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Anxiety

Question:

Hi, I’m a young woman who has been suffering from what I feel is an anxiety disorder. I have tried to talk to family and friends but no one takes me seriously, they all say its normal cause everyone gets nervous… but I feel so nervous at points in time that i really can not think or speak. I feel nauseous and fearful of life. Its odd because most often I have physical symptoms although mentally I know everything is okay & theres not much to fear. My nerves stop me from enjoying my life sometimes even from doing certain things. Do you think this is a normal thing for a 21 year old girl, or should i seek help? Thanks.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Your family is correct that everyone gets nervous to some extent, but then again, there is normal nervousness and then there is nervousness that gets in the way of your life. For instance, people with social phobia are normal people, but their level of anxiety in particular social situations (dating, public speaking, etc. – its different for each person) is so excessive that they would rather avoid engaging in those activities then suffer the anxious feelings that would result. Whether or not you have a ‘disorder’ like social phobia I can’t say, but you are clearly reporting that you avoid things out of anxiety. Also – you don’t need to have a diagnosable disorder to benefit from psychotherapy.

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p> There are two basic approaches towards getting help for anxiety problems. The first and easiest involves getting medication for anxiety. I don’t recommend this approach (at least not all by itself) because if you lean on medicine to take away uncomfortable feelings, you don’t learn how to manage them yourself (you remain a child in this capacity), and also because many of the medications used for anxiety are highly addictive. The second approach is to enter into psychotherapy for anxiety problems. There are many kinds of psychotherapy out there and most of them don’t work well for anxiety. What you want specifically is ‘cognitive behavioral’ therapy for anxiety. This type of therapy tends to be the most focused and effective format for anxiety problems, so ask for it by name. Therapy involves no medications (so there is nothing to get addicted to), and tends to work as well as or better than medication treatment for anxiety problems if you engage it properly.<!

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Comments
  • Sarah

    Hi, My name is Sarah and im a 20 year old student. About 3 mths ago, i was watching the television one night and felt a pressure in my head i dismissed it as being tired but when i stood up i felt dizzy and very weak my face, arms and legs were very numb and i felt sick. I slept very unwell that night. When i woke up the next day i made a doctors appointment but i felt ok, suddenly just before i went i got that weak dizzy unwell sensation again..i went to the doctor who did a physical examination and could find nothing wrong. Later that night i felt so bad i had to be admitted to the emergency room who took blood tests and again said nothing was wrong. To cut a long story short i was admitted a week later for feeling so bad again ..this time i stayed for a week, I had many ecg's done, blood tests and gland tests and nothing showed up. I was sent home and told there was nothing wrong with me. 2 mths on i am on antidepressants presumed i am suffeing from an anxiety disorder and trying to cope. My symptions are dizziness, weakness, pressure in my head, muscle spasms especially at night and difficulty concentrating. Could this be MS?

    Editor's Note: These symptoms could be associated with an anxiety disorder (or conversion disorder more likely), but sound rather neurological to my (non-medically trained) mind. Muscular weakness is just not a common symptom of a mood or anxiety disorder, whereas peripheral weakness and numbness (and tingling pins and needles) is characteristic of MS and similar neurological conditions. I (Dr. Dombeck) would recommend evaluation by a board certified Neurologist who is experienced with MS diagnosis if that is what you are worried about. You also need to be able to rule out other neurological issues besides MS before you can be satisfied that you are dealing with a merely "mental" problem. MS diagnoses usually take time and require fairly extensive (and expensive) testing (e.g., MRI scans to look for neurological lesions (damage), spinal tap, etc. The bonus for detecting the illness early is that you can go on medications earlier (which to some extent slow down the progression of the illness). Please see http://www.acceleratedcure.org/ for more information on MS.

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