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Ask Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Marriage & Family Therapist/Prof. Counselor for 20 years
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About two weeks ago, I had a panic attack in my Master's

Resolved Question:

Hi There, About two weeks ago, I had a panic attack in my Master's seminar when the word 'indoctrination' was mentioned. After that day, I spent two mornings worry about mind control, conspiracy theories etc and felt panicked that I might believe them. I went to a drop-in counselor at my University and was told it sounded like excessive rumination. After, I felt better  (and am  no longer concerned by these in the least), but suddenly, similar thoughts returned and have caused me to become rather incapacitated -- I haven't been able to work or go to school for the course of the week. While I am no longer concerned about mind control etc, I seem to be questioning reality - everything from whether I exist, or what is life, or what if there really is a matrix? I know these thoughts in part seem illogical, but because I have been thinking them so much, they sometimes seem logical or real -- this scares me. I can't seem to stop thinking them and I can't concentrate. I am worried I might be developing psychosis or schizophrenia. Conversely, I am concerned these thoughts/doubts will never go away and I wont be able to live my life as before.

Consequently, I feel quite hopeless at the moment. I have been able to shower and eat (thought I've lost weight) and my friends haven't seemed to noticed a change in the way I talk, walk etc. (except my two friends who I am sharing my worries with because this is all I seem to talk about, but they both don't seem overly concerned) I am looking for any answers. I was diagnosed with severe-moderate/ borderline severe depression last week and started taking anti-depressants three days ago.

Will this end?! Is this normal? I'm just looking for hope and an explanation -- and feel like my appointment with my therapist is too far away.

Thank you
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 6 years ago.
Ask Eleanor :

Hello, I see you are offline now and I will be leaving the site for the evening shortly. I know you are concerned and I want to help. Let's chat tomorrow.

Customer:

What time tomorrow?

Ask Eleanor :

I am on site now. Chat back when you are ready.

Customer:

Hi

Customer:

I am here

Ask Eleanor :

Hi, please tell me how you are feeling right now and the thoughts you are having.

Customer:

I didn't sleep at all, had night mares when I did fall asleep and was filled with anxiety.

Customer:

I am not having any thoughts this morning, except that I might be going crazy, because there is that linger doubt in the back of my mind.

Ask Eleanor :

I am very sorry to hear this. What are you feeling most anxious about?

Customer:

Ive been having panic attacks nearly everynight

Ask Eleanor :

Are you now feeling anxious that you will have a panic attack?

Customer:

I have developed this bizzare worry that I the world might not be real (although how is that possible) , as well as I fear I have early psychosis or schizophrenia, or that I won't feel normal again.

Customer:

Then I worry I will be scared about the medication or something, like in the matrix. Its awful

Ask Eleanor :

I don't believe you are out of touch with reality, You are suffering from extreme anxiety with associated obsessive thoughts and panic attacks. Is there mental illness in your family?

Customer:

No.

Customer:

My dad has anxiety, as does my half-sister.

Customer:

No schizophrenia or psychosis on either side.

Ask Eleanor :

Okay, then you have anxiety, which is very treatable. So can you begin to let go of the idea that you may have schizophrenia or be psychotic?

Customer:

Can this be cured? It's on my mind 24hrs it seems and ruining my life. Its only been two weeks, but I'm exhausted and cant decipher what is real/feels real.

Customer:

What can I do?

Ask Eleanor :

Anxiety and panic attacks respond well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and sometimes medication is also needed. CBT is short-term solution focused therapy with a specific goal of behavior change. Just a moment and I will find you some resources.

Customer:

Because of the nature of my worry and the extent I am doubting, are your certain that I am not developing schizophrenia or psychosis? I have been on the verge of admitting myself to the hospital

Customer:

Do others experience this?

Ask Eleanor :

Well, nothing is 100%, but I am 99.99% sure that you are not developing either. Yes, others experience obsessive thoughts related to anxiety and have panic attacks. You have been reading about the symptoms schizophrenia, haven't you?

Customer:

Yes.

Customer:

But I am most concerned that I am doubting reality, all the time. I don't want to live my life with this constant doubt.

Ask Eleanor :

Thought so, you have developed obsessive thoughts about the possibility that you may have schizophrenia which are triggering your panic attacks. Schizophrenics don't doubt reality, they live in a different reality. The fact that you are able to doubt shows that you are not schizo. Stop reading about it! Here are links to information about anxiety:

http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/anxiety.htm

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/anxiety/gad.html Read over this info while I am bringing up links for CBT therapy.

Customer:

Ok thank you.

Customer:

Would I be able to tell if I was developing either pysch or schizo? Im afraid I already believe my doubts or will believe

Ask Eleanor :

You last reponse is a symptom of your obsessive thoughts. Did you read the material about anxiety?

Customer:

Yes maam.

Ask Eleanor :

Could you relate to any of the symptoms described. Did you take the screening test?

Customer:

Yes

Customer:

most

Ask Eleanor :

Okay, then I want you to start reading that information over and over when the anxious thoughts about having a serious mental health condition arise. Here is a link for an online CBT program: http://www.online-therapy.com You would chose the anxiety program. Look over this while I search for CBT therapist for you. Where do you live in Canada?

Customer:

in coquitlam, british columbia

Customer:

thank you

Ask Eleanor :

Okay, I'll chat back with some resources in a few minutes.

Customer:

thank you

Ask Eleanor :

Here are 2, I will find a couple more. Just a moment.

Customer:

Thank you very much. This is an awful time in my life.

Ask Eleanor :

Choose one of the above and call tomorrow for an appt. asap. Once you have a therapist, he/she can determine if you need referral to a psychiatrist for medication. I know it is horrible right now, but you will definitely get better with professional help. Anxiety is very treatable!!!! Any further questions for me?

Customer:

I hope this is all. Thank you.

Ask Eleanor :

You are very welcome. It has been my pleasure to help. Please remember to click on the green accept button so that I will receive credit for my professional time and response. You may return to this Q&A for reference at any time after you accept. You will get better, take care, Eleanor

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