If you’re thinking about stopping your psychiatric medications or psychotropic meds…. go slow! Really! You want to allow your brain and body enough time to adjust to the diminishing levels of the drugs in your system. If you cut down too quickly or decide to quit cold turkey, you are putting yourself at great risk for side effects, withdrawal symptoms, or what “they” call “discontinuation syndrome.”
It is important to discuss the desire to reduce or taper from psych meds with the person writing your prescriptions. The prescriber who is monitoring your progress should be informed of your decision, and hopefully will assist you in your choice to attempt a reduction in medications. Unfortunately however, many physicians and prescribing providers do not and will not support coming off psychiatric medications. There are many reasons for this, but it does not mean that you must stay on your medication regimen for the rest of your life.
If you are certain of your wish to reduce or quit psych meds, with or without the prescriber’s approval, it’s important to prepare yourself. This means obtaining information on the process and the potential difficulties and risks. It also means gathering support (professional and/or personal) and making sure those around you are aware of how they can best help you. And, if your current prescriber does not want to help you, you will likely need to find a new physician or provider that is willing to prescribe your medications in decreasing dosages.
There are websites available that offer information, encouragement, cautions, and support for those who are considering getting off of antidepressants, antipsychotics or neuroleptics, or other drugs. BeyondMeds.com is one website with additional links to others.
Personally, I believe that medications have their place in helping people. However, our society is currently at a place of over-reliance on drugs as a quick fix to the growing number of people with symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem, inattention, and so on. Medications do not address the underlying causes nor do they teach skills or healthier ways to live. Psychiatric medications do not offer insight or meaning, and oftentimes do not work as intended, or they work for a limited period of time, only to have a return of symptoms.
I work with people who are interested in making changes. I am a licensed clinical social worker providing counseling, coaching, and psychotherapy. I believe in choice, and respect the rights of the people I work with. And I believe that it is possible to come off of medications. I work with clients who wish to try to manage without medications, and clients who are interested in or considering a reduction in psychiatric medication.
To schedule a consultation or appointment, please call (949) 933-9146 or email: Angela@TherapistAndCoach.com . For more information about my practice, please visit: TherapistAndCoach.com .
(previously posted in my newsletter……)
Even if the weather has us mixed-up about the season, it’s hard to confuse the festive lights and decorations that shout, “Happy Holidays.”
This season brings family and friends together and helps us remember kindness, love, and connectedness. However, it can also remind us of conflict, insecurities, and issues with alcohol and food.
If this is you, rest assured that you are not alone. For most people, this time of year is filled with mixed emotions ranging from happy, sad, angry, guilty, and lonely just to name a few.
What to do? Make the best of the good and the bad. Don’t try to do it all. Breathe, deeply. Learn about stress management for the holidays. And be sure to take time to care for your own needs.
For some people, it helps to start or re-start sessions with a psychotherapist, counselor, or coach for extra support through the holidays. It’s the best way to truly invest in yourself!
Something that teenagers are well known for are their emotions – the up and down roller coaster of mixed feelings that even the teenager cannot explain.
The teenage years can be a rough period for everyone in the home. There may be an increase in opinions, arguments, defiance, and button-pushing. Or perhaps, more quiet and emptiness as teens withdraw, isolate, and spend less time with the family.
This period of time will come and go. But how do you get through it without pulling your hair out? For parents and teens, it’s important to know that this transition in life is normal. It’s healthy for teens to try out images and behaviors as they develop their self-identity. However, teens can and do make choices that are unsafe, and this is where parents need to step in. Otherwise, pick your battles – it may just be best for parents to take a step back and even encourage the teen’s new ideas and interests. Teens want to know that parents are listening and interested in their ideas and opinions. Parents don’t have to agree – they just need to listen and be interested in their teen and what they’re up to.
Remember, this a transition time, and like other transitions in life, it’s helpful to reevaluate roles and rules, and then make any necessary changes. Oh, and one last thing – be honest and sincere – are you the child screaming and breaking the car in two?
