Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Depression and despair

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Question
Hi Andrew. I am a thirty year old woman who has struggled with anxiety/depression since as far back as I can remember. I also have several health problems and suffer from chronic pain. As a result of being bullied/abused growing up I also suffer from extremely low self-esteem. People tell me all the time that I am intelligent, articulate, witty etc but I do not believe them. I am very hard on myself. If I make a mistake, I will berate myself for weeks or even months! I tell myself I am ugly, stupid, worthless etc I don't believe that I am loveable. Certain things will trigger my depression, and the other day something happened that just devastated me emotionally. Dry mouth is a side effect of several of the medications I MUST take in order to avoid serious and potentially life threatening complications is dry mouth, which makes me prone to cavities. I have had extensive dental work done, and despite my best efforts I continue to get cavities. I can not afford expensive dental work (i.e. crowns, implants) because I am on a disability pension. They cover the basics, but none of those things I mentioned because they are considered "cosmetic". Anyway, I was told that I am going to have to have several of my teeth removed, and that I will have to wear a partial. I am only thirty years old! Maybe this sounds frivolous but I am just broken hearted. I feel like I am already unattractive and undesirable (I am overweight and not very pretty) and now no one will ever desire or love me for sure! I will be alone forever! I am also terrified of having the surgery, and keep putting it off. I have enough pain as it is, and am not sure if I can handle anymore! I was actually contemplating suicide over this! Quite frankly, if I had the courage I would have killed myself long ago. The only family I have are my parents, and I have two very good and dear friends (but one lives in another province, and the other lives in another country) and my mom and my cat are my sole sources of companionship pretty much. The only means I have of communicating with my friends is through e-mail, and a lot of times I feel so fatigued and sick and depressed that I don't feel like writing! I try to tell myself that things will get better, but honestly I feel like they will only get worse! I worry constantly about losing my mom, because if I lost her I would truly be all alone in the world. I want to die, but I don't have the courage to end my life. So I must continue suffering. I have always had counselors, but the last three years or so I have not been seeing anyone because I can not afford it. Psychiatrists are covered, but I have seen two and I didn't find either of them helpful. They think drugs solve everything, and I don't want to take more drugs. I feel like I am being poisoned as it is! Drugs fix one thing and screw up ten others! I am already on some heavy duty drugs, including medication for pain. I feel worthless and useless and don't even know what I was put on this earth for. I am unable to work and be financially independent, I am unable to contribute anything to society. All I do is take up space. I apologize. I know this e-mail is quite lengthy, but I wanted to give you as much background information as possible. Any advice, suggestions or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Lisa

Answer
Lisa

You do not need to apologize for the length of your heartfelt letter about, finding meaning in life,  it is just that it is not possible for me to provide you with the kind of relief you deserve in this limited format.

You need a good therapist, and I do not know anything about your National healthcare, but there must be a way that a disabled person can obtained psychological treatment, particularly since all the research on depression and anxiety clearly state that medications barely work at all if not accompanied by good psychotherapy.

You do not need to be a historian to know that the human race has accomplished much, good and bad, in its short tenure here on this planet, but of all our accomplishments we still lack any clear path to meaningfulness in life, which is  as necessary to the soul as food and water are to the body.

It may be a very short list, but no matter how short, you need to make that list of things you know will make you eel better that do not require emotional or financial means beyond your capability.  Getting out amongst our fellow humans is more helpful than you know when you feel this bad...that is because it is so often only a painful illusion that everyone else is better happier skinnier and richer in all ways than ourselves.  Life is always difficult for everyone, and it is always an almost impossible challenge to make it feel worth it, but it is all we can do.  You have people you love and who love you, you are intelligent sensitive and thoughtful.

Those characteristics are strong traits that many do not possess.  Try to meditate and experiment with ways to put them to better use and know that the search itself is really what life is all about...just do not give up.

Best,

Dr. Elmore  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.

Experience

30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

Organizations
American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

Publications
The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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