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Professional Help for Anxiety and Panic

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2010 - 2012 Recommendations


Psychiatrist Needed for Severe Anxiety Issue

Oct 2012

I have several issues going on that I can no longer live with without seeking help. I have severe anxiety, and it's affecting my sleep, and further my performance when it really counts tests, high pressure important events etc.) I have been to my primary Dr.,for the sleep issue(, and she just prescribed sleeping pills, but I can't take those long term. I think it's time to start treating the underlying issues. I am working extra hard in hopes of knocking my challenges out of the ball park, only to fall short,partially because I am incredibly exhausted. Does anyone have a psychologist/ psychiatrist they can recommend? I'm not really sure who to go to for an eval? Thank you! anon


I know how debilitating anxiety can be. I personally have had great success working with Francis Dreher, PhD who is a licensed MFT and Clinical Hypnotherapist. I like the non-medication approach. One of my friends sees a psychiatrist for her issues, Dr. Roy Eyal. She is very pleased with the work they've done together and the medications he's prescribed. Dr. Dreher is at 510 528 3738 and Dr. Eyal at 510 239 3925. Anon
Dr. Kuluva in Berkeley on Telegraph is wonderful -- a good listener and knows his stuff. See him right away and you'll be relieved you took a step in the right direction! anon
I would like to reply to the person that posted a message regarding a severe anxiety issue. I posted in the August 2012 issue asking the very same thing. I can now say that I had 4 sessions with Mark Balabanis (cognitive behavorial therapist, located near Rockridge BART), and I feel 90% better. I feel like I have my life back. Thank you to the person that recommended CBT to me. marilyn
My heart goes out to you in dealing with your anxiety issues. My therapist, Diane DuBois, MFT, has been incredibly supportive and helpful in dealing with my own anxiety. Weekly sessions with her combined with an SSRI prescribed by my primary care physician have helped me become much more centered, and while the anxiety is not completely gone, it feels very manageable. I highly recommend Diane, and she has now moved from Montclair to a location more convenient to me, on Solano Avenue at the North Berkeley/Albany border. She also has an office near the Montgomery BART station on Market St. in San Francisco. You can reach Diane DuBois at 510-339-3241 or diane@duboistherapy.com. Best of luck to you in your journey! No longer so anxious
Dr. Steve Baskin in Berkeley has an impressive knowledge base on the best way to treat anxiety disorders, including which meds are ineffective and even dangerous. So I would recommend him in conjunction with a good therapist. Other things to look into (in conjunction with meds and therapy) are accupuncture and meditation. Good luck finding the right treatment. close to anxiety
I am so sorry to hear that anxiety has taken over your life to such an extent. Anxiety has an oddly pervasive way of wreaking havoc, making one feel out of control over their own feelings and behaviors. I am a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and I know you are not alone. I agree that it would be wise to get to the underlying issues and chances are what you are dealing with can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. I work primarily with people who suffer from performance anxiety, test anxiety, social anxiety, perfectionism and phobias. You may not have to work as hard (and be so exhausted), just more focused in getting beyond the anxiety. Medication for sleep may help some for a time, but not forever. Besides, what you are going through can get better. Good for you for your willingness to work through it!

Anxiety, panic, depression, OCD

Aug 2012

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! Marilyn


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. Cara

Therapist in SF for anxiety

June 2011

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 recommended. Thanks! 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). anon
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/ anon

Psychologist or psychiatrist for anxiety?

Jan 2011

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 help. Recommendations for how to look for treatment would be much appreciated. Professionals in the North Berkeley area would be ideal.


Hi, 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 further questions. Cathy
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 enough. --Anxious and Depressed no more!

Solution for anxiety?

May 2010

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 worrying! 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 my head. 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 a day. Anonymous
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

Jan 2010

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 etc. Thanks for your help..We both would appreciate the help of information! anon


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. annon
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. Christie

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Anxiety Relief Post Severe Trauma

June 2007

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. Concerned Friend


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. 510-864-0149. Louise, grateful client of hers

Therapist in SF for depression and anxiety

April 2007

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. anon
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.. Good Luck! Alexandra
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. anon
Kirsten Beuthin, MFT is a wonderful therapist who has an office in SF. She can be reached at 415-401-7180. anonymous

2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Serious Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Oct 2006

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? Thanks! 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 dr_dave_doleshal@yahoo.com. 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 accept insurance)
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 actively. 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 enormously.
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.
Good Luck 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 Myself

Anxiety in the Modern Age

Dec 2004

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? anonymously worried


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. Michael Crichton'' Full article at: http://archive.parade.com/2004/1205/1205_stop_scaring.html --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 parodies. anon
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. Anon
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. also worried
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 strawberries! 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 haven't 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 you 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. :) anon
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 before.

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 grocery stores.

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. anon


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 systems. alisa
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. anonymous
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. take care

Therapist for anxiety, panic attacks and depression

Dec 2004

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 appreciated. Sympathetic
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

Therapist for anxiety and depression

June 2004

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 advance.


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.

Mom's anxiety - Conventional psychiatry hasn't helped

May 2004

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. Anon 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 example). Ruth


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 www.sfbacct.com 510-652-4455 Signed, 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 your doctor. 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 hypnotherapy. Amy
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: http://www.adhdtreatment.com/article-what_adults.html She is absolutely worth checking out.

Therapist for Panic Attacks

Feb 2004

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. Panic Attack


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: http://www.ciis.edu/students/psychMAcoursesfall03.html which gives a little more information about his approach. He's in the phone book -- 510- 845-3199. Jane
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

2003 & Earlier


Excessively worried about everything

Oct 2002

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. Anonymous


You're not alone! Many of us are going through similar struggles. 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. Good luck! Lori
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 anon
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 all day/night.

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 well.


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. Good luck anon.


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! anon.
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. Jill
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. Good luck!! anon


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. K.
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. anonymous
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. Kerrie
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 in network.

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. Anonymous


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. http://www.depressionforums.com/forum/ikonboard.cgi?s=3d9c6ba374d8ffff;act=ST;f=8;t=247 Anonymous
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! anon


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. anon
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. Anon
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 therapy. anon
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 be treated! good luck!
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 good company. A Berkeley mom


greetings ~

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 progress.

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 incredible help.

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. julia


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. Cassandra
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 families.''

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 own.

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 trying drugs.

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: http://depressionforums.com/forum/ikonboard.cgi

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 Area. anon


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 depression. A Well Educated Psych Patient


My anxiety has become more of a problem

April 2002

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 appreciated. Anonymous


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. Janet
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 luck Jill
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. Anonymous
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 anxiety. anon
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. June
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. Good luck. anonymous
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