Dr GaryTherapist

Dr. Gary McClain

Hi, I’m Dr. Gary. I am a therapist, life coach, author, and the founder of JustGotDiagnosed.com. I am looking forward to meeting you and walking along beside you on the road ahead. Let me know how I can help!

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Dr. Gary McClain is in our Depression Connect community to answer your questions.


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Featured Question

casedog
A:

Hi!

This is a really interesting question. I am familiar with light therapy for seasonal affective depression (SAD) and I have a client who uses light therapy during the winter months and has really benefited from it. I have heard that light therapy has been used in treating patients who are depressed but don't have seasonal affective disorder. One of the problems with any new treatment is that, because it is new, there isn't enough research to know how affective it is, and whether it can have harmful effects, and how it stands up against other more established treatments.

Depression affects sleep patterns, what scientists refer to as disruptions in circadian rhythm. It is my understanding that bright light can impact circadian rhythm, and elevate mood. But again, the problem has been lack of research. As a result, the question of "voodoo, pseudoscience, or legitimate," as you said so well, has not been answered. But that may be changing.

Here is a link to a recent article published in the New York Times that talks about a recent study that showed positive results for light therapy:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/ligh...

I suspect that we will be hearing a lot more about light therapy, and that a lot more research will be conducted regarding its potential effectiveness.

I am always interested in knowing more about potential new treatments for depression, always optimistic that we will learn about new and innovative ways to unlock this mystery and help more people to feel better. I hope that members who have experienced light therapy will check in and share their experiences.

And thank you for asking the question!

Gary

Answered By Answered by Dr GaryCA
Answered by Dr GaryCA Latest Activity April 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm Comments 3

Activity

Dr GaryCA answered Rinnie009's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI Rinnie,

I am glad you reached out. This is a really important question, not cliché at all.

When a relationship ends, we experience a loss. And then we grieve. Each of us grieves in our own way. So what you are experiencing may be the symptoms of grief, including the ups and downs depending on the day. It's normal to just feel sad a lot, to feel kind of empty.

The advice I give to my clients who are facing a loss is to allow themselves to experience their grief. To go off by themselves and cry if they need to, for example.

Here are some of things I encourage grieving clients to do: Stay active in your life, even if it feels like you are going through the motions. Do things that help you to feel connected, activities that you enjoy, or that help you feel calm and centered. Try to eat healthy, even if you are hungry. Take time for rest. And talk — tell the story of your loss over and over if you need to. Each time you tell the story, it clicks into place, and this helps you to come to acceptance. A loss is the end of a chapter, and the beginning of a new chapter.

It sounds like you are already doing some of things I talked about. Sounds like you are trying to stay active in your life. I understand "putting up a front." But I also hope you have people in your life that you can just be yourself with, who can listen without judging you, or him, or telling you how you should feel or what you should do.

This might also be a time to sit down with a counselor, to sort out your feelings and get some additional perspective. Just something for you to think about.

But if you feel like you can't function very well in your daily life, if you are feeling overwhelmed by your feelings of loss, then this is definitely a time to reach out for help. And if you are currently in treatment, you might also let your providers know what's going on, and ask for some additional support.

Talk things out. Don't go through this alone.

And please keep us posted on your you are doing.

Take good care of yourself, my friend.

Gary

October 12 at 1:06 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered mesomom's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI mesomom,

Nice to see you. I am glad you checked in with this good question.

It sounds like you are not yet getting the results you need from you medications. I have a couple of thoughts for you.

First, you might have noticed that I used the word "yet." It has been my experience that getting to the optimal regimen can be kind of a trial and error process. Two steps forward, one step back, until you find a regimen that works. This takes a lot of patience, and a lot of team work with your doctor or treatment team. I have had clients that went through quite a process, trying different medications, dosages, and combinations of medications, until they found a regimen that worked for them.

I am not sure where you are in your treatment. But whether you are just getting started, or much further along, I do encourage you to keep working with your doctor and see what you can come up with together. I am optimistic about the potential of medication but, again, it can be a process.

So that is one consideration.

I have also had clients who found that being on medications, in conjunction with psychotherapy, was the one-two punch they needed to get more relief from their symptoms. So I also encourage you to consider finding a therapist you feel comfortable with, and who can help you, if you haven't already.

Clients have also talked to me about alternative therapies, including ECT, when they weren't getting enough help from medications. I can't make a recommendation here, but I have talked to clients about what they and their doctors are considering as an option. This is a discussion to have with your physician.

My basic message here is to encourage you to keep going, to not give up on the potential of finding the right treatment. And again, work closely with your doctor to determine next steps.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. I hope you will stay in touch and let me know how you're doing.

Gary

September 24 at 1:51 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered DeeCee831's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Dee!

Great to meet you. I am glad you checked in. This is a really good question.

The Internet has impacted our lives in so many ways. One major benefit is the availability of incredible amounts of health information. This has helped many to gain a better understanding of conditions they have been diagnosed with. And this information has also helped people to become aware of conditions they may be living with. But there are a couple of cautions that are important to consider in regard to health information from the Internet. First, there are lots of reliable sources information on the Internet, but also lots of unreliable sources. And second, it's all too easy to diagnose yourself, or to assume you have a diagnosis, when you may not.

So I just want to encourage you to be careful about diagnosing yourself. And to be careful about information you may pick up on the Internet and apply to yourself. Of course, you may not be gathering health information on the Internet at all. But just in case… please be careful about not assuming what you read applies to you.

Having said that… I just want to again say that I really glad you checked in.

What I encourage you to do is to reach out to a mental health professional. A professional could sit down and have a chat with you, talk about how you are feeling, the symptoms you are experiencing, and render a diagnosis. You could then discuss treatment options, and agree together on the way forward.

If you aren't sure how to get started in finding someone to help you, here is a link to an article I wrote awhile back:

http://www.depressionconnect.com/discussions/...

You have taken an important first step. You have asked how to find out what's going on with you. That tells me that you have an open mind, that you are want reliable information and, based on what you learn, that you are ready to get on the road toward feeling better.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. Reach out to a professional. And stay in touch. Keep me posted on how you're doing.

Gary

September 8 at 10:34 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered MonicaJade's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi MonicaJade,

It's great to meet you. And I am glad you asked this excellent question.

I am sorry to hear about what's going on with you. Sounds like you are having a tough time right now. But it also sounds like you are contemplating taking the next step, and getting some help. I am glad to hear that.

Asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. I know it's not easy to admit that you need support. Us humans like to think we are in control and can do it all on our own. But, as you experiencing, sometimes we need to reach out to a professional and get some help.

I also understand that if you haven't worked with a mental health professional before, that can seem like kind of a scary idea. You may be unsure as to what to expect, or how you will benefit.

Just getting started can seem like a difficult task. Here is a link to an article I wrote awhile back about finding a therapist:

http://www.depressionconnect.com/discussions/...

I am a therapist so of course I am little biased. But I really think treatment works. I have seen many, many people who feel like you do experience really big improvements in their overall quality of life. It starts with taking the next step and raising your hand for help — making a few phone calls to connect with mental health professionals.

A professional is a trained listener. You won't be judged or told what to do. A mental health professional will listen as you tell him/her what's going on with you, ask you some questions, and then make an evaluation as to what may be going on. This may result in a diagnosis. A professional with them work with you on a treatment plan for a way forward. Again, this will be a discussion, with the professional making recommendations.

I really encourage you to reach out for help. It sounds like you're ready.

I hope you will stay in touch with us. Let us know how you are doing. You are not alone, my friend.

Gary

September 3 at 12:18 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Mr. Fizz's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Mr. Fitz,

This is a good question. I did some thinking about experiences I have had with my own clients, and also did some research.

The research I did on this topic, for the most part, indicated that emotional bluntness is related to the regimen you are on, the choice of medication and the dosage. It sounds like your research has also led you in this direction. Given that emotional bluntness is quite possibly the result of the regimen, then tackling this issue may start with having a conversation with your doctor about your emotional blunting and how your regimen may be involved.

As you already know, medications used to treat mental illness are not without side effects. The benefits may be accompanied by some undesired side effects. My clients often talk to me about the side effects they are experiencing from their medications, including emotional blunting. Generally, they admit that the benefits of their medication greatly outweigh the side effects. However, I encourage them to make sure their doctor is aware of how they are feeling. By teaming up with their doctors, they can work together to get to the regimen that helps them the most with the least amount of side effects. Or determine together that they are at the best regimen possible, and discuss how to live with the side effects. Don't hesitate to be a high maintenance patient — keep your doctor in the loop about how you are feeling.

My clients often say, "This medication is helping me so much that I am willing to live with the side effects." But this is often after working with their doctors over time to get to their optimal regimen, with some patience, and some frustration, along the way.

Working with a counselor can also be helpful. A trained mental health professional can help you to learn ways to cope with side effects. And provide a sounding board and ongoing support.

Mr. Fitz, take good care of yourself, my friend. And keep us posted on how you're doing.

Gary

September 3 at 11:57 am · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered DenaSuz's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi DenaSuz,

It is really great to meet you. I am glad you checked in.

So sorry to hear about the family problems you are having. I wish families could be more supportive but they often are not. As a therapist, I spend a lot of time talking with clients about unsupportive family members. Including narcissistic parents. I know it must be very hard to recognize this characteristic in your father, and watch him mistreat your son.

I am often asked by clients if they should contact someone who has been unkind to them in some way to express how they feel and attempt to talk things out. That is always a difficult decision.

Here is what I tell my clients in this situation. First, I encourage them to put themselves first. I suggest they ask themselves: Is this something I really need to do for myself? And why do I need to do it. It's really important to be very clear with yourself whether or not this is something you need to do and why you need to do it.

This leads to another question: Just exactly what are you expecting in return? Understanding? Reconciliation? An apology?

And then ask: How realistic is it that I will get what I want from this person?

The next question is: What are the possible ways this person might respond? Asking for forgiveness? Totally unable to understand? Refusing to understand? Laughing at me? Telling me to get lost?

And then, based on these possible responses, I would ask my client if they can be okay with any of these possible outcomes. Not necessarily like all of these possibilities, of course not. But go into this conversation, if they choose to have it, open to the possible responses and knowing that, whatever the response, they will be able to cope with it.

And also, to have support in place in case they need it if the conversation doesn't go well.

Again, I really encourage you to take good care of yourself. You have been through a lot. Make yourself a priority by protecting yourself emotionally.

I hope this helps. Take time to think through this carefully, and feel comfortable with your decision, before you move forward.

You might also consider talking with a counselor about this, and getting some help in sorting out your feelings, as well as being supported, before you decide.

I hope you will stay in touch. Let me know how you're doing.

Gary

August 24 at 9:04 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Sere29's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey Sere29,

It is great to meet you. And I am glad you checked in. This is a great question.

I am not a physician so I can't give you specific advice regarding Wellbutrin. But I can share something that I have learned from my clients over the years.

The first question I would have for you is, how long have you been on the Wellbutrin? It can take some time for a medication to become effective, and symptoms you experience at first may go away over time. Did your doctor talk to you about what to expect?

But here is another consideration:

Each of us has our own unique body chemistry. Your biochemical make-up can result in mental illness like depression. Your biochemistry can also directly influence the way in which you experience the symptoms of depression. And your biochemistry can influence how specific medications affect you.

As a result, how individuals are affected by medications like Wellbutrin varies from one patient to the next.

Because of that, getting to the best medication regimen can be a process. It is not uncommon for someone to start on one medication, and then move to a new dosage, or a new medication, or a combination of medications, over a period of time, until they get to a regimen that works for them. This can be frustrating, I know. And I can understand why you might be frustrated that a medication that you are taking to pick up your mood instead seems to be doing the opposite.

What I always encourage my clients to do is to work really closely with their physicians. Don't hesitate to be high maintenance. After all, they are the doctor and this is your mental health. I hope you will let your doctor know how you are feeling so that the two of you can team up to see what steps you may need to take next.

So, whether you are new to Wellbutrin or have been on it awhile, if you are not getting good results, and are potentially even feeling worse, then it is really important to let your doctor know what's going on. The more your doctor knows, the better he/she can do their job.

So take good care of yourself, starting with being your own best advocate. And stay in touch with us. Let us know how you're doing.

Gary

August 8 at 10:18 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered CarolinaJones's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi CarolinaJones,

It's nice to see you, my friend. And that's a really good question. I think a client asks me this question about every week.

Depression tells you how bad you feel. And it tells you that there is nothing you can do about it. That's the double whammy of depression. And it's not true. Depression is treatable.

I know it can be hard to live with depression. You might experience some good days, some just okay days, and other days when you really feel down.

First and foremost, I really encourage you to work closely with your doctor and/or therapist. If you are living with depression, I hope you have some kind of treatment in place, whether it is medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Getting a treatment plan in place is the starting place for feeling better.

You might also talk to your doctor or therapist about things you can do to feel better day to day. Here are some of the ideas that I suggest to my clients:

Eat healthy and get adequate rest

Spend time with supportive people, don't isolate

Do things you enjoy, just the simple pleasures of life

Stay involved in your daily life, have some kind of a routine, starting with getting out of bed in the morning and getting your day underway

Pick something every day to be grateful for

Depending on the advice of your doctor, get some kind of regular exercise, even just a walk outside if you can

What I always encourage my clients to do is to take action in their lives. Positive action. Even on days when they don't feel like it. Take positive action and let the feelings catch up.

Again, I really encourage you to work with a mental health professional. Have a treatment plan in place and then stay in close contact with your doctor or therapist as you move forward with your plan. Take really good care of yourself.

Again, nice to see you. I hope you will stay in touch with your friends at Depression Connect. Let us know how you are doing.

Gary

Watch your self-talk, give yourself some encouragement

July 27 at 10:07 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered lexiesmiff's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi lexiesmiff,

Nice to see you.

This is an interesting question, which I will answer from a couple of different directions.

Depression can leave you feeling disconnected from the world, isolated, alone, numb. So if you are experiencing depression and have any of these symptoms, than that may be the cause of feeling separated from reality. I emphasize the word "may."

Feeling separated from reality can be a symptom of other forms of mental illness in addition to depression. So please keep that in mind.

The best way to know if you are depressed is to have a conversation with a mental health professional who will evaluate you for mental illness and, if indicated, will render a diagnosis and work with you on a treatment plan for the way forward. Only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose mental illness.

My friend, if you are at all concerned that you may be experiencing depression, then I really encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. If you aren't sure where to begin, then have a talk with your doctor. Sure, an accurate diagnosis is important. But so is talking to someone who can go through the treatment options with you and suggest next steps. Mental illness is treatable.

Really glad you checked in. I hope you will take good care of yourself. And I hope you will keep in touch with us and let us know how you're doing. Don't go through this alone!

Gary

July 27 at 9:52 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Dedpoet's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Dedpoet,

I am sorry to hear you are going through such a rough time. I haven't read your response to the post you mentioned, but I will seek it out and include a reply.

You said you were doing a lot of self-therapy. I think there is a lot of value in doing the work to understand yourself. If you are reading self-help or other books, doing journaling, making positive lifestyle changes… as part of your self-therapy, this can have a lot of value.

I am probably biased since I am a therapist myself, but I think there is a lot of value in working with a mental health professional. Especially if you have hit a wall. A mental health professional could give you an outside perspective on what's going on in your life, and work with you on a strategy for the way forward.

I really want to encourage you to get connected with a mental health professional. And to investigate community resources to get you the help you need.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by what's going on, you can also report to a hospital emergency room and ask for help.

I hope you will take good care of yourself and reach out for help. And I hope you will keep us posted on how you're doing. You are not alone.

Gary

June 26 at 10:49 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Lisanana's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI Lisanana,

It is nice to meet you. I am really glad you reached out. From what you described here, I know it wasn't easy.

Really sorry to hear how you are feeling. Depression tells you how badly you feel. And it also tells you there is nothing you can do about it. But that's not truth at all. What you are experiencing is treatable. And it sounds like you are ready to take the next step.

Here are a couple of ideas:

I always recommend to my clients that they try to stay active in their lives. This means not isolating. Getting out in the fresh air. Maybe taking a walk or getting some kind of exercise. Make sure they are eating healthy, and on a regular basis. Doing things they enjoy. And getting in touch with people who can spend some time with them, listen without passing judgment or telling them what to do. Are there any friends or family members you could spend some time with?

You might also check out support groups on nami.org, the website of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

I also strongly encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. What you are experiencing is treatable. A mental health professional could help you sort out what's going on in your life, help you to get a new perspective and some new coping skills. A mental health professional could diagnose you and work with you to create a treatment plan for the road ahead. If you aren't sure how to get connect with a mental health professional, here is a link to an article I wrote awhile back:

http://www.depressionconnect.com/discussions/...

Again, I am so glad you reached out. It sounds like you are ready to get help. Set small, doable goals to stay involved in your daily live. Don't isolate yourself. Get connected with a mental health professional. And if you are ever feeling overwhelmed and need help right away, you can also call 911 or report to your local emergency room.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. And stay in touch with us. You are not alone!

Gary

June 11 at 1:53 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered WTFISLIFEIFUDONTFEELALIVE's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi,

I am glad you checked in. This is a really interesting question.

I am probably not the first person to say that, in many ways, we live in an age of anxiety. All you have to do is turn on the news and you can see that life can feel very uncertain. And all that uncertainty can, on some days, leave you feeling kind of overwhelmed. And many people are living with their own life challenges that can result in feeling anxious and/or depressed.

I am always concerned when I run into people, including my own clients, who feel as you described. That they may as well just give in to feeling this way.

I remain hopeful, and I encourage you to remain hopeful, also. There are a lot of reasons to feel good about life. There are people out there who are doing good, in their own lives and in the lives of others, who are caring and compassionate, and creative. It may require looking beyond what the media constantly presents us with. But they are out there.

I also encourage my clients to do good in their own lives, to do what they can to shine a light in their own corner of the world. I do what I can to do this in my own corner of the world. I don't have control over very much, most of us don't. But I do have control over the actions I take.

One of the things I do is to remind people that they don't have to go through life feeling anxious or depressed, even though it might feel that way, and even though everyone around them seems to be suffering in some way. I remind them that they have a choice. They can chose to have more quality of life. The first step is to reach out for help.

So, if you haven't already, I hope you will reach out for help, and encourage people you are concerned about to take better care of themselves.

Thanks for the great question. I hope you will stay in touch.

Gary

May 26 at 5:24 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered robyngregory's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey robyngregory,

It's really great to meet you. I am glad you checked in here.

So sorry to hear your therapist is moving on. There's a science to being a good therapist. You have to be well trained, experience, but also have a natural ability to listen and to help. A good therapist needs to have compassion and empathy. That's why some therapists are better than others. Having said that, the relationship between a patient and a therapist is also based on chemistry. This is not measurable, it is something that happens between two people. You know when it's there. Having good rapport, as you said, is a sign of chemistry.

Sounds like you and your therapist had good chemistry. And as you said so well, that makes it harder for you to part ways with her. And it probably makes the task of finding a new therapist that much more difficult.

Here is a link to an article I wrote awhile back:

http://www.depressionconnect.com/discussions/...

