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Anxiety Attacks

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soocool

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My 16 year old daughter is having a tough time for the past 3 weeks. She wakes up every morning dreading going to school and doesn''t know why. She shakes, is weepy, and feels nauseous, She wakes up during the night, etc. Finally, with getting very little assistance from her school counselor I made an appointment with a therapist at my daughter''s request.

The school counselor takes forever to get back to me, if at that. I have asked her to respond to me in email if she can''t call and I only spoke with her once. My daughter met with her once and everytime she tries to see her, the counselor cancels on her. The schools talk alot of being there and helping, but it is so bogus. If the counselor said to me I will help you find a good therapist that would have been great. Instead, she took the approach that she could talk it out with my daughter, when she has only met with her one time.
 

OUpearlgirl

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I had pretty intense anxiety in high school and my first couple years of college.

I would probably not have been able to work through it with a high school counselor. I got over my issues with weekly appointments with a licensed doctor and a little bit of medication. Don't wait around on this flighty counselor.
 

MichelleCarmen

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That''s sad about the lack of communication between the counselor and you. Is that counselor FT or PT? In my kids'' school, the counselor is only there two days a week and she spends the remaining days at another school. Unfortunely, she is overbooked and overwhelmed.

Having your daughter go to a therapist oustide of school sounds like the best move. Since school is causing her anxiety, I do not see how being counciled in the school and that setting will put her at ease while talking to a councelor. She needs to be in a "safe" environment.

Be careful about any medications because some anti-anxiety meds can make things worse if they''re taken daily.
 

diamondseeker2006

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High school counselors mainly help students with schedules, college applications, scholarships, etc. That is not you need to see for physical anxiety symptoms. She needs to go to an MD first to see if there is some medical cause of the symptoms and then possibly to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Of course, you might need to speak to theounselor if changes need to be made to her schedule because of the situation.
 

Elmorton

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I''ve had very similar episodes during times in my life - and the fix was cognitive/behavioral therapy and for some periods, medication. School counselors have WAY too much on their plate, such as mediating for students, dealing with students who are victims of abuse, etc and don''t really do/have the time to commit to the type of therapy that your daughter probably needs.

Find a therapist stat. Psychiatrists take awhile to get into as a general rule, so I highly recommend starting therapy with a psychologist or LCSW and also scheduling a visit to a psychiatrist (though I''ve had my therapist recommend medications/explain symptoms to my medical doctor and obtained a script that way, since the next opening with a psychiatrist was about 3 mos away - which is very good if your doctor is up-to-date with anti-anxiety/depression meds, not so much if they''re not).
 

Definitely. Maybe

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I just wanted to say that I think it is great that you are there for your daughter. When I was her age I think I had depression and anxiety attacks a lot. My parents were no help and didn''t take it seriously. I am just now, at 22, seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. The fact that you are getting her help now is so wonderful and even though I don''t personally know you I thank you for it.

I think going with an outside therapist will be her best option and you made the right decision in making that appointment since, unfortunately, the school counselor wasn''t helping out. Just be there for her as best you can. :)
 

stephbolt

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I second Elmorton''s suggestion of finding someone who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy - CBT and a brief stint on meds completely turned my life around several years ago. Research shows that CBT is especially effective in teenagers and young adults as their brains are still developing so they can establish new ways of thinking more easily than an older patient in general.

If your daughter can identify a school-related problem that is triggering her anxiety (i.e. a particular teacher or student or course), might be worth it to try and deal with the school counselor again then if it''s something they can help with, but in general I agree with those who think it''s not really part of the counselor''s area of expertise.

Kudos to you for being such a caring, understanding parent in this situation. My father thought I should "just snap out of it" when I was having my worst anxiety and couldn''t even get out of bed. Luckily I had my mother and many friends backing me. I found Peurifoy''s book "Overcoming Anxiety" to be a useful read when I was first trying to understand what was going on. Best of luck to your daughter and you as you face this problem!
 

soocool

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Thanks to all for your kind words and advice!

This morning my daughter was still very sad, but she made it to school. I drove her in and we were a little late, but I told her that was ok. I walked with her into the building and she proceeded to the nurse''s office.( Last week the nurse gave her a special pass to use whenever she needed to chill. When the teachers see the pass, they do not ask any questions, and let her go to the nurse''s office. )

After we walked in, the school''s "CARES" coordinator saw us and she approached me after my daughter left to make sure everything was ok.She and I spoke for a few minutes and she said she will speak to my daughter today. My daughter has an appointment to meet with a psychologist/therapist for adolescents later this week. The CARES coordinator asked if we would have the therapist sign a release form so that the school knows what they can do on their end to help. The coordinator was a little confused that the school counselor did not get back to me, because she too is involved in this program and will find out why and let me know.

I feel more hopeful that she will get the help she needs, because right now I feel pretty helpless myself. I have been crying all morning.
 

JulieN

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I hope your daughter gets whatever support she needs and starts to feel better.
 

Lorelei

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Date: 2/24/2009 1:30:07 PM
Author: JulieN
I hope your daughter gets whatever support she needs and starts to feel better.
Ditto. I know one thing that helped me was eating little and often, it made a huge difference. Also get her to keep a paper bag with her, if she starts feeling panicky, get her to blow into it, in and out slowly until she feels better. This helps correct the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen which gets disrupted due to the panicky breathing. It really helped me and something that is harmless and effective and may help her feel more in control.
 

soocool

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Date: 2/24/2009 1:37:25 PM
Author: Lorelei

Date: 2/24/2009 1:30:07 PM
Author: JulieN
I hope your daughter gets whatever support she needs and starts to feel better.
Ditto. I know one thing that helped me was eating little and often, it made a huge difference. Also get her to keep a paper bag with her, if she starts feeling panicky, get her to blow into it, in and out slowly until she feels better. This helps correct the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen which gets disrupted due to the panicky breathing. It really helped me and something that is harmless and effective and may help her feel more in control.
I made sure she packed lots of snacks and she got the ok from her teachers to snack in class as needed. Poor baby eats breakfast at 6am and her lunch is 1pm.

She seemed better this morning (I drove her in again) and walked her up to the building and she said that she thinks she''ll go to her 1st period class. I am keeping my fingers crossed. She has a meeting with her school counselor on Friday (amazing!) and with the therapist on Saturday.
Most of her teachers are quite understanding, especially those with kids. They have called me personally to see if there is anything they can do from their end, like homework extensions, etc. That was so nice of them and so far she has been able to keep up. There are a couple who are quite annoyed if she asks to be excused from class or seems distracted, yet she is a B+/A student who is keeping up with the schoolwork...I wish they could be somewhat more understanding!
 

Lorelei

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I hope she feels better soon.
 

BeachRunner

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soocool I am sorry your daughter is going through this rough time. The BEST thing you can do is be supportive in everything she does. She needs to know she has someone there for her at all times. It sounds like you are a wonderful mother, and doing everything you can do. I agree with everyone that setting your daughter up with a professional would be beneficial as well. They can try to pinpoint what is triggering these behaviors, develop coping skills to help her deal with her emotions, and create a solution so she can replace these negative emotions with positive ones. That is the most basic way to describe how CBT works. A psychiatric evaluation may help, but a dr. may be skeptical about prescribing a teenager anit-depressants or similar, I''m not sure?

I hope your daughter feels better soon.
 

LGK

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OK, this is kind of a stupid question, but has your daughter recently been very sick physically? For some people anxiety attacks can have a physical trigger at least initially- if someone is recovering from a very, very bad flu (for example) that can trigger them for a time. My DH had that happen his junior year of college- got the worst flu of his life, and then for six months after had horrific, disabling anxiety attacks. The counselor he went to briefly said that wasn't terribly unusual- it has do to with adrenalin getting dumped into the bloodstream, which your body does sometimes after a bad bout of illness, which then triggers the attacks (I think I'm remembering that right!) He took Ativan very briefly, used a paper bag to breathe in frequently, and finally was OK again after a very, very difficult 6 months and has never had one since. Did I say very, very difficult? I meant hellish! I really truly feel for you- I remember that feeling of incredible helplessness and how awful it was all around. I hope your daughter gets a good helpful therapist and recovers quickly. It's very scary to see someone you love go through that. Major points for taking it seriously!
 

soocool

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Date: 2/25/2009 11:46:38 PM
Author: LittleGreyKitten
OK, this is kind of a stupid question, but has your daughter recently been very sick physically? For some people anxiety attacks can have a physical trigger at least initially- if someone is recovering from a very, very bad flu (for example) that can trigger them for a time. My DH had that happen his junior year of college- got the worst flu of his life, and then for six months after had horrific, disabling anxiety attacks. The counselor he went to briefly said that wasn''t terribly unusual- it has do to with adrenalin getting dumped into the bloodstream, which your body does sometimes after a bad bout of illness, which then triggers the attacks (I think I''m remembering that right!) He took Ativan very briefly, used a paper bag to breathe in frequently, and finally was OK again after a very, very difficult 6 months and has never had one since. Did I say very, very difficult? I meant hellish! I really truly feel for you- I remember that feeling of incredible helplessness and how awful it was all around. I hope your daughter gets a good helpful therapist and recovers quickly. It''s very scary to see someone you love go through that. Major points for taking it seriously!
She has not been sick in ages! But she does have an abnormality that she found out about a few years ago called pectus excavatum (sunken chest). It is slight and does press against her heart. She gets an echocardiogram each year and the cardiologist says the heart is fine. She takes no meds whatsoever, except for motrin for menstrual cramps.
 

soocool

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Date: 3/1/2009 8:23:46 AM
Author: Lorelei
How is she doing?
Thank you for asking:

Well, she was supposed to see a therapist/counselor yesterday but when we arrived no one was there. I called their phone number and got the answering machine. I left a very heated message and they got back to me in 2minutes to tell me that our insurance would no pay for anything less than a PhD. WTF?! I said why didn't you call me and they said they tried but there was a problem leaving a message. Another :WTF?!" I said you have my home # and you have my cell#. This is so unprofessional.

Now I am scrambling to find another psychologist. I can't just ask anyone, "Hey can you recommend a good psycholigist for my daughter who seems to being having anxiety attacks?" I emailed our school's CARES coordinator and bless her heart she responded last night and gave me the cell phone of a psychologist in the area. I will call her tomorrow and I sent an email to another one who said she does not charge for the initial meeting, because she wants to make sure it is the right fit for my daughter. So we will go from here.

Last Friday, my daughter did call me from school and asked if she could come home and I said no. She stayed the day and even went swimming during gym. She said that was fun. She has to make up about 4 or 5 swim classes she has missed and I know that she wants to come home immediately after school, so hopefully she'll be able to stay to make them up. If not, I have resolved to get a doctor's note to get her out of swimming, because I do not want it to add to the stress.

But I am so annoyed that another week has gone by for her without help thanks to that practice that "dropped the ball".
 

Lorelei

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Date: 3/1/2009 11:42:41 AM
Author: soocool

Date: 3/1/2009 8:23:46 AM
Author: Lorelei
How is she doing?
Thank you for asking:

Well, she was supposed to see a therapist/counselor yesterday but when we arrived no one was there. I called their phone number and got the answering machine. I left a very heated message and they got back to me in 2minutes to tell me that our insurance would no pay for anything less than a PhD. WTF?! I said why didn''t you call me and they said they tried but there was a problem leaving a message. Another :WTF?!'' I said you have my home # and you have my cell#. This is so unprofessional.

Now I am scrambling to find another psychologist. I can''t just ask anyone, ''Hey can you recommend a good psycholigist for my daughter who seems to being having anxiety attacks?'' I emailed our school''s CARES coordinator and bless her heart she responded last night and gave me the cell phone of a psychologist in the area. I will call her tomorrow and I sent an email to another one who said she does not charge for the initial meeting, because she wants to make sure it is the right fit for my daughter. So we will go from here.

Last Friday, my daughter did call me from school and asked if she could come home and I said no. She stayed the day and even went swimming during gym. She said that was fun. She has to make up about 4 or 5 swim classes she has missed and I know that she wants to come home immediately after school, so hopefully she''ll be able to stay to make them up. If not, I have resolved to get a doctor''s note to get her out of swimming, because I do not want it to add to the stress.

But I am so annoyed that another week has gone by for her without help thanks to that practice that ''dropped the ball''.
That is completely unacceptable!! I really hope this new psychologist is a good fit for your daughter and can help her.
 

lauralu

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First off, you should take her in for a physical with her primary dr. To rule out anything medical that is making her feel like this. That is really very important. There are reasons medically that should be ruled out.

My daughter went through something similar last fall when she started her junior year in high school. Her therepist gave the option of trying meds but also said even though this seems very severe, she can work through it if she does the work without meds. She was very honest and said meds would make her feel better quicker but it can sometimes hinder the process of actually working thru it and learning coping skills. Working through it without meds would take longer to feel better. My daughter and I talked a lot about this and she and I choose not to medicate and see how it went. Within a little over a month she was so much better. She has learned alot of self talk therepy, breathing exercises ect. That helps her a great deal. I will also ad. If there comes a time where she suffers again from this she needs more help and meds become the best route for her. We will go that route as well. Whatever it takes is my feeling.

With a good therapist. Your daughter will get through this and along the way learn lifelong coping skills when feeling overwhelmed with life in general.

There sometimes is no really reason why this happens all of a sudden. There does not have to be a trigger. It just does. It could even be some big fluctuation of hormones in her body. Hormones can reek havoc with teenage girls. Making them feel emotionally so out of control. The suggestion to eat snacks more frequently is big as well. She may not have trouble with low blood sugar that a Dr can do a blood workup and find. However, it could be just enough to make her feel anxious and jittery.

Hang in there and be there for her as you are. It is very difficult to see your child go thru this. It is such a helpless feeling for us moms. Remember also that as much as we want to think our daughters will or are telling us everything. They do not. I know I cannot be everything for her and I know there are things she will keep from me because she does not want to tell me or she does not want to worry me. That is where a trusted Dr and therapist come in.

The school counselor should have contacted you but in all likelihood she would have referred you on to what you are doing now.

Good luck and let us know how she is doing...
 

phoenixgirl

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I just wanted to say best of luck to you. I''m sorry the counselor and insurance company seem to be impediments rather than aids in this process. I hope you find a therapist who can connect with your daughter.

It also sounds like checking out physical causes might help as well. If your daughter is feeling crappy physically, that could very well make her emotionally distraught. Or it could be the other way around. Hope you get some answers soon.
 

purselover

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I''m not a professional by any means, nor do I have anxiety attacks, (but do have some anxiety) but yoga always reduces my anxiety and I have read up on how yoga can do wonders for people suffering from anxiety and depression. It might be worth it for your daughter to try out some yoga classes and see if she feels better.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Date: 2/23/2009 7:33:26 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006
High school counselors mainly help students with schedules, college applications, scholarships, etc. That is not you need to see for physical anxiety symptoms. She needs to go to an MD first to see if there is some medical cause of the symptoms and then possibly to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Of course, you might need to speak to theounselor if changes need to be made to her schedule because of the situation.
I mentioned earlier that you need to start with a doctor visit and then you should get a referral if they think the cause is psychological.
 

soocool

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Date: 3/1/2009 7:37:58 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006


Date: 2/23/2009 7:33:26 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006
High school counselors mainly help students with schedules, college applications, scholarships, etc. That is not you need to see for physical anxiety symptoms. She needs to go to an MD first to see if there is some medical cause of the symptoms and then possibly to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Of course, you might need to speak to theounselor if changes need to be made to her schedule because of the situation.
I mentioned earlier that you need to start with a doctor visit and then you should get a referral if they think the cause is psychological.
She did see a doctor twice and she had blood work done etc. The first time she saw a doctor he discovered that she had pectus excavatum (I have a separate thread regarding this) and she checked out ok. The blood work was fine. The first time she only complained about minor stomache aches and loss of apetite. About 3 months later is when the anxiety attack first came on (about 3 weeks ago) and after 1 week she saw the doctor again who could not find anything physically wrong and suggested she see a counselor or psychologist.

It is the weekend and she seems perfectly fine no anxiety or panic as she was last weekend. It all started up again when she went to school on Monday.Tomorrow is most likely a snow day here as we are expecting about a foot of snow. I'll see how she is on Tuesday when she goes back to school. Her apetite was great this weekend. She ate 4 pancakes with strawberries for breakfast, had a great lunch, ate all her dinner, and had a huge slice of cake this evening for dessert and snacked throughout the day.

In school her counselor is part of the CARES group who helps teens with these kinds of problems since it seems she only feels this way when she is in school. In other environments she is fine.
 

packrat

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My brother and I both have issues w/anxiety, and have since we were young. When I was in my early 20''s I had a few episodes while driving where I thought I was going to pass out and had horrible thoughts racing thru my head. One night I stopped at a gas station to call my mom, and the woman working was talking to me while I waited for mom, and she said one of her daughters used to experience the same thing and she''d gone to the Dr, and found out she was having panic attacks. I went to the Dr and was put on...let me see..Propanolol I think is the name of it. It did help a little..I was given literature on panic attacks and what I got out of it was that sometimes it just "happens", no trigger needed, like someone mentioned above,...more often in girls, and they can go away just as randomly as they start. I had them regularly while driving at night, especially if it was snowing or foggy. They did eventually stop, after I started dating my now husband. They do come back now and again, but not to the extent like they were before-feeling like I was having a heart attack. My brother actually went to the emergency room a couple years ago thinking he was having a heart attack, only to find out it was a panic attack. It''s one of the most scary things I''ve ever experienced, and even tho it was years ago, I can very vividly remember my first one.

Being a teenager is hard, and to add anxiety on top of that, I feel so much for your daughter and what she''s going thru-and what you as her mom must be too!

I definitely agree about getting a medical check up first..blood work and the whole 9 yards. Her blood sugar could be out of whack, or maybe she has low blood pressure, which is part of my problem.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Sorry, I should have realized that you had already had the regular MD check her physical health!
 

packrat

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Date: 3/1/2009 8:45:23 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006
Sorry, I should have realized that you had already had the regular MD check her physical health!
Oops, this is what I get for taking so long typing a reply!

Is she having problems w/some of the kids in school? The teachers?
 

lauralu

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school was where is was for my daughter as well. She was fine with her friends out of school. Family stuff, ect.

Weekends you never saw a thing. I am glad t know she has had a drs visit for these symptoms. It must be true anxiety than if they found nothing. Take care and I hope she start feeling better soon.

Self talk, behavior therapy, biofeedback is all of what my daughters psych taught her. She uses it all the time even with no anxiety issues. It helps her get thru just plain old stress full times

Hang in there and I am happy to hear she had a good weekend. Take care
 

Elmorton

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Date: 3/1/2009 8:42:27 PM
Author: soocool

Date: 3/1/2009 7:37:58 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006



Date: 2/23/2009 7:33:26 PM
Author: diamondseeker2006
High school counselors mainly help students with schedules, college applications, scholarships, etc. That is not you need to see for physical anxiety symptoms. She needs to go to an MD first to see if there is some medical cause of the symptoms and then possibly to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Of course, you might need to speak to theounselor if changes need to be made to her schedule because of the situation.
I mentioned earlier that you need to start with a doctor visit and then you should get a referral if they think the cause is psychological.
She did see a doctor twice and she had blood work done etc. The first time she saw a doctor he discovered that she had pectus excavatum (I have a separate thread regarding this) and she checked out ok. The blood work was fine. The first time she only complained about minor stomache aches and loss of apetite. About 3 months later is when the anxiety attack first came on (about 3 weeks ago) and after 1 week she saw the doctor again who could not find anything physically wrong and suggested she see a counselor or psychologist.

It is the weekend and she seems perfectly fine no anxiety or panic as she was last weekend. It all started up again when she went to school on Monday.Tomorrow is most likely a snow day here as we are expecting about a foot of snow. I''ll see how she is on Tuesday when she goes back to school. Her apetite was great this weekend. She ate 4 pancakes with strawberries for breakfast, had a great lunch, ate all her dinner, and had a huge slice of cake this evening for dessert and snacked throughout the day.

In school her counselor is part of the CARES group who helps teens with these kinds of problems since it seems she only feels this way when she is in school. In other environments she is fine.
It sounds like school is a trigger, then. When I was in grad school, one of my triggers was my walk-in closet. I''d get up, feel great, take a shower, I''d start thinking about the day and planning things out, and then I''d walk into my closet and see all of my nice clothes and then all of a sudden I couldn''t breathe, I''d be bawling, I''d feel sick and sometimes even throw up. Then I''d feel really shaken up for a few hours. I had a great therapist who basically made me walk through these episodes by having me describe the feelings, write things down, talk about my perception and what was reality. For the first few weeks, though, all we did was talk about my stress, family, relationships, etc. Then we started talking about the attacks and finding common denominators. And then we had a couple break-through sessions - those are what made all the difference. The attacks didn''t stop for awhile, but I learned how to identify when one was starting and how to walk myself through those scary, awful feelings without becoming victim to them.

I''m not sure if your daughter is going through something similar to what I did, but I do notice some similarities in your posts. I really hope either the school counselor or another therapist can help her talk through these - and she''s so lucky that she has a mom who cares and listens to her. :)
 

soocool

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Found a new psychologist for my daughter and seems to understand what is going on and is meeting with her on Friday. I will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for all your support. It has helped me tremendously so far. I love you all!
 

sba771

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Hi Soocool,

I have been following your story and am glad that your daughter seems to be doing better and you are finding a doctor that is a good fit. I just wanted to let you know what worked for me and I know everyone is different, but just some food for thought. So recently I had some major depression and anxiety (I am not that much older than your daughter) and I saw some doctors and they put me on various anti-anxiety medicines. They did help at first, but they also had some unpleasant side effects. I worked through them, but after a while I could tell they were not working and part of my problem (I know this would not happen to your daughter) was that I was not being monitored while on them, I stopped seeing a therapist so that was bad. I was being irresponsible and I know it. Anyway, I really wanted to go off them but was nervous and I read about animals as a form of therapy. My FI agreed that a dog might help and as we weaned me off the meds as we got me a puppy. The change in me has been amazing. People (who didn''t know I had even been on meds) noticed a HUGE change as did I. Anytime I start to feel anxious or weird, my puppy calms me. I know it sounds silly, but maybe a pet could help her relax and feel more at ease?
- I am also not saying don''t try medicine if that is what the doctors suggest, I think they can work wonders if used properly. I just didn''t use them properly and as a result was causing myself more harm than good. But under the right care I know and have seen that they can be beyond helpful and life changing in so many good ways.
 
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