Mood Disorders Expert Forum
I need guidance as to where/who to see with these problems I'm exp...
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Welcome to the Mood Disorders Forum. Questions in this forum are being answered by Peter Forster, MD and topics covered are anxiety, bipolar, depression, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and stress.

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I need guidance as to where/who to see with these problems I'm experiencing

hi first off i am a 26 yr old female with 2 children under the age of 3. i am married to thier father and it's been a very happy union. however, early in Jan. we both sought treatment for substance abuse. it was voluntarily. we knew we had a huge problem and needed help so we could be better parents to our children. i know the road to recovery is not a straight and narrow one. i haven't struggled to stay clean, but i am struggling with many other emotional issues. I have problems sleeping, thinking (concentrating), my appetite is always one extreme to the other, sometimes i get to emotionally overwhelmed that i'm unable to deal with my life in general. when i was a teenager i did cut myself a lot...usually on my inner thigh where no one would notice. I also loosely attempted suicide when i was about 14 (tried to overdose on an antibiotic)---didn't know very much about pills then. now i'm having trouble coping with every day skills, work, taking care of myself and my children. i keep feeling like the best thing for me to do is to get into my car and just drive. drive where? I don't know. The rational part of me says I cannot do this because it is my job as their mother to love, protect, and care for them and I am doing that. but somedays it just becomes too hard for me to do this. i know i need help. i've been seeing a therapist for over a month now and i still attend NA meetings and I go to church every sunday. nothing is helping. someone please help!
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Thanks for writing.

I am sure that there is help. It is important for you and important for your children that you insist on finding answers.

This is a somewhat complicated situation since it involves substance abuse and mental health symptoms. An important part of finding help is getting clarity about what the problems are and which problems are primary and which problems are secondary.

In other words, is substance abuse due to mental health problems (this is related to the "self-medicating" idea that sometimes people with anxiety and depression use substances to try to feel better) or are mental health problems caused by substance abuse.

There are several conditions that could have led to the cutting and suicide attempt when you were an adolescent, so it would be good to get more clarity about what was going on then.

All of this is leading me to a strong recommendation that you should start by getting a diagnostic assessment (clarity about what the problems are is often a first step to getting effective help, and will also make you feel more confident that you are going in the right direction if treatment takes a while to be completely effective).

The best way to get such an assessment would be to find a good psychiatrist who will take the time to help you figure this out. Although a good psychologist could also do this. Perhaps your doctor could make a recommendation? Alternatively, if there is a medical school in your area you could contact the department of psychiatry at that school.

This kind of assessment takes time and will probably cost some money but given the importance of getting clear about what is going on it would be worth doing if you can possibly do so.

Once you have a diagnostic assessment then you can figure out what to do in terms of treatment. That may not involve seeing a psychiatrist at all, it may involve (among other things) finding a support group (an online one like the communities here might be good), talking to your therapist about some specific approaches to use to help you, making changes in diet or getting some vitamin supplements, etcetera.
Thanks so much for your insight and recommendations. I have already called my Dr. to have me referred to psychiatrist in my area to help me with these problems.

And as far as my substance abuse goes, I still go to group meetings however I have not been attending every day...only twice weekly. My Dr. also suggested that I try the ninety meetings in ninety days. However, it might be rather difficult to do this as I have a hard time finding someone to keep my children while attending. But I am looking for more meetings and also seeking those that might actually have help in the child care area during the meetings.

Again, thanks. I appreciate your words.
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