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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, Board Certified MD
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician, practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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For the past week or so I have been having a hard time

Resolved Question:

For the past week or so I have been having a hard time reaching a regular sleep pattern. School started on Monday, and prior to that I was falling asleep around 7 or 8, waking up at 4 or 5am and staying up the rest of the night only to repeat the process the next day. I now feel anxious about my sleep patterns and during the day I seem to feel a little "off." I have anxiety about my sleeping patterns, which causes me to lose sleep, which causes more anxiety and it seems to be a vicious cycle. Does this sound like insomnia?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.

Yes, this does sound like insomnia. I know how distressing insomnia can be.
There are different types of insomnia-the type you are experiencing is acute insomnia, also known as adjustment insomnia or transient insomnia. This type is typically temporary.

The treatment for your type of insomnia includes making sure you avoid caffeine, especially in the afternoon, avoid smoking, trying to exercise regularly, and trying to fall asleep for no more than 30 minutes. If you cannot sleep, get out of bed and do something. Then try again.

Here is some information for you regarding sleep hygiene:

Short term sleep aids can also be used--over the counters and prescription if necessary.
Melatonin is helpful for some people.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions and I will be happy to discuss further,

Dr Abby

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I also seem to be waking up every couple of hours even when I do get to sleep. I don't know if it is related, but this "off" feeling during the day is almost as if my perception has changed just a tiny bit. Things feel slightly strange and a little bit different than they did even as early as the beginning of the week, almost as if I'm slightly detached from things. Could this be related to my lack of sleep, or is this a warning sign of something else completely? Thanks!
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
Other than school, has anything stressful happened recently?
Have you been feeling depressed?

Dr abby
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The only other stressful thing is me and my girlfriend of 2.5 years are separated due to my schooling in Oregon and her schooling in Washington State.We have been separated beginning in June, but we spent nearly all of the last 3 weeks together. During the summer I seemed to deal with it ok but I wonder if being separated from her now may be contributing to my situation
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
It is very possible that is contributing, yes.

Whenever someone tells me they feel "detached" or off, one of the first things I wonder about is depression. Insomnia is also a very common symptom of depression as well.

With the recent stress/changes you have been going through, you may be going through a situational adjustment or a mild depression or it could be a more serious depression that will need to be addressed.

Other symptoms of depression include lack of interest in things you normally like to do, change in appetite (either increase or decrease), feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt.

I encourage you to discuss what is going on with the school doctor if your symptoms do not get better over the next week or if they worsen. School is hard enough without having to go through this...

Let me know if you have further thoughts or questions,

Dr Abby

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It is interesting that you mention depression because I have noticed intermitent loss of interest in things I like to do, and a lack of appetite, but I never thought of depression as the case. I feel more like there is a preoccupation with my problems sleeping and so rather than thinking about things I like to do and engaging in those activities, I am worrying about the way I've been feeling. I link that to my lack of sleep and voila, the vicious cycle continues. I have had similar feelings in the past when dealing with a particularly stressful situation, such as pending my acceptance to grad school, or the period before a large test, but there are no school related anxieties to speak of. Is this consistent with depression? Should I perhaps seek advice sooner?
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
this is consistent with depression.

It can be a vicious cycle with the sleep difficulties, just as you mention. If the sleep could be corrected, then your mood may improve.

Since your symptoms are intermittent, you may benefit from counseling. Medications (anti-depressants) can also be used, but I tend not to use them unless symptoms are persistent.

I would definitely seek advice sooner given what you have described.

I truly hope things improve soon for you,

Dr Abby

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry to ask so many questions, but I had one last thing to ask. The feeling of detachment I talk about seems to rise more from my preoccupation from the anxiety; I can't stop being anxious about the way I feel so I can't focus on what I'm doing or the conversation that I'm having, or even the TV show or movie I am watching. I'm constantly thinking "why do things seem different? why do my surroundings seem slightly different than they used to?" Is anxiety another symptom of depression? Thank you so much for your help, I appreciate it greatly and will follow up with my doctor here.

Eric Fowler
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.

Anxiety and depression commonly go hand in hand...
But, anxiety as you probably know, can exist alone as well.
I think you do need to explore why you are experiencing the altered sense of perception, whether it be depression or anxiety/lack of sleep, etc.

Once that gets sorted out, I think you will feel better.

Dr Abby

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is Depersonalization Disorder something I should be concerned about? Should I mention this to my doctor when I go to see them? The detachment I am feeling seems to fall somewhat under the symptoms of depersonalization. Thank you, ***** ***** accepted your answer and appreciate your help.
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
It is possible, but this disorder occurs without any triggers.

Feelings of depersonalization can occur with other disorders (anxiety or depression) so that would need to be sorted out (whether you have one of these going on).

I would mention everything you are feeling and experiencing to your doctor.

Dr Abby

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