Ask the Doc

Do you have a question for a mental healthcare provider? We will be accepting questions for our clinical panel and will publish a select question and answer in each of the DBSA monthly eUpdates. Submit your question here for future eUpdates.


I have treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. For me, medications have been ineffective or had side effects worse than the disease. I would like to not take medications for my mood. How can I talk to my doctor about not medicating me? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have schizoaffective disorder, and I was recently diagnosed with seizures. I was also given a diagnosis of Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures. I know the brain is a complex thing. How are those things related? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I’ve had issues with anxiety and substance use over the years. While I quit using substances in 2005, I now feel (at 57 years old) I am experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Is it common for symptoms of bipolar to come on later in life or did they just go unnoticed in my formative years? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. I have been taking diazepam for as long as I can remember. My psychiatrist states that she wants to take me off of it. She says it doesn't really help PTSD. I have never had a problem with it and it's the only drug I've found to ever help with my anxiety. Why take away something that is working when nothing else ever has? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My son recently went through a depressive episode. Treatment and a new prescription are helping, but he finds he still has trouble staying asleep. He will often have dreams that will wake him up, and he will not be able to get back to sleep. What are some things to try to help him better regulate his sleep cycle? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I've been on an antidepressant drug for 30 years. Is it even effective after all this time? I feel so-so, but always tired and unmotivated. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My best friend has depression and was put on suicide watch. I'm trying my absolute best to be there for him and help him through this issue. It just seems that I don't feel like I'm helping. Any thoughts for me? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Can going on or off hormones cause mood swings or a manic episode? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

With bipolar disorder, does depression become more prevalent as one grows older? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I am a physician who recently had to resign from Residency due to a breakdown which resulted in a Bipolar II diagnosis. I'm on the right meds and taking care of myself and haven't felt this healthy in over a decade. There is so much stigma, especially in the medical community, about mental illness. My question is: Can a bipolar doc be effective and safe to treat patients? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My son is 29 years old and was diagnosed with bipolar 12 years ago. He has not functioned much at all during the past 12 years. He lives in a rented room that his father pays for and is on Medicaid. He does nothing all day except self-medicate with marijuana. He takes medicine, but never consistently. How can I convince him to get the help he needs? I feel he needs to go away to a program for at least 60 days, but he refuses. He says he can make himself better by going to therapy. He has been going to therapy on and off for at least 10 years, but he never keeps up with it. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have been on the same antidepressant since I was 18 years old, and I am now 31. Within the past couple of years, I have been having lots of numbness, dizziness, and stomach issues. My doctor believed it was from the antidepressant, so we reduced the dose. Now, when I am stressed or overwhelmed, I tend to get thoughts of harming myself. But I'm reluctant to try any other medicine or to even continue this one due to the side effects. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My family member was hospitalized almost a decade ago and she has not had problems that severe since then. Now she needs to see a psychiatrist, but no one will see her once she says she was hospitalized. Why not? I feel like something a decade ago should not prevent her from getting help now. Please advise. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

How do you cope with rapid cycling as it changes day to day. I am working closely with my doctor as he is making changes in meds. In the meantime, how do I weather the storm until things calm? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My adult son has Bipolar I and has lacked the insight to take medication regularly for about ten years. Two years ago, he developed epilepsy and he refuses medication because the ones they have offered him are also used for bipolar disorder, and he thinks it’s a trick. Are there any seizure control medications that have no crossover for use in bipolar treatment? View Dr. Joseph Calabrese's Answer

I have treatment-resistant depression and have tried at least eight drugs which have all made me sick. My doctor says I have a high sensitivity to medication in general and is suggesting that I try medical genetic testing which my insurance may cover. Do you think this is a reasonable next step? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

An adult family member has bipolar disorder so I’m pretty familiar with the condition. Now my daughter has been diagnosed. Can you tell me if her disorder will “look” the same as her uncle’s? Is bipolar disorder in children the same thing as bipolar disorder in adults? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have struggled with self-harm since I was in my early teens. Although the type of self-harm has changed, it has gotten steadily worse. How can I stop this behavior? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

A family member was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and with treatment has done extremely well. Just recently he has had serious problems at his job, with his wife and children, and he seems to lack self-awareness. A new doctor diagnosed him with a personality disorder. What’s the difference between a mood disorder and a personality disorder? How could there be two such very different diagnoses? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My 32-year-old son has had a mood disorder since he was 18. He and so many other people I see use marijuana chronically. Is it possible that the heavy marijuana use is the cause of mood disorders and not just the way some individuals choose to cope? View Dr. Caldeiro's Answer

I believe my daughter’s psychiatrist is going to be prescribing an antidepressant. What questions should I ask him? My daughter is 15. View Dr. Wagner's Answer

I have chronic depression and have used the same antidepressant for 20 years.  Lately it seems like it’s not working so well. I’m very sensitive to all medications and the three new antidepressants I’ve tried (different types) have made me terribly ill, even at a tiny dose. What are my options? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I’ve had a depressive disorder for years and am finally looking for help. I’m bewildered by the choices: there are psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. Where do I start? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

How do I cope with being detached from my emotions? I used to be very suicidal, so this seems to be self-protective. Is it ok? View Dr. Ursula Whiteside's Answer

Any tips on how to make the transition from one medication to another? I've been through many changes in 27 years and every time it's a struggle. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I live with bipolar disorder, and my moods are complete opposites of one another. How can I tell what is the real me?  View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My son is nine and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD, and OCD. When he is having one of his meltdowns what is the best way for me to help him through it? View Dr. David Miklowitz's Answer

What's the longest a recovery period can be after a depressive episode? And, is it possible to exist in a state where depression kind of hovers over you constantly?  View more detailed question and Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My daughter is a substance user and also shows symptoms of bipolar disorder. Which should be treated first? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I was diagnosed at age 18 with bipolar disorder and still have the same struggles at 52. I also have PTSD. Is there evidence that adverse childhood experiences prevail as a factor in mood disorders? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have bipolar disorder. My depression is labeled "atypical". What does that mean? Does that require different treatment? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Is it possible to be hypomanic and depressed at the same time? View Dr. Mark Bauer's Answer

Are there other health conditions that can cause depression and bipolar disorder? My doctor tested my thyroid, which made me think it might be connected. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Sometimes I feel like I need medication, when things get really really dark. But then I fight through those feelings, and when it passes, I feel like I don’t need medication. How do you know if/when it is the right time to start taking a medication for depression? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have been noticing memory loss lately, after years on different medications. Is this a side effect? Will it get worse or are there ways to make it better? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My doctor tells me that I am “drug resistant” and I can’t seem to find a medication that helps. Any suggestions? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I was prescribed a medication for insomnia. When I take it, I wake up more often than I already did and I feel very hung-over the whole next day. Any suggestions? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I believe my daughter’s psychiatrist is going to be prescribing an antidepressant. What are the most important questions I should ask him about taking an antidepressant? View Dr. Karen Wagner's Answer

What proven strategies—in addition to medication—help improve morale for people who live with bipolar disorder? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

About 14 years ago I was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression—and then bipolar disorder. I take a number of meds. In the past few years I've felt better than I have in a long time, but I still also don't enjoy the things I used to. All I want is to get these things back. Is this as good as it gets? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I've taken different antidepressants over the years, and now my body seems to reject medications that helped before. Any suggestions?  View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

A relative of mine, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been displaying disorganized thinking, exercising poor judgment without knowing it, overstepping boundaries, with hyper-religiosity. She does not see these things, but her loved ones do. I want to let her know our observations so she can get the right help. How do I gently tell her this without upsetting or alienating her?  View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Do treatment plans ever include getting off of medication? I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 17 years ago. I’ve tried—unsuccessfully—to get off medications in the past. Now I am seeing a psychologist and changing my thinking and the people that I hang around with. I've been off medication for three months and feeling fine.  View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

What advice would you give to a dually diagnosed person about stopping drinking at the cost of increasing symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder? I stopped drinking 10 years ago, and 6 months later a living hell of bipolar disorder was exposed. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

My husband and I really want to have children, but I have a family history of mental illness, and I have bipolar disorder. I'm afraid to pass it on to my future kids. My husband worries about this, too. What are my chances of passing this on, and could it potentially get worse? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have severe depression, but I've often wondered if I have bipolar. My mood constantly changes. One minute I'm fine, the next I'm crying my eyes out. I snap over things I shouldn't get mad over. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Is there a cure for depression? I have been taking medications for over two decades. I exercise, pray, and have changed my lifestyle. There will always be some stress in my life, as I am the sole caregiver of two adult children with special needs. I have literally tried all I possibly can and I just don't seem to get a breather. Can I get well one day? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I have a diagnosis of bipolar, and am taking lithium for my mania. I'm not on an antidepressant, as it will push me into mania, but I'm in so much emotional pain. I only consider taking my life when I'm depressed not manic, what can I do? I need meds for depression, that is what is crucial to keeping me alive. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I've been struggling with depression for over a year to the point where I've begun self-harming. My parents do not know this. I've been wanting to tell them for a while because I truly want help, but I'm afraid. How do I let them know? View Dr. Mary Fristad's Answer

I have depression, and in the past have been hospitalized multiple times for attempting suicide. I don't have insurance; how can I get medication? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Are sweet holiday treats an effective way to cope with holiday blues? Or is it really true that sugary or fatty foods can cause depression or mood swings? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I’ve heard claims about nutritional supplements helping with depression or bipolar disorder. Are any of these supplements actually effective? Could any of them be harmful? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Is depression during pregnancy different from depression at any other time? Is treatment for depression safe or effective for pregnant women? View Dr. Susan L. McElroy's Answer

I've heard that natural lithium is available at health food stores and online. It's supposed to have fewer risks and side effects than prescription lithium. Should I try switching from prescription lithium to the natural kind? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

How would I know which type of talk therapy is appropriate for me? I've suffered abuse both as a child and as an adult. I've had problems with amnesia all my life, so never talked about any abuse. Therapists don't want me to go back to the past. What should I do? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Two years ago I ended a long-term relationship that wasn't healthy for me. My mood has been much more stable, and I feel happy for the first time. Can a life circumstance actually change the chemistry in someone's brain to the point where they are no longer bipolar? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I am exercising and eating well and still can't seem to shed the pounds. I am on antidepressants. What can I do?  View Dr. William Gilmer's Answer

I have suffered with depression and fatigue for over 40 years. Is there anything that will help the 'flatness' and 'no motivation'? I cannot make myself do anything. I also sleep pretty much 18 hours out of 24. View Dr. Gary Sachs's Answer

Sometimes I get angry and mean and completely lose control. I am alienating my kids, and I fear they will never want to visit me when they leave to go out on their own. What can I do to control my outbursts? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

When I saw a doctor about weight loss surgery, he said I had to have a mental health evaluation from my psychiatrist. What is that for? If I did go ahead with the surgery, how might that affect the medications I take? Is there anything specific I would have to watch out for? View Dr. David E. Kemp's Answer

Is it valuable to have a brain scan even if clinical symptoms are consistent with bipolar disorder prior to assigning the diagnosis of bipolar disorder? View Dr. Mark Bauer's Answer

I've been reading that ketamine can help with severe depression when other treatments haven't worked. Should I ask my doctor to try it? View Dr. Joseph Calabrese's Answer

What are some ways to get over the fears of trusting others? I suffer from depression and borderline personality disorder. I have issues with being around people I don't know because I am afraid I will say or do the wrong thing. Do you have any coping skills or suggestions? View Dr. Holly A. Swartz's Answer

My husband has chronic joint pain and is clinically depressed. To help him with his discomfort he became licensed to use medical marijuana. Can the use of pot intensify depression? I feel uncomfortable with his use of marijuana, especially since we have a teenager with bipolar disorder in the house. View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I've been through ECT treatments for 2 years. I worry about the treatments causing long-term damage to my brain. Can any of the current or upcoming treatments replace ECT for treatment of medication-resistant medication illness? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

Is there any evidence in support of fish oil supplements to help depression in bipolar disorder? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

I got really depressed in April and have been off work. The depression has just started to lift, but now I am phobic. I find going out and socializing hard work. Is this the tail end of the depression? View Dr. Greg Simon's Answer

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