I am suffering from both
anxiety and low-level depression in the aftermath.
I'm not sure whether to look for a psychologist,
psychiatrist, or both; at times it seems my symptoms are
extremely physical and I have wondered if medication would
Recommendations for how to look for treatment would be much
appreciated. Professionals in the North Berkeley area would
I am a psychotherapist with a practice in Albany. One of my
specialties is working with people with anxiety and
depression. It sounds like both a therapist and a
medication evaluation (psychiatrist) could be appropriate
here. Also many people get medication for anxiety and
depression through their primary care doctor. You might
want to use him/her as a starting point. You could also see
a therapist for a few sessions and see whether at that point
you still felt you want to be evaluated for medication. Please feel
free to call me or email me if you have any
I have anxious depression and from my experience, you might
benefit from seeing both a psychiatrist and a psychologist,
as well as attend group classes, exercise, etc etc etc. They
are all helpful. The first person I'd go see is Amy
Wallerstein Friedman (510-482-9889). She works in Oakland
(just off Piedmont Ave). Her official title is a licensed
social worker, but she does counseling in her office (what
you would call ''talk therapy'') and is just generally
wonderful. Because she has a background in social work, she
is a lot more proactive in calling to make sure you are OK,
suggesting you go to certain doctors or do certain things,
than the average counselor or psychologist. I found her so
much more knowledgeable about medication than even my
psychiatrist; in fact, she called my psychiatrist and
coordinated treatment with her. Don't just go see a
psychiatrist and stop there because some of them are just
apt to hand you some medication and say, ''See me in a
month'', and frankly, that doesn't help. If you see Amy, she
will offer excellent therapy (I used to go once a week) and
in addition, tell you who else you need to see and what
other treatment you need, and maybe even help you find a
good doctor etc. I feel she picked me up from my abyss and
set me back on my feet, and I cannot recommend her highly
--Anxious and Depressed no more!
Solution for anxiety?
I have suffered from anxiety my entire life. It is a
horrible feeling that I can't get rid of just through
willpower or rationalization. When there is a problem I
can't stop thinking about it. It affects most areas of my
life. I literally ruined my marriage by driving my ex
completely crazy with questions and expecting him to
reassure me about whatever concerned me: financial issues,
relationship concerns, etc, etc. Now I am in a really
good relationship; the best I've ever had. I had not felt
any anxiety at all so far (he couldn't be any more
reassuring and reliable). However, lately, we've started
talking about where the relationship should go in the long
run. Guess who brought up the topic! Well, since I did,
I started grilling my partner for all kinds of answers
about the future. At the peak of my bouts of anxiety I go
through crying and yelling rages. Every time I know I am
my own worst enemy but I can't talk myself out of that
behaviour. I've done a lot of therapy and know where this
is coming from but that doesn't help me get rid of it.
Sometimes I take Lorazepan and it is very helpful; but it
is not a permanent solution (it can cause addiction).
Doctors don't take it very seriously, so I have never
found any solution. Does anyone have a problem like this
and has found some medicine that works? I am SO tired of
Want some peace.
Have you tried antidepressants? Drugs that are strictly for
anxiety (like Lorazepam) are usually taken short term only.
Doctors give antidepressants for long term treatment for
anxiety. You should definitely go to see a psychiatrist to
see what s/he can do to help.
--No Longer Anxious
I can relate to how you are feeling. I had the same issues as
you. I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed celexa which is
an antidepressant that works well for anxiety. I was anxious
about starting on an antidepressant, since I don't generally
like to take meds, but I sure am glad I started on this one.
Only wish I had done it sooner. My life is much more pleasant
and manageable without all that craziness bouncing around in
glad I did
I also take Lorazapam but don't worry about it too much. I know a lot of people
are scared about Lorazapam, but since I've been taking it off and on for 2 years
without any problem and it helps me... I'd say that how it affects a person and
how addictive it is may be based on the person's ability/inability to moderate
their intake of the medicine. My doctor did mention that people build up a
tolerance to it, but for me, I've never found to need more than two .5 mg pills in
There is definitely hope for a better life. I have gone
through similar issues and have found paxil and meditation
have worked well for me. The combination has calmed my
anxiety and stopped those obsessive and intrusive
thoughts. I was very resistant to the idea of meds but
truthfully they were remarkable. Getting started can make
you feel a little weird but once you are stabilized on a
dose (I was at just 20 mg) which doesn't take more than a
week or 2 the results were good. It cured my insomnia as
well. The meditation really rewired my brain and made it
so I could go off the meds after a couple of years and not
cycle into that. Talk to a psychiatrist and they should be
able to find the right fit for meds if you carefully
describe all of you symptoms. Good luck!
enjoying my happy life!
Help for anxiety and fear
My daughter is 33 and recently lost her beloved dad to
cancer, after caring for him during his last weeks and
months. She now suffers with and has had a history of
anxiety which manifests itself with physical symptoms and
fear. Her history also includes childhood sexual abuse.
She continues to function well in the world, good job,
pays her bills, lots of friends. She has had therapy but
is now ready to face these isuues with the help of a good,
strong therapist, support group, perhaps any other ideas
that BPNers may have.
She lives in the Lamorinda are but would travel to
wherever these resources are available..Berkeley, Oakland
Thanks for your help..We both would appreciate the help of
Please have her try and make an appointment with Dr. Daniel
Weiner at The San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive
Therapy (www.sfbacct.com). He specializes in her particular
set of issues and is absolutely wonderful (VERY smart, kind,
easy to talk to, non-judgmental, makes people feel extremely
comfortable talking about a very sensitive subject and most
importantly, he really makes a difference - he absolutely
helped me!). I cannot recommend him highly enough. He's
very busy but may be willing to see her.
Stacy George is an excellent therapist in South Berkeley. She's easy to talk to,
attentive, deeply compassionate and gently proactive when necessary. She
helped me tremendously through my own losses. She's skilled at treating
anxiety and other symptoms related to trauma from childhood abuse. I believe
she also has a sliding scale. Her number is 510-496-6012. Good luck.
A dear friend of mine was in a terrible car accident about a year
ago that killed one brother and seriously injured another. She
sustained significant injuries but has done remarkably well with
rehab and has been able to resume most activities. The reason I'm
writing is that she recently shared with me how nearly impossible
it is for her to get in a car and drive, how she can't even
entertain the thought of driving on the freeway, and how she
continues to be racked with anxiety and visions of the accident
after numerous attempts to deal with the trauma, primarily in a
cognitive behavioral approach. It occurred to me that this was
just the sort of thing that could benefit from hypnotherapy or
EMDR but didn't know who to recommend. If you know of a skilled
compassionate practitioner, or have another therapeutic approach
to recommend, I'd be most grateful. Thanks for any suggestions
you might have.
Yes, Stephanie Shelburne would be a good fit. I have been working with her
for months now and I can attest that she is a compassionate practitioner who
specializes in PTSD treatment. She uses a variety of interventions, including
bio-behavioral psychology, integrated bodywork and specific breathwork
techniques. She is currently completing research for her doctorate with focus
on treatment of PTSD. Her website is www.bodecology.com. She is very smart,
and has easy options for one's desires of gaining peace. Really good.
Louise, grateful client of hers
I am looking for a therapist in San Francisco in the Noe
Valley/Mission Area who is sensitive to depression and anxiety
issues. I am a professional woman who is looking for a warm and
interactive therapist. I'm very nervous about therapy and I want
someone who will be sensitive to a first time therapy-goer.
I saw Asa DeMatteo off and on for many sessions. He is located in the
Castro district in SF. Being a woman I was not keen on seeing a male
therapist but he was recommended by my female therapist who was closing
her practice. I am so glad she did! I always felt that Dr. DeMatteo
listened carefully and cared about my future. He is not super warm and
fuzzy but I felt he was kind and realistic. If I felt the need to see a
therapist again I would definitely go back.
I have a fantastic therapist in San francisco. Her name is Alice Knutson
she has been wonderful for my husband and I , she is on 999 Sutter
street..Cross street is Hyde.
Her phone is 415.775.4995..
I'd highly recommend my therapist, Jane Rubin, Ph.D. She has helped me
enormously with anxiety and depression. She's very warm and caring and
also very smart and perceptive. I love going to see her. I've changed a
lot, with her help. She has offices in both SF and Berkeley. Her phone
number is 510-495-6208.
Kirsten Beuthin, MFT is a wonderful therapist who has an office
in SF. She can be reached at 415-401-7180. anonymous
I am in dire need of help with anxiety and panic attacks. I researched the archives
but am looking for any new reccomendations out there. I have suffered with this
problem since I was a teenager. I used to take Paxil and see a therapist until 5
years ago and then I got pregnant so I stopped everything. I was fine and life has
been really good for the past 5 years and then out of no where the anxiety came
back. I can't stop the obsessive, negative, irrational thoughts which are leading
to very physical symptoms. I can't mess around with this as I am responsible for
taking care of my two little ones now. I want to be myself again and live a
relativly happy normal life. I feel paralized and hopeless. I have heard CBT is
helpful for anxiety. Any reccomendations for therapists that take AETNA PPO's?
Want to be me again
My daughter was suffering from very similar symptoms and received excellent advice from Dr.
Dolores Musco, a family physician in San Ramon. (925) 866-1005. She is currently taking
Lexapro and it has been a true blessing in controlling her anxiety. Best Wishes
I had unbelievable serious panic and anxiety disorder. I could
barely function, couldn't think straight and would have rage
attacks too. I had severe physical symptoms like extreme
shortness of breath, insomnia, and most troubling, heart
irregularies. I thought I was going to die. I didn't even know
what it was until a friend tipped me off. I did not want to be on
anti-anxiety drugs because of the side-effects and cost. I worked
instead with a Dr.(of psychology) who uses non-invasive,
non-pharmeceutical, non-talk therapy techniques to physically
intervene in the 'runaway train' that my nervous system was on,
and the anxiety was reduced by 90% within three sessions. What's
more, he showed me how to treat myself using the techniques, so
if new anxieties arise (life keeps on happening!), I now know my
early signs and can apply the techniques right away. I was able
to take care of the remaining 10% of my anxiety on my own, after
just three sessions. He even cures phobias. He graduated with his
PH.D from UC Irvine where these techniques were developed and he
has been in practice for over 20 years. He doesn't take
insurance, but in the long run, I saved a bundle anyway. His
initial consultation fee is only $50. He will work with
low-income people if they can't afford his regular sessions. He
is in Berkeley. It is fast, easy and a godsend! His e-mail is
firstname.lastname@example.org. Ph. 510.981.1162. Rose
I suffer from panic attacks as well. I also have OCD. I have been seeing a CBT therapist
for a little over a year. I have made tremendous progress in dealing with panic. Two CB
therapists to check on are:
Deborah Efron - 717-1415 (Although I don't think she is taking new patients and she does not
Melinda White - 526-8208 (not sure if she accepts insurance)
CBT is hard, at least for me in treating the OCD. It takes time and work on the patient's
part. You will be given home work and be expected to participate in your treatment
Other things that are very helpful with panic are:
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn and the tapes that go with it. Mindfulness is
extremely helpful when dealing with panic.
Regular exercise. At least 3 days a week. That is hard with children I know but it helps
The Worry Cure by Robert L. Leahy. This is a good general book on anxiety.
I don't take any meds and have used therapy only to deal with the panic. It can be done.
You will get your life back.
Almost Panic Free
Oh, I am sympathetic. I also suffered from extreme anxiety, including uncontrollable
catastrophic thoughts about myself and my loved ones, and before I managed to re-tool my
thinking via cognitive-behavioral therapy, I was more than miserable. But CBT worked well,
and it worked fast. I saw therapists at the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive
Therapy, and several of my testimonials are in the archives. Even if your insurance doesn't
cover their practice, I'm sure any CBT therapist would be able to help. Anxiety is one of
the most curable mental illnesses, and you are strong enough to tackle it! A Worrier
It seems these days, no matter where I look (with the exception
of my lovely children's faces), that the world is filled with
such negative, dreadful news. There's of course the truly
tragic, illness, planes falling from the sky, school
shootings. And then there are the everyday uncontrollables:
hormones in food, GMO's, the greenhouse effect, mercury in
tuna, date rape drugs, cholesterol and carbs, alcohol poisoning
at frat parties, and so on. While I can make some sense of the
former, perhaps it the accumulative effect of trying to deal
with the latter. It just feels so frightening some times to be
raising kids among all the landmines of modern living. And I
certainly don't recall my own parents coping with these
particular worries when my siblings and I were growing up (and
we all made it safely into our forties.) So I'm wondering if
other parents share these worries, and if so, how you are
navigating. Do you think the negatives are overblown? How do
you maintain a sense of optimism about the future?
The following is part of a commentary from science fiction
author Michael Crichton:
''I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never
came to pass,'' Mark Twain is supposed to have said. At this
point in my life, I can only agree. So many fears have turned
out to be untrue or wildly exaggerated that I no longer get so
excited about the latest one. Keeping fears in perspective leads
me to ignore most of the frightening things I read and hear—or
at least to take them with a pillar of salt.
For a time I wondered how it would feel to be without these
fears and the frantic nagging concerns at the back of my mind.
Actually, it feels just fine.
I recommend it.
Full article at:
--a mom who tries not to be a spaz
Turn the TV off!
Really. It is all about fear mongering. I find that there are
not nearly so many things to worry about when the nightly news
isn't warning me about the dangers of this and that -
''Next...your life could be in danger...after these commercial
breaks''. Take the break, break from TV. If you are afraid of all
kinds of things, you have to buy all kinds of things to keep you
safe. People who are afraid are very manipulatable.
Does anyone remember the news after the big earthquake here?
From the news coverage my family that did not live here thought
the whole place was rubble. Imagine their surprise when they
visited shortly after and found that 99.9999% of the bay area
was still standing. The news only showed the damage and very
much gave the impression that it was all like that. This is what
they do with everything.
I was told by someone studying public health that problems with
lack of exercise in children started with the advent of ''missing
child'' pictures on milk cartons. People got the impression that
kids were stolen left and right. People started keeping children
in. What better way to keep them occupied than TV. Now TV has a
captive audience and what a better way to seel stuff.
We don't watch TV anymore and the levels of anxiety have gone
way down. We do what makes sense, we eat what makes sense, we
keep an eye on the children when it makes sense, if we need to
inform ourselves we read and do research.
Just turn it off.
I read a pretty interesting book recently about this, I think
the title was ''Fear'', but it's one that Michael Moore mentioned
in the movie ''Bowling for Columbine'' and he even interviews the
author in that movie. The book had its flaws, mostly creative
interpretation of statistics that, being a scientist, is a pet
peeve of mine. It also got a little long winded at times, but
the premise was very interesting. Basically, we don't really
have that much to be afraid of. But, if a population is always
in a state of anxiety, they'll buy more stuff. Since reading
this book, I've gotten a lot more skeptical of network news and
mainstream news sources in general. I like reading google news
and listening to NPR to know what's going on in the world. I
watch regular news early in the morning mainly for the weather
forecast, but it's interesting seeing the stories they choose to
spend a lot of time with compared to what's reported elsewhere,
keeping in mind that they like to keep you worried and anxious
so you'll keep watching the news instead of getting to work on
time. I also like reading The Onion (online every wednesday),
which does really funny parodies of the news, and watching The
Daily Show on Comedy Central, which also does really funny
You bring up a good point. There's lots to be anxious about,
especially if you are raising children like we are. And I think
the media plays a big part in it. Let's face it, bad news sells
better than good news. They need to keep us in fear and suspense
so we have to come back to find out how it turns out. I was
feeling especially stressed during the kidnappings and
beheadings in Iraq a few weeks ago. And now we have greater
access to news with the Internet. It's 24x7. I'm 50, and I grew
up with assassinations, the threat of nuclear war, Viet Nam,
race tensions, pollution, Nixon, gas lines, etc. And think what
my parents had to live through: the Depression and WWII. I
think we are living in better times than 40 or 60 years ago. I
do read newspapers and access news sites, but I refuse to watch
the news on TV. I think it's a total waste of time, and an
assault on the senses. The best antidote I know is to focus on
my family, friends, church, volunteer work, etc. It really is
about knowing what you can do and affect vs. everything else you
can't control, which is quite a bit.
Yes!!! I feel it too. In the days after September 11th I went
from a fairly level headed strong minded woman to someone who
suffers from Chronic Anxiety Disorder. One year later I became
pregnant and two years later I have a beautiful 16 month old
daughter. Yes, I worry too. I still suffer from weird
physiological sensations that are purely anxiety. It's not an
easy one to get over. It seems that in our culture, our minds
tend to be hardwired to fear, especially when fear is plastered
all over the media. So my advice...take up meditation.
Mindfulness practice is helping me get a grip. The truth of it
all (and the scariest part at that) is that you can't control
much of it. Acknowledging that your having worrisome thoughts,
thanking your mind for looking out for you, and then dismissing
them is about the best advice I can give you. The world is
scary these days. Our kids have a lot on their plates, but
it's very possible that they came into this life knowing what
they were up against. I truly feel that bringing a loving,
conscious and awake human being into the world is worth it's
weight in gold. Do I still feel anxious?..absolutely. But
little by little this helps. If you're overriden by anxiety
there are a lot of supplements, herbs and drugs which can
help. Kava Kava Root is a good one. But all in all I think
until things change, we all need to find ways to see the beauty
of our world and feel secure in it. I know personally, letting
go of control is a big key to this.
You are definitely not alone in your worries. Since having
children, my anxiety level has skyrocketed. The world suddenly
seems so ominous. I have been struggling for several years now
to incorporate some denial back into my life so that I can
worry less and be happier with my children. I'm afraid I don't
have any great words of wisdom for you but I can tell you a few
simple things that have helped me a bit. First, I avoid the
newspaper with all its alarmist headlines and get my news
instead from NPR. Second, I started therapy, which has helped
on many levels. Third, I get out of the Bay Area every once in
a while, which always highlights for me that there are actually
people out there living happily (with children) in blissful
ignorance about the potentially harmful effects of pesticides,
food additives, cell phone radiation, arsenic on play
structures, etc. etc. I've decided that part of my anxiety
comes from the hyper-awareness of people around here. Sometimes
I avoid reading these posts because there's always someone
worrying about something! My friends in the midwest are clueless
about pesticides, for example, and, I think, much more relaxed
overall, while I cringe every time my kids eat non-organic
what I wish I just didn't know...
I know how you feel. It all seems so hopeless sometimes. There are two things that
help me to cope. The first is to be mindful of the information I take in. We
had tv reception for 11 years. I would recommend never watching TV news - it is so
alarmist. I rely on radio and written information. A great book to read is ''The
Culture of Fear.'' It argues that big money is to be made from fear. Networks get
to tune in ''Your food can poison you, tune in at 11 to protect yourself!'' Or how
about those awful, yet compelling, On-Star radio spots? Even well-meaning non-
profit organizations are alarmist – if they aren’t compelling, why else would you
send a check? I used to work for the Heart Association and the tag line on
everything was “Heart disease – the number one killer!” Or the parent magazines
that discuss every freak accident that could possibly happen to your child. The
second coping mechanism I have is to donate my time and money to better my
karma. For example, I donate five times my children’s weight to Children’s Hospital
in honor of their birthdays as an “offering to the gods” since I didn’t have to use
Children’s Hospital. I am not Hindu or Pagan, but it makes me feel better anyway.
The negatives are overblown. One reason is the
sensationalistic nature of news these days. Death, destruction
and fear (and sex) are what sell newspapers and get viewers.
Another reason is that information is more widely disseminated
now than when we were growing up. Back then it was basically
the daily newspaper and network news shows. Now with cable and
the Internet, more news gets distributed faster than ever
Another reason is that as a child growing up, you’re typically
ignorant of the negatives of life. Back when we grew up, there
still was the truly tragic, illness, planes falling from the
sky, school shootings (Kent State), war going on, etc. We were
just clueless, which as a child is fine.
Today, at least we are aware of the greenhouse affect,
cholesterol and such and are doing positive things in
response. Los Angeles, for example, has a lot less pollution
than 30 years ago. Pesticides used on food we ate while
growing up have been banned. There are fewer drunk driving
fatalities (at least on a per capita basis). Is some way,
things are better now than when we grew up: car seats for
children (I had a porta-crib in the back seat), cribs are
safer, appliances are more efficient, society recycles more.
You can get organic, GMO free and hormone free food at many
Don’t allow the negative sensationalistic news of today get to
you. Look for the silver lining, don’t let the turkeys get you
down, count your blessings.
A friend of mine recommended a book, which I haven't read yet,
but sounds perfect. It's called Worried all the time:
Overparenting in an age of anxiety. By David Anderegg. It's
available through the Berkeley and Contra Costa County library
I don't think the world is any more full of horrors than it's
always been. Think of the Bomb in the 1950s-- we honestly
thought it might come any day. Think of the political
assassinations and riots of the 1960s. The main difference now
is we see it on TV, which adds extra emotional kick. If you
give up TV news and only read the paper, you will know
everything you need to know without getting a side helping of
extra fear. If there is a true crisis, you'll find out about it
because people will talk about it at work, at school, at the
grocery store, wherever.