I refer to the hunt for a new therapist as shrink shopping. This is not intended to make light of this process. But I do use this term because there is a certain element of shopping to this process. And I encourage those looking for a new therapist to do some shopping. That includes doing some Web surfing to find providers in your area, as well as looking on the website of your insurance provider, if you planning to use insurance, or familiarizing yourself with the other providers who work at the clinic you are being treated at. But shopping also involves meeting potential therapists, introducing yourself, briefly describing what you need, getting an idea of how they work. And especially, getting a sense of whether you and the therapist can establish a rapport, whether you feel a real chemistry.

This may take some time to find someone with whom you can establish a connection. But it is worth the time and energy. After all, this is a big decision.

You might also ask your current therapist if she can refer you to someone she knows and trusts. It can't hurt to ask.

Be a strong advocate for yourself. Take whatever time you need. This will help you to find your way to the right person.

Best wishes to you. And I hope you will keep us posted on your progress.

Gary

May 5 at 2:16 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered littleguscookie's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi litleguscookie,

It's nice to meet you. I am really glad you checked in.

I am really sorry to hear about what you're dealing with. It's hard when your parents' marriage ends, it kind of leaves you feeling in the middle. And change is always hard.

Of course, I have to ask you if you are getting any kind of counseling. Are you getting some help from a mental health professional? It could help a lot to have someone objective, and trained, to talk with about what's going on, to get some new perspective, and some help in coping. It sounds like your mom is concerned about you, so maybe she would support you in getting counseling.

I couldn't tell from your question if you are still in school, but I am assuming you are. If so, you might want to talk to your school counselor or social worker, and ask for support. If you are college, you could check in at the college counseling center. Your health insurance will also cover counseling, so that is another idea.

I can't diagnose you, but the changes in appetite and not communicating can potentially be symptoms of depression. Only a mental health professional can make that determination after evaluating you in person. What you are experiencing is treatable.

I hope you will advocate for yourself. Talk to your mom about what's going on and ask for her support in getting some help, or reach out on your own to a mental health professional. Don't go through this alone.

And I hope you will stay in touch. Let me know how you're doing.

Take good care of yourself.

Gary

April 8 at 5:55 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Islandgirl7's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi islandgirl,

It is good to meet you. I am glad you checked in.

I am sorry to hear your husband is not supportive. It's hard to live with depression. We all need to have people in our lives who listen to us, who acknowledge what's on our minds, who can listen without judgment. Especially our partners. I am sorry your husband doesn't seem to be willing or able to do that.

Here is an article I wrote on this issue awhile back:

http://www.depressionconnect.com/discussions/...

If you haven't already, it might be helpful to have a conversation with him about how much you need him to be more supportive, let him know how much it hurts you when you express yourself and he brushes you off. Give him some examples and tell him how you felt. Ask him if he needs more support from you and what you can do, as well. Just an idea.

I am wondering if he would be willing to accompany you to a doctor or therapist appointment. It could help a lot for your husband to get some education. Something to consider.

If your husband would be open to getting some couples counseling, this could also help.

I also encourage you to get support from friends and other family members, people in your life who can listen without judging you. It's really important to have a strong support network. Sitting down with a relative or a good friend and talking things out can help give you some perspective, and help you feel more cared for. Don't go through this alone.

I hope you will stay in touch with us. Everybody here gets what you are going through because they are traveling the same road.

Stay in touch!

Gary

March 25 at 10:06 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered SleeplessInSC's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Sleepless,

I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through, I really am. It is always sad to hear about the toll that alcoholism can take on individuals and their families.

What I would encourage you to do, if you have not already done so, is to try to get connected with additional public assistance, including Medicaid. You can learn more about these programs by Googling them for your state. That might be a starting point.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, physically or emotionally, you can also go to an emergency room and be treated. You can also call 911 if you are overwhelmed and be transported to an emergency room.

Again, I encourage you to see what public assistance programs might be available in your area. That is the best way to get connected with health care.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. And keep us posted on how you're doing.

Gary

March 20 at 10:58 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Cocoa49's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Cocoa,

Glad you checked in. Nice to meet you. And this is a good question.

I have talked to many people about herbal supplements like St. John's Wort and Valerian Root. I have heard a range of opinions. I have hear some positive reports and I have heard some negative ones. Some people I have talked with have found supplements to be somewhat helpful, others did not gain any benefit, or even had a negative experience. There supplements are not miracle cures, that's for sure.

What I have both heard and read is that supplements are not necessarily so innocent. For example, if you are taking medications for conditions like depression and anxiety, the supplements can interact with these medications in a negative way.

So I would encourage you to be very careful about using any kind of supplement. If you are on medications of any kind, including medications for mental illness, I definitely recommend you talk with your doctor before taking any kind of a supplement. Make sure there aren't any potential interactions. If you are not on medication, I would still recommend talking to your doctor before using a supplement. It's always a good idea to stay on the safe side.

Take good care of yourself! And keep me posted on how you're doing.

Gary

March 20 at 10:51 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered sidez27's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi sidz,

I am glad you checked in.

It is not my intention to sound like I am scolding you, believe me. But it is really a bad idea, and even dangerous, to stop your medication on your own. Especially to stop suddenly. You can find yourself in kind of a boomerang situation, with your symptoms coming back at you full force. I am wondering if this might be what you are experiencing now.

What I encourage you to do is what it sounds like you are already intending. It would be a great idea to get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible — like now — and let him/her know what's going on. Don't want to make an appointment. Give your doctor's office a call and talk right away.

It is always recommended that the decision to stop taking a medication should be a mutual decision between you and your doctor. And if the two of you think it is time to end the medication, then this is a process that should be undertaken under the direction of your physician. Generally, it involved gradually reducing the dosage over time, so that your body has adequate time to adjust.

Again, I am not scolding you. I am really glad you checked in. I hope you will get in touch with your doctor ASAP.

Please keep us posted on how you're doing. Take good care of yourself, my friend.

Gary

March 9 at 8:04 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered genevanelson@hotmail.com's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Geneva,

I am glad you asked this question. It sounds like your son is dealing with a lot.

I am assuming he is over 18. If so, then you cannot make him do something he does not want to do. But from what you describe here, I think it is really important that he see a mental health professional as soon as possible. You can give him some encouragement, let him know you love him and that are concerned about him. Offer to help him to find help. This is a message you may need to say repeatedly. You can offer to go with him to see a professional.

You might suggest that he talk with his physician about what's going on. His physician could at least evaluate him and recommend a next step. Or ask your doctor or his doctor, on your own, to recommend a mental health professional.

A mental health professional could evaluate your son and work with him on the road ahead. What he is experiencing is treatable.

