THIS MONTH’S PROFESSIONALS

Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D.

Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D.

Clinical Psychology

Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D. Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist, family therapist and the author of the book, The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers—Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent (Guilford, 2006). As a clinician, he specializes in helping families cope with serious and chronic medical illnesses. As an educator, he works as the Director of Behavioral Sciences for the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, PA and has had adjunct faculty positions with the Temple University School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the Department of Psychology of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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This Month’s Questions & Answers

  • Sangpanh
    Sangpanh, SUPPORT NETWORK Member Asks
    Q.

    "My boyfriend of over 5 years had a heart attack at the age of 27. He isn’t on any drugs just a young man with a poor diet who was chain smoker. He had his heart attack on march 9th and had 2 arties clogged. Thankfully we made in into the ER in time where he then had to get a stent placed in. I understand he is struggling with this new life style now that he has to adjust his entire life. He’s quit cigarettes cold turkey since then. But I feel that his diet and his alcohol intake could be better. I tell myself every single day that it will get better. But emotionally it’s been getting harder. I can’t stress it enough on how he should’ve be grateful that he’s able to wake up and see another day. But it kills me inside that he isn’t concern about his diet and alcohol intake. The doctor gave us specific details tht he should only have 1 beer. But. I find him drinking 4 occasionally. I can’t sleep because I am always worried about his health. I just wish that this happened to me because when it comes to health he’s very ignorant nor cares to making any adjustments with diet and finding a new job that fits his health. I can’t stress enough and I can’t stop thinking about me not being able to live with myself if another episode to recurrent."

    A.

    Your boyfriend is very fortunate to have you in his corner. This sounds like it has been a time of crisis and change for both of you. He has changed significantly—quitting chain-smoking is a tall order—but not enough to give you the assurance he is doing all he can to safeguard his health. Rather than remind him constantly about his eating and drinking and probably make him feel like you are nagging him, I suggest two strategies:
    --Write him a hand-written letter in which you express how much you care for him and how much his health and happiness mean to you. Ask him to take better of himself for his sake and yours.
    --If you don’t think that direct approach would work, then I suggest you send a letter or leave a voicemail for your boyfriend’s cardiologist to inform him about your concerns for your boyfriend’s diet and alcohol intake. Let the doctor then do the dirty work of confronting your boyfriend about his health habits.
    As the Serenity Prayer says, though, you will have to ultimately accept what you cannot change. If your boyfriend is ready to do more to help himself, then he will. If he isn’t and has more health problems, it will be extremely regrettable but not your fault. Really.
    Thank you, Dr. Barry Jacobs

  • Allie117
    Allie117, SUPPORT NETWORK Member Asks
    Q.

    "I experience bipolar 2, ptsd, depression and anxiety. But what works best for depression? Because I am taking prozac for bipolar 2, but it doesn't help depression even with a higher dose"

    A.

    The treatment guidelines for Bipolar II Disorder call for an antidepressant (such as Prozac) and a mood stabilizer (such as Depakote or Abilify). Using the antidepressant without the mood stabilizer won’t work nearly as well for reducing depressive symptoms. I suggest you ask your prescribing provider to review your medication regimen. You may also want to consider psychotherapy as an adjunctive therapy. I hope you feel better soon!—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer, co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

  • Myheart66
    Myheart66, SUPPORT NETWORK Member Asks
    Q.

    "My husband is hearing impaired and sometimes it really stresses me out. What's the best way to handle it without getting frustrated with him. Thank you."

    A.

    Patience is more than a virtue. It is a skill learned with increased awareness and practice. So long as your husband is willing to wear hearing aids and do all he can to make it easier for you to communicate with him then his remaining hearing impairment is just going to be part of your relationship with him. You will have to adapt by choosing only quiet places in which to talk and regularly increase the volume of your voice.
    On the other hand, If he won’t get aids or wear the ones he has, then I suggest having a frank but calm talk with him in which you state plainly that he is making you unhappy. I hope he will then accept making changes for your sake and your marriage.—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer, co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

  • PattiePitts
    PattiePitts, SUPPORT NETWORK Member Asks
    Q.

    "I have a friend that had a stroke and she is having a very hard time at home. She has the at home therapy etc but she is pivoting into the depressed, crying because she can't do what she use to. Her stroke left her left side unusable her eye, arm and leg which is getting a little better but her husband is in a wheelchair also and he is overwhelmed with doing all the housework, cleaning, washing clothes etc. It has been exhausting for both of them--they have tricare prime so putting her in a nursing home is out they don't cover it. They live in Warner Robins, GA and I am trying to find someone that can help them out. They have an adopted teen 14 years old --which has add, adhd--she just shuts it all out. They don't have a computer either that is why I am asking...if anybody can refer me to anybody that can help them..please let me know..quickly Thank you"

    A.

    You are a good friend to be trying to help them. Their situation is obviously very difficult. They need several types of help:
    --A social worker from Veterans Affairs or the Georgia Department of Public Assistance may be able to help them get increased insurance coverage to pay for other in-home support services.
    --A licensed clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse or clinical psychologist through the home care agency that’s providing therapy may be able to evaluate your friend for depression and then initiate effective treatments.
    --A case worker from the Georgia Division of Children and Families may be able to provide support services to all the family members to keep this family intact.
    --Most of all, though, they need a guide through our complicated social services and healthcare systems. Sometimes insurance company care managers can play that role.
    Your friend’s problems are complex. She will need to be patient. She will need you to stick by her as she slowly tries to rebuild her life.—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer and co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

  • Sunshine12
    Sunshine12, SUPPORT NETWORK Member Asks
    Q.

    "I am newly diagnosed with AFib, I am having anxiety because it was a frightening experience. I find myself checking my pulse rate and breathing throughout the day, HELP! I want this to stop..."

    A.

    It is not unusual for people with atrial fibrillation, as well as many other heart conditions, to develop uncontrollable worries about their health. We call this marked tendency towoard worry “anxiety.” Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of severe anxiety is to have a racing heart—something which only would only make your afib symptoms worse! What would be most helpful is to realize that afib isn’t likely to kill you every time you feel your heart skipping or racing. Your anxiety would then dissipate. This usually takes increased familiarity with this new reality of your heart condition—and that takes time. However, if you continue to respond with anxiety every time you feel your afib symptoms, then it would be advisable to meet with you physician to be assessed for an anxiety disorder. We have very good pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments for anxiety that will help you worry much less and live with your afib much better.—Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., AHA volunteer and co-author of AARP

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