For nearly two years, I’ve dealt with increasingly worse anxiety symptoms. The biggest issue is my inability to sleep when I am away from home, including difficulties sleeping in my own dorm. I’ve dealt with these sleeping issues for over a year and generally find that when I can’t sleep, my mind focuses on all the things wrong with the room I’m in (too quiet, too hot, etc). I’m also constantly going through a mental list of assignments, meetings, and events, and rewriting the list in my planner each day. Usually, I just run through the list in my head, but I have also noticed that I will speak out loud to myself while walking to and from class and run through the list while making a plan of what order to complete those tasks. I’ll run through this order multiple times, typically until I get to wherever I’m going or encounter other people because I’m worried they will judge me for speaking to myself. Even when I’ve accomplished the tasks I set out to do on a particular day, I still find myself thinking about the items on that list and panicking about how much more I have to do. As a result, I feel as if I can never fully relax. I’m always worried that I’m going to forget something on that list and that something bad will happen because I don’t complete that particular thing. I also find that I have difficulty concentrating because I’m constantly thinking about these things. When I have difficulty concentrating and feel really anxious about something, generally experiencing a heavy feeling in my chest and difficulty breathing, I end up picking at the skin around my nails, and on particularly bad days, I do this until they bleed. Although I generally fear that others will judge me for my actions, I find that picking helps me calm down and refocus myself. While my worries about school are generally my main focus, I often find myself worrying about my relationships as well, particularly that my friends don’t really like me and that I don’t actually have feelings for my boyfriend. I’ve recently begun to fear that I have OCD rather than just anxiety. I’ve brought some of these topics up to my doctor, but should I voice my worries that the anxiety I experience seems to mirror some aspects of OCD? (From the USA)
Thank you for having the bravery to talk about these anxieties. While it would not be possible for me to diagnose you over the internet, I can understand your concern. You may want to take our quiz for OCD here to see if it matches your experience.
The key is in managing your anxiety and self-regulating your emotions. Here is a sample of techniques you can use to bring yourself under control. I would bring this up to your physician as he or she will be able to ask more detailed questions about your thoughts and feelings, and if appropriate, offer some suggestion for medication or additional forms of psychotherapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) You may also want to try one of our forums to chat with others about your experience.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Anxiety or OCD?. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/11/26/anxiety-or-ocd/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Nov 2017) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.