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Is This Anxiety or Maybe Something Else?

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From a graduate student in the U.S.: I have been in constant stress and feeling worried for the last 3 years. I have constant chest pain and extreme depression episodes where I cannot get out of bed or stop crying. I have no friends because I am embarrassed of myself and my decisions and dont want to expose myself as a fraud to anyone. I am also deathly afraid of being judged by others about my decisions. I have worked a little but struggled in that environment because i cannot concentrate because i feel others are saying or thinking bad things about me.

I am doing a graduate program and although i find it interesting i have not manage to get any relevant research or work experience because fear of exposing myself.I also taken just easy way out of getting credits and bullshit. I did this because I just want to go home and do an easy job to reduce the stress in my life. I dont go to classes because of fear of having to talk to other people. I dont take the classes i want because of fear that I am not smart enough due to my mental state. oh and Im undecisive.

I have anxiety since I can remember. At 13, I suffered from episodes of panic attacks and feelings of detachment from my body. I thought that life wasnt real and that I was in some sort of Simulation. Nowadays I think about this as a source of comfort as I wish to escape the situation I am in.

I also feel constant disorientation and confusion. I constantly get lost going to places,i dont notice things,i forget what i am doing as i am doing it(while driving i can get lost in my thoughts), losing things, breaking things(extremely clumsy), forget peoples names that I have known for years. Its like im almost always zoned out and mentally slow yet I cannot seem to turn my brain off. My thoughts even disturb me through in nightmares.

I want to know if there is a way for me to get rid of these symptoms. Am I simply an airhead or is my anxiety somehow related to my inability to think logically? Is there something else that could be causing the problem? Would medication help me with my anxiety/panic? I am to afraid of going to the doctor.

Is This Anxiety or Maybe Something Else?

Answered by on -


The feelings you described are consistent with a diagnosis of social anxiety. It can be debilitating — something you know only too well. You wrote an articulate and organized letter which tells me you can probably do fine with graduate work if you could only get your anxiety under control.

I do understand why you are afraid to go to a doctor. Most people with social anxiety are afraid of interactions with just about everybody and a doctor is no exception. But doctors are exactly who you need to see. In fact, you need to see 3 different helpers to get the help you need. Please have some optimism. Most professionals are just that — professional. They don’t want to judge you. They just want to help you.

First, if you haven’t had a complete medical check up in awhile, do get one. You want to be sure that there isn’t something medical going on as well as the anxiety. Once that’s been done, you need to see a psychiatrist for some medication to settle things down enough that you can start to use some therapy. Right now, you are just too, too anxious. Finally, you need to make an appointment with a cognitive-behavioral therapist to learn how to cope with social situations, including classes, and to manage your intense feelings. There is nothing at all wrong with being a bit anxious. Everyone is. But your anxiety is so intense that it is getting in the way of your life. You need to learn some skills for toning it down — and for feeling more in control.

While waiting for appointments, I do suggest you get a copy of Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. Read it carefully. It will give your therapy a jump start.

You have suffered in isolation for far, far too long. You deserve better. Please, let the helpers do their job and do your part. You can get much better.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is This Anxiety or Maybe Something Else?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is This Anxiety or Maybe Something Else?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 25 Nov 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.