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Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Alternatives For Anxiety Treatment

Thu, Apr 1st 2004

I am diagnosed with anxiety disorder NOS, and I know I identify most with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and OCD kinds of symptoms. I am in therapy once a week and I see a psychiatrist once a month. I have been actively pursuing treatment for about a year now. I also work full-time and go to graduate school 2/3-time. My concern is really hard to put a finger on, because of course I have a lot of worries. I guess what concerns me most is that I have suffered from this all my life, and it has become increasingly worse over the years despite getting help. None of the 6 or so meds I've tried so far help, in fact I suffered serious weight gain from one of them and am *still* fighting that 40lb+ battle. My problem is that I am pretty sure that living my life like this will probably send me into an early grave. While I do get panic attacks, I don't have a *fear* of dying, but I am very well-read and fully aware that chronic stress, lack of sleep, chronic illness like sinus infections and bronchitis, blood pressure elevations, migraine headaches, menstrual problems, reflux, palpitations, vomiting, and chronic muscle and joint pain simply aren't good things - both from a current and more importantly a long-term health perspective. I am desperate for some relief from this. It doesn't seem like I derive any benefit from meds (Xanax helped to take the edge off but I dare not take it long-term... I'm currently on BuSpar, which is pretty ineffectual). Therapy is incredibly slow-going (not to mention my therapist is leaving in a few months and I will need to start over with someone new soon). You have to believe me when I say I do everything within my power to try to create a more gentle way of life for myself. And yet I feel completely AFFLICTED by this disease, and of course the lack of control over feeling better makes me feel even more crazy! My health suffers, my work suffers, my school suffers, my relationships with others suffers... and I just can't seem to find relief soon enough. I'm generally a very happy person who happens to have severe anxiety, and I'm desperate to feel like the person I know I am on the inside. Do you have any thoughts about what other approaches I can take? I just thought of some other stuff you should know. I grew up with an emotionally unavailable (she suffers from depression) mother and a workaholic father, both of whom I am estranged from. I also have an IQ of about 135 and apparently things like CBT are pretty much ineffective in the "gifted" population, or so I've been told.

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