Hi! While I'm just starting out with my own child (year old), I
find I worry about a lot more things than I used to. The way I
deal with it is to try to stay informed about matters by reading
the paper, but to allow myself to be emotionally involved only if
I can change something about my own life or environment to
prevent bad things from happening. For example, it pains me to
read about child abuse or accidents that have killed or hurt
kids, and since those things could happen at home, too (who knows
why a mom kills her three month old... never assume you're above
such atrocity.... why did the mom take her trash out leaving her
7 month old to drown in the tub? Ignorance, likely). I take such
news and think about how I need to be more vigilant in my own
life to keep preventable tragedies from happening. But when it
comes to plane crashes, war, starvation, and other horrible
things I don't really have much control over, I try not to spend
too much time dwelling on them, aside from affecting how I vote.
Remember, too, that the world has a great deal of happiness and
joy as well, it's just that we don't hear as much about that. I
feel like if we try to dance, sing and laugh with our own
children, then maybe they'll end up happy adults, and happy
adults are less likely to want to hurt others, making the world a
better place just by their positive presence.
Does anybody have a recommendation for a good therapist (or
better yet psychiatrist) who has a lot of experience working
with people who have anxiety, panic attacks and depression?
Ideally, somebody with a practice in Fremont or thereabouts.
Thanks for your help!
I also have seen a psychiatrist for my depression and recommend
him. He is Dr. Lawrence Cohen and has an office in downtown
Berkeley. His number is 510-981-9141.
I saw a therapist for group counseling for women who struggled
with depression and I really liked her. I'm not sure if she's
still doing groups, but I would go to her for individual
therapy as well. She used to practice some in Berkeley but I
believe she now only works out of her Hayward office. I think
it would be worth the drive. Her name is Fran Bennett and her
number is (510) 888-2415.
A few years ago I was experiencing panic attacks and terrible
insomnia due to severe anxiety, and I had a really positive
experience with Dr. Karen Hollinger-Jackson. She's in the City
of Alameda. I liked her interactive style -- she listened
well, but also provided suggestions rather than just leading me
to answer my own questions, which I really needed and
I have suffered from panic attacks and the associated anxiety
and depression that comes with them on and off since I was a
teenager. I have seen a bunch of different therapists over the
years, which helped somewhat, but the thing that really made me
feel I had the panic under control was cognitive behavioral
therapy (CBT). CBT is FOCUSED and PRACTICAL and because it
helps you to change your own behavior and thought patterns that
lead to panic. Studies show that CBT can actually help you to
alter your brain chemestry. I was skeptical at first, but it
really worked for me, and in fact, I am finally driving on the
freeway again after a pretty serious phobia and years of
avoidance. I don't know of a CBT therapist in the Fremont area,
but I'm sure you can find one. Here's a few places to start:
1.) If you're a Kaiser member, they have some really effective
CBT groups for people who suffer panic attacks (the one I did
was 12 weeks long). You might be able to do them even if you're
not a member -- it's definitely worth asking about. 2.) BUY
THIS BOOK: ''Anxiety and Phobia Workbook'' by Edmund Bourne. It
will help you understand your problem, and give you some
exercises to start working on right away to cope while you look
for a therapist. 3.) Try a phone book search in your area
for ''anxiety/therapy'' and when you interview people, ask if
they do CBT. One last bit of advice: be wary of medication for
anxiety. There are some great meds for helping you in the short
term, (I still use Xanax from time to time) but they will
probably not help you manage a problem with anxiety long term.
That's where CBT can be the most important. Hang in there. You
really can make yourself better.
-no more panics
I would appreciate your recommendations for a therapist who can
help someone with depression and anxiety. The archives are a
bit old in this area, and I thought I'd ask again. Thanks in
Try Dr. Shane MacKay on MLK in Berkeley. He treated my
depression and anxiety and I'm very happy with the results.
He has a very low-key respectful attitude.
My mom has anxiety and I hoping someone has a recommendation for
a behavior modification therapist or hypnotherapist. After taking
Paxil for several years, they weaned her off. She then had
problems sleeping and they gave her sleeping meds which didn't
help very much. The anxiety came back/got worse and she started
Paxil again. This time it didn't help with the anxiety or sleep.
She tried other drugs which didn't help or the side effects were
so bad they cancelled out the benefits. We're hoping someone out
there has had success with a hypnotherapist or behavior mod
therapy. Conventional psychiatry hasn't helped in the past. Any
suggestions are appreciated.
I am sorry your mother is struggling with anxiety. Is it more
generalized anxiety or is she having acute panic attacks? It
would probably be helpful for her to see a new psychiatrist in
conjunction with a therapist who specializes in cognitive-
behavioral therapy (CBT). I know there is a
Center for Cognitive
Behavioral Therapy in Oakland & a psychologist there, Dr.
Michael Tompkins, is very good.
If acute panic attacks are the
problem there is a man named Dr. Liebgold
(aka Dr. Fear) who has
a web site & is well known for his support groups which teach
technics to overcome panic attacks. A Google search should
assist you in hooking up with a group. Anxiety can be incredibly
debilitating & interfere with daily functioning. I would
recommend your mom not give up on trying new medications. I am a
psychologist in Berkeley. I do not specialize in CBT but do work
with anxiety disorders. It is important to find someone who can
teach your mother techniques to manage the cognitive distortions
which are increasing the anxiety (catastrophic thinking, for
I had a productive and positive experience with two different
therapists at the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive
Therapy. (Their East Bay offices are on College Ave. near
Rockridge BART.) I am one totally satistifed (and practically
healed) customer! I worked with Dr. Mark Balabanis for my very
high anxiety, and he helped me find nearly complete relief in a
matter of a few months. My husband and I saw Dr. Michael
Tompkins for another matter, and he was very wise and talented.
I highly recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy in general for
anxiety and panic attacks. It's so focused and useful, and is
actually clinically proven to work. I didn't take any
medication, I just learned a new way to think about my fears.
It really works!
San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy
Not as Nervous
I am a Reiki practitioner in Albany. Reiki energy therapy is
very useful in relieving anxiety and promoting better sleep.
The effects often last for several days after treatment. Reiki
is a hands-on healing therapy that is noninvasive, completely
safe and can enhance the effectiveness of, and reduce potential
side effects of, medications or other therapies prescribed by
If you are interested in hypnotherapy, I would recommend Sharon
Pierce in Albany. 774-9749. She is a wonderfully caring and
patient certified clinical hypnotherapist. She sometimes
incorporates some form of bodywork or energy work with
Melinda White has specific training in anxiety disorders. I
can't say enough about how helpful she has been to me (and my
husband). Her office is mid-Solano and her website is here:
She is absolutely worth checking out.
Can anyone recommend a therapist to work with an adult who
suffers from horrendous panic attacks and anxiety ? These
episodes flare up at the slightest hint of something being
amiss in this person's life... and causes this person to dwell
on the worst case scenario as an outcome.
You need Dr Fear!! I knew nothing about panic attacks until my
husband confided in me 8+ years ago that he experienced them.
