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Undiagnosed Anxiety & Feeling Distant?

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Over the past year I’ve been starting to have panic attacks, or at least that’s what I think they are. They’re extremely sporadic (two in October, another in November, then nothing until one in April and a very bad one in May; haven’t had any others since).

I don’t know for sure if what I experienced were panic attacks because I’ve never felt as if I was going to die. I just get very stressed out by a situation, then start crying (sometimes uncontrollably) and hyperventilating. The attack I had in May involved a lot of involuntary foot tapping and shaking/shivering as well.

Put simply, my first year of college was incredibly stressful (I’m a law student) and the friends I happened to make were extremely toxic and cruel, so from shit-stirred dramatic event to dramatic event I kind of started hating going to school because gossip about me and my friends spread like wildfire. I suspect a lot of my panic attacks stem from situations where I felt out of control, even though rationally I know it’s ok to not be in control sometimes. But you guys probably know that actual knowledge does little to stop the anxiety.

Nowadays in the Summer vacation, I haven’t had any panic attacks, but I’ve started feeling incredibly jaded and distant from everyone. I sleep about 12 hours a day, from 5am to 5pm, but it’s been getting better (sometimes I wake at noon to 2.30pm). I do hang out with friends on occasion but I feel exhausted afterwards, and I just don’t feel like I can connect with anyone that strongly.

I hate feeling this miserable and it pains me to think that my parents work so hard to let me have a good life, but I can’t even do that because of what’s in my head. I cry sometimes without knowing why, and I don’t know what to do. Please help. Thanks.

Undiagnosed Anxiety & Feeling Distant?

Answered by on -

A.

Something is obviously wrong. Your symptoms are telling you something. You are not sure if you are having panic attacks. Though I cannot know with certainty, your symptoms seem consistent with panic attacks. You would need a psychiatric evaluation to determine a diagnosis.

As you noted, extreme anxiety is often rooted in the fear of losing control. But there’s a difference between fear of losing control and being out of control. It’s possible that some aspects of your life are out of control and thus you are reacting with panic. I would need more information to know what the problem might be.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these problems have coincided with your first year of college. People have ideas about how college is “supposed” to be. Their expectations rarely line up with reality.

You might be taking too many classes or chose the wrong major or the wrong group of friends. You might also lack stress management and coping skills. Studies show that college students are experiencing mental health problems at epidemic levels. The heart of the problem often involves an inability to tolerate stress and manage life problems. The good news is that these skills can be learned in counseling.

I would recommend that you begin counseling. When you return to school in the fall, you can then utilize the schools counseling center for more assistance. The bottom line is that depression and anxiety are highly treatable conditions. You will feel a great deal of relief once your symptoms are under control. It would be unwise to ignore these symptoms or to simply hope they will go away. Both anxiety and depression tend to worsen without treatment. Don’t suffer with treatable problems. Treatment will be immensely beneficial. I hope you will try it.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Undiagnosed Anxiety & Feeling Distant?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Undiagnosed Anxiety & Feeling Distant?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/07/25/undiagnosed-anxiety-feeling-distant/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.