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Thread: Mental health during lockdown

  1. #1
    Craftsman
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    Mental health during lockdown

    I could really do with some advice on my brother's situation .He is 50, decent physical health and has Asperger's .He also suffers from anxiety attacks .These are always centered around being unable to breath ,suffocating to death and the walls closing in .They usually happen at night just after he has gone to bed or when he wakes up during the night .He gets up in panic and will often dress and leave the house to walk around outside in the flesh air for a while .Generally this would help and he would be able to relax and sleep .

    They used to happen maybe once a month now over last few months have increased to 2/3 times a week .He can't sleep all night can't relax .The walks aren't helping .He has been phoning me in a panic begging me for help and I don't know what to do .

    He has no partner or friends always been a loner .He usually would go to a club for people with Asperger's twice a week .go out with a support worker 1/2 times a week .He visits my parents and myself several times a week .Obviously that is all off the agenda now and him sitting in alone 12 hours a day and going over things in his mind with no distractions is making things worse .
    Sorry for the long post and iam well aware there is many people suffering in worse situations at this time .I was wondering if anybody has any practical advice to help with the immediate situation



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  2. #2
    Would a FaceTime call be better where he can actually see you on the other end of the phone ?
    whatsapp or messenger
    Last edited by Franky Four Fingers; 2nd April 2020 at 07:40.

  3. #3
    This must be an appalling situation for your brother and your family. Have you tried contacting MInd for advice? +44-300-123-3393.


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  4. #4
    Craftsman
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    I would reach out to mental health organisations if possible. This is very tricky, I had a lot of fairly bad problems when I was younger for many years and I only solved it myself by greatly changing my lifestyle, habits and people I was around. But it sounds like this is more serious and needs people with experience and skills in this area....

  5. #5
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    What about him isolating with you or his parents?

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  6. #6
    Craftsman
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    Thank you so much for advice .I phoned up some mental health helplines they said they get back to me soon

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  7. #7
    I guess everyone is different as I have Asperger's (as does my son) and not being around lots of people (because I am working from ) has massively lowered my stress levels.

    That said it is a common misconception that people with Asperger's like to be isolated from people, but this doesn't mean that they can still feel lonely.

    So I can understand yours Brother's anxiety. As others have suggested there is FaceTime or Skype to keep in touch and many Messenger apps.

    Does your brother have some I interests or hobbies? We "Aspies" have interests and hobbies that can easily become obsessions. Are there plenty of things to keep him amused. Luckily Amazon and Postal deliveries are running almost normally if you need to get books, hobby items etc.

    Medication.Has your brother contacted his GP (you can still do this online with an E consultation. I have a repeat prescription for Citalopram, that I can take if my Anxiety starts to peak. It really helps!!

    Finally, I am a member of the National Autistic Society Community forum, which might help?

    Anyway, best of luck to you and your brother

  8. #8
    if hes waking up gasping for breath it might be a good idea to get him tested for sleep apnea.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by pugster View Post
    if hes waking up gasping for breath it might be a good idea to get him tested for sleep apnea.
    Totally agree !!

  10. #10
    Craftsman
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    My brother got telephone appointment with gp.he explained situation and she gave him a prescription of propranolol for anxiety .He can pick it up tomorrow.he feels much the same now ,not in a good place







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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by misterzero View Post
    My brother got telephone appointment with gp.he explained situation and she gave him a prescription of propranolol for anxiety .He can pick it up tomorrow.he feels much the same now ,not in a good place
    I'm surprised about being treated with a Beta blocker - yes they will help, because they block the release of Adrenaline into the body (I actually have a repeat for Propranolol too, but for something else).
    It's not going to help your Brother's mental state, just his physical symptoms of anxiety.
    It really sounds like he should be on a low dose of antidepressants, which would quell the anxiety?

  12. #12
    Craftsman
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    It could be an idea for him or you to contact his club to see if they are able to take their meetings online. If others were benefiting from the regular contact then your brother won't be the only one missing the meetings.

  13. #13
    Craftsman daggartuk's Avatar
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    So sorry to hear about your circumstances which I can only imagine bust be heart wrenching for you and your brother. I'm a psychiatric nurse and whilst I have little experience of Asperger's syndrome, I am very familiar with anxiety and supporting people with challenging needs. It is a good first step to reach out to the GP for support - this is probably going to be a multi-faceted approach. I would imagine that the structure and routine in your brothers life has changed beyond recognition which must be very scary. Perhaps explore with him a way of devising a structure to his day consisting of things he enjoys and is familiar with - you could write it down as a care plan or put together a short video with instructions and ideas. I'm sure you already know that you will have to communicate very clearly so allow him time to adjust to new ways of interacting and give plenty of reassurance. Beyond this, compassion, kindness and empathy are always central and go a long way. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

  14. #14
    Craftsman
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    Thanks again for the good advice we are taking it all on board

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  15. #15
    Master Gullers's Avatar
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    I know itís basics but fresh air and excercise often help, not the answer but help.

    Would he consider any type of home exercise? It might at least take his mind of it for a while...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by daggartuk View Post
    So sorry to hear about your circumstances which I can only imagine bust be heart wrenching for you and your brother. I'm a psychiatric nurse and whilst I have little experience of Asperger's syndrome, I am very familiar with anxiety and supporting people with challenging needs. It is a good first step to reach out to the GP for support - this is probably going to be a multi-faceted approach. I would imagine that the structure and routine in your brothers life has changed beyond recognition which must be very scary. Perhaps explore with him a way of devising a structure to his day consisting of things he enjoys and is familiar with - you could write it down as a care plan or put together a short video with instructions and ideas. I'm sure you already know that you will have to communicate very clearly so allow him time to adjust to new ways of interacting and give plenty of reassurance. Beyond this, compassion, kindness and empathy are always central and go a long way. Best wishes and good luck to you all.
    So I'm a mental health professional who works specifically with adults with Asperger syndrome & this is good advice. I'd also suggest that his GP needs to a) consider low dose SSRIs (as another poster has suggested) - sertraline is the current drug du jour for good reason, and b) refer him to his local primary mental health team for CBT. They'll still be operating during this time, but there may be a waiting list, and they'll most likely offer therapy via Skype which might actually be a good thing. In the meantime, it sounds like he's experiencing anxiety/panic attacks, and there are lots of good self-help CBT-based resources available online. Do a search & see art you can find. Finally, flag this up as a priority with his support worker - they have a duty of care to help him access support for it. Emphasise any risks (also to his GP), as this is what gets people's attention. Feel free to message me if that would help.

  17. #17
    Grand Master Velorum's Avatar
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    Another Aspergers here.

    Social distancing is no great problem to me but my stress levels havent lowered mainly due to disruption of my routine, the uncertain future and general anxiety about the situation. I have to work hard not to become too fixated / focused on C stats etc. A tricky balancing act when I also function as a clinician.

    I agree with above advice about attempting to structure a new routine and focusing on preferred interests.

    I work from home about half of the time and one new norm for me is video calls either to individuals or groups. I find these much better than conference calls as I can better use the visual prompts that I have learnt to use over the years to navigate the various peculiarities and confusion of communication with others.

    So I would suggest focusing on routine, interests and possible video calls at routine times.

    Also - good suggestion re the NAS forum, there are some supportive people on there. I drop in there from time to time but don't post. My forum of choice is 'Wrong Planet' - an interesting and at times eccentric place that has some very thoughtful and helpful members. I like it there.

    I hope that things settle soon for him.

    Ian
    ''I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the
    purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis"

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Velorum View Post
    Another Aspergers here.

    Social distancing is no great problem to me but my stress levels havent lowered mainly due to disruption of my routine, the uncertain future and general anxiety about the situation. I have to work hard not to become too fixated / focused on C stats etc. A tricky balancing act when I also function as a clinician.

    I agree with above advice about attempting to structure a new routine and focusing on preferred interests.

    I work from home about half of the time and one new norm for me is video calls either to individuals or groups. I find these much better than conference calls as I can better use the visual prompts that I have learnt to use over the years to navigate the various peculiarities and confusion of communication with others.

    So I would suggest focusing on routine, interests and possible video calls at routine times.

    Also - good suggestion re the NAS forum, there are some supportive people on there. I drop in there from time to time but don't post. My forum of choice is 'Wrong Planet' - an interesting and at times eccentric place that has some very thoughtful and helpful members. I like it there.

    I hope that things settle soon for him.

    Ian
    ...I just hate using phones and prefer 1:1 contact. I find it a lot easier, although I am not looking at their facial expressions but looking directly at their eyes..

  19. #19
    Grand Master Velorum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by odyseus10 View Post
    ...I just hate using phones and prefer 1:1 contact. I find it a lot easier, although I am not looking at their facial expressions but looking directly at their eyes..
    I am hopeless with conference calls and have to work very hard to keep up. My attention will wander very quickly and I feel very disengaged. On the plus side I dont have to worry about my personal space being invaded and the awful eye contact issue.

    I trained myself in my late teens to focus on eye contact - or more accurately the illusion of eye contact. I either focus at the persons forehead or kind of look straight through them. If I'm feeling particularly stressed or anxious even that's a struggle.

    Work related conversations are much easier as I am focused on things that I know well and like. Interactions outside of this are far trickier apart from my family especially if the dreaded 'small talk' and chit chat is required.
    ''I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the
    purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis"

  20. #20
    Master Xantiagib's Avatar
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    every aspie is different and we have different anxiety triggers.... my two cents on this would be:

    keep the routine up - get plenty of excercise, enough to keep you sleeping through the night

    avoid the news and indulge in hobbies like lego, jigsaws etc...

    eat healthy and not sure about propanolo for anxiety - its a beta blocker and only good for short term use and you need to wean off it

    I'd recommend some 'herbal' alternatives (yes CBD )

    PS I hate video calls too - though have learned to keep still and listen and thats all i can do - sharing my desktop and cutting the video feed to me and I come alive again
    Last edited by Xantiagib; 3rd April 2020 at 16:30.

  21. #21
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    He managed to get a small amount of sleep last night and seems a bit calmer today .hopefully things slowly improving .thanks again for all the help and advice

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  22. #22
    Having not had any anxiety attack for 18 years they came back these last few weeks mainly due to me being unable to visit my partner in isolation as we waited 5 days for her CV19 test result (thankfully negative) We are still apart as she is classed as vulnerable.

    Got a bit of a shock when they returned but I soon realised what it was and that waking up drenched in sweat and numb face was not Coronavirus! I found reading the info at nomorepanic.org.uk a great help and reaffirming what a panic attack is means you can understand what the physical symptoms are and be able to deal with them (for the unaware they do not involve running around in a flap, itís a hit of adrenaline that is triggered by the subconscious and with no outlet for the adrenaline results in the sweats/racing heartbeat/tingling hands/numbness etc)
    Took me a couple of days to get them under control but have had a few in my sleep last couple of days, I know I have had them because I get the most amazing detailed epic dreams that go on forever and wake up exhausted despite having had hours of sleep due to the mental energy used in the dreaming!

    I totally understand how they can take over peoples lives and seem like a never ending spiral but they can be dealt with once you break the circle of attack-more worry-attack. The key is to understand that the trigger isnít based on logic just some primal fight or flight mechanisms that get switched on for no useful reason.
    I hope your brother gets them under control.

  23. #23
    Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    OP, I'm sorry to hear this.

    Would I be right in saying that some of the specialist recommendations for lifestyle / routine on this thread could possibly help others, not just those at whom they were directed?

    I also wish I'd seen this before I started the BP thread about tips on dealing with results of pressure / stress in current circumstances, as I think there may be some overlap.

  24. #24
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by odyseus10 View Post
    I guess everyone is different as I have Asperger's (as does my son) and not being around lots of people (because I am working from ) has massively lowered my stress levels.

    That said it is a common misconception that people with Asperger's like to be isolated from people, but this doesn't mean that they can still feel lonely.

    So I can understand yours Brother's anxiety. As others have suggested there is FaceTime or Skype to keep in touch and many Messenger apps.

    Does your brother have some I interests or hobbies? We "Aspies" have interests and hobbies that can easily become obsessions. Are there plenty of things to keep him amused. Luckily Amazon and Postal deliveries are running almost normally if you need to get books, hobby items etc.

    Medication.Has your brother contacted his GP (you can still do this online with an E consultation. I have a repeat prescription for Citalopram, that I can take if my Anxiety starts to peak. It really helps!!

    Finally, I am a member of the National Autistic Society Community forum, which might help?

    Anyway, best of luck to you and your brother

    That's interesting. I thought that citalopram and the like took a couple of weeks to kick in??

  25. #25
    Grand Master Velorum's Avatar
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    In addition to the NAS on line forum I would recommend 'Wrong Planet' - an ASD forum with a more international feel.
    ''I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the
    purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis"

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