Author Topic: PSD For 16 Year Old?  (Read 51 times)

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Offline rwestlake67

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PSD For 16 Year Old?
« on: Today at 08:52:21 AM »

I have been recently looking into service dogs and I'm wondering your opinions on it.

I am 16 (and in high school) and I have pretty severe anxiety and have been recently diagnosed with bipolar depression too. I was first diagnosed with anxiety about 2.5-3 years ago and have been trying (and switching around) medicines on and off since then. I was originally said to have social anxiety disorder, but it has turned into severe general anxiety (diagnosed by my doctor, not me).

I have an especially hard time in school and in crowded or loud public places, though I do feel acute anxiety almost constantly.  I get panic attacks a lot and find it hard to sit still (I am very jittery when I'm nervous and anxious, which is pretty much all the time).  My anxiety get a lot worse when I am stressed and I get stressed very easily, which obviously doesn't help! This is even with the medicines, though they do somewhat lessen my symptoms and make everything a little easier.

Here's the problem, though: so far, every medicine I've tried has given my really bad side effects.  Some have made me very nauseous, some made me dizzy to the point that I'm afraid I will pass out and I struggle to concentrate, and some just don't seem to help at all.  I've tried pretty much everything my doctor and psychiatrist have recommended and none seem to work well enough. 

Also, I have tried seeing a therapist and some of their methods do help (like breathing exercises, for example), but again, not to the point I think I could (and should) be at.  I think a PSD would help me recognize the onset of a panic attack because sometimes they happen quickly and randomly for me, and would be able to help snap me out of one, and could potentially be a buffer in crowded places.  I also think that just the presence of the dog will calm me (especially since I love animals and the presence of my pets at home do seem to help). 

So, my question is: does it seem like a psychiatric service dog would be right for me? Is it possible to use a service dog to help cope so I can get off of the medications? Any advice and/or thoughts are appreciated!

Offline ccunnin3

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Re: PSD For 16 Year Old?
« Reply #1 on: Today at 03:27:29 PM »
I'm sure someone else can explain to you tasks vs emotional support but I wanted to chime in about treatment. Therapy tasks time. I didn't see measurable results for a year (and 3 therapists later). It's a process not a magic cure. So before you go looking for a PSD, make sure you have given treatment a fair try.
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Offline SandyStern

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Re: PSD For 16 Year Old?
« Reply #2 on: Today at 04:44:34 PM »

You're young, and you have only recently been diagnosed.  We have some forum members who have been where you are, and I hope they will offer their experiences to you as a guide, but I can give you some information. First, my understanding is that many mental health conditions change rapidly as you go from a teenager to a young adult.  By the time a dog was trained for you, your needs will be different.

Second, I have no experience with mental illness personally, but from what forum members have written here, it seems to me that PSDs are not recommended until you have made progress in your recovery. When you are stable and know what you need to manage your condition, then you will be able to pinpoint tasks that a dog could do for you to bridge gaps.

If you poke around on the PSD board, I think you'll find helpful information.


Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: PSD For 16 Year Old?
« Reply #3 on: Today at 06:30:53 PM »
My needs were initially psych related, but here lately my treatment team and I have been exploring the nature of my symptoms and with my recent autism diagnosis more symptoms are being attributed to my ASD than to my psychiatric disabilities.

I have been in treatment, both medication and therapy for about a decade. I've tried a lot of medications and therapists. I don't even remember the names of most of them (I've had at least over a dozen therapists and I can't estimate the meds). I went through a year of intensive in home therapy which meant six hours of therapy a week for a year, on medication, with no improvement. I really thought I had no options and that my life was going to mean being incredibly anxious and severely depressed forever.

And then I made a series of lifestyle changes, and gained autonomy of myself. I made my own decisions and decided what to do.

I had been in cognitive behavioral therapy for the entirety of my treatment, and I was sick of it. Super sick. I didn't have access to varied therapies because of my location and ability to travel. I tried everything I had available including acupuncture and herbal medicine.

When I was hospitalized the most recent time I went in knowing exactly which practice I wanted to be referred to upon discharge, and I knew I wanted to do dialectical behavior therapy instead of CBT but I was unlikely to have that opportunity just calling to set up an appointment. Having the hospital set up my appointment really put a rush on the whole process.

I really enjoy my current therapist, and my prescribing doctor is awesome. I am on a mix of medications, some I've taken before but mostly new ones. I am rapidly regaining function and have been applying for jobs which is something I've never even been capable of doing. Ever.

If my only issues were psychiatric then I don't know that I'd have a service dog. I am still disabled by MI but there's not a lot a dog could do for my psych stuff. What I'm in need of now is mostly related to sensory processing. I'm still anxious but not nearly as anxious as I have been in the past. I get tired easily but I'm not depressed and getting out of the bed is not a struggle for me anymore.

Therapy and medication are treatment for your disability. They can possibly cure your disorder or greatly decrease the impact of your symptoms. A service dog can not cure anything. A service dog is there to mitigate the permanent symptoms of your disability that are "left over" from treatment.

I am of the opinion that treatment should be a priority and that a service dog should be a consideration after you and your team have determined that your symptoms likely will not improve beyond their current state.

Being freshly diagnosed - there are a lot of med combos and therapies and even therapists to try before it can be determined that you can't improve further.

You're still young and you have a lot of maturing to do physically. Your brain is still developing and by the time you are an adult your disability may not be very disabling or even noticeable anymore. Some people continue to have psychiatric disabilities as adults, obviously, but most teenagers with even severe mental health problems improve greatly when hormones cease to wreck their emotions and they learn to adapt to and work around their symptoms. I'm not dismissing you, I'm sharing that your current level of function probably won't be the same in two years when you'd get your dog, and certainly won't be the same when you're twenty or twenty five.

I'd take a crack at different meds, different therapies, or different therapists first but that's what I tell most people considering a PSD.
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