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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Depression Issues

06/26/2006

Question:

This is with regards to my mother aged 59. She has been a very cheerful and socially active individual but 6 months ago, she was cheated out of a huge sum of money by a friend whom she trusted implicitly. I met her after 6 months and was shocked to find her having lost more than 10 kgs and a demeanour which is so unlike her- she no longer smiles, and talks feeblily. She seems to have aged an extra 2 years and initially refused to talk to us about the matter, often giving us wrong information. Now that the cat is out of the bag, she still rings up the woman and her family by trying to be outrageously friendly with them just so that they might return the money somehow. She doesn`t realize that they have no such plans. We feel that she is in denial of the facts which are so glaring obvious to all of us and her friends. However, she is very depressed and the only time when she is herself is when she rings up the woman`s family. This is causing immense problems in the family- and if we dare raise an objection, she would yell at us or moan or accuse us of being cruel towards her. Sometimes she even threatens to commit suicide or leave home. Our GP has been giving her Alprazolam but it doesn`t seem to be working- making her very drowsy and tired. Could you please advise us?

Answer:

Alprazolam (Xanax) is used for anxiety and anxiety related disorders, usually only for short periods of time.  It sounds like your mother needs to have a second opinion, or she needs to go back to the family physician and be open and honest about her symptoms.  It also sounds like counseling and therapy is in order.  It may be difficult to make your mother do something she doesn't want to do at this point in time, but I would recommend you and other family members consider some family or individual counseling as well, to help all of you learn how to deal with this difficult situation.

If your mother is clinically depressed, she would benefit from both the counseling and some anti-depressant medication, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati