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Ask Julie: How Do I Stop Feeling Depressed, Angry, and Irritable?

[dropcap]Q: [/dropcap]I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a little more than a year ago, (although I have been feeling this way for a really long time.) I feel like I’m angry all the time. I want to be happy, but sometimes I feel like the anger is just always there. I have a wonderful husband and family and am happy with them, but I just cannot seem to shake this feeling. The littlest things bother me to where I can hold a grudge. I feel like I’m irritable a lot of the time, and sometimes, I feel as though I could just scream at any moment. Other times, I just feel like crying. I would really appreciate some feedback about this and maybe some type of mental exercises that I can do to start controlling all this built-up anger before it gets any worse.

[dropcap]A: [/dropcap]Thank you for writing in. You said you were diagnosed with depression and anxiety but I’m curious if you’re being treated for it currently? If you are on any type of medication, I suggest that you talk with your health care provider and make sure that the dosage and medication is actually helping. Please watch the video for the complete answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Feeling Depressed, Angry, And Irritable

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a little more than a year ago, although I have been feeling this way for a really long time. I feel like I’m angry all the time. I want to be happy, but sometimes I feel like the anger is just always there. I have a wonderful husband and family and am happy with them, but I just cannot seem to shake this feeling. The littlest things bother me to where I can hold a grudge. I feel like I’m irritable a lot of the time and sometimes, I feel as though I could just scream at any moment. Other times, I just feel like crying. I would really appreciate some feedback about this and maybe some type of mental exercises that I can do to start controlling all this built up anger before it gets any worse.

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Ask A Therapist: Anxiety Is Hurting My Relationships

All my life i have never been able to do what i like to do for the fear of being judged by other people. It has come to such a point that i cannot think for myself, it always has to be “if i do this what will others think”. I have good friends who keep advising me to be more social but my fear gets the better of me. I haven’t had a serious relationship in a long time. I am scared if that if keep being such an introvert i would end up with no life. I have lost all sense of emotions in the last few months and am becoming desperate for companionship and just to be accepted.

A: Thank you for writing in. I wish I could talk to you to clarify how long this has been going on. I do have a few thoughts though. You may have developed social phobia of some kind or another form of anxiety disorder. What you’re describing sounds like more than just “I’m an introvert.” I really think you should get some help from a professional. Watch the video for the rest of this answer.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Often Should I Meet With My Psychiatrist?

Q: I have been seeing my therapist for almost 2 years, and I just had my first psychiatrist appointment 2 weeks ago (per my therapist’s referral). The psychiatrist wants me to come back every month, but I would much rather see my therapist more often. I think some insurance companies count the number of overall mental health visits per year and I don’t want to “waste” them. I am “real” around my therapist and I know that it will take a long time for me to open up to my psychiatrist. Can I mention this to my therapist next week or is that a bad idea since they communicate with each other? I guess my thoughts are every 2-3 months would be sufficient and my therapist could certainly tell him if my status changes for me. I know I shouldn’t, but I do put up a fake “front” in front of the psychiatrist. Any suggestions on what to do? This is all new to me!!

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Ask A Therapist: I’m Angry AND Sad. What’s Wrong With Me?

Q: I’m 15 years old and I have been getting angry for sometime no reason at all and then becoming sad.  I am sad for a long time (10:30a.m.-9:00p.m.).  I don’t know what to do and people ask what’s wrong and i just snap at them and feel even worse and I think I’m losing some of my friends.  I used to be the funny guy but now I’m just the guy that sits in his chair quietly and doesn’t really talk to anyone anymore.  I don’t feel like myself and I’m actually just avoiding people anymore. Please Help, Thank you.

A: How confusing to be having these overwhelming emotions and not know where they came from or why you’re getting upset. I’m so glad you wrote in for help. I’m always relieved when adolescent young men write in for emotional help because so many suffer in silence and don’t know how to reach out for help.

What you’re describing sounds like some kind of depression. You might be surprised to hear that irritability and anger are often signs of depression, especially in adolescents. The changes in your personality and your social behavior also point to depression. Does anyone in your life know how sad you’re feeling? Do you have parents you could talk to or another trusted adult, like a school counselor who could help you find a therapist and set up a medical evaluation?

I urge you to talk to your parents, let them know about your feelings, and ask them to help you find a therapist to meet with. Also, please go to your MD and get a physical to rule out possible medical conditions that might be contributing to your low moods. Click the Find Help at the top of this page to find a therapist in your area who specializes in working with adolescents and depression.

I am so glad that you emailed “Ask the Therapist” to reach out for help and guidance. I am hopeful that it will inspire other young men to pay more attention to their emotions and ask for help when needed.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Know If I Still Need Therapy?

Q: I am a married woman of 24 years with 3 grown children.  I have had a pretty rough past and struggled with mental illness most of my life.  I grew up in a very dysfunctional violent family with an alcoholic parent.  I was abused and neglected.  I attempted suicide at the age of 17.  Through the years I buried my past and attempted to live a normal life.  I did not have an identity, I did what everyone wanted of me, and even believed the beliefs of the people around me. I was an empty shell being filled up by other people.  I had another breakdown in 1999 and attempted suicide again.  That is when I began therapy.  It took me a realy long time to open up to my therapist.  It seemed I got much worse before I got better.  I began cutting and binge eating became  a huge problem.  I had always coped with food but now it brought my weight up to 322lbs.

As the years went by, and with medication I began to slowly deal with issues and start to rise out of my depression.  I trusted my therapist and told her things I would never tell another soul.  I was getting better and I decided to improve my life. I had gastric bypass to lose weight and in the past year I have lost over 120lbs.  I was using good coping skills and having more rational thoughts.   Unfortunately my bones suffered from the weight and degenerative bone desease.  This past October I had a total hip replacement and this past February I had a total knee replacement. It has not been 2 months yet and it has been a slow painful recovery.

My therapist retired this past December.  I do not have a regular one yet, although I did meet with one just one time to feel it out.  I am unsure if I need to stay in therapy.  I have been in it for a very long time and although I am better than ever before, I still have depression and dysfunctional thoughts.  I am still on medication, Wellbutrin, Lexapro and Neurontin for mood disorder.  I have been labeled as PTSD and BPD. I am starting to binge eat again and I am afraid the gastric bypass will be worthless to me someday.  I do not want to gain all that weight back as I could hardly move then.  I feel very sad that my therapist retired and I feel pretty lost right now. Is it normal to be in a therapy program for as long as I have been? Do some people stay in therapy all of their life?  I feel that I will never get out of this dysfunctional rut. Is there hope for me? I am very tired and very afraid to live this way.  I just want relief and to feel a bit of satisfaction in how I live.  I appreciated any input.
Thank you 🙂

A: What a brave women you are to have faced your past trauma and to have actively sought treatment to move toward a healthier and happier life. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have your therapist retire after working so hard to develop enough trust to open up and share things you’ve never shared with anyone else. It is very normal to feel lost, sad, and to grieve the loss of this therapeutic relationship, just as you would if you said goodbye to a close friend or family member. I imagine that finding a new therapist and developing that trust again is a scary thing to consider, but a necessary one.

Some health problems, like diabetes, are chronic and require lifelong attention, management, and treatment, while others are acute, like strep throat, and generally require one course of antibiotics. Mental illness can be conceptualized in a similar way. Your mental health history, your history of abuse and neglect, and your psychological symptoms seem to fall in the chronic category. It is common for individuals with severe childhood abuse and neglect to be in treatment on and off throughout life to help manage the emotional and psychological consequences of the early experiences.

Your continued struggles with dysfunctional thoughts, depressive symptoms, and binge eating suggest that you need to get back into therapy to maintain the progress you’ve made and to continue to develop coping skills and insight. You may in be in treatment throughout the rest of your life. If that’s what you need to continue to move forward, to manage your symptoms, and continue to create the life you want, then that is nothing to be ashamed of.  You deserve to have nurturing and support.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Think My Girlfriend Is About To Break Up With Me

Q: I think my girlfriend is about to break up with me, because there were these girls she didn’t want me to hang out with but I did, because I was mad at her for cheating on me, which she told me about a long time ago and was open about, so I decided to have secrets of my own, which I know was a horrible idea. Well we had this big fight where she wanted me to tell her everything, and I did for the most part, leaving out one time where I had this party and invited this girl over to my house. She just found out yesterday and is really upset, and I don’t know what to do. For some reason, I’ve lied to her a lot, because I don’t want to get in trouble, and I know that if I’m honest she’ll accept it and everything will be okay, but for some reason I can’t get it through my thick skull. I keep messing up time after time. I don’t want to lose her because she understands me and is the best thing to happen to me. I don’t know what to do, I slept all day today just because I didn’t know what to do. I really don’t want to lose her and I feel so bad for making her feel horrible, and when we were talking and she was crying I really felt bad about it and hated seeing her cry but I still felt sort of detached for some reason. I don’t know why I feel detached sometimes but I would really like to not feel that way. For some reason I think subconsciously I like to feel miserable, because otherwise I don’t know why I do the things I do. Sometimes before I do or say anything I think to myself “this is not a good idea” but then I do it anyway.  I really don’t want to lose her, I’ve been through so much with her, more than anybody. shes my best friend and my confidant and shes always been there for her. I just want to be normal, and not lose the most important person in my life.

A: Thanks for writing in for help with your relationship. Whether or not she breaks up with you, it’s important for you to get to the bottom of you why you continue to do things, like lie and cheat, that you know aren’t a good idea. Frequently, relationship sabotage has roots in past hurts. Is there anything in your relationship or family history that might be emotionally driving your pattern of pushing your girlfriend away? Your emotional detachment to her sadness also suggests that there may be something that is unresolved for you in close relationships.  I suggest that you get a therapist and explore what’s driving this pattern so if your girlfriend stays with you, you can learn how to maintain closeness and if she breaks up with you, you can prevent this pattern in future relationships. Also, consider reading the book “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples” by Dr. Harville Hendrix to help you start understanding the deeper patterns that may be getting in the way of your love relationship.

Take good care of yourself and your relationships!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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