He'd been getting them since grade school. He would get them in
classrooms, restaurants, movie theaters, social events, on
bridges, airplanes, etc. He tried many therapists and techniques
and spent $1000s to no avail. But then we discovered Phobease at
Kaiser. It's changed our lives. It's a 10 week course developed
and (if you're lucky) taught by Dr. Liebgold, aka Dr. Fear. You
don't need to be a Kaiser member to take it; the fee is less
than $100 and you become a lifetime member. I took the course
with my husband and found it tremendously valuable and could
apply many of the techniques to my life as well. I would
strongly encourage you to take it from Dr. Liebgold himself. I
believe he teaches out of Kaiser-Vallejo but the class is
offered at other locations. He is incredibly knowledgeable,
positive, entertaining and funny but best of all...he's been
there. He knows firsthand what it's like to be crippled by
fear/panic attacks/phobias/obsessions. Give it a try. I
guarantee you won't be disappointed!
No More Panic Attacks
I want to recommend Michael Searle (MFCC) as a therapist. He is
exceptionally good -- deep, skillful, kind, and very
experienced. I don't know if he works particularly with panic
attacks; if he doesn't he can probably recommend someone good.
After I started seeing him I ''googled'' him and came up with the
following link to CIIS (Calif Institute of Integral Studies)
where he is adjunct faculty:
which gives a little more information about his approach.
He's in the phone book -- 510- 845-3199.
There's Prozac and other medicines. I've found them to be
very successful, despite the weirdness of taking meds (of
course, that is a very ripe subject in itself; I don't want to
get into it, but thought I'd mention it!
Less anxious, more relaxed
Hi. This is a tough one. I have always been a ''worrier'' - the
anxiety gene kind of runs in my family. But since I've had
children, the degree has really increased to the point where
it's having a greater negative effect on my day-to-day.
Sometimes I feel like I've lost my capacity for joy - I have a
difficult time relaxing and enjoying things because of worrying
about things that could go wrong, many that are completely out
of my control. I've been told I'm probably a good candidate for
Paxil, though I worry (of course!) about potential negative side
effects such as loss of sexual desire, something I certainly
could do without right now! When I see the ads on TV, I find
myself going yes, yes! That's me - although I'm aware that those
ads are designed to make everyone feel that way. Also, I don't
know how to go about getting started down this possible
pharmaceutical path. Do I go to my primary care phsician who
then recommends a psychiatrist who evaluates me? Or is there a
way to bypass the PCP? (I have a PPO plan). Any thoughts or
comments would be greatly appreciated.
You're not alone! Many of us are going through similar
My insurance (Healthnet) has a mental health component -- I
call that special number and they give me a list of names of
psychiatrists. From my experience, the attitude of the
psychiatrists vary a great deal, from some who see the problem
as chemical and very treatable through medication, to those who
believe that only psychotherapy will help, to many in-between.
There are some anti-depressants without the sexual side-
effects, which they may wish to try.
I can totally relate to you. I have just recently undergone the
same issue, and just began taking anti-anxiety medication. Having
a child totally intensified my level of anxiety, especially after
she started school. My gp put me on celexa, because I had a bad
reaction to paxil several years ago, (which I had experienced with
other ssri's), however, with this one, my doctor started me out on
an extreamly low dosage, and slowly moved me up to a normal
dosage. I have not experienced any negative side effects, and
belive that I would not have with paxil had I started off the same
way as with the celexa.
At the same time I started seeing a psychiatrist who gave me a low
dosage of the anti-anxiety pill, klonopin, which has helped me
until the celexa kicked in. And I've been fully functional, and
feeling a great sense of relief.
I am also seeing the psychiatrist on a weekly basis for
psychotherapy, which is helping me to gain insight to where my
anxiety comes from, which is also very helpful. And she can
manage my medications at the same time.
Among doing yoga, bike riding and just being outside, I am also
doing acupuncture and reachig out to close friends for support,
and I truly feel that I am on the path to recovery. When all this
began, my husband took a week off of work to be supportive, and my
closest friend has been giving me her all to be helpful to me.
You totally deserve to feel better, and enjoy your family, and I
know how it feels to have that joy vaporize by very debilitating
anxiety. It's worth it to try everything. There are many
resources out there. Here are the people I use:
Dr. Nick Rosenlicht: 510-558-3488 -- psychiatrist
Dr. Peggy Kwun: 415-262-0259 -- psychiatrist
Dr. Roxanne Fiscella: 510-843-0692 -- family practice
Karen Cutler: 510-654-3873 -- acupuncturist
Good luck with everything
I took Paxil for about one year and would like to offer you my
laymen's advice about that prescription. My PPO insurance did not
require a primary physician referral and you may want to check your
policy about that as well. I was prescribed Paxil for
depression/anxiety by my psychiatrist, (MD). In conjunction with the
prescription I was in weekly therapy 4 months and then it tapered down
to once a month until I became pregnant and decided to suspend the
prescription. My anxiety was so elevated that I had trouble sleeping
and was also prescribed Ambien to help me relax and fall asleep at
night. That was a Godsend, because anxiety on top of sleeplessness is
a true recipe for disaster.
I would highly recommend seeing a psychiatrist to get the
prescription. There may be other underlying symptoms or diagnosis'
and a psychiatrist would be best trained to identify these. Also the
therapy, in my opinion, was as beneficial to me as the medication. I
was able to learn some behavior modification with an open mind rather
than depend on the drug for my rehabilitation.
The side effects were about 50/50. At first I lost my appetite and
lost about 10 pounds -- I count that as a positive. Mostly the drug
made me feel sick to my stomach, but if I took it with some breakfast
food I could typically make it through the morning without getting
sick. Sexual desire was waned and required more attention, but I
can't say I noticed much difference from the past 3 years of being
either pregnant or raising a child. It was important to take it the
same time each day, so the quantify of the meds stay in your system
After about 3 weeks I could tell a dramatic difference in the way I
reacted to things. It definitely took the edge off. I was much
calmer, able to think things through and less likely to fly off the
handle due to a look or odd expression by my husband. I could
rationalize other challenges in my life with my parents and siblings;
but like I said earlier, a lot of it was due to the counseling as
In general PPO have a mental health authorization that is
different from the the 'physical' one and doesn't go through your
primary physician. Look on your health insurance card, the phone
number for authorization is listed there or check on your PPO
website - I bet they have one.
You should be able to select a therapist in your area who can
evaluate you and refer you to a psychiatrist if that's the path
that you decide to take.
Phobias, fears and anxieties ARE genetic. Kaiser in Vallejo
offers a 10-week class to conquer phobias, fears and anxieties
without medication. It's taught by an MD and is open to the
general public. Call 707/645-2312. Good luck!
I can certainly relate to your feelings of anxiety. I've also been a worrier
myself, but since having my son I've actually been known to break out into a cold
sweat if my husband is 10 minutes late coming home from work. Before you do
anything else I would recommend finding a therapist that you feel comfortable
with. You'd be amazed at how much talking about freaking out helps to not
freak out. And a therapist can work with either a psychiatrist or your primary
care doctor to find a prescription that's right for you. I take Prozac, and my
experience is that it doesn't decrease sexual desire, but it does makes orgasm
harder to reach.
Paxil changed my life (and, no, I don't work for a
pharmaceutical co). I too was a chronic worrier and, over time,
developed a panic disorder. With the help of behavioral therapy
and Paxil, I overcame my phobias and have been *much* healthier
pyschologically and emotionally since. I still take Paxil five
years later, and I expect to keep taking it indefinitely,
because I found that I slump back into depression without it. I
chalk it up to a chemical imbalance in my brain.
For me, the side effects were minimal, though I noticed some
loss of sexual desire initially. I compensated by taking
a ''holiday'' from my regular dosage when, for instance, I had a
romantic weekend planned. But over time that hasn't been
necessary -- and I still get horny.
I got my original prescription from a psychiatrist, but any PCP
can prescribe it. Just be sure that when you first start taking
it, you do so at very low dosages and slowly go up in 5 mg
increments as your system adjusts to it -- it can make you feel
very wierd at first. Over several months I built up to a 40mg
daily dose, but after overcoming the panic disorder I found that
10mg-20mg has been good as a maintenance dose.
I don't have any experience in getting medication for myself
but I work as a social worker and have often assisted other
people in getting the medications that they need, or at least
want to try. Your OB might be the best resource. Often
times OB's are very up to date on what medications are safe
for breast feeding and which have more or less sexual side
effects. Since you have a PPO you also could just go directly
to a psychiatrist. In my experience, unless you have a great
family practioner, they are not the best resource for this type
of medication. They can (and most do) prescribe these
types of medications, however they often are not up to date
and are not as open to on-going discussions. Another
option all together is to start with some counseling or short
term therapy. This might be a way for you to address your
concerns without medications, and then if you still wanted
medication the therapist would be able to help you in
contacting someone who could prescribe what you need.
Good luck to you. It sounds like you have been thinking
about this for awhile. I hope you start to feel better soon.
I have been on paxil for about a year and it has completely changed my
life. I'm not joking. I am so much happier it's hard to believe. I
feel happy, relaxed and content. I worried more after my child was
born also. It's amazing to see how much of this worry is about your
chemistry. I am happier than I have ever been in my life - however
there is the nasty side effect of low sex drive and - yes - inability
to have orgasms. It's a big deal but on the other side I am SO much
happier (although I wouldn't want to give up orgasms forever). You
may not have this side effect. My psychiatrist says that I will be
on paxil for a total of one to two years. His name is Robert Lee -
he is in SF and he is phenominal. He is a holistic psychiatrist
meaning he looks at the whole picture. He put me on a bunch of
vitamins and my health has improved considerably. I'm rarely sick.
I recommend trying paxil and see what happens. Good luck! It's so
important to enjoy your life because this is not a rehearsal.
I can relate to your issue--I had always been a worrier, but was
diagnosed with depression and anxiety about 8 years ago. (in my
late 20's). That diagnosis was the best thing to happen to me
because then I could treat it. I've been told (and have
experienced) that the most effective treatment for this is a
combintation of therapy and medication. See if you can talk to
a psychiatrist about medication--please remember that it
sometimes takes more than one try to find the right one. Don't
give up! (it took me 6 tries to find the right combination!).
Yes, it can impact your sex drive. But, I'm guessing that your
sex drive isn't too high right now. (at least mine wasn't when
I was sick). I found cognitive therapy to be incredibly
helpful. I highly recommend Kaiser-Oakland Behavioral classes.
You can attend even if you're not a Kaiser patient. They have
one on anxiety that opened my eyes and changed my life. This
anxiety can be overcome! Best of luck.
Hi! I'm on Paxil, and antidepressants really changed my life
for the better -- before I went on them, I was 24 years old and
had never been on a date, cried easily, had few friends, was
easily irritated, felt worthless. Now I'm happily married, have
a child, good friends, and I don't feel constantly irritable,
depressed, and worthless. So antidepressants are a very good
thing for a lot of people.
At first I got my Prozac, then Zoloft, from a psychiatrist, and
then when I moved and asked my primary care practitioner for a
referral to a psychiatrist so I could get the Zoloft, she
said, ''If you want Zoloft, I can prescribe it for you.'' But I
don't think this is a good idea, because family practitioners
and internists aren't experts on psychiatric drugs -- I asked my
current family practitioner about Paxil's causing weight gain,
and she said it didn't, that it caused weight LOSS. But now I'm
seeing a psychiatrist, and he said that Paxil causes weight loss
in some people at FIRST, and then causes weight GAIN in those
same people over the long run. So now I'm being weaned off the
Paxil (because it has flu-like withdrawal symptoms if you stop
it suddenly -- another minus for Paxil) and starting to take
Celexa, which doesn't cause weight gain. I have a PPO too, and
I didn't need a referral to see a psychiatrist, but I had to go
As for side effects, I lost 20 pounds and then gained 50 pounds
on Zoloft, and then when the insurance made me switch to Paxil,
I gained about 40 more pounds. Some of that can be attributed
to lack of activity and having a baby, but I don't think I would
have gained THAT much weight without the antidepressants. And
my mother and sister also gained weight on antidepressants. But
my psychiatrist said that he hasn't had complaints about
Celexa's causing weight gain, but he has had complaints about
Paxil especially, and Zoloft to a lesser extent. As for
lessening sex drive, I didn't experience that side effect. You
might want to try an antidepressant and see if it helps, and if
not, make sure to taper off it slowly.
You might want to do some online research first. Paxil's
advertising might lead you to believe it's the right one, but
Zoloft seems to be better tolerated in terms of side effects and
effectiveness. This website, The Depression Forums, can answer
your questions and I found it helpful to read through and see
what others thought of the different medications.
I went through the same sort of thing you did, although I wasn't
much of a worrier before having kids. Recently it started
getting worse to the point that I couldn't make simple decisions
and felt very scattered. I had also felt that I lost my
capacity to be happy. My kids would bring me simple joy, but
every day was a strain to get through. I discussed it with my
primary care physician who got me started on Effexor.
Apparently there are many different medications that can be used
and each has different side effects. Since a lower sex drive
was one of my symptoms she chose one that didn't have that as a
side effect for MOST people. She said the first medication
tried usually works out for about 50% of the people who try it
so if the first didn't work, we'd try another until we found the
right one. I've tried it for about a month and it has helped
tremendously. I'm able to relax and to enjoy activities and get
excited about things. Of course, it doesn't change anything in
my life so any original personal problems you may have will
still be there and must be addressed, but it helps reduce the
interference of the amorphous anxiety.
To answer your question, it was surprisingly easy to get the
medication subscribed (I got samples handed to me to take
home.) I think it's very important if you take this route, to
plan how long you would take the med., what may change at the
end of that period (6mo?). And also look at whether there is
something in your life that needs to change that is adding
stress. Good luck!
