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Sanctuary

Diagnosing anxiety (and a difficult doctor)

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Sanctuary
15 hours ago, Miss Chief said:

While PTSD is often caused by life and death situations, that is not always the case, really it is caused by your reaction to a scenario, not the scenario itself, so you can have PTSD in a situation that was traumatic for you but wasn't life and death, just like some people don't get PTSD when they are in traumatic life and death situations. 

One of the treatments for PTSD is to allow the flashbacks to come, not in a place where you are out of your comfort zone, but deliberately triggering them in therapy or at home so that you can go through the flashback and just it flow the more this happens in a safe and controlled way the less power it has. I am not suggesting you try doing this on your own at home but it might be worth looking into it and trying to get some therapy.

Avoidance is not a good coping mechanism it can lead to phobia's. I have some good course work and exercises (called StressPack) on managing stress, which explains this quite well if you're interested? You might also benefit from the course I am on at the moment called ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) which is designed for people who are struggling with stress and anxiety (and PTSD), things like unwanted negative thoughts, I will be scanning in the notes etc when I finish the course next week if you would also like a copy of those?

Those are interesting thoughts about the relative nature of PTSD. However this relative nature can itself cause problems for someone enduring difficulties. While I am certainly troubled by flashbacks / intrusive thoughts about certain events - and that is unpleasant in itself - the feelings are then amplified by ideas that I should be more resilient and shouldn't be troubled (or at least less troubled) by what has happened. The same applies more broadly to stress / depression - feelings of being stressed / depressed can be made worse by beliefs that we should be stronger and that our problems are not as bad as those faced by others. While it may be true that others may be more able to deal with difficult experiences we have to accept that we are different and - at least at this time - are not able to cope so well. It's also true we may overlook our strength in dealing with other problems that others struggle with. 

You are right about avoidance as a general strategy. Avoidance does tend to compound anxieties. However there are times when we are not ready / equipped to deal with certain problems at that point and it is safest to avoid them. However in the long-term we do need to develop strategies so we can face those difficulties.

Those resources will be useful - thank you for your good advice and support on these issues.

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Miss Chief
1 hour ago, Sanctuary said:

However this relative nature can itself cause problems for someone enduring difficulties. While I am certainly troubled by flashbacks / intrusive thoughts about certain events - and that is unpleasant in itself - the feelings are then amplified by ideas that I should be more resilient and shouldn't be troubled (or at least less troubled) by what has happened. The same applies more broadly to stress / depression - feelings of being stressed / depressed can be made worse by beliefs that we should be stronger and that our problems are not as bad as those faced by others. While it may be true that others may be more able to deal with difficult experiences we have to accept that we are different and - at least at this time - are not able to cope so well. It's also true we may overlook our strength in dealing with other problems that others struggle with. 

While I understand what you are saying and I imagine it is worse for men than women, (given societies expectations that men; protect, provide and generally be strong) the fact is struggling with mental illness does not mean you are weak, if anything it means you are stronger, you have all that extra crap to deal with and still you struggle on.

Also if you can learn to deal with it, find a coping strategy or a way of getting yourself out of the rut or even better recognising when you begin to spiral down and taking proactive action to stop the decline before it has too much of an impact then you are going to ultimately be stronger for it. You now have a better understanding of others who struggle with this but also you have the tools and the skill to overcome it. You might even be able to help others in similar situations.

I have to say exercise and a healthier diet can make a huge difference for me (I am not saying you don't already do that, perhaps you do but if you don't then it can help), I know when you are low or anxious it can be like getting blood out of a stone... just thinking about exercise can be exhausting, but if you can get a friend or family member to help, you can motivate each other, then the exercise pays off really quickly, it is kind of weird how expending energy results in you feeling like you have more of it but it really does work and it can give you a huge emotional boost, not to mention being confidence building. I am trying to get myself to go swimming at the moment, although it's really hard especially that first time.

1 hour ago, Sanctuary said:

You are right about avoidance as a general strategy. Avoidance does tend to compound anxieties. However there are times when we are not ready / equipped to deal with certain problems at that point and it is safest to avoid them. However in the long-term we do need to develop strategies so we can face those difficulties.

Well yes I think the issue is when you are actively avoiding something specific and you are avoiding it all the time. For example when I was in an abusive relationship I decided that it would be better if I stayed sober, that way I was less likely to allow the situation to escalate, but I didn't like being around drunk people when I was sober so my solution was to just not go out socially, this resulted in me getting exceedingly debilitating agoraphobia, where I would literally go without cigarettes for 10 hours because I just couldn't leave the house to go to the shop, if I had to leave the house I would get nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting. Worst part was the treatment was basically to go out and get over it. Which is why avoidance can be dangerous, it's fine if it's just now and then but don't let it take over :) 

1 hour ago, Sanctuary said:

thank you for your good advice and support on these issues.

You are welcome... that is what this place is all about, supporting and helping each other :) 

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Sanctuary

Another problem I've experienced related to anxiety or other personal troubles - and which others may have had as well - is a reluctance to tell others. I tend to keep problems to myself for fear that involving others will burden them in some way, e.g. that they may feel under pressure to help, that they may worry about my welfare. "Confessing" bigger problems is harder than smaller ones which seem less burdensome to others. Perhaps ironically outlining worries can be harder to do with friends or family members because of the existing emotional connection - they may feel more "obliged" to help than those who are less well-known. Sometimes I even worry that talking about certain fears will cause others to have them - planting anxieties they previously didn't have in their heads.

Guilt is often wrapped up in anxiety and there can be a feeling of guilt in drawing attention to our problems. However we have to overcome that reluctance to talk and not be afraid to seek help when we need it.

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RiRi

@Sanctuary I believe you have been given good advice. I don't know how the system in the UK works exactly but I think writing down the symptoms is a good idea. Sometimes we ourselves don't even know exactly what our condition entails but we know we have it. We just may not be good at expressing the symptoms, or why we think we have it. Recently, I was asked why I think I have autism and I think I didn't say that well what the symptoms were. I wasn't prepared, I didn't write down a list or practiced beforehand. I think it's good to write things down like that when you go get a diagnosis. I also agree that general doctors don't specialize, even psychologists can get it wrong when it comes to ASD, I know you're not talking about that but general psychologists have less knowledge than one that specializes in autism. So I think writing down the symptoms so you can remind yourself why you think you have that is a good idea. 

When I was reading your "flashbacks" I thought, I have that. I don't know if it's a symptom of regular depression, which I might have both or ASD or maybe a personality trait. I believe sometimes we have symptoms that can fit into other psychological labels. I feel like I could be diagnosed with a lot of labels, if that was possible. I get images of things that happened in the past, these can surge out of the nowhere and I just start feeling sad because I think I could have done things a different way or I feel bad for a mistake a did a while ago. Sometimes I remember things that happened a while ago and feel what I must have been feeling in that moment. I don't know if that's related to ASD or depression, it might be ASD. I thought depression because I know that not all ASD have that trait but it could well be ASD, we're not all the same after all, or it could just be a personality trait. 

A physical symptom of generalized anxiety is heart racing, shortness of breath, feeling like you're going to have a heart attack out of the nowhere (I think that may be an anxiety attack or panic). I think it happens because of accumulated anxiety or just because you have anxiety. I think I have all of those. Panic attacks can vary in intensity and are different as well. My heart can go from 80 (I think) to 100 beats per minute when anxious. I just looked it up and 60-100 is normal but my more tranquil heartbeat, I think is around the 80s or less. I should try to get it when I'm not anxious.

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Sanctuary
16 hours ago, RiRi said:

@Sanctuary I believe you have been given good advice. I don't know how the system in the UK works exactly but I think writing down the symptoms is a good idea. Sometimes we ourselves don't even know exactly what our condition entails but we know we have it. We just may not be good at expressing the symptoms, or why we think we have it. Recently, I was asked why I think I have autism and I think I didn't say that well what the symptoms were. I wasn't prepared, I didn't write down a list or practiced beforehand. I think it's good to write things down like that when you go get a diagnosis. I also agree that general doctors don't specialize, even psychologists can get it wrong when it comes to ASD, I know you're not talking about that but general psychologists have less knowledge than one that specializes in autism. So I think writing down the symptoms so you can remind yourself why you think you have that is a good idea. 

Thorough preparation before a consultation and writing things down is vital. It's too easy to get into a consultation with a clinician and for the mind to go blank or to only remember parts of the picture, or to be taken by surprise by unanticipated questions. i think there may be an ASD element here in the issue of "processing time". Individuals with ASD may have great knowledge on an issue but find it difficult to respond when asked questions they weren't expecting. We often need more time to think over our answers but a time-pressured consultation - sometimes with a clinician who may not be very supportive or who needs lots of convincing - is not the best environment in which to provide comprehensive answers. Asking for a referral to someone more specialist may be the best way forward, especially when multiple conditions may be involved as often happens.

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