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Feel like I'm going crazy
An_251081 posted:
A couple of months ago I was trying to go to sleep when all of a sudden it felt like I was about to break down. I became inexplicably nervous and felt like I was losing my mind. I became scared that I was about to have a stroke or somehow lose control over my body.

Since that night, I've had a bunch of these episodes. My GP prescribed me Xanax though I've only had two incidents where I felt like I really needed to take it. I've also had extremely strange thoughts, and have become increasingly cognizant of low-level, mundane tasks, such as movement of my body, which I feel should be on "autopilot." I've never had any delusions or voices in my head, but I've also developed fears of becoming schizophrenic. I've had thoughts about reality and feel like I'm becoming detached from it.

I've suffered from mild depression throughout college and may or may not have borderline PD as well. I'm curious to hear whether people think this is some sort of panic disorder or something else? Is there anything I can do to fight this other than take drugs when it gets really bad?

The weird thing is that I don't really have any major stressors in my life; all in all, things are pretty good. I have a great job lined up for after graduation, some good friends, and a loving family. But these episodes are crippling and they disable me from spending time with people and can be quite scary.
An_251081 responded:
Edit: I've also had sporadic dizziness and minor headaches in conjunction with the above symptoms. I'd say I have one of these episodes every day or every other day. They're not full blown panic attacks but they feel like they could escalate into that.
Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Although you indicated that you have a good job lined up after graduation, good friends and a loving family, this does not mean that you are not under quite a bit of stress right now. Allow me to indicate the reason I say that.

Stress, while normal throughout our lives, can become problematic through a variety of things. Usually, we associate stress with negative events rather than happy, positive ones. But believe it or not, stress comes from both good and bad things and, therefore, you may be experiencing quite a bit of stress from a lot of good things.

Think about it. You are going to leave college and embark on a career and that is going to be a totally different way of life for you; a way of life where you will have to learn the culture of the corporation, new ways of interacting with people possibly and a set of new rules. None of it is easily done and some of it takes a bit of time. Even graduating from college, while a wonderful and good thing, is very stressful. You will be leaving the comfort of school with its predictability and your friends.

In addition to leaving school, graduating and starting a new job, you will be developing new perspectives on things as a result of your new experiences and not all of those experiences will be positive. Of course, we hope that everything goes well, but there will be bumps in the road.

All in all, I'd say that you are going through stress and that is probably what you are experiencing in terms of your symptoms. Things will get better and, in the meantime, you can use several things to help you with this stress.

First, look in our Tips column and watch the relaxation breathing video tutorial I have prepared. Use that technique on a regular basis every day and also use positive self-talk to coach yourself regarding the fact that you are going to do well and things will be fine. On my YouTube channel (drpat22) you can find a relaxing beach scene with music that you can also use to help yourself bring down the stress level.

In addition to all of these, remember that you need adequate sleep, a good diet and, most important of all, put some exercise into your daily routine. This doesn't have to be jogging, or lifting weights or anything like that. You can walk in place in the house, you can do exercises sitting in an office chair, you could do whatever you wish as long as you keep moving around. You can even start dancing around your room. It's all good.

So, while things may be a bit scary right now, I'd say it's probably the stress and the life changes that you are going through at this point.
Mrosenstein12 replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
Thank you very much, Dr. Farrell, for your insights and suggestions. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response. You are probably right and I will be sure to do as you suggested. My one lingering question is whether any of this stress could explain the recurring headaches and dizziness that I've been feeling? They haven't been severe or even debilitating, but they've been occurring quite frequently and I'm wondering whether there might be anything else going on.

Thank you again!

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