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Ask A Therapist: Anxiety Is Hurting My Relationships

All my life i have never been able to do what i like to do for the fear of being judged by other people. It has come to such a point that i cannot think for myself, it always has to be “if i do this what will others think”. I have good friends who keep advising me to be more social but my fear gets the better of me. I haven’t had a serious relationship in a long time. I am scared if that if keep being such an introvert i would end up with no life. I have lost all sense of emotions in the last few months and am becoming desperate for companionship and just to be accepted.

A: Thank you for writing in. I wish I could talk to you to clarify how long this has been going on. I do have a few thoughts though. You may have developed social phobia of some kind or another form of anxiety disorder. What you’re describing sounds like more than just “I’m an introvert.” I really think you should get some help from a professional. Watch the video for the rest of this answer.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Will PTSD Symptoms Jeopardize Military Career?

Q: I’m 23 years old and in the military. Recently I was raped while on duty, I haven’t been handling it well it brought up a lot of childhood stuff. I started seeing a psychologist, but I’m having a really difficult time opening up. She’s nice and I like her, but I don’t want to tell her too much, hurt my career and depend on her to keep my confidences when she can’t. I don’t know how to tell her about the purging or even if I should, she’s asked about the cutting but I don’t know what to say. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD but I don’t want to tell her that when I have a nightmare when I wake up I can still see and feel what was happening in the dream. How do you open up and not come off as crazy? Please help me I could really use the guidance.

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Ask A Therapist: Could This Be OCD?

Q: OK, I been having a problem where if I see someone that’s uneven or something it will bother me greatly and my mind tells me that if I don’t fix it something bad will happen to my mom. It’s weird, but say I’m reading a book and I skip a word my kind tells me to go back and start over or something will happen to my mom. There’s many other things that I will “fix” but why would this happen towards my mom? And do I have OCD? Should I talk to my mom about it, do I have OCD? Thank you.

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Ask A Therapist: Are Panic Attacks Part of Grieving?

Q: I recently lost my dad around Christmastime, so I know I am going through a grief process. One of the things that happened to me recently is when I heard of the Japan quake. Then looking at other news, it was about the supermoon. Then my mind was flooded with all these things in the world and I had a panic attack. I mean I was truly scared and normally I do not think of these things, it lasted maybe a day…all night and the next day . Is that from realizing my own mortality? In the death of my dad ? Or am I maybe just losing my mind … a little?

A: I am so sorry for your recent loss of your father. I don’t think you are losing your mind. The death of a parent is a huge life event and often brings a sense of your own mortality to the forefront and upsets your view of the world. It makes sense that after the loss of your father, the person who is often experienced as the “protector” in the family, you’d feel for a time that the world had become scarier and less safe.

Stressful situations, like the death of a parent, can sometimes precipitate anxiety. While panic attacks usually peak at about 10 minutes, it is possible to have clusters of them. Since you don’t mention specific symptoms I can’t be certain if it was a panic attack or another kind of anxiety disorder. I suggest that you seek out a mental health evaluation to determine whether or not you have developed an anxiety disorder and if so, to get treatment. Also, I highly suggest attending a grief support group. Hospitals,  hospices, and community clinics often host groups to help grieving family members find support by sharing their experiences with others who are going through similar losses.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Is My Fear And Worry Normal?

Q: Okay, I consistently have worry.  I try to make it go away by obsessing over my smallest worries.  Because “Murphy’s Law” somehow dictates to me that doing that would mean that whatever horror I think would happen, won’t.  Its started consuming me to a point where I flip out all the time.  Its affecting my work and my home life.  I want to stop but it’s like I am going down a waterslide, I can’t just stop.  I have no one who understands.  They keep telling me that I just need to stop worrying but its not that easy!  I honestly don’t know what to do.  I know its not “normal” but is it really that weird?  I just really need some advice on what to do.

A: Thank you for your excellent question. The short answer is “no.” It sounds to me like you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, which is something you just can’t “stop” or will away, no matter how hard you try. Since work and relationships are being negatively affected, I suggest that you get a mental health evaluation from a licensed mental health professional very soon. If you need help finding a therapist one in your area click here.

Since you haven’t given specific symptoms, it’s difficult for me to guess which anxiety disorder you’re most likely suffering from.  In addition to an evaluation and therapy, consider learning more about mindfulness practices to help you calm your thoughts. Since many people in your life don’t understand what you’re going through, seek people who do understand.  A local support group, group therapy, or online support groups like Psych Central Forums gives you access to people who know what it’s like to struggle with excessive worry.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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