Anxiety, Depression, or Something Else?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am terrified of people and situations I can’t control. I am always having vivid dreams about a time in the world when I and my family will be taken and tortured without dying. I wake up hyperventilating, and sometimes even throw up. I am afraid to send my son to school. I also feel like I am not really here. I entertain the thought that maybe I am in a coma somewhere and have made up this entire life? I don’t really feel any emotions except pure panic and fear. I want to be happy, but I don’t feel happy. I don’t’ feel anything. Not really. It’s like I’m watching myself from somewhere else. Sometimes I can’t even control what I am doing, even though I know I shouldn’t be doing it. My husband is even getting tired of me. I have never harmed anyone or myself physically, and will never do that. I am not suicidal.

A. If I had the opportunity to interview you in person, I’d want to know how often you have these dreams, how long you have had these symptoms and if they have become progressively worse over time. I would also want to know what exactly you mean by not being able “to control what you’re doing.” What are you unable to control? Your behavior? Your thoughts and feelings, etc?

I am also curious about what you mean by “terrified of people and situations you can’t control.” Do all people frighten you or just certain people? Having more information would help me to better understand what is wrong.

Anxiety seems to be at the heart of the problem but only an in-person mental health consultation could ultimately determine what is wrong.

I would strongly recommend seeing a mental health professional. These problems are affecting your life and your family in negative ways. You said that you are frightened to send your son to school. I’m wondering if that means you are keeping him home from school. That obviously would be problematic; it might also lead to him developing an anxiety problem.

Seeing a mental health professional might invoke anxiety but it shouldn’t. They are there to help you and you should seek help. When you’re not well, it affects both you and your family.

Anxiety is a very treatable condition. So too is depression and related conditions. Psychotherapy and medication can significantly decrease your symptoms and improve the quality of your life and your relationship with your family. I hope that you will take my advice. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Anxiety, Depression, or Something Else?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/08/anxiety-depression-or-something-else/