Category Archives: Treatment

Introducing the Therapy Log

I recently went back into therapy, and I’ve decided to track my progress — and lack of progress — in a series of videos. Below is the first in that series.

Anxious disclaimer: this video is longer than it probably ought to be. Future installments will be shorter.

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“Ask Dan’s Mom” Goes Public

Every Friday I publish a new exchange with my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” has now been opened to questions from readers. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here.

Hi Mom.  I hope you’ve had a good week. I still have a lot I want to talk to you about regarding my own anxiety, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions for you from the outside. People want your sage advice! Are you willing to give it? Can I start sharing your wisdom with the world?

Hi Dan. It was actually a pretty awful week. There was a fire in my office! Can you believe it? My whole side of the building got burned down! All of my files, thank goodness, survived. But still, very stressful. I had to take lots of slow deep breaths to keep myself calm. I know — I’m still trying to pitch the benefits of the breathing. But that’s only because it works so well. To answer your question: yes! I’m ready and willing to help out your fellow anxiety sufferers. So let’s get started.

*****

Dear Dan’s Mom: I keep waking up at 4:00 in the morning. Not always from anxiety (sometimes I just need to use the bathroom), but then my mind starts racing and I can’t fall back asleep. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 4

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will soon be opened to questions from readers. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.

Hi, Mom. How was your week? How’s Bennie [her dog; see Pt. 3]? Has he stopped throwing up?

Good morning! Thanks for checking up on Bennie. He’s been fine, although for some reason he still gets carsick. Luckily this doesn’t make him throw up, just drool … a lot. I gave him some Dramamine but it didn’t help. The vet said I could try Xanax next. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 3

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will continue as a one-on-one correspondence for a little while — until my mother and I exhaust the conversation or she gets pissed at me, whichever comes first. At that point, I’ll open the floor to questions from readers, thus turning the series into a new breed of advice column: Dear Abby for Neurotics. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here. Part 2 here.

Hi, Mom. I hope you’ve had a good week, and that Bennie [her dog, short for "Benzodiazepine"] has stopped throwing up. I’d like to continue along in the same vein as our last round. We talked about the many anxiety treatment options that are out there but we didn’t talk specifically about psychotherapy. I think a lot of people who feel anxious or panicky seek out therapy but don’t know what kind of therapy is best. Do you have an opinion on this?

Funny you should mention Bennie. He just threw up again (this time yellow bile!) and I’m getting worried that he may be sick. (more…)

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Ask Dan’s Mom, Pt. 2

Every Friday I ask my mother, Marilyn Smith — psychotherapist, anxiety expert, and genetic wellspring of my neuroses — some questions about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and anxiety treatments.

The series “Ask Dan’s Mom” will continue as a one-on-one correspondence for a little while — until my mother and I exhaust the conversation or she gets pissed at me, whichever comes first. At that point, I’ll open the floor to questions from readers, thus turning the series into a new breed of advice column: Dear Abby for Neurotics. If you have a question about anxiety you’d like me to share with my mother, please email me at dansmonkeymind@gmail.com.

Part 1 of “Ask Dan’s Mom” here.

Good morning, Mom. In last week’s exchange, you mentioned that a tendency toward anxiety may be caused by “the way you were brought up by your parents.” I know that you’ve had a hard week, what with Grandma being sick, so I’m going to let that one pass. For now, let’s talk about treatment. One thing that’s always confused me about anxiety is what exactly to do about it. There are so many treatment options, from medication to psychotherapy to meditation to acupuncture to I don’t know what else: sweat lodges? religious conversion? coffee enemas? What would you say to someone who perplexed by all these offerings?

Thanks for going easy on me this week, sweetheart — though now you’ve got me nervous about future installments!… To begin with, I know how scary it is to feel anxious and to have no clue about where to turn for help. (more…)

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The Pillbox (or, On Wanting But Finding it Hard to Go Off Medication)

“I’ll never go on antidepressants. Once you start, how do you stop?” —a friend

A couple of weeks ago I paid my biannual visit to the Manhattan office of the woman who prescribes me my medication. For many years I have been on two classes of medication: a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (first Effexor, now Lexapro), and a benzodiazepine, typically Ativan, which I take only at times of acute distress. The woman who prescribes my medication is a psychiatric nurse. She does not provide therapeutic services and she does not have a medical degree. From what I have gathered, she spent much of her career working on an impatient psychiatric ward. She charges $140 an hour, which, given the relief she provides, is a very reasonable expense. For years she was a heavy smoker; the habit has done lovely things to her voice.

Like a lot of anxious people, particularly, I suspect, those of the bookish, cerebral type, I have an actively conflicted relationship with my medications (or, I should probably say, with the fact of my being medicated). (more…)

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