You would know if you were gay and you would likely have known this fact at a very young age. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to you, especially at 26 years of age. The same is true with being transgender. You would’ve likely known by now.
You suspect the possibility of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). That is possible given your obsessive and intrusive thoughts that cause intense panic. These symptoms are often indicative of anxiety disorders, specifically OCD.
You insightfully were able to determine the possible source of your excessive thoughts which include people asking if you’re gay, being hit on by gay men and having friends in the LGBTQ community. You also mentioned the fact that your mother recently attempted suicide and is having many problems of her own. As you stated, the last few months have been difficult. Exceptionally so. That could’ve triggered your anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders and anxiety in general often involve the underlying fear of loss of control. Having someone you love attempt suicide, could make you feel out of control. These life difficulties could have triggered the development of your anxiety.
Among people with OCD, some experience sexually based fears. A common one is an excessive fear of becoming gay and being ridiculed for it. This is called homosexual OCD. It affects approximately 12% of individuals seeking treatment for OCD. Studies indicate it’s more common in males than in females.
It should be noted that even though homosexual OCD is described in the general population, it has not been officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), the diagnostic textbook used by professionals that catalog psychiatric conditions. Even so, there are studies that indicate it is real phenomenon.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is highly effective for anxiety disorders. Individuals with OCD often opt for more specific behavioral therapy known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). With ERP, clients are purposefully exposed to their fears through a gradual process over the course of weeks or several months. When done in a controlled setting exposing one to their fears allows an individual to habituate to them in a safe environment. Over time, these fears will be less triggering. If done correctly, it will significantly reduce the fears or eliminate them altogether.
Therapy will also help you to learn better ways to respond to your anxious thoughts. Some people find taking medication in addition to counseling expedites the healing process. Some studies have shown that antidepressants can be effective treatments.
It would be wise to consult a mental health professional to assist you in reducing intrusive and excessive thoughts. The treatments mentioned above are highly effective. Find a therapist you like and begin treatment. The sooner you do, the sooner you will feel relief. It’s stressful to live in an anxiety-filled state of mind, especially one in which you experience intense panic. It’s not good for your health nor your mental health. Hopefully you will take this advice and seek help from a qualified professional. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle