It’s impossible to give a diagnosis over the internet. The most common questions that I receive here at Psych Central are from people with anxiety disorders who fear that they may be developing schizophrenia. Anecdotally, it seems to be a very common fear, especially among people with anxiety.
It makes sense that people with severe anxiety would believe that they might have schizophrenia. People with anxiety disorders often fear the worst-case scenario. In their minds, schizophrenia is the worst-case scenario. Among the lay public, it is the most frightening of all mental health disorders.
Panic attacks are frightening. Panic attacks cause an extreme state of heightened distress. As you mentioned, it makes you feel like you’re on the “edges of insanity.” That’s how all people feel when they are experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks are a sign of an anxiety disorder, not a psychotic disorder. Even though it may feel that way, it is not that way.
The idea that you have yet to consult a mental health professional is likely contributing to this problem. I understand that you’re frightened of treatment but you have nothing to fear. Mental health professionals want to help you. Good, effective treatment is available.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the world. Highly effective treatments exist that can help you immediately, relieving your distressing symptoms. When you think about it, it’s nonsensical to suffer with a highly treatable condition. The sooner that you seek treatment, the sooner you will feel better.
Nothing that you have written in your letter would indicate schizophrenia. You mentioned hypnagogic hallucinations before falling asleep. Those are a normal part of falling asleep but we often only remember them when we are having trouble falling asleep. If we have them, then immediately wake up, we remember them. If we have them and then fall asleep, we don’t remember them at all.
If I could interview you, I would want to know why you are experiencing so much stress. What is causing you to feel this way? Stress has a cause. You are obviously worried about something. Did something recently change in your life? What are you worried about? It’s important to know what is causing these problems.
Even if it’s difficult, make it a priority to consult a mental health professional. Once you have the initial meeting, you will likely quickly begin to feel better. You will see that it is not a frightening experience. Treatment can begin as soon as the first session. That means that you will likely leave your first session with less anxiety and a solid treatment plan for the future. You will be on your way to recovery.
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to focus on reality. Staying grounded in reality is an important element in reducing panic and fear. Obviously, that is easier said than done which is why it’s important to consult a mental health professional. They will know how to help you. They have received explicit training to help with these types of problems. You should not wait another day. Make an appointment immediately. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle