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Talk to me about anxiety and how to help

(5 Posts)
blushingmare Sun 09-Feb-14 21:04:22

My dad seems to be suffering from anxiety. He is worrying and obsessing about the smallest, most insignificant and illogical things. He isn't sleeping, not eating (has lost a stone in weight) and is now refusing to drive. He's avoiding seeing people and want my mum to cancel people coming to stay and planned holidays. He bursts into tears at the slightest thing and it just seems like all the joy has gone out of his life. Even spending time with my dd he doesn't seem to enjoy anymore and that also make him anxious.

He's seen his GP and been put on antidepressants and is having a hypnotherapy session this week. He seems to be quite resistant to doing CBT, just says he just wants to talk to my mum. But he's driving my mum crazy as all he does is just obsesses about the same minor issues over and over again and obviously talking to her isn't helping as he's not moving on from the anxieties.

We all feel so helpless and lost as to how to help him. And at the time time guiltily frustrated with him and the way he's behaving so illogically. I know it's out of his control, but it's so hard to understand and know what we can do to help. It's so out of character for him. This is a man who up until a couple of months ago would think nothing about jumping in the car and driving to my house 2 hours away to fix something or step in for babysitting duties. We can't see that there's been any obvious trigger, although my mum says he's been getting more and more of a worrier as he gets older, but nothing like this.

Can anyone offer any advice on what I can do to help him? I worry that this is it for him now and he's going to slide into being a miserable old man (he's 72). Nothing we do or say seems to help. Should we just keep jollying him along and carrying on with life as normal, or should we be making concessions and not forcing him to get on with things? I feel like he shouldn't be giving into it, but at the same time I know he's not well and if he'd been diagnosed with cancer or something I wouldn't be forcing him to carry on seeing friends or going out if he didn't feel like it.

If anyone is prepared to share any advice with me I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

LEMmingaround Sun 09-Feb-14 21:17:46

I don't want to worry you, and i suppose the doctor should have considered and checked for this, but is there a possibility he has some sort of dementia? Have you had an honest talk with your mum about how things have been in the past, is it something that he has suffered from in the past (the anxiety).

My dad had dementia, and yes, he because forgetful etc, but the anxiety was also very prominent.

In terms of helping the anxiety - i suffer from anxiety so can relate - sometimes, i just want someone to tell me everything is going to be ok. I will often ask DP "is everything ok, will we be ok" he wont have a clue why i am asking but it is enough that he gives me a hug and tells me it will be fine. Exercise is good - so if he can be persuaded to go for a walk each day that would be useful. I agree that he shouldn't be allowed to just give in to it, but don't push him too hard, help him by encouraging to do things rather than jollying along. The last thing i feel like when i am anxious though is being around friends so maybe don't push this, but go for coffee, that sort of thing?

Do talk to the doctor re dementia though as early intervention really does slow things down, there are drugs that can slow the progress of the disease down. Maybe have a look at the alzheimer society website where there will be a list of symptoms and warnings signs.

Am surprised about the hypnotherapy, is that soemthing the doctor has recommended? What medication have they given him? Most of them will take a couple of weeks to start working so don't despair if there is little improvement in the begining.

basia2 Sun 09-Feb-14 22:06:47

When my dad started acting strangely a few years ago, in his late 50s (crying for no reason, angry outbursts, tired all the time) we finally talked him into seeing a doctor, and it turned out he had diabetes.
It had gotten quite severe, too. The doctor said that with his blood sugar levels, he was surprised he was even walking around.
After receiving medication and a diet plan, my dad's moods stabilized.
He is doing quite well now.
You must talk to your dad about seeing a doctor.
It is not necessarily something as serious as dementia.
There are many lesser, treatable conditions which can nevertheless affect our personality, moods, and outlook on life.

blushingmare Sun 09-Feb-14 22:46:04

Thanks for your replies. Yes we have wondered about dementia. He has had a memory test, which was fine. I don't know if that means he definitely doesn't have early dementia or whether there are other tests they could do? He has had a blood test as they wanted to see if it was a thyroid problem. I don't know if that would look at diabetes too - maybe I should suggest that as his mother had type 1 diabetes and also suffered with anxiety.

He has been prescribed mirtazapine and I know it can take a few weeks to work. I think he is sleeping a bit better in the last few days, so maybe it's starting to help a bit.

Yes I was surprised about the hypnotherapy too. I really think he needs some sort of talking therapy, but he seems so reluctant. The hypnotherapy was booked with a private therapist, but it's hard to know whether they suggested it because he told them he didn't want CBT or whether it was the treatment they recommended for his symptoms.

Thanks for your ideas - much appreciated.

Fluffymummy1 Sun 09-Feb-14 23:11:42

Anxiety is a hard thing to deal with as it grows and grows the more your dad thinks about it.
I suffered really bad anxiety last year to the point I couldn't get off the couch, I would sit there and could barely eat, sleep or do anything. I was almost a empty shell. Antidrepressants didn't work for me I was too sensitive, so a combination of beta blockers and cbt are the things that turned it around.
The bad news is it can take a very long time to start to get some normality, It took me a good few months before I was able to gradually return to work and feel better, there are still days though where the anxiety is worse but I have to go through everything I was taught.
There was a trigger for me so I have to work on the problem that started it all.
I would recommended finding out more about cbt as it does help and see if you can talk to him about what could possibly have started it all, it may be something you all hadn't thought about.
I hope he can find some help that he's comfortable with, my heart does go out to him x

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