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Dear Doctor--

I can't stop thinking about death. I am not suicidal. I don't want to hurt myself or other, It just seems like these days, it impossible to be safe. Everything in my life is perfect except for the feeling that myself or one of my kids or my husband is going to die. I keep finding myself watching the news for fatal accidents and house fires. I scan the internet searching for the worst headlines and visiting memorial websites. I even read the obituaries before anything else in the newspaper and look for the youngest people and then compare them to my family members of the same age.

I just recently had a baby, and I remember feeling this way years ago after my last pregnancy, but it wasn't this bad. Most nights I lie awake worrying that something horrible will happen to someone I love. I wake up in the morning exhausted and with a sore jaw (from clenching my teeth). All of my dreams are about fighting attackers or getting into gun battles, but I can never win. I'm getting to the point, where I feel like I have to control my family to keep them safe, i.e. I have to drive instead of my husband (fear of traffic accidents), I don't even like my kids to got outside even to our fenced backyard (fear of child predators, poisonous spiders, loose attacking pit-bulls, etc), and I find myself driving by my kid's school while I'm working (fear of school shootings and kidnappings).

I just wish I could turn my brain off for a few hours because my imagination is extremely detailed and overactive and these thoughts lurk at the back of my mind almost every waking moment. I suppose some of this must come from my job, I am a police officer, but I have had this fears long before this job, they are just more intense now.

Any suggestions? I have not said anything to anyone because I don't want to scare or depress them, besides most of my friends and family seem to go through life in happy little bubbles, seemingly ignorant of all the dangers and dangerous people in the world. I don't want this to affect my kids or family.



I do think that some of your worries may stem from your occupation. Police officers, like psychotherapists, have to be more realistic about the bad things that can happen than many other people who, as you wrote, " seem to go through life in happy little bubbles." However, I am wondering if you might be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have just written about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in response to another ask the psychologist letter, and I suggest that you read it to see if it rings a bell.

I do want to point out that without a personal interview I cannot make any kind of diagnosis, so my suspicion about OCD is just that, a suspicion and not a certainty.

In any case, I strongly suggest that you seek psychological counseling, for whether or not you have OCD, you should not be suffering to this extent without help. I imagine that your police department will have some kind of arrangement for such counseling, and I urge you to make use of it.

Be well,


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page last modified April 1, 2007

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