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Nancy Ryburn

Stopping smoking starts with a plan

Q. I have been smoking for almost 30 years, and I’d like to quit. Every time I try, I get upset, cry and am so irritable that no one wants to be around me. Now, my daughter says that she doesn’t want to leave my grandson with me anymore because I smoke in the house and his clothes smell like smoke when she picks him up. I want to quit, but now I feel like I’m being held hostage. What can I do short term to solve this problem?

Help teen maintain healthy weight by setting example

Q. My 15-year-old daughter is overweight. I don’t want to dwell on her weight because I am fearful that she will develop an eating disorder. She tells me that there are several girls in her school who are anorexic or bulimic. Is there a way I can get her to manage her weight problem without her becoming defensive or developing a disorder? I’ve noticed that she is spending more time in her room.

Xanax abuse can be addictive, deadly

Q. My doctor prescribed Xanax for me a few years ago for my panic attacks. I see two different doctors to get the drug since I run out. I only take three or four a day, but I’ve read that it can be dangerous, and it may be causing me to be forgetful. Please give me more information.

Burning out? Slow it down

Q. I am so tired of working. I am in my 60s, and I’ve had a job since I was 16. I like the job and the people, but I’m so worn out at the end of the week that I have no time for myself or my family. My job is stressful, demanding and I often have to bring work home. When I’m away from work, I just sit in front of the television. What can I do?

First step to anger management: changing behavior

Q. I have an anger management problem. I got out of control because our 6-year old broke two of her toys. Later I felt horrible. My family has become frightened of me because they think my anger will eventually get so out of control that I will hurt them. What can I do to stop the anger? I was raised in a yelling and screaming household.

Helping your child with bullies

Q. My 14-year-old-daughter was bullied all of last year. She lets everyone say things about her and doesn’t take up for herself. I had to push her out the door the first day of school. I am so afraid that the bullying will start again, and she refuses to talk about it. Can you give her some suggestions for dealing with bullies?

Conflicted feelings natural when children leave home

Q. Recently, my husband and I dropped our youngest child at college several hundred miles away. I have felt so depressed since then. We were actively involved in our son’s sports teams and with his friends for the past five years. My husband seems OK, but I feel lost. Please offer some tips for surviving the next few months.

Husband takes anger too far

Q. My husband has an anger management problem but he refuses to admit it. Recently, he beat up our oldest son and threatened our teenage daughter. They want little to do with him now. I just keep my mouth shut, but I can’t see going on like this forever. If I mention that he needs help, he becomes belligerent. What makes him this way? I have enough money to leave, but I’m frightened to do so.

Grief hits everyone differently

Q. A close family member recently died, and I’m devastated. She was so young, and I keep thinking about it. However, I have yet to cry. People have been critical that I’m able to function, and that only seems to make me feel worse. Please give me some advice on coping with grief.

Emergency room staffer suspects PTSD

Q. I am a 35-year-old man, not a doctor but working in emergency rooms for 20 years. From the things I have seen and dealt with in the emergency room, I think I have PTSD. I am still working but every day gets harder, and I don’t want to go to work. I have heard that disability benefits are available for PTSD, and I am wondering if it might be possible for me to receive them.

Examining the signs, reasons spouses cheat

Q. I think my wife could be having an affair. She gets calls at night from one of her male co-workers; she is working late more often; and she has made positive changes in her appearance. Our children are grown, I recently retired, and I wanted this to be our time together. I don’t want to accuse her of cheating; I just want to make our marriage better. Give me some suggestions.

Parent-teen communication can be tough

Q. I can’t get my 13 year-old daughter to talk to me. She wears her headphones when we are in the car, and when I ask her a question, I get a one word answer. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she seems really annoyed everytime I approach her. My son was not like this. What can I do to encourage communication? I feel really lost.

Millenials reporting greater impact of stress

Q. I’m a 32-year-old woman with a child, a husband and a full-time job. I feel stressed out all of the time. My mother keeps telling me she did the same thing while raising four children. Is my generation really under that much more pressure than previous ones? My mother thinks I’m just a wimp.

Time for ‘social drinker’ to examine his behavior

Q. After the July 4th weekend, I’m certain that my husband has an alcohol problem. He was drinking all weekend and made the holiday miserable for my family. He says he’s a social drinker, but I know his brother and father are both alcoholics. He hates his job and says that is the reason he drinks. How can I convince him that he needs help?

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.