Again, if he is over 18, you cannot force him to get help. But encouraging him to take a step in this direction may help.

Now, if you feel he may be in danger of harming himself, or that he is unable to care for himself, then you can also call 911 or take him to an emergency room. He would be evaluated by a mental health professional in the ER.

I would also encourage you to get some help for yourself. Talk with your doctor, or get connected with a counselor. You could also benefit greatly from support and some advice. A professional could give you some ideas for how to cope with the situation with your son, and even some ideas on how to help him get help.

Your son is fortunate to have a mom who watches over him and is concerned about him. I hope you take good care of yourself and get some support. And continue to do what you can to encourage your son to get help. Again, if you feel he is a danger to himself in any way, you can call 911.

Stay in touch with us. Let us know how you're doing.

Gary

March 9 at 7:58 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered CarolinaJones's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey CarolinaJones,

Nice to see you. That is a good question. I get this question a lot.

Feeling better is a process that you go through one step at a time. It helps a lot of you work closely with your doctor and/or therapist. That means letting them know how you are doing, working together on what's best for you, and then being compliant with your treatment.

I know you want a more specific answer. And I am sorry I can't be more specific.

It has been my experience that each person is on their own path, they get better in their own time.

But doing everything you need to do helps the process along.

I am glad you are here with us. I hope you will stay in touch and keep us posted on how you're doing. You are not alone.

And take really good care of yourself.

Gary

March 7 at 9:44 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered infinicca's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi infinnica,

Nice to meet you. That's a great question. It's one that I hear pretty often. So let me start by reassuring you that you are definitely not alone.

Fatigue can be a symptom of depression. And as you pointed out in your question, fatigue can lead to sleeping a lot, followed by more fatigue, due in part to lack of exercise, but also feeling too tired out to get moving. A cycle, with fatigue leading to more fatigue.

And the double whammy of depression is that it tells you how bad you feel, and it also tells you that there is nothing you can do. But that's not true.

What I always recommend to my clients is setting small goals. Choose one or two things that you enjoy doing, or that will benefit you. This might mean getting up and taking a walk. Or putting on some music and dancing. Anything that gets you moving. You might want to choose something that involves another person, and then commit to doing it with them. Like taking a walk with a friend. The accountability of having someone expecting you might be an additional incentive.

The same thing with getting daily tasks done. Pick one or two, and commit to doing them. A little cleaning around the house, for example.

Here's what I tell my clients: Don't wait to feel like doing something you know you need to do. If you wait until you are feeling like it, you might be waiting for a long time. Instead, make a rational decision that something is important to and then put it on your schedule. When it's time, give yourself a push. Take the action and let the feelings catch up later.

This is where smaller tasks, or activities can be best. Don't overwhelm yourself. And don't criticize yourself if you don't get everything done that you intended to. Small goals, one day at a time, no criticism. Again, having someone else involved can give you some additional incentive.

Physical activity can help in more ways than one. When you get moving, it gives you a sense of being in control. And movement helps generate feel-good hormones that help motivate you to keep moving. Getting yourself moving can create a momentum, and help you to keep moving.

So I encourage you to give yourself some gentle pushes and just try to do a couple of things. Maybe in a few days, you will add to your daily list. Keep it reasonable and realistic. One day at a time. Talk back to depression. Let the feelings catch up later.

I hope you will keep in touch with us. Let us know how you are doing.

And take good care of yourself!

Gary

March 4 at 10:35 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Jenn E's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Jenn,

I am glad you checked in. And I am glad I am answering your question today!

I really, really encourage clients to talk to their physician if they want to discontinue a medication. Their doctors can advice them on what it might mean for then to stop taking a medication — how they might feel, any dangers, and how stopping one medication will affect other medications that they are taking. This is important! And yes, doctors usually recommend tapering off a medication slowly.

So I recommend that you get in touch with your doctor immediately. Let him/her know that you want to stop taking Abilify. Or at this point that you have already stopped. Your doctor needs to know that, too. Get some advice on next steps.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. And let us know how you're doing.

Gary

February 22 at 6:30 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered cmsigman@hotmail.com's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi cmsigman,

I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. You are not alone. There are many troubled people in the world, some of them survive by taking advantage of others. A therapist friend of mine was recently misused by someone running a scam. Unfortunately, there seems to be no end of potential scams.

I hope you are not criticizing yourself over this. You trusted someone who, I suspect, gave you all the signs that he was a trustworthy person. You had no idea he wasn't. And someone who is doing this on a regular basis is an expert in passing as honest. Again, you are not alone. Sure, you have a right to be angry at him. But don't be angry at yourself. You didn't know. If you had known, you wouldn't have walked into this. And you are certainly not a failure in any way.

Be kind to yourself.

You might want to check into the Credit Counseling Bureau in your area to see if you can get some advice on how to manage your finances, especially if you have credit card or other debt. Or you might check into local social services to see what kind of assistance and/or financial counseling might be available. You never know.

I am sorry you don't have family or friends who can assist you financiall. Do you have people in your life who, while they can't offer you financial support, can offer you emotional support? This would be a time to reach out to people who can listen and show you some concern. You might also check on the website, www.nami.org, the website of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The site includes a list of local support groups all over the country.

Again, be a friend to yourself, show yourself some compassion. Don't turn the anger against yourself. Take good care of yourself. Keep us posted on how you're doing.

Gary

February 22 at 6:24 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Nani2015's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey Nani,

It's great to meet you. I am glad you checked in. You are not alone in feeling this way, I talk with discouraged clients probably about every day.

Life can be challenging, that's for sure. Things can pile up to the point where, as you said so well, it feels like you can't catch a break. It can feel like the deck is stacked against you. Not having adequate health insurance is another added pressure, I am sure. It's a shame when people who need decent insurance to have at least basic healthcare, including mental health coverage, don't have it. I'm really sorry to hear you are in this situation.

So I want to give you some encouragement. You are young, you have much of your life ahead of you. I hope you will keep giving yourself gentle pushes — and encouragement — to take the best care of yourself. Set small goals, give yourself credit for doing the best you can. I suspect you aren't in an ideal job situation, that if you are working, you are not working for an organization that offers insurance. I hope you will look at options, including what you might be able to do to get into a work situation with health care.

And of course, I hope you are getting support from family members and good friends. Just having someone to talk to can help a lot.

You might also look into the support groups that are listed on www.nami.org, the website of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You might also check into community mental health resources where you life. Some communities have more resources than others, but it is worth checking out. If you have a university near you, you might be able to find low cost counseling for community members as well.

I hope you will stay in touch with us. You are not alone.

Gary

February 22 at 6:11 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Sue Ozzy's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hello Sue Ozzy,

It's good to see you. I am glad you checked in here.

I am sorry you are dealing with so much. It's good to know that you have supportive family and friends who check in on you and give you help. It sounds like you have a lot of people who care about you, and that's really important.

It is difficult to find a therapist who will visit you in your home. Most likely, you will need to obtain this service, if it is available, through a community mental health program. You might check out the mental health resources in your community. You can Google the name of your community and "mental health services" or "homebound mental health counseling" and see what comes up. You never know. You might also ask your family and friends if they will help you to see if this might be available.

If you are afraid to leave your house, I am also wondering if a family member or friend might be willing to come over and pick you up and go with you to see a therapist. They could sit in the waiting room while you talk to the therapist and then accompany you home. I am wondering if this might be a solution, visit the therapist but also have support from someone you trust.

This might be something to think about and talk about with your family members and friends and see what they think, and who might be able to accompany you if you are willing.

I think therapy is a really great idea and I hope you will keep thinking about it and find a way to make it happen.

Again, it's great to see you. You are not alone here! So I hope you will stay in touch with us. Let us know how you're doing.

And take care of yourself, my friend.

Gary

February 9 at 10:40 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered hurtkitten83's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi hurtkitten,

Nice to meet you. This is a good question.

I am often talking to my clients about treatments beyond antidepressants, including ECT and ketamine. To be honest, I don't know a lot about these treatments. Biofeedback hasn't come up in awhile, but I don't know much about that either.

I always encourage my clients to do some Googling on these treatments, and see what they come up with. I do the same. I also like health sites like the Mayo Clinic site, which I think has useful consumer information. I often talk with my clients about what we both read.

I did some Googling on biofeedback. There are some interesting articles, thought then tend to be more for professionals and less for patients. But you may want to check out what's available. Just be careful about the sources of the articles you read, some are more reliable than others.

What I would encourage you to do is what I also encourage my clients to do. Talk to mental health professionals who are using biofeedback with their patients. And see if you can talk to people who have had this treatment, maybe through discussion boards on the Internet. You might also post a discussion here on Depression Connect and see if anyone responds. Just do lots of your own research, so that you can gain a comfort level with the benefits of this treatment, and any downsides, and make an informed decision. If you have a mental health team that you are working with, talking with them would be the starting place.

It's good to be in touch with you. I hope you will let us know how you are doing and what you decide to do.

And take good care of yourself.

Gary

January 28 at 8:48 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered ssandie4u2's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI ssandie,

Nice to see you. And this is a good question.

There are a few direction directions to consider in finding someone to help you with possible depression.

Qualified and licensed mental health professionals may be licensed at the doctoral degree level or the master's degree level.

A psychiatrist is a MD. A psychologist will have a PhD or a PsyD, or in some states may practice with a master's degree. Counselors have a master's degree, an MA or MS, and social workers have a MSW degree.

All of these mental health professionals are trained in treating depression.

Your PCP, or internist, may also be able to evaluate you for depression and make a treatment recommendation or a referral to a mental health professional.

What's import it to connect with someone that you feel comfortable with in terms of being able to talk with them and that you trust to help you. Your first session would be focused on the professional talking with you about what's going on and how you are feeling. This discussion would help the professional to diagnose you and, based on the diagnosis, recommend a treatment plan. You would agree on the plan together and then move forward.

You may want to meet with more than one mental health professional, and see who you feel most comfortable with. You can find a list on the website of whomever provides your health coverage.

If you are concerned that you may be depressed, I hope you will reach out for help. Don't go through this alone.

And let us know how you are doing, my friend.

Gary

January 26 at 3:28 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Mrculater's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI Mirculator,

It's nice to see you, my friend. I am sorry to hear you have so much going on. A divorce is a major loss, and when we experience a loss, we grieve. Sounds like you are grieving, and experiencing some depression symptoms. This is a normal reaction to a loss. And I suspect your health issues are also bringing up emotions consistent with experiencing a loss. A lot to deal with.

First, I just want to say that you sound like a wonderful, caring father. Your children are clearly concerned about you, and are watching over you. I also want to say that I am glad to hear you have connected with a mental health professional, and that you have reached out for help. That is a big first step.

I can tell you what I recommend to my clients who are just getting started with me and are experiencing depression. Here's what I tell my clients:

Go through the motions of your life, give yourself a push to get out of bed in the morning and get the day underway. Staying with your normal routine as much as possible can help you feel connected with your life

Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and getting rest

Spend time with your children, doing things you enjoy doing together. This will be a nice distraction for you and be reassuring for your children. Try to have some fun together, even if you aren't feeling it

Get support. Sit down with friends or family members and talk about what's going on with you. Let them know you just need listeners, and you don't expect them to have answers

Get some reasonable exercise, appropriate to your physical capabilities and your doctor's recommendations. Even a short walk in the sunlight can help to pick up your mood

If there are things you enjoy dong on your own, like a hobby, try to find some time for that, too

Take good care of yourself. Give yourself a push to stay active. Stay involved with your children. Get support. And stay in touch. Let me know how you are doing.

Gary

January 20 at 10:39 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered klburr@outlook.com's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi klburr,

Nice to see you.

Depression is actually described as a mood disorder. But given your question, I am wondering if you are concerned that you could have a mood disorder that is characterized by both depression and manic episodes, like bipolar disorder.

You mentioned Abilify. So that tells me that you are working with a physician who has prescribed you a medication. Assuming so, then the starting place would be to sit down with your doctor and talk about your diagnosis. It's important for you to be aware of how your doctor views your symptoms and how your doctor has diagnosed you. I would also encourage you to make sure your doctor is aware of how you are feeling day to day, including your moods. If you don't feel that your regimen is helping then your doctor really needs to know this. This will help to assure that you are working together, and that you are on a regimen that is most appropriate for treating your mental illness.

You also mentioned veggies. I am assuming you are also watching your diet and trying to eat healthy. Health eating is a good thing? But again, your diet, and any expectations you have for how your diet should be impacting your symptoms, is best discussed with your doctor.

I am really sorry to hear you have also experienced cancer this past year. You have had so much to deal with. I hope you are working closely with your doctor.

Really glad you checked in. I hope you are taking good care of yourself, getting support, living a healthy lifestyle, doing what you can to keep the stress down, and working closely with your doctors. If you aren't in therapy, that could also help a lot. It's a great idea to have as much professional support as possible.

I hope you will stay in touch with us. And take good care of yourself!

