Ever since I was little (5-6) I’ve been stealing (little things, not expensive or important), lying, and acting impulsively. I’ve gotten into trouble at home, at work, at school, and even with the law for different things. But somehow, I’m never remorseful or feel guilty about it. I still feel compassion and love towards others. I don’t feel as if I’m selfish. I notice I manipulate and do/say things for attention. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the past, though I’m no longer medicated for it. I still feel anxious very often. Another thing is that I’ve always masturbated and been mildly obsessed with sex from a very young age. I don’t believe I was molested ever, and I had a very normal, loving upbringing. I’m really worried about my health. Please help.

A: Before you come to the conclusion that you are struggling with such powerful diagnoses let’s take a moment to look at some other things that your email points out. In spite of everything you have mentioned you have compassion and love for others and the background information you provided us says that you are 18 and employed. You have a choice about how to size this up. We can view the things you’re concerned about as a way to identify you—or we can see them as elements that are folded in with someone who cares for others and works hard at a young age.

The fact that you are concerned about these things is in and of itself a very good sign. The part of you that would like to understand how to feel better is looking for answers. That is a very healthy part. It is looking for a correction.

I would start looking for a therapist to start working with to unravel the history of these feelings and reactions. The find help tab at the top of the page can help you locate someone in your area. My hope is for you to begin focusing on what is right with you as you figure out how to make the changes you want.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral