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Sudden Loss


My mother just passed away very unexpected and suddenly. I am having a very difficult time handling it. I am trying to find professional help but do not know if should try psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist etc. Please help-thank you.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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The important thing is that you seek help. Who you seek help from will have some bearing, however, on the sort of help you get, so it is worth thinking about. A psychiatrist will prescribe you medication to help you calm your nerves. If he or she is any good, s/he’ll also recommend therapy of some sort. A psychologist or social worker or other therapist will work with you to help you through your period of grief. This will involve talking about your relationship with your mother: past present and future (yes, you can have an ongoing relationship with the memory of your mother), as well as discussion of how your mother’s death influences your ability to survive in the world (e.g., if you were dependent on her for money, intimate discussion, etc., at some point you’ll have to learn to do without or find some sort of replacement that you (and your mother) can have approved of. The Psychologist/Social Worker/Therapist may (if it is indicated) send you to a psychiatrist for medication.


p> Clinicians of all sorts vary in quality and suitability for your unique personality. It is often best to get a recommendation for someone good from a friend or family member. If you cannot do this, just open the phone book and work with the first clinician you can find who will see you. Odds are that he or she will be okay, and it is more important that you have some support right now then that you get the relationship perfect on the first try. If you don’t like that clinician, find another one and try again.


p> If you are a member of a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious congregation, consider that your religious leader and the congregation members may be able to help you deal with your loss as well. Good luck to you in coping through these hard times.

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