Doctors Lounge - Psychiatry Answers
provided on www.doctorslounge.com is designed to support, not
replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site
visitor and his/her physician."
Back to Psychiatry Answers List
- Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:20 am
So, let take you back to where it all started.
I had a pretty happy childhood for the most part, but when I turned about 11 something happened to my brain. It was like a turnaround from being a happy child to being depressed all the time. Call it hormones if you will. Now, I had always been a shy kid, but when I was 12 shyness turned into social anxiety. I would sit there in the class and be exremely uncomfortable. I had a panic attack at 12 years old while sitting in class one day watching a film. I'm not sure where it even came from. It was like all of a sudden I started to feel VERY nervous - I was shaking, sweating, my heart was racing and pounding, I felt dizzy... I remember I felt like I was dying. Now tell me, is that normal for a 12 year old kid to go through? Anways, at 17 I am not as bad now but I still go through social anxiety and mood swings.
So... getting to the present. I go through daily stress and anxiety. And I don't know why. There isn't really anything going on in my life to make me anxious. I don't know if it's hormones, or what.
I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, but I know for a fact I have Social Anxiety Disorder - not extremely severe, mind you. I also feel like I have a mild form of Thanatophobia. Lately I have had this fear of dying. It all started several months ago, when I took too much of a certain drug (I'm not saying what it was) and it caused my heart to beat very fast. Like SUPER fast. I felt like I was gonna faint and like I was having a heart attack. Scared the ***** out of me. Ever since then I am a lot more careful. I don't do any drugs, or even really smoke cigarettes anymore. I won't drink coffee. I'm afraid of eating certain foods like cake because I'm afraid if I let my cholesterol get too high my blood pressure will get high and I'll have a heart attack. I don't know why I have these fears. But I think one reason I am scared of dying is because I am scared of going to hell. I am a born-again Christian, but sometimes I feel as though God is mad at me, and if I died He might not let me go to Heaven. It's also the fear of losing my family and everything I have here. It's like, I can't imagine my life without my family, or music... The things here on Earth that give me the greatest joy.
Now, about the OCD thing. Like I aleady mentioned I just get really anxious, usually about the stupidest, smallest things. I worry about stuff that I don't need to worry about. I repeatedly pray the same phrases in my head over and over, I can't stop doing that. I talk to myself in my head constantly (that might be normal). Sometimes, I just feel as if I'm going insane. Like last night, I was fine. Then I started getting stressed out over something stupid. The stress got so bad I started to feel faint so I tried to calm myself down and do something to occupy my mind. But I don't know, I just had these feelings like I was going insane and it really scared me.
I'm sorry my post is so long. But I don't have a therapist or anything (it'd be really hard for me to open up to someone in person, online you can be anonymous) but I figure maybe someone on here can give me some answers. What I want to know is is it just hormones? Is it normal for me to feel like this all the time? Or could I have a mental illness?
| Dr. E. Seigle
- Fri May 01, 2009 7:51 am
What you are experiencing is most definitely not "normal", nor just "hormones". It is not what most people experience, and it sounds very emotionally disruptive, frightening and exhausting. I imagine it distracts you from doing the things you want to do.
It does sound like you may have a cluster of genuine anxiety disorders; panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder are all possible, either alone or in combination with one another. People with anxiety disorders often receive more than one diagnosis; this doesn't mean that they actually have several conditions, but that the way we classify and diagnose mental health disorders is by grouping certain clusters of symptoms together, and these clusters (that are each represented by a separate diagnosis) appear like completely separate conditions. In reality, we think that there is a single process of brain functioning that is being regulated in an abnormal way that causes what we diagnose as separate disorders. This can be seen as a brain "chemical imbalance", involving the nerve chemicals called "serotonin" and "norepinephrine" (and others) that cause changes in the way the emotional centers of the brain works. These changes are thought to be treatable and reversible to normal functioning.
Often, people with anxiety disorders can also become depressed due to the stress of unrelenting anxiety; sometimes, depression also comes before or at the same time as the anxiety.
To answer your question, you do not appear to have any "mental illness". At the same time, your condition is likely to be "medical"; in other words, there are the changes in brain chemistry (described above) that contribute to your condition.
I understand that it can be unsettling and uncomfortable to see a mental health professional in person. However, perhaps if you understand that you are NOT "crazy", you are not causing the conditions that you have, and that these are medical conditions just as diabetes or high blood pressure, perhaps you may feel more comfortable with this. I would suggest that you consider seeing a well regarded psychiatrist in your vicinity to obtain an evaluation, recommendations and treatment.
It is likely that the psychiatrist will recommend a combination of talk psychotherapy and medication for the anxiety and /or depression conditions that he/she may diagnose. Remember that the medical aspect of your condition doesn't mean that talk therapy can't help. Talking about the right things, depending upon your diagnosis and your life experiences, has a big impact upon the anxiety disorders, in part by its direct impact upon what is happening in our brains. So, a medical condition doesn't mean that only medicine can be helpful. At the same time, often people need both talk therapy and medication to provide optimal treatment for anxiety (and other) mental health disorders.
I hope that this is helpful to you. To locate a psychiatrist, you can contact your family doctor, your local hospital, your local community mental health center, department of health, or friends/relatives who have seen a psychiatrist, to get names of well regarded psychiatrists in your vicinity.
Good luck! -E. Seigle MD