Medical Specialty >> Psychiatry

Doctors Lounge - Psychiatry Answers

Back to Psychiatry Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: OCD / Depression / Anxiety issues mixed with severe Medical

 chins01 - Wed May 28, 2008 10:26 pm

My mother has been suffering from severe OCD and depression for about 15 years. She suffers from constant panic attacks and all sorts of phobias and her condition is seriously debilitating. She rarely leaves the house, she won't use the phone or computer, watch television or communicate with the outside world in any way. There are four people in the entire world that she will speak to (relatives) and most communication is very hostile. She doesn't have a job and is clearly not self sufficient.

The base cause of the problems seems to come from a terrible medical phobia that started after a loved ones death. Any word that relates to anything medical (written or verbal) causes loss of all rationale, complete panic, washing, and throwing out anything in contact with her when she saw/heard it. The word doesn't even have to be medical - if it sounds like something medical or makes her think of something medical those are off limits too (ex: hospiitality, sounds like hospital).

She is absolutely unbearable to deal with and is now causing stress related health problems in her caregiver. She needs drugs and cognitive behavior therapy. She is well aware that there is a problem but refuses treatment. Her reactions are so severe that (short of calling the cops to have her committed) we can't get her to medical treatment. We've tried everything to get her to seek medical attention herself but the medical phobia makes it impossible to convince her to do anything voluntartily. We've tried hypnosis, we've spoken to medical professionals on her behalf, we even tried dressing up a doctor as a priest and seeing if she'd at least speak to him since he's very religious (she wouldn't). All medical professionals we've consulted with have advised against calling the cops and doing something forcibly because they don't believe she'll continue any treatment on her own after she's released and they think this will only cause more agitation. Yet they don't offer any solutions....

This situation can't go on like this forever and I've run out of crazy ideas to get her to seek medical help. I'm at a complete loss on how to move forward at this point. Any ideas would be most helpful. I'm all for alternative methods ( like hypnosis...although that didn't work). What can i do without a prescription? I just need something that will get her to the point where she'll voluntarily seek treatment.

Desperately seeking advice....

 Dr. E. Seigle - Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:28 pm

Hi chins101,

Your mother sounds like she is in a very difficult situation, as are you. The best thing may be to have your mother committed to a hospital, if she meets the criteria for this in your state. In general, someone being "substantially unable to care for themselves" is often a criterion for involuntary committment, in addition to being suicidal or homicidal. You might want to find out what the law is in your state; if she is committable, it is possible that after she is treated, she will be open to out-patient treatment, or in some states, people can be committed to out-patient treatment. Good luck!

-E. Seigle MD
 chins01 - Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:48 pm

I've looked into this option but everyone I've spoken with has advised against it. We're in NY state where there are a lot of laws concerning doing anything involuntarily. I spoke to a local psychiatrist and was told that even if we were to try this option they could only hold her for a week or two at most - which, based on other cases, probably wouldn't be long enough to get her to see a different view point and accept treatment voluntarily. Then we'd end up back where we started from - but worse because she wouldn't trust anyone either.

The other concern is that since she is almost 70 and hasn't seen a doctor is so many years, we don't know what else is wrong with her physically. I was told that doing something like this, we'd also be risking inducing other problems since the medical phobia could cause other stress induced physical problems if put into such an intense situation.

Are there any other alternatives left? I was looking into over the counter or homeopathic options (St. John's Wart tea etc.). Is there anything else like this I could try that might at least lessen the symptoms if nothing else?


| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us