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Please help...anxiety is trying to take over my life
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An_249957 posted:
I am a 20 yr old college student. My anxiety comes in many forms: fainting, hyperventalating, swollen eyelids and ichy face. Now my newest symptom is diarrhea. I noticed it when I was on my way to math class. I hate math and I was five minutes late. Then I remembered my professor wanted everyone to sit closer to the front since there aren't many students in the class. I went to the bathroom and was plagued with diarrhea for an hour. I missed my class and I was in there so long the maintanence man cut the lights off cuz he didn't think anyone was in there!! I stayed in the stall and waited until some more girls came in so I wouldn't look wierd coming out by myself. So I am now drinking Vanilla Chai Tea and that helps a little. I am on 200mg of sertraline. Any suggestions about what I could eat that will calm my nerves and my stomach?

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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Obviously, there are a number of problems here and one of them would appear to be that you are only receiving medication for your anxiety. The bulk of recent research indicates that the preferred and most effective treatments for anxiety disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication, if needed. You appear to be receiving only medication and quite a bit of it at that.

The first thing you need to do is to talk to whoever is prescribing this medication for you and explain the symptoms you are having. This medication may be bringing on the problem that you had in math class and that needs to be clarified.

The next thing that you should do is to get a referral for a licensed psychologist who specializes in persons with anxiety disorders. I'm not sure how long you've had these difficulties or how long you been on this medication, but these two points need to be addressed too.

An additional thing which would be helpful for you is using some self-help techniques such as relaxation breathing. I recommend this to everyone who has any type of anxiety and it is quite easy to learn and can be very helpful. We have a video tutorial on it in our Tips column and I would suggest that you viewed with and begin using this technique right away. See if it isn't helpful for you.

Since you indicated that you really don't like math, I'm wondering if it's because you don't do well in math because you may not understand it very well. Math is the subject where you need to have a very firm grasp of the basics in order to take more advanced courses, as you know I'm sure. Much of the problems that are caused by math for students are the results of not having a good basis. You might want to consider a tutor who may be able to clear up some of the points were help you to see the solutions to the problems in a new way. There are also wonderful math tutorials on the Internet which are videos and can really help. One series that is offered free and has every level of math you may need is the Khan Academy. Do a search and see if you don't agree that these are helpful. I think what you need is a bit more practice and a better explanation of what is happening.

I hope this has been helpful and that things do improve for you very soon.
 
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rohvannyn replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
I'm better with mechanical things so I have a little advice for the diarrhea. Aside from reducing stress, avoidng caffeine can help, as well as limiting fatty foods. Something that helps dry me up is matzo crackers, odd as it may seem. They absorb the excess water and help prevent problems. I don't reccommend them for daily consumption but they can help if you are having problems. Rice can be good too. Good luck with your math, I totally agree with the suggestion about math tutoring or a free online course.
 
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miranau responded:
Hey,

I've been where you've been. Well, sort of. I've had severe anxiety all through college, and it managed to manifest itself in all kinds of forms. It can be incredibly stressful and discouraging, but just try to keep at it! It'll be worth it in the end.

I'm not sure what causes your anxiety, but if you can address that problem it will go a long way. What worked for me was letting a close friend in on the situation; tell them the full story, and have them be someone you can be near and talk to when you're having symptoms. If s/he can be there and help calm you in class, that might help.

As well, and this go for any type of anxiety, you should get on a regular sleep schedule (hard in college, I know), eat regularly (nibble on snacks as much as you can, always have something in your belly), drink plenty of water (I've found dehydration, even in mild forms, makes the mind more susceptible to anxiety), and avoid stimulants such as caffeine as much as possible.

For settling your stomach, you might want to try ginger ale (sugary, but if it helps, it's worth it), or maybe even antacids like Gaviscon.

Hope that helps... I'm in my last year of college now (4th year) and still have anxiety symptoms (my panic attacks make me gag... sucky!) though managing them has become easier over the years. Hopefully it will get easier for you too. Best of luck.

PS: And as Patricia wrote before me, CBT is the best treatment for something like this; I did it years ago, and what I learned helps me still today.


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