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Frequently Asked Questions


   A.I.M. believes that recovery entails becoming a SME (Subject Matter Expert). Learn everything you can! We get questions. Here are some answers

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*What is a panic attack?

*Panic attacks consist of symptoms such as; heart palpitations, labored breathing, trembling, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, feelings of disorientation and etc. Without correct treatment, a person may experience an increase both in emotional and psychological symptomology.

* What about medication?
* We, at A.I.M.,. think that is solely up to you and your doctor. For some it is the right thing to do, but for others, not. The drug treatment seems to be any one of the anti-depressants that are on the market and/or perhaps an anti anxiety medication (these should be taken a short period of time). The newer anti-depressants (SRI's) seem to have fewer side effects than the older ones. If one does not work, perhaps another medication of it's type will be effective. Patience is the key word. If you choose to take medication, you should also begin doing behavioral/cognitive work. Many of us have recovered without the use of medication. There is little research to back this up, but there is some. You can actually change your bio-chemistry strictly by using behavioral/cognitive techniques. Most of the research is financed by drug companies and thus the lack of behavioral/cognitive research. To do without medication may take a little longer and require a lot of work, on your part, but it can be done.
 

* My psychiatrist has been putting me on all different kinds of meds, and none of them seem to be working. Is he just fooling around with me?
* Probably not. It takes about 3-4 weeks for an antidepressant to have any effect on you, if it is going to work. I say, "If", because not all meds work for everybody. There is no way of knowing what will be the right medicine for you, except trial and error. It is a frustrating situation for the not only you, but the psychiatrist and your family. (Keep in mind, I am not a doctor) While you are playing the waiting game, don't forget to start working on your cognitive/behavioral tools!
 

* I have been going to the same therapist for over two years, but I still feel the same. Is this normal?
* Two years is a long time! If you feel like you are in the same boat as when you started, it might be time for a change. Not every therapist is for everybody. Start looking around for a new therapist, remembering that you want a cognitive/behavioral approach. Try the interview approach. Call them. If they won't speak to you on the phone, that may be a good hint that they will be unavailable to you. When you get them on the phone ask some questions like, "How much do you charge? What kind of therapy do you offer? How long have you been seeing people with anxiety disorders? What is your success rate?". After asking some basic questions, you may have a gut feeling for whether or not this is the one for you. Try and call at least 3 therapists, and then make your decision. Hope this helps!

* My employer is suddenly requiring me to do more and more traveling. I like and need the job, but I am not sure if I can do it. . What do I do?

* A: The best thing is to be honest with your employer, but also let your employer know that you are working on it. We can provide you with a letter of explanation to show to those concerned and to let them know the behavioral/cognitive approach that you are working on in A.I.M. A person with an Anxiety Disorder makes an excellent employee. We are very intelligent (stupid people don't seem to get this disorder), and people pleasing. These are traits that any employer would want. But, don't stop there! You need to start practicing exposure with distances. The A.I.M. office may be able to assist you, as we might be able to provide you with a Coach. Give us a call!

* Is it ok to have a drink or two to settle my nerves?

* A: I would say not. There is a very good reason for this answer. Some years ago, I was involved with some research to show the prevalence of alcoholism and anxiety disorder. We used people in the A.I.M. groups. The prevalence was amazingly high. Thus, you do not want to have two problems - - alcohol and anxiety. You may tell yourself that you are handling something very well, but not because of your abilities, but because you had a few drinks. This is not what we want to accomplish. A slow desensitization is the best way to handle anxiety. Remember the movie, "What About Bob?"? The psychiatrist was writing a book called, "Baby Steps". Baby steps is better than a few drinks. One word of caution: If you are taking medication, definitely stay away from alcohol and/or if you may be pregnant.

* When I feel I must take a cold drink with me everywhere or wear a rubber band on my wrist, my family says I am doing nothing, but depending on a crutch. Is this so?
* A: My response to that is that if you had a broken leg, no one would say anything about your using crutches. When the leg heals, you would throw them away. Likewise, crutches are okay for anxiety. When the anxiety heals, you will throw them away!
 

* Is recovery really possible?
* A: YES! Not only is it possible, but it is inevitable IF you practice the behavioral/cognitive tools that A.I.M. teaches.
 

* What about "setbacks"?
* First, let me define "setback". A setback is anytime that you have been doing pretty well for a relatively long period of time, and then, seemingly suddenly, you feel as if you are at square one, again. You feel the same symptomology. I have heard a setback called many things, i.e.: step-back, practice opportunity, etc. Whatever one calls it, it still feels the same. My question would be, what triggered this setback? If you think about it, you will find that somebody died, moved, was in the hospital, Or, you may have had a change in employment. Maybe you don't see what triggered it, but my guess would be that you were probably catastrophizing on something. It does not have to be a BIG event. The very smallest of things can trigger a major panic. There is something you have to remember. The reason that you feel like you are going backwards is because you have had a length of time when you were doing well. It feels like panic has come back, big time, but it is not factual. It is a feeling, not a fact. This is the time when it is important for you to keep going, to keep practicing the tools. If you can do this, you will discover why some call this event a practice opportunity. It is, indeed, a time for you to practice what you know. Also, if you can do this, the setback will not last very long, at all. Okay, even if you find that you can't do this, you still will not be back at square one, again. The reason is because this time you know a whole lot more than you did the first time around. The choice is yours.... Is the glass half full, of half empty? Your attitude is the key.

Questions are answered by Mary Ann Gogoleski, founder/director of A.I.M. If you have a question, you can e-mail: anny@ameritech.net