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Nancy Ryburn


Girlfriend with social anxiety can address it

Q. I am in my 50s. The woman I am dating does not want to meet my friends. When she does she is very uncomfortable and seems to always say the wrong thing. Then she apologizes for hours. She says she has social anxiety. What are the symptoms? Please tell me it can be cured. It is ruining our relationship.

Taking control of workplace stress

Q. My job is increasingly stressful. It seems the work load has doubled. I love my job, and I don’t want to quit, but I’m irritable and tired all of the time. My doctor tells me that I’m running a health risk at my age (early 60s) by staying in the job because my blood pressure has increased and I’ve gained about 20 pounds in the last year. Is there anything I can do to resolve the problem before I have to quit?

Husband’s post-hospital blues should improve with time

Q. My husband had surgery and was in intensive care for several days. He is in his early 70s, so he’s not very old. While he was there, he often didn’t seem to know who I was or what was going on. Since he returned home, he has become very depressed. Are these conditions normal? He can’t return to his routine for a few months at least. I am very worried about him even though his doctors say his depression should go away.

Friend of abused woman can listen, offer help

Q. My best friend is in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. No one would believe that this is happening since her husband is well-respected in the community. I’m afraid that he is mentally unbalanced and will really harm her. How can I intervene since I think she’s in real danger?

Poverty can complicate, but does not doom child-rearing

Q. I can’t seem to work my way out of poverty. I just had my second child, and I’ve heard that childhood poverty can have an impact on a child’s functioning in adulthood. I want to do everything possible to be certain that my daughter has a brighter future than I have. I don’t think I’ve done a great job with my son, and I want to do better with her. What impact could our poverty have on her future?

Panic attacks can be debilitating if left untreated

Q. I have had panic attacks for a few years. They were diagnosed by my doctor, but, I didn’t want to take medication. The panic episodes come and go, but recently they have been overwhelming. I get dizzy, have a fast heartbeat, and fear I’m going to pass out. Why do I keep having them and what can I do to control them?

Depressed student shouldn’t let illness stand in way of success

Q. I am a first-year college student who made C’s and D’s this semester. I know that I am depressed, but my parents tell me that I’m just lazy. They are against all medications for mental health problems and refuse to discuss it with me. They have told me I can use St. John’s wort because it is natural. What can I do to convince them that I need “real” medication?

Daughter’s marital problems bring mom anxiety

Q. I have been depressed and anxious since my daughter and her husband began to have problems a few years ago. I’m seeing a therapist, but she suggested that I talk to my doctor about medication. I have an appointment with my doctor, but I get really nervous, and forget to ask questions. Can you provide a list of questions for me to take to the doctor with me?

Depression: How it’s diagnosed

Q. I think I’m depressed; I still go to work and go out with friends, but I don’t enjoy my life anymore. The depression started after my divorce five years ago. I’ve never been to therapy. It scares me a bit to think about it, but I know I need help.

Later effects of anorexia

Q. I was anorexic in my teen years. Now I’m in my late 40’s and it has come back. People tell me how good I look, and even praise me on how little I’m eating. Please warn your readers about the dangers of anorexia.

PTSD and its effects

Q. I think my husband has PTSD, but he refuses to acknowledge it. He was in Iraq, and he’s experienced some stressful events on his job since returning home. He gets angry each time I mention his problems. Please explain more about PTSD since he reads your column.

Take threats of suicide seriously

Q. Recently a friend of mine, who was only 18, committed suicide. I knew he was upset, and I feel guilty that I didn’t take him seriously enough. Please address the issue of what to do if we suspect a friend is suicidal.

Daughters not warmed up to new stepmom

Q. I married a man several months ago. We are both well-adjusted, happy people in our early 70s. The problem is that his three daughters seem resentful of me. He was a widower, so I did not break up his marriage. Is this typical behavior for adult children? What can we do to resolve the conflict?

‘Everything at work bothers me’

Q. Everything that happens at work upsets me. I lash out at people, get my feelings hurt and often cause trouble without reason. I don’t want this to happen. My boss said to “toughen up.” Can you give me some suggestions on how to resolve my problem?

I think I married a narcissist

Q. A few weeks ago, you published an article about a woman who was considering marrying a narcissist. Well, I married a woman who I THINK is a narcissist. We’ve been together several years and it doesn’t get better. What causes someone to become a narcissist? Also, please give some suggestions for men living with narcissistic wives.

Help! My fiance’ is a narcissist

Q. I am 45, and the man I’m seeing proposed to me on Christmas. The problem is that all of my friends say he is a narcissist. I’m becoming fearful of accepting his proposal because maybe my friends are right. Can you tell me more about narcissistic behavior?

Person struggling with overeating wants to change for 2015

Q. I am determined to lose weight in the new year, but I can’t stop eating. I eat when I’m not hungry, and I hide my eating from my family and friends. Last week, I ate a box of donuts while driving home from work. I put the box in the trash immediately, so my husband wouldn’t see it. What is wrong with me and what can I do to stop it?