My wife has suffered from anxiety attacks, depression and has also been diagnosed with OCD since her brain surgery 18 years ago. She was doing fine until recently when we both contracted a stomach bug. Since then she seems to be reverting to the state she was in previously. Is it possible that an infection of this nature could cause a person to revert back to an earlier symptom profile?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
You are asking an interesting question that I will try to answer as best I can but, with the recommendation that you wife be seen by her physician in order to rule out any health process that could be affecting her brain.
If we assume that you take your wife to her Medical Doctor, a full examination with tests are conducted and everything appear normal from a physical health poin of view, then we can look at psychological that could be at work.
To answer your question, psychologically, yes, this recent infection could bring her back to an earlier symptom profile. Again, I want you to remember that I am assuming we are discussing your wife’s health after thorough medical clearance.
Obviously, brain surgery is exceedingly serious and traumatizing from a psychological perspective. It is entirely possible that the recent illness reminded her of the surgery and re-awakened the trauma of surgery from almost twenty years ago. In fact, it is entirely possible that her post surgey symptoms of anxiety attacks and OCD were a result of that surgery. Assuming that the surgery did not cause brain damage that could account for the symptoms.
I would suggest that, if your wife gets a “clean bill of health” from the Doctors, that she enter psychotherapy for what we could assume are now psychological symptoms or a reminder of the trauma of two decades ago. In fact, you could ask the Doctors for a referral to a clinical psychologist. I would recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy because that would help learn techniques to lower her anxiety level and develop more helpful types of thinking that could avoid or reduce these symptoms. OCD is an anxiety disorder and fits into the spectrum of the anxieties with which she may be dealing.
But, get that medical first.
Best of Luck