Gary

January 9 at 10:49 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Lily81's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Lily,

I am not sure what you mean by mixed emotions, but I will try to give you an answer that I hope will be helpful.

I am going to assume that you are referring to what therapists call ambivalence, when someone has a range of emotions about a situation. An example might be when you are facing a change in life, like a job change, and you feel that it is good in some ways, not so good in other ways, and just plain scary. If this were the case, probably a lot of feelings might come up — excitement, fear, sadness, and others. You might describe yourself as being ambivalent, unsure as to how you really feel. If you had mixed feelings about a decision you had to make, it would probably be difficult to make the decision.

When you have mixed feelings, it can really help to sit down with yourself and a sheet of paper. Write down each of the feelings you are experiencing. And then, after each feeling, write down what you think is causing that feeling, or what images you connect with that feeling. This can help you to sort out your feelings, and get a better sense of what's going on in your mind as you evaluate the situation. You might decide that some of your feelings are based on thoughts that aren't very rational, while other feelings are the result of thoughts that you need to consider further.

The key to dealing with mixed feelings is to sort them out, taking a look at one feeling at a time. Otherwise, we have a tendency to kind of turn things into mud, and that doesn't help at all.

Talking with a therapist about your mixed feelings, gaining an objective perspective and some assistance sorting out your feelings, is something I would also recommend.

Now, if by mixed emotions you are referring to extreme highs and lows, back and forth between super excitement and super depression, then that is another issue altogether. That is definitely something to talk to a mental health professional, especially a psychiatrist, and as soon as possible.

Lily, it's nice to see you. Take good care of yourself, my friend, and stay in touch with us!

Gary

December 30 at 9:21 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered It figures's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi It figures,

Nice to see you and I am glad you checked in. Glad you are making use of technology to find supportive friends. Depression Connect is all about supporting each other, so you came to the right place.

So sorry to hear you have been having a hard time of things. Sounds like you have had a lot of difficult situations to deal with, including health problems.

Glad to hear you have a supportive husband.

If you are prescribed medication, then it is really important to stay on it. Are there any other options? Can your husband go and pick it up for you? Can you have it delivered?

Also, if you are afraid something bad could happen to you at the hospital, then I encourage you to tell you doctor that you have this fear. And also important for your doctor to know you are having trouble coping. I hope you will reach out to your doctor and let him/her know what's going on with you and that you are afraid to pick up your medication. Your doctor may be able to help, but only if you let your doctor know that you need help.

Take good care of yourself, my friend. Get help from your doctor.

And I hope you will stay in touch with us. You are not alone.

Gary

December 27 at 7:51 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Nerdynick's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Nerdynick,

Nice to see you.

Emotional numbness can be a symptom of depression, but it can also be a symptom of other conditions. So first and foremost, it's a really good idea to sit down with a mental health professional and talk about what's going on.

My clients sometimes report feelings like emotional numbness that just seem to come out of the blue. When we spend some time talking about what's been going on in their lives, they may identify a potential cause — a life event — that they hadn't considered. By taking about life, the connection becomes clear. The cause of their feelings can be something like a disappointment with a friend, stress at work, spending too much time alone, among many others. The cause can be a specific event, or a situation that has been going on for awhile and finally took its toll. And talk therapy can also help you to find your way forward.

Other times, the cause may be related to a chemical imbalance. If so, it may be necessary to consider medication for a period of time.

You might want to do some journaling about how you've been feeling not over the past month, but also in the months leading up to the past month. You might find some connection.

Again, if you are feeling this way, I really encourage you to reach out to a professional. Don't go through this alone.

Gary

December 16 at 9:52 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered fdelafuente@1952's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi fdelafuente,

Difficulty in having satisfying sex, including anorgasmia, can be related to psychological as well as physiological causes, or a combination of both. Also keep in mind that the use of antidepressants can cause anorgasmia as well.

If you are experiencing anorgasmia, it is a good idea to sit down and talk about this with your physician, and evaluate the possible causes. A physician can help you to figure out what's going on and recommend possible treatments.

So get checked out by a doctor. Keep us posted on what you learn.

Gary

December 16 at 9:42 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Red17's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Red17,

Glad you checked in. I want to begin by saying that you are certainly not alone in what you have experienced. So many people have had setbacks in their retirement funding. It is really a national tragedy.

I can certainly understand how you are feeling. In the face of economic challenges, it is human nature to feel defeated, that the future looks hopeless. But I also want to encourage you to do what you can do turn this thinking around.

I know it's hard to feel motivated when life feels so bleak. What I encourage you to do is to not wait until you feel motivated, but to decide to take action to go through the daily motions of your life. Do healthy things for yourself, whether you feel like it or not. That means giving yourself a gentle push to get your workout routine back on track, to do things you enjoy like playing golf, and spending time with people you enjoy being with. Empower yourself to take the best possible care of yourself. It is especially important to do this when life feels like an uphill climb. Take action and let the motivation catch up with you.

I also encourage you to give yourself a gentle push to stay involved in your work. Now is the time to do the best job you can, for lack of a better term, "to fake it 'til you make it." Sure, you can't control the future, but you can control how much you do to maintain quality and productivity at your job. And again, act and let the feelings catch up later.

Believe me, I know that feeling of feeling overwhelmed by forces that you have no control over. So many people feel that way in the tumultuous times that we live in.

What we all have control over is doing the best we can in our own corners of the world, taking care of ourselves, doing the best job we can, being supported and supporting others, and finding moments of enjoyment. That's the best way to cope with uncertainty about the future — doing what can, day by day.

I also encourage you to talk to a therapist, if you aren't already and if that is at all a possibility for you. I think it could help a lot to have an objective listener to site down with, to get some additional perspective, and to work on some new coping skills.

At the risk of being repetitive, take really good care of yourself, body, mind, and spirit, each and every day.

And stay in touch. Let us know how you are doing.

Gary

December 12 at 10:34 am · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Red87's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Red87,

That is an interesting question.

What I think is that the events of life can wear us down over time. Constant challenges, and losses, can leave us wondering if life is ever going to get better, or even if life is against us in some way. This can cause us to fall into an attitude of hopelessness, and to question our beliefs, including our spiritual or religious beliefs.

And someone who is experiencing depression often lives with a double whammy: depression tells you how awful things are and depression tells you that there is nothing that can help you. That's a lie, of course. But when you're feeling that way, questioning your faith may follow.

If you or someone you know is at risk of losing their faith, then I really encourage them to sit down and talk with a mental health professional about their emotional state and how it is impacting their thoughts and beliefs. I would also encourage this person to reach out to a clergyperson from their chosen spiritual or religious community, and have a talk about their faith.

I always encourage my clients to take good care of themselves, physically, emotionally, and spirituality. And I hope you are!

Gary

December 6 at 9:03 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Poohbear69's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi Poohbear69,

Nice to see you. I am glad you checked in with this important questions.

You didn't mention if your boyfriend is verbally abusive or physically abusive. So I will address both issues.

First, no one has the right to treat another person in an abusive manner. I think it's really important to make sure your boyfriend is aware that this is not okay. It hurts you and it hurts your relationship. I would let him know that you don't have to put up with that kind of behavior. And then when he becomes abusive in any way, remove yourself from the situation. Tell him abusive behavior won't be tolerated and show him it won't be tolerated.

It might also be helpful to encourage him to get some help from a mental health professional. You may even need to make it clear to him that he needs to get help if he wants to have you in his life. Again, no one has the right to abuse another person.

Now, if your boyfriend is verbally or emotionally abusive, when he becomes this way, make it clear that you are not here for that. In a calm and firm voice, let him know that he has to stop talking to you that way or you will leave. And then if he doesn't, walk away from him. If you live together, this might mean staying with a friend for a day or two, or more, until he calms down and takes ownership for his behavior. Being treated like this can wear you down, and can contribute to anxiety and depression. Don't allow yourself to be repeated verbally or emotionally abused. You are not his punching bag.

If your boyfriend has the potential to be physically abusive, or has been in the past, that is another manner entirely. Have a safety plan in place, so that you can quickly get to a safe place, and support, if you sense that he is about to abuse you physically. Call the police immediately for assistance. The best approach to physical abuse is zero tolerance. You should not subject yourself to someone who is physically abusive in any way, if that is indeed something you have experienced from your boyfriend. Get help for yourself. If this is the situation for you, then it would be a good idea to Google on support services for women who are victims of domestic violence in your area, and get advice and help.

Keep in mind that repeated verbal/emotional abuse can escalate into physical abuse over time. And again, it takes a toll on your mental health.

I know you care a lot about your boyfriend. But he has to treat you with love and respect, and not abuse you, if you are going to be together. Encourage him to get help in managing his anger so that is not directed toward you. You can offer to help him find help, but also make it clear that you expect him to follow up if you are going to be a couple.

Again, take good care of yourself. And keep in touch with us!

Gary

December 6 at 8:55 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered Scorpioqueen's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey Scorpioqueen,

Nice to see you! That's a good question.

There is more than one cause of sudden mood changes, from sad to angry. The causes can be related to a physical condition, an emotional condition, or a reaction to what's going on around you.

Sudden changes in mood can be caused by mental illness. But that may not be what's going on with you.

The absolute best thing to do is to have a talk with a professional about how you're feeling. You might start with your physician, who could evaluate you for any physical health-related causes. If your doctor thinks your changes in mood are related to mental illness, he/she could also refer you to a psychiatrist.

You might also consider reaching out a mental health professional on your own. A professional could evaluate you and, depending on his/her conclusions, talk to you about next steps, which might mean further evaluation or a treatment plan.

Again, the best thing to do is to reach out to a professional. I hope you will take the next step.

And keep us posted on how you're doing.

Gary

November 20 at 6:25 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered aardvark1's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hi aardvark,

It's really good to meet you. I am glad you checked in.

I am really sorry to hear you lost your husband. It is so hard to lose someone we love. I am glad to hear you are going to grief counseling. That's really important. And I am glad to hear you have the support of your daughter, that you had a home with her for a few months.

Grief can really take a toll on your emotions. It is not uncommon to experience a lot of sadness, and other symptoms, when you are in grief. If your medication was working for you before your husband died, then what you are experiencing now may be more the result of grief than your medication regimen. For example, feeling alone and unloved may be the result of losing your husband, and the grief you are experiencing.

What I would first recommend, if you haven't already, is to make sure your doctor is fully aware of how you are feeling, including the feelings of being alone and unloved. The two of you may want to have a conversation about how your medication is helping you during this very difficult time, and talk about whether your regimen is effective or not. Definitely an important question to have.

As you are probably learning in your grief counseling, it's important to talk about the loss of your beloved husband. Tell the story, over and over if you need to. Each time you talk about your loss, you help yourself in coping emotionally, and you take a step further toward dealing with the impact of this tremendous loss. I hope you are getting lots of support.

It's also important to stay active in your life, as much as you can. Take care of yourself physically, try not to isolate. Stay in close contact with your daughter. As you are ready, you might also try to get out and be around people to spend some time with, old friends, or new people. Take things one step at a time.

Again, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Take good care of yourself. And stay in touch with us. Keep us posted on how you are doing. You are not alone.

Gary

gary

November 19 at 8:49 pm · Comment · Like
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  • Dr GaryTherapist Dr GaryCA

    Glad you are reaching out for help. Thanks a lot for letting me know. And please keep me posted on how you're doing, my friend.

    11 months ago

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Dr GaryCA answered LLCoolj123's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

HI LLCool,

Depression is often treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The medication can help keep your mood steadier, without the lows, so that you can function better day to day. Therapy can teach you ways to cope with the challenges of life, also to help avoid going low.

Depression is treatable. The first step is to reach out for help.

Gary

November 19 at 8:31 pm · Comment · Like

Dr GaryCA answered LLCoolj123's question.

Dr GaryTherapist
A:

Hey LLCool!

Nice to see you. Thanks for checking in your question.

The symptoms you describe can be symptoms of depression. But they can also be symptoms of other conditions, both physical as well as mental.

If you have a regular doctor, I would recommend is that you talk to your doctor about how you're feeling. He/she may want to examine you to see if you have a physical condition that may be causing you to feel this way.

I also recommend that you reach out to a mental health professional. A professional could talk to about your symptoms, and would probably ask you a lot of questions. He/she would then render a diagnosis, if there is one to be made, and work with you on the way forward.

If you are indeed diagnosed with a mental health condition, your treatment might consist of medication, therapy, or a combination of both. A regular doctor, like an internist, can also prescribe medication for mental health conditions.

You mentioned that you don't have any health insurance. You might look into public options like Medicaid. For mental health treatment, you might also look into community mental health services in your area. If you have a nearby university, you might check to see if they offer mental health services to the community. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can also report to an emergency room to seek help.

Don't go through this alone, my friend. Reach out to available services. Take good care of yourself.

And keep in touch. Let us know how you are doing.

Gary

November 19 at 8:28 pm · Comment · Like
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