Anxiety or depression is a strong indicator that something about your life needs attention. It’s best to heed early warning signs and take action right away. Delaying or denying that some sort of change is needed will only bring out more significant signs…… big ones that will stop you in your tracks and leave you no choice but to pay attention.
1. Listen to your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re having repetitive thoughts or dreams, insomnia, fatigue, aches, or if you’re feeling down and just not into what you’re doing…… then it’s time to stop and reevaluate. Figure out what the message is….. create down-time, cut out distractions, and listen to what’s going on within yourself.
2. Talk with friends and other people. Oftentimes, talking and listening to others can help clarify things for ourselves. Engaging in conversation with others is helpful because you are talking out thoughts and feelings instead of keeping it bottled up inside. Communicating with others can also generate new ideas and give you a different perspective on your situation.
3. Write it down. Keeping a journal or jotting down some notes will get your thoughts and feelings out of you and down onto paper. This can be very therapeutic and you may find yourself writing quite a bit once you get started. Putting things in writing also creates a good visual that can help move you to make decisions and changes.
4. Talk with a psychotherapist or counselor. Oftentimes, it is helpful to enlist the assistance of a professional. Having the guidance and support of someone who can teach you the right skills and let you know what to expect can help make any process smoother and easier. Just as you would hire a personal trainer for fitness goals or a financial adviser for money and retirement goals, working with a therapist can help you with personal and life goals, mental and emotional well-being, relationships, family, work, communication, stress management, and so many other areas. Make a true investment in yourself and hire a good therapist or coach.
Angela P. Wu, LCSW has trained in many different settings and is qualified to help with a wide range of topics and issues. She offers online (virtual sessions) and in-person sessions at her office in Orange County. For more information on her services, please visit her website: www.TherapistAndCoach.com.
For psychotherapy, counseling, or coaching with Angela P. Wu, LCSW, call (949) 933-9146 or email Angela@TherapistAndCoach.com.
It’s the weekend and your teenager doesn’t get out of bed until 3 p.m. Is this a call for concern or just normal teenage behavior?
So many teenagers today have busy schedules with extra-curricular activities squeezed in, with little to no down-time. It may be that your teen just wants to catch up on some needed sleep that he’s missed out on during the weekdays. Researchers today are saying that our kids do not get adequate amounts of sleep and are sleep-deprived….. If that’s the case, just let him sleep in.
As a parent, the time to intervene is if you notice that your teen is also undergoing changes in his personality, behaviors, friends, or routine. These changes could be an indication that your teenager is using drugs or alcohol, so it’s a good idea to investigate further. Start by having a conversation and share your love and concern….. Ask questions, but do not accuse!….. It is possible that your teenager is just trying out different styles and identities (this is normal during adolescence) and not actually using drugs or alcohol.
There’s no escaping it, the internet has become such a big part of our lives. For evidence of this, just walk down to the local Starbucks, Target, school, park, restaurant, or practically anywhere, and you will find someone online. People everywhere are using their smart phones, tablets, or laptops to shop online, chat online, and read the news online….. But what about attending your counseling session online? Yes, people are actually doing that, attending counseling sessions, online. But……
Is that private?
Is it effective?
Well, here are the answers:
1. Online (via the internet or virtual) counseling and therapy is private and confidential. Just like sessions held in an office, the therapist or counselor, must keep your information private. The online therapist must also ensure that there are security measures for communication over the internet so that information that’s transferred over the web is secure and cannot be seen by others. (Online therapists still follow laws for confidentiality and can only break confidentiality for suspicion of child abuse, elder abuse, Tarasoff, etc.)
2. Online or e-therapy is effective. Recent studies have shown that the results of online counseling versus counseling in the traditional office are the same. This is great news! This opens up counseling as an option to people who are unable to leave their homes due to physical problems, severe anxiety or depression, desire for privacy, limited time, transportation limitations, and so on.
The internet has allowed for so many new ways to access services and make connections. You can even deposit a check over the internet! With the internet making life easier (that’s the idea, I think), more and more people are using counseling to help with big and small problems in their lives. And for those who need something more like coaching….. those services are available too!
If you’re thinking about trying out online therapy or coaching, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Make sure you’re with the right therapist or coach. You’ll want to work with someone you like and feel comfortable with. It’s important that you feel you can trust the person who is there to help you.
2. Make sure your therapist or coach is qualified and experienced! Finding a professional who is licensed is probably better than seeing your average Joe, who may be very nice but will likely miss important factors because he does not have the education, training, and background.
3. Make sure your online counselor or coach has security measures in their video-conferencing tools and email. Or if they don’t, they at least disclose the information to you so you are well-informed of the risks and can make a decision for yourself.
For the many women (and the men in their lives) trying to understand what the heck is going on, the word menopause (or peri-menopause) may bring some understanding and relief.
But the thoughts and feelings don’t end there. Understanding and relief may be followed by joy and excited anticipation. Or, for some women what follows is anxiety, worry, sadness, depression, a sense of loss, uncertainty, guilt, and a mixture of other feelings.
Menopause is a time of changing hormones for women. Physiologically, it is the ending of menstruation and the ability become pregnant and carry a child. Psychologically, menopause takes on a myriad of meanings for the woman. This time of transition typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 – a time already filled with stress and major life events and transitions such as children leaving home, divorce or remarriage, changes in career, health, transitioning into the caregiver for an aging parent. With so many changes occurring at the same time, menopause can trigger enough feelings of distress, anxiety, and depression to interfere with a woman’s life.
If you’re having difficulty with some of the physical symptoms, (hot flashes, night sweats, changes in menstrual cycle, dryness, etc.) you’ll want to talk to your health care professional to discuss treatment options along with the risks and benefits. Your doctor will likely review hormone therapy, antidepressants, and alternative treatments which can help with the physical symptoms. For some women, these treatment options also help with symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and sleep difficulties.
If you find that your transition to menopause is affected or worsened by what’s going on in your life, (life events, changes in roles and expectations) a psychotherapist may be the answer. Counseling can help you find new ways to manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and address the thoughts and feelings that are interfering with your life. Often, the transition to menopause is a good time to reevaluate your life, set new goals and priorities, and discover parts of your identity and interests that have been previously neglected. It’s a time to focus on you and your needs.
If you suffer from anxiety, you’re not alone. In fact, anxiety is actually a normal and healthy feeling that comes from our fight or flight response. It’s present to help alert us to danger and push us to action.
Anxiety becomes an unhealthy problem when it is present when there is no danger. The fight or flight response is hypersensitive or remains active all the time. This shows up as tension, worry, hypervigilence, a pounding heart, upset stomach, and other symptoms.
For some people, anxiety can begin to limit their lives. They are fearful of the real and perceived threats and dangers in everyday life, and may avoid people or activities as their anxiety worsens. Often, as they use avoidance to cope with the uncomfortable feelings, their anxiety continues to worsen.
There is no one way that anxiety starts. It is usually a combination of factors relating to our biological, psychological, and environmental make-up. Anxiety can follow a traumatic event, death of a loved one, abuse, or other life event. Anxiety can also develop from ongoing, chronic stress or a “go, go, go” type of achievement focused lifestyle. It tends to show up more often in people who are perfectionists and less flexible to changes. Some people begin to use unhealthy ways to cope including alcohol, prescription drugs, or other substances.
Anxiety is treatable. There is no need to let anxiety control you or keep you from enjoying other people, events, or activities. You can’t get rid of anxiety by avoiding it – you really have to get in there and deal with it, and work through the anxiety. There are different ways to alleviate anxiety including psychotherapy, medications, biofeedback, meditation, and lifestyle changes. If you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety, there is help available.