Do I Need To Seek Help?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Anxiety, racing thoughts, past trauma, etc. Hello and thank you for taking time to read (and hopefully answer) a few of my questions.
Around last October a number of troubling things happened to me: I got pregnant, broken up with, had an abortion, had my apartment broken into and everything of value stolen and had the transmission out of my car stolen. All of this happened within a span of five months.

Ever since all of this happened, I have been trying to cope as well as possible. I have noticed a few things about myself that worry me.

I used to read a lot, many books every month. Now, I struggle to focus on reading one book in a month and constantly put it down. My mind wanders and I constantly make plans but they fall through (this leaves me feeling hopeless).

I have nightmares when the lights are turned off so have to sleep with the light on. Even then, I have regular nightmares that I cannot get rid of.
I seek out sexual encounters with people I don’t know or meet on the Internet that be potentially dangerous to me. Later I feel worthless and terrible, but then I continue seeking out more people.

My mind feels like it is on fast forward and there are so many things to think and feel that sometimes I shut down and feel nothing. Every day is a struggle with myself. I am so very confused. I wanted to go to school this August, but had to move back to my parents (after living on my own for three years with a roommate) and now feel stuck.

Please, tell me what I can do. The problem is, I had issues before all of the troubling events happened and wonder if perhaps I have some underlying psychological condition. I was previously diagnosed with a mixture of depression/anxiety but this was not by a regular therapist (I only talked to him about two times).
I’m sorry for the long post and there is much I’ve left out but the main issues have been addressed.

In short, do I need to seek help? This is beginning to have a large impact on my life. I’m hoping to start school soon and do more with my life but with no help from family (and many friends in another state) I’m feeling unsure.

A. To answer your specific question of whether or not you should seek help, the answer is yes. As you noted in your letter, your symptoms are beginning to overwhelm your life. When you notice a problem developing you should not wait to seek help. It’s always best to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

You wonder whether you have an underlying psychological condition. It is a possibility but it is difficult to determine. Your symptoms are relatively understandable given the fact that you have recently experienced multiple difficult and traumatic experiences. Many individuals would have difficulty coping with the events you have experienced.

These traumatic events may have triggered or increased the intensity of your (possible) depression and anxiety. This would explain why you are having nightmares and why it is increasingly difficult for you to concentrate, but it does not explain your casual sexual behavior. This behavior may be your way of dealing with anxiety. One thing seems certain: it is a self-sabotaging type of behavior. You feel guilty after the sex act but it’s as though you cannot stop yourself from doing it. If this is true, it signifies a certain level of impulsivity and inability to control your behavior on those occasions. It might also be a sign of mania which is a symptom of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which an individual sometimes feels very depressed and other times very happy and euphoric. Please keep in mind that these aforementioned ideas about a possible diagnosis are based on very limited information. It’s best to have a psychiatric evaluation before making a diagnosis.

As I said above, I believe you do need professional help. This is especially true for two reasons. One is because you have limited support from friends and family. The second is because the symptoms are increasingly becoming worse and negatively affecting your life. If you’d like to search for a therapist in your community, please click on the find help tab at the top of this page.

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to write again. I hope you’re able to find the help that you need. I wish you well. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Do I Need To Seek Help?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/19/do-i-need-to-seek-help/