Intense, Inexplicable Fear

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am eighteen years old and have yet to see a psychologist, although I’ve been dealing with depression for 5 years now. It has gotten worse over the years, but at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school I had developed a strong fear of going to school, for reasons I don’t even know myself. I had plenty of friends and my classes weren’t hard at all. I would wake up in the mornings crying uncontrollably and having panic attacks. Then normally I would blacked out and wake up on the couch around 6 pm. My depression got worse after that and I stayed home for a couple months without seeing any of friends. What could have caused these fears or whatever it is that I had?

A. I don’t have enough information to explain your panic attacks. Sometimes people have panic attacks when they feel out of control. People can also experience them after a life change or a loss. Did you experience trauma? Did you lose someone you love? Did you recently move? Was there a change in your life? Were you being bullied at school? Did something embarrassing happen at school? Try to think back to what was happening in your life prior to the panic attacks. Though panic attacks seem to strike out of the blue, there is always a cause.

Blacking out for long periods of time is unusual. It’s not necessarily consistent with panic attacks or panic disorder. If you are still having blackouts, they should be investigated by a medical professional. It’s wise to rule out physical causes.

Determining the origins of your panic attacks is less important than getting professional help. Pinpointing the cause of your panic attacks is not a prerequisite for beginning treatment. Leave that to the professionals. You also have had depression for the last five years. It’s time to seek help. Effective treatments exist for both depression and panic disorder. By delaying treatment, you are prolonging your suffering.

I would recommend being evaluated by a mental health professional. He or she will gather details about your psychosocial history and attempt to determine what is wrong. A therapist might uncover the origins of your panic attacks but most important, he or she can assist you in developing the necessary coping skills to treat your anxiety and depression. Therapy is the ideal place to learn these important skills. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Intense, Inexplicable Fear. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/10/intense-inexplicable-fear/