I find it to be completely normal that you are constantly worried
with all those youngesters at home. We in society are soo quick
to medicate ''feelings''. I suggest you seek help from a friend,
talking over coffee, a mom's group, your husband, valerian root
and excercise first! A little hint, we can not stop life from
happening and to worry about it all is to create worrying. All
that aside, if you don't see results from any of the above after
really giving it a shot, then see your doc. You must go to one
to get meds of any kind. And my husband had intense nondesire
from Paxil. He now takes Wellbutrin instead. His was not worry
but I had anxiety from hypothyroid and also took a low dose
until the doc figured out what was wrong. Once I took the syn.
thyroid the anxiety went away. I have a good friend with three
kids and she stress constantly. As they have reached the more
towards ten yrs of age, the stress has lessened and she has
realized how to let go of some. Hope this helps.
Oh, how your message struck a chord with me. After several
decades during which Anxiety and Depression really ruled and
limited my life, I recently started taking Paxil and am
absolutely thrilled with the results. I have tried anti-anxiety
antidepressants before but this one has really, really made a
huge difference for me. My primary care physician is
prescribing it for me -- we skipped the psychiatry altogether,
perhaps because I already had a long history of therapy and
previous attempts at the medication, and had a pretty good
awareness of my situation. I strongly urge you to find a way to
get started with it. Don't waste any more time. As they say in
the ads, and it's really true, your life is waiting!!! Start by
asking your regular physician, or start with someone else, but
DO start. I wish you the best! By the way, on this medication
I have discovered (recovered?) my sex drive, not lost it. What
a change in my marriage!
Feeling Good (Finally!)
Hi, I have exactly the same situation .... an insomniac worrier until
our baby was born and then it became extreme. Something about having
a child that brings this to a head. I saw a psychologist through my
health plan and he sent me to a psychiatrist who prescribed Paxil (2
months ago). Today I feel much better and wish I had done this years
ago. I had the gamut of side effects; most of them lasting only a
couple days. That was for the first month .... I am now pretty much
free of side effects. Loss of sexuality was not an effect I
noticed.Read up on it and decide ... I obviously think it's worth a
try. Take care.
my anxiety, which before having a baby I didn't even think I had,
snowballed after her birth. I started looking for help
immediately because I was scared to be anywhere alone with my
daughter. after taking blood tests to rule out medical stuff I
started on zoloft and had a horrible horrible reaction. I
couldn't sleep for three nights, felt completely disassociated
and basically was at least 10 times worse than before. the
doctor said reactions like this are rare and I should try
something else but after that reaction I was terrified of taking
ANY medication. though I was seeing a therapist I also did lots
of on line research and bought a book called ''Power over Panic''.
I dove into mediation and quickly noticed a change for the
better. my sister has been ''saved'' with celexa and if I hadn't
had that reaction to zoloft I would love to try it. it has been
since february that I started the mediation and january since
therapy. the combination of both has really made a difference and
although I'm not 100% there yet I'm definitly headed in that
direction. I'm almost grateful that this experience got me into
therapy because I am learning at lot about myself that has
definitly enriched my mothering. so my advise would be to start
meditation. if you aren't happy with it then try the medication
but even though it clears your symptoms don't skip out on the
Get help - it's easier than you think! You don't need to feel
like this all the time. I went through this several years ago
(plus depression, which anxiety can lead to) and was successfully
treated with drugs and talk therapy. I was able to go off the
drugs about 1 and a half or 2 years later, no problems. There
are many choices of medications these days too; I bet there are
drugs that have fewer or less noticable side effects. If you
have a PPO you can just go directly to a psychiatrist, no need
for a PCP (in my experience they are often unable to give you a
recommendation anyway). Don't feel any guilt about this -
anxiety DOES run in families, does make life really hard and CAN
I have to dissent from the many voices here recommending that
you see a shrink and get yourself onto some mood-stabilizing
drug or another, and quickly. I also wax and wane through black
periods of despair, self-loathing, exhaustion and anxiety. Since
my children were born, I can hardly get on an airplane anymore,
and there are many days (usually pre-period) when I can barely
function. Some of this runs in my family. I understand what this
suffering is like. But consider what you're losing by jumping on
the pharmaceutical bandwagon. Life is high and life is low and
life is every shade in between. Are we really meant to walk
through our lives happy and content and placid? Can you create
great art when your moods are stabilized like this? Hasn't TV
and modern life deadened us to our inner lives enough? For me
personally, I don't care how bad it gets - I won't take the
happy pill. I'd rather rage and rant, weep with despair, so that
I can weep with joy and rant with laughter later.
Here's what I do when the ''Black Dog'' starts to follow me. Long,
rambling walks help a lot. I put my kid in the stroller and go.
Stay out of your car and the hot traffic. Just walk. Through
leafy neighborhoods, through Tilden, the beach, wherever you
think you'll benefit most. The endorphins will get you high
sooner or later. Meditation helps me, as does chanting and
developing a practice of Nichiren Buddhism. Letting myself have
a good cry also helps.
I'm not trying to judge the folks who find solace in Paxil or
Prozac. God knows I could probably benefit from them. I just
want to voice, for the record, that there are other, non-drug
alternatives to living with your despairs and anxieties. Good
luck in whatever avenue you take, and remember, you're in very
A Berkeley mom
i was glad to see so much support shown for you. of course, i
wanted to put my two cents in as well :) my family tends to
simply have some sort of 'crazy' gene ~ there are a lot of
different diagnoses given to quite a few of my relatives. my
mother has been on different medications since before i was born
& thus i always felt destined to be disfunctional & also wary
that drugs didn't seem to do much. i struggled with anxiety &
depression throughout my life ~ going to several counselors,
trying different herbal regiments & diets & other things i
thought to be more wholistic. then it hit me. wholistic means
seeing the *whole* picture. i hadn't realized that i was being
reactionary & basically dismissing western medicine.
i finally found someone who i really clicked with that i trusted
wasn't simply trying to medicate me away & decided to give paxil
a try. it truly was a miracle drug. now, it doesn't work
miracles ~ you have to do that for yourself. but i found that
the medication has given me the space to be able to make changes
more effectively. i'd spend so much time worrying that i
couldn't really fully invest my energy in making positive
however when i first got pregnant, i thought i'd gotten to a
place where i could handle things off the meds (i'd only been on
faithfully for about 6 months) & stopped cold turkey because i
was worried about possible effects on my baby. i ended up
getting to the point i was having panic attacks again & couldn't
even get excited about the little life inside of me. i talked
with our midwife & did a lot of research online & found that
paxil seems to be compatible with pregnancy/breastfeeding (in
fact i keep reading again & again that it is the _most_
reccomended as it seems to have the least interactions/side
effects). more importantly i found other stories like those of
the wonderful women who have already shared here that made me
realize whatever minimal costs the drug might have were far
outweighed, for me, by the benefits. if i can't be my own free
self, how can i be there for anyone else?
i'm back on it for now & able to truly enjoy my beautiful 3
month old son. & when i get hectic & end up missing a few days,
my partner can tell by my irritability *grin* i doubt i'll take
it forever, but while i'm learning a new way to be, it's been an
best wishes to you & i think you rock for being brave enough to
ask for help. one last thing, it took me a while to really
notice the drugs working. the first few weeks, taking the pill
seemed almost to make things worse for me & then once they
started kicking in, i felt just better enough to realize how
crappy i felt. but that passed & i started to feel lighter &
realize i _did_ have power to change things. you do too. it
truly can get better.
Very quick response regarding medication for depression -
medicines for depression do not make you happy and content and
placid. If they do, then that is not the appropriate medication
for you, and/or you do not suffer from depression.
Yes, normal life has ups and downs; everyone does and should
experience that - including those on anti-depressive
medication. Depression is very different (and there are
different types of depression); it interfers with living, with
caring, with functioning, with comprehending normal ups and
downs and normal feelings (not just happiness). An episode of
depression for the average person can be helped a number of
ways, sometimes as simple as a walk, a talk, etc. A person who
suffers from depression cannot change it with any actions - I
speak as one who's been there most of my life.
Two more cents regarding dealing with anxiety with
pharmaceuticals. Firstly, these drugs are regulating the brain's
levels of neurotransmitters that control one's general feeling of
well being, among other things. Imbalances occur and everyone
is not able to restore the balance naturally. No one would tell
a diabetic to wean himself from insulin. There are times in our
lives when our levels get out of balance, and diet affects the
levels as well (as usual, alchohol, sugar, nicotine disrupt this
balance). I would not be surprised to see research come forward
that shows that some of us don't genetically produce sufficient
amounts of one or more neurotransmitters to achieve a balance
(sense of well being). Thus ''depression and anxiety run in
Have you ever had back pain or any other kind of dis-''ease'' that
persisted so long that you didn't really remember what a painfree
state felt like? Some peoople suffering from depression and
anxiety would benefit from having a look at what it is like to
be anxiety-free, because they can't get back there on their
There are some great books that deal with how to improve things
through diet-- Potatoes Not Prozac, etc. Find one on Amazon and
it will recommend more to you (''people also bought''). It seems
wise to try this kind of stuff along with psychotherapy, before
But, in the end, if you have no relief, don't let the purists
tell you that you shouldn't continue to seek a solution that
might free you from the constant battering by your own mind on
your own psyche. These drugs do not remove ups and downs and
turn you into pablum. They simply reduce the extremes of the ups
and downs, and leave you to worry about your kids like a normal
parent but not go nuts doing so. :-) I'm sure they are abused
like all drugs, but you have to use your head and do your
homework! Read! There are also tradeoffs (side effects) that you
may not be willing to tolerate. There are plenty of websites for
more info. Here's a place to start:
Finally, most psychiatrists do not understand these drugs in any
depth to trust yourself to them. The only safe recourse is a
(medical doctor) psychiatrist who specializes in them.
Unfortunately, I only know of one, Steven Baskins at Alta Bates,
but I'm sure there are others. He's expensive, but he takes some
HMO coverage. He insists on dealing with both the psychiatric and
the medical aspects at the same time. He is extremely well
informed about SSRI's and you can't settle for anything less.
Sorry this is so long. I could go on for hours about the stupid
psychiatrists who prescribe drugs they know little about and do
not monitor you closely after that. They're all over the Bay
I really felt the need to respond to one of people that responded
to the person wanting advice about anxiety. You said, ''For me
personally, I don't care how bad it gets - I won't take the happy
pill. I'd rather rage and rant, weep with despair, so that I can
weep with joy and rant with laughter later.''
Most commonly used anti-depressants are NOT mood stabilizers.
Nor, are they ''happy pills.'' They regulate the serotonin in your
brain, allowing you to go through normal functions. A depressed
person may never STOP weeping with despair. Most depressed people
cannot just ride depression out.
Now, an anti-depressant prescribed wrongly may deaden your
senses. Though, for those of us with honest to goodness
depression, or anxiety disorder, it allows us to function
normally. I have actual PET scans done on my brain with meds, and
with out them. Literally, a part of my brain IS NOT FUNCTIONING.
Would you tell a diabetic to just walk off their high blood
sugar? It is far more do-able than walking off anxiety and
A Well Educated Psych Patient
While anxiety has always been an issue in my life, I've noticed lately that
it's become more of a problem. I've recently started feeling panicky when I
have to fly, or drive over bridges or flyways. I have two children under the
age of four, and they are really great, so the problem is not with my kids.
It's with me. (And 9/11 didn't help matters). Has anybody experienced
creeping anxiety after becoming a parent and are there any books or
particular kinds of therapies(both alternative, pyschotherapy, or cognitive
therapies) that might help? (I already practice yoga and take herbs). I
really want to stop this before it gets worse. Any help or advice would be
To the mother of the two little kids with growing
anxieties: I too suffer from anxieties which clearly got
worse when my children were born. Here is my mother's take
on it. She says that it is the responsibility of having
little children completely dependent on you for their care
and well being. She says this really came home to her in
her mid fifties when she was working in Papua New Guinea
and flying in tiny little airplanes and she realized she
wasn't scared. She says she never would have been able to
fly when her children needed her. I have one child left at
home and I can see myself getting less anxious each year.
This isn't very comforting because time is definitely a
long term solution. But maybe it is helpful to know it is
normal to be anxious when people are dependent on you and
that it does go away.
I first would like to say that you are NOT ALONE!! I was 19
weeks pregnent when 9/11 happened, and I was already a little
nervous about driving over the bridge into the city, but I
became completely unable to do it afterwards. It was so bad
that I had to stop going into the office completely. I was
lucky I had a job that let me work from home otherwise I
would have quit, it was that bad. My son is now 3 months
and I still haven't been back over the bridge. I'd recommend
finding a great therapist who can help you explore the root
causes of what's going on, and also help you with some
relaxation techniques. You can figure out how to notice what
triggers your anxiety and find ways to curb it before it gets out
of control. Something I learned was that a big part of my
anxiety was the hyperventilating, which made me lightheaded,
which made me panic more, so controlling my breathing was
helpful. I'm sure a great therapist can help you more! Good
I would check out the book ''The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook''
by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD. The title is a bit of a
conversation stopper, but it does provide interesting
excercises on issues such as panic and anxiety. It has helped
me nip a lot of panic attacks in the bud.
I also experienced growing anxiety after my 2nd child was
born. I felt one piece of it was the vulnerability I felt
regarding raising children; and another piece was my changing
hormone status, ''perimenopausal'' covers a lot of years. I
ended up taking Paxil, because the anxiety was really
overwhelming. The meds definitely help me to manage my
Have you had your thyroid hormone level checked?
One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is anxiety (among
many others like constipation, coldness, fatigue, hoarse
voice, ''enlarged tongue'' ie:tongue feels like sometimes it
gets in the way of saying words properly. Depression,....)
I started having major anxiety attacks when my now 11 year
old was 6 months old. I tought I was tired from having my
first baby but it never went away and I thought I felt like
I was going out of my mind. Finally I had a thyroid blood
test and my thyroid hormone level was WAYYYYY below normal.
I started taking synthetic hormone for thyroid and
immediately it cleared up.
Anxiety can be caused by deficiency in other hormones too.
Are you perimenapausal? You may want to see your Dr. and
have a check up and blood test.(This is not to say your
anxiety may not be from emotional reasons too but the
physical are easy to quickly check out). Good luck.
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne is
excellent. Also seeing a therapist at the same time. Just
doing one is not enough. I wish I could recommend someone.
I am trying to find someone myself.
this page was last updated: Oct 21, 2012
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