From time to time, we sense that Alex needs slight changes in his nutritional supplements, and that leads me to searching Google and thumbing through my well-worn copy of Prescription for Nutritional Healing. A couple of weeks ago, Alex was having anxiety attacks on a daily basis, and they seemed to be escalating. At the same time, his face was breaking out increasingly, which seemed to be an inflammatory response. I e-mailed Alex’s chiropractor, who has been treating his allergies, and he immediately suggested that we give him essential fatty acids. For some reason, Alex does not do well on the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; they make him hyperactive and cause insomnia. Instead, we tried flaxseed oil, a different omega-3, thinking that because it was plant-based, he might have a different reaction. However, he reacted negatively to flaxseed oil, as well, with a middle-of-the-night meltdown, so we had to take him off that. Instead, we tried an omega-6 essential fatty acid, evening primrose oil, which we have given to him successfully in the past. Evening primrose oil does not have the negative side effects in Alex that the omega-3 oils do, and his face looks much less red and irritated, so that does seem to be helping. In addition, we decided to put him back on the amino acid GABA. We had taken him off GABA this summer when he seemed lethargic, but now that he’s more energetic, we felt he needed the calming effects GABA offers him. Since Alex is so sensitive to changes, we must tweak these adjustments carefully and gradually so as not to overwhelm his system.
One day after Alex had experienced two especially aggressive anxiety attacks, Ed and I decided that he probably needed to have his prescription medication altered, as well. After unsuccessfully trying to reach our family doctor, I called our local mental health facility to see if a psychiatrist could see Alex to address his anxiety issues with medication. After I explained our situation and concerns clearly to the receptionist on the phone, she informed me that the soonest we could get an appointment would be about six weeks. Attempting to persuade her to find an earlier appointment, I explained how anxiety makes him aggressive, and since he’s six feet tall, he is a physical threat when he’s in this mood. Unmoved by my pleading, she simply suggested that if he’s a danger to himself or others, we should call the police to restrain him and have him taken to the emergency room, where he could have a psychological evaluation. [Yeah, that sounds like a plan. Take someone who’s already upset and then make that person hysterical by involving police, restraint, and the ER.] Clearly, this was not going to be the way to solve the problem, so I told her we would take him to our family doctor instead.
The next morning, I was able to schedule an appointment with our family doctor, but Alex had another panic attack and refused to go to the doctor. Undaunted, I went to his appointment and explained how he had been obsessing over strange things, such as gas prices from years ago or how deep his voice is, and then becoming anxious and agitated, which caused his adrenaline to kick into “fight” of the “fight or flight” mode. The doctor was very sympathetic and understanding of our concerns, and his years of experience, probably along with his emergency physician training, enhance his ability to assess and diagnose the symptoms. He thought that hormonal changes are likely aggravating Alex’s OCD, and when the obsessions are unresolved, his anxiety heightens and causes adrenaline to kick into high gear. To address these problems, he has increased Alex’s Prozac from 10 mg., which he felt was doing not enough to keep his OCD under control, to 20 mg. for a week and then to 40 mg., and he recommended that we continue to give him low doses of Ativan to control his anxiety as needed. The only problem with Ativan is that it can become addictive, and patients can develop a tolerance that requires higher doses. However, as he looked at the scratches on my hands and wrists, where Alex had attacked me while I tried to give him the sedative the day before because he was so distraught, the doctor noted that we had to weigh the risks and benefits. The risk of my getting hurt was greater than the risk of Alex becoming addicted to low doses of Ativan, and the benefit of sedation was safety during meltdowns. He also told me that I can call him at any time with any concerns or if we need to adjust or change the medications. As I left the doctor’s office, I felt thankful that we have a doctor who will see us immediately and does not make us wait six weeks to see him, who clearly understands what happens when Alex is anxious, and who offers not only his medical expertise but his sympathetic nature. After a week of these changes, we’re relieved that the minor adjustments seem to be easing Alex’s anxiety, and we continue to pray that all of us will enjoy more peace and calm around our home as Alex gets better.
“Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:8