Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Constant anxiety?


QUESTION: Hi! I'm 25 years old. I have been suffering from an constant anxiety now for about 3-4 weeks. I have been suffering from ocd, panic syndrome and mild depression for almost my whole adult life. I have used to watch a lot of tv-series and movies especially at night, I think maybe because someway I've tried to escape my own problems and just daydream away. Now I somehow stopped doing that and I have been very anxious for the past 3-4 weeks. How could I make my anxiety pass or do I just have to suffer with it?
 I feel also very down 'cause I have this feeling of worthlessness and I regret my past very much. I regret that I've maybe somehow wasted my life 'cause, for my own point of view, I haven't been able to live a a very productive life because of my mental problems. I have basically just daydreamed my life away. I haven't had relationships with women and think I'm such a loser because of this. It feels like my life is ruined and I'm too old to start living it now.
 How can I stop regretting my past and try to focus to the future? The problem is that I'm constantly comparing myself to  others and their achievements and that always brings me down and is having a negative effect on my self-esteem. How can I boost my self-confidence and be confident if every time a think about my past my self-esteem crashes?

Thanks for your reply!

ANSWER: Hello, Jack

I'm glad you asked us, and will start with three preliminary comments.  1. At 25, you haven't wasted your life; you've barely started adulthood. 2. I will tell you ways to improve but your expectations should be realistic. You won't become a local success story in a week. You won't attain all your own hopes. You won't forget things that you regret or have to search far to find others who have been more successful with their lives. But you will be considerably better, and insofar as you fall short of the mark, you won't fret about it nearly as much.  3. The help will not take the form of some expert "doing" something to you. You will do the work, and the expert will merely assist in direction, techniques, strategies, and measurement tools.

I advise you to find someone to guide your turnaround. This is the hardest step, and unfortunately I have to be general because I don't know what mental-health resources are available in your community or your financial situation or how such help is paid for in your country. Like most people with similar problems (and yours are far from unusual), you might do best with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. There are various professionals who can do either or both, but a practical approach would be to see a psychiatrist to discuss medication, and a clinical psychologist for some extended therapy.

If you use the initials ocd, I infer that you have been diagnosed by such a professional, so maybe start with that person. Or ask your family doctor for suggestions. Or inquire at a local hospital if there is a psychiatric or psychological wing where you could talk to an intake worker. Or see if there is a general clinic where various services are available. Or look up Psychologists, Clinical in various directories. If you were inventive enough to find me, you should be able to locate a local professional.

Even when you are in the hands of competent and qualified professionals, progress is rarely automatically assured. Medications are often a matter of trial-and-error over some time. Psychotherapy is also individual, and some pairs (client and practitioner) work out better than others.

If you want to take the first steps, give them a try for a month or so, and report back to me, I'll be glad to advise you further. (If so, please do it as a follow-up to this exchange.) Meanwhile, I wish you the best of luck and promise you that your life can improve.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Okay thank you very much for your quick response! Could you maybe suggest some good self-help books about "regretting the past" and maybe how to build some self-esteem and self-confidence?


Sometimes a psychotherapist, after an assessment, will indeed suggest self-help books (it's called bibliotherapy), and ways of addressing not just the root cause of the problem but some of the symptoms. So your asking me to steer you in those directions is close to putting me in the role of your therapist, one that I cannot assume for many reasons, all of which I'm sure you understand.

I predict you can get considerably better, but looking for shortcuts is unlikely to be as successful in the long run as considering my initial answer. After all, you've probably been establishing a psychological hole for one or two decades, so you can expect the long climb out to take time and effort. I doubt that reading a book on leaping will translate into everything you want.

Still, I doubt it would hurt, and when you're discontent, doing something is better than doing nothing. So if you want to try your idea first, the most detail I can ethically offer is to point out that most major bookstores and libraries will have a packed section called "self help" or somesuch.


Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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