Generally speaking, this type of fear has a trigger. If I could interview you in person, I would want to know what’s changed since May. Based on the little information provided in your letter, it seems as though you had a roommate and now you do not. It would be helpful to know if there’s anything else that had changed. Did you stop taking or start taking medication? Was there a big move? Was there a death in the family? Was there an event that has led you to feel more fearful lately? Having the answers to those questions would help me to better understand what may be contributing to this issue.
I would also want to know things such as: do you have a history of anxiety, depression or paranoia or any other type of mental illness? Have you been using drugs? There are quite a few people who report having paranoia and anxiety after using marijuana. The marijuana that is available today is much stronger than it used to be. Many teenagers report negative consequences from their Illicit drug use which can cause the symptoms that you are experiencing
Part of the problem is likely your sleep deprivation. It’s difficult to know what came first: the sleep deprivation or the after effects of the sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can cause one to feel hypervigilant, irritable, overly anxious, and to experience cognitive difficulties. In studies, severe sleep deprivation has been linked to hallucinations. Hallucinations involve your five senses and can include things like hearing sounds and voices, feeling bugs crawling on your body, and others that are similar to the types you’ve reported. Researchers have reported that hallucinations can develop after just one night without sleep.
Delusions have also been reported in individuals who are extensively sleep deprived. Delusions compromise one’s ability to think clearly and logically. In studies, researchers found that distorted thoughts began to manifest by the second day without sleep.
It’s very difficult to function on a daily basis without sleep. There are few things more fundamental than adequate sleep. You need it to live and to function normally. It’s a necessary prerequisite for stable mental health. Without it, people struggle a great deal.
I would advise against attempting to deal with this problem on your own. You need to do more than simply learning how to cope. You need to solve this problem you can do that by consulting a mental health professional. They will know how to help you. They receive training for these problems.
You mentioned taking Benadryl and that it helps you. Perhaps a clinician could assist you in developing other methods of relaxation. They might also refer you to a primary care physician to rule out any sleep disorders and evaluate you for medication. In some cases, and depending on the cause, insomnia can be treated with medications. Your primary care physician might also recommend that you consider a sleep study. Sleep studies involve going to a laboratory, typically for one night, and allowing researchers to observe and assess your sleeping patterns. This would allow them to determine if you have a sleep disorder. Such an assessment may not be necessary but it is something that your treatment team might recommend.
With the right help, you can expect a positive and rapid solution to this problem. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle