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Nancy Ryburn


Psychology at play for some who text and drive

Q. I have a friend who was seriously hurt in an accident a few weeks ago because a teenage girl was texting and ran her off the road. Although my friend will be fine, I am very angry that so many people don’t realize the harm they are causing others by texting or reading texts while they are driving. Please address the dangers this is causing not only to teens, but to all other innocent people.

Verbal abuse is still abuse

Q. My daughter is being verbally abused by her husband. She says she loves him, and denies that he is abusive, but I have overheard the arguments, and I know she is in denial. He throws things and screams about everything, especially when he’s drinking. She was so self-assured, and now she is scared of everything. What can I do to help her realize there is a problem in her marriage?

All drinks are too many during pregnancy

Q. In one of my college classes, the instructor said that one should not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. My gynecologist said it was OK as long as I only had one drink. Two other girls in class said that their doctor told them the same thing, and they continued to drink throughout their pregnancies. What is the right answer?

Setting boundaries can keep pleasers from being doormats

Q. I am a widow who lives alone. My daughter, who is in her late 30s, asked if a friend of hers, who is going through a divorce, could stay with me for two weeks until her place was ready. It has been two months, her place is still not ready, and she has shown no desire to move out. She also does not cook or clean up after herself. My daughter says I’m being selfish, but I want her out of my house. How can I set a boundary between being helpful and having people take advantage of me?

Grief has no timetable

Q. My son, who was my best friend, died suddenly from a drug overdose. I have been overwhelmed with loss, guilt, and despair for much of that time. Most days I am crying or angry. It has been almost impossible to work because people either avoid me or look at me with pity. Why do I feel like I’m moving forward some days and others days I feel like this is all new territory?

Angry outbursts learned behavior, not inherited trait

Q. My husband is angry all of the time and yells constantly. He gets so upset about the election that he screams at the television until his face is red and he is shaking. I’ve asked him to go to a doctor, but he says it’s too late to change and he inherited his temper from his father. I told him that he can change, but do you think he really can?

Above average cleanliness not indicator of OCD

Q. I am really neat and keep my house spotless. My husband says I have OCD. He has told all of our friends and now every time I clean my rugs, people say it’s OCD. Even our children have started calling me “OCD Mom.” It is my understanding that having a normal, clean house is not a mental health problem. Can you explain OCD to my family?

Depression not character flaw

Q. I am in my second semester of college. Lately I have been feeling depressed for the first time ever and falling behind in my work. I have talked with a school counselor and she agreed that I’m depressed. She suggested medication and therapy. My parents, who are paying for my insurance, are highly against medication and “telling my problems to a stranger.” They tell me that my problem is my lack of faith in God and that I don’t pray enough. I feel so confused. Please help.

Each new prescription should have list of questions

Q. I’ve been having panic attacks for the past few months. I know what they are because I had them when I was younger. Now, I am also experiencing some depression. I have an appointment with my doctor to discuss medication for both of these. I get nervous, and forget to ask questions about medications. Can you give me a list of what I need to ask?

Happy marriage recipe: communicate about big issues, let smaller ones slide

Q. I am getting married for the second time. My first marriage was a disaster because we had none of the same interests, lost the ability to communicate and stopped doing anything together. I’m certain that my “boyfriend” has bought a ring and plans to ask me to marry him. I love him, but I am scared to commit to another potential disaster. Can you give me some tips to avoid repeating the same mistakes?

Making plan for mom with Alzheimer’s should start with conversation

Q. I think my mother, who is in her late 70s, is showing signs of Alzheimer’s. She is increasingly forgetful, and has become negative and nasty. She was never like this. My two brothers think that there is nothing wrong with her because they only visit once or twice a month and then stay for an hour or two. I’m with her on an almost daily basis. How can I convince them that she has a problem that we need to address?

End-of-life talks tough, but necessary

Q. I am in my late 70s. Although I have no life-threatening illnesses, I want to talk to my children about my end-of-life wishes. When they were here over the holidays, they absolutely refused to talk about it. They will be back in February, and I am determined to have the conversation. Please give me some advice on how to approach 40-year-olds who won’t have a discussion.

Opiod addicts face difficult path to recovery

Q. Our daughter, who is in her late 40s, has become addicted to pain medication. She was taking it as prescribed for injuries received in a car accident, and now she is taking eight or nine pills a day. Could you please explain the dangers of these medications so that she and others will understand the problems of pain pill addiction?

Winter doesn’t have to make you S.A.D.

Q. Starting in January each year, I get very depressed. I think I may have a low-level depression, but I deal with it effectively other times. In the winter, however, I don’t want to go to work, do things with friends or get out of bed. Why does this keep happening and what can I do about it?

Codependent? It doesn’t have to continue

Q. My husband barks at me rather than speaks; he criticizes my cooking, my clothes and just about everything I do. I am so unhappy, but afraid of the financial problems I may have if I leave since I’m in my 50s and have had little work experience. He tells me that I’m too sensitive, but I feel that he is a bully. Is this co-dependency and why do so many people fall victim to it?

Husband’s drinking likely problematic

Q. My husband’s doctor told him to slow down on his drinking. He has slowed down, but he still drinks too much. Over the holidays he had at least three glasses of wine most nights. Some nights, he would consume an entire bottle. Then he would go a couple of days without drinking. He says that he’s not dependent on alcohol, so he doesn’t have a problem. I say he does. What is your opinion?

Gay man shouldn’t have to choose between husband, sister

Q. I am a 45-year-old gay man who moved away from home about 20 years ago. Recently, I married my partner of 15 years. I have always visited my sister, with my partner, for a week after the new year. She told me that if I brought my “husband” this year neither of us would be welcome. She suggested that I come alone and not mention my marital status. I’m really torn. I love my partner, but my sister and her children are the only family I have. Suggestion?

Grief and the holidays: only do what feels right

Q. I’ve had several close friends and family members die within the last couple of months. I have no desire to celebrate the holidays. My children live out of state, and I don’t even want to see them. I know I am grieving, but I want to put up a good front for the sake of my grandchildren. What should I do?

Riding out panic attacks this holiday shopping season

Q. During this holiday season every time I go into a crowded store, I get hot, sweaty, and my heart starts pounding. I love to go Christmas shopping, but now I begin to panic every time I enter a store. I think these are panic attacks, but I’ve not had them since high school, and I’m frightened. What can I do to stop this so that it doesn’t ruin my holiday fun?

Tips for fighting holiday depression

Q. I have a tendency to be depressed, but I get even more depressed as soon as Thanksgiving is over and people start the Christmas holidays. Everyone always seems so happy except me. I’m alone, and it seems that even my family forgets that I exist. Can you give me some advice from a psychologist’s perspective? I’ve read the silly magazine suggestions.

Woman’s pain pill addiction could be deadly, needs treatment

Q. We are going to visit my parents for a week over Thanksgiving. The only problem is that my wife is addicted to pain medication. Her behavior is so strange that I’m certain my parents will notice and be horrified. I’ve tried to talk to her about addiction, but she says I’m over-reacting. Could you please explain the dangers of pain medication? She won’t listen to me.

Grief comes in stages

Q. I was the primary caregiver for my husband who died over three years ago, but I’m still mourning his loss all of the time. I think about him constantly, cry often, actually think I see him and dream about him. My children think I’m going crazy. They have encouraged me to get out and travel, but I don’t want to do anything. I guess I think I’m going crazy, too. What is wrong with me that I can’t let go of my grief?

Symptoms after car wreck could be PTSD

Q. I was in a serious car accident in November of last year. For a few months I seemed OK, but as the days began to get shorter this year, I have become increasingly frightened to drive. I’m staying home more, and I can’t drive on the expressway, which means I can’t drive to see my grandchildren. What can I do?