Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Should I See a Psychiatrist?


Hi Andrew,

I'm going to cut to the chase and say that I'm a very stressed out person. I will be entering my senior year of high school, with multiple AP courses, while trying to jump enough levels in gymnastics to get a walk on to a college team.

My parents had a bad divorce a few years back, and their relationship is still iffy.

I've had a small number of panic attacks over my life (thinking about death and eternity) but they've all been severe, where I cannot breathe or stop crying, and I would end up vomiting and shaken up for days.

I haven't had a real attack in a long time (this is normal for me, sometimes I go a year) but I've been having anxiety, and almost slight paranoia. Every night, I have to check behind my bed several times to make sure nothing is there, even though I know that there never is. I cannot work with an open window behind me, and I cannot sleep with open drawers or closets. I keep looking in the back seat of my car WHILE DRIVING to check if anyone is there and going to get me, although I always know no one is there.

My dreams are always strange, and often involve people I love being cruel to me emotionally. I have always been a very distant person emotionally, and I find myself hard to cry, even in situations involving death. I am confident in social situations, but I have self esteem issues. I alternate frequently between amazing self confidence, and very strong self doubt. I get very angry with myself when I make mistakes, though I dont get nearly as upset when other people do. I am obsessed with the idea of perfect, to the point that I was actually very upset about a 2120 SAT score, as it wasn't the perfect 2400.

Whenever I even think of college, my heart begins to race and I think of every possible situation or scenario (good and bad) that could happen. I have ambitions, but I'm so scared that someone while poke a hole in my dreams that I dont share them with anyone.

I have never even considered suicide (my panic attacks have always been related to death in some way, so that's not even an option).

I can say that I've never heard voices or felt sheer terror in normal situations (save for my occasional attacks, but I can always recognize them, and could probably induce them if needed (though I would never ever ever want to do that)), but often I experience long bouts of insomnia, where I am kept up until I only get 2 or 3 hours of sleep each night. When I experience this insomnia, I often have slight lucid dreams, in which I feel like I'm being watched or analyzed, but I know I'm not and I'm not even the slightest bit afraid. If anything, I'm comforted. I've never had night paralysis, though I frequently move my hands while falling asleep to make sure I don't experience it.

I know that this all may be scattered, but at the very least its good to get it off my chest. My question is should I seek help, or at least just a psychiatrist to talk to? I love my family, but I could never open up to them in any way like this, and I've always been like that.

Deep down I don't think there is anything horribly wrong with me, I just feel like I'm breaking and that I'm not handling things the way I should. Also, the paranoia is getting very annoying, especially when I know that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Sorry if this is scattered,


Thank you for your thoughtful and very "un-scattered" letter about, when to seek psychological help,

Although professional diagnosis is not possible in this limited forum, I believe you are quite right in thinking that you are not suffering from any serious mental problems.

The best people are sensitive and ambitious, but this is a heady combination of personality traits, because we are always thinking of others and trying to do the right thing, but also privately want to accomplish a lot for ourselves.  Life is, or should be, a balance between doing what we need to do to survive and reach our goals and trying to make the world a better place for the people around us...this is never easy and almost always gives rise to a lot of over-thinking and self-doubt.

You need to get to know yourself and be calm about who you are so that you can adhere to the advice of the greatest psychologist who ever wrote in English, William Shakespeare, which is, "To thine own self be true."

Talking to a kind professional therapist can be very helpful, just make sure you find one with whom you are comfortable and feel you can trust.

Know also that you are already ahead of the  game, as you are conspicuously smart, thoughtful and self aware.  It is hard to want to keep pushing yourself all the time and to be at peace with yourself at the same time...this is the challenge, and it will be there with you all your life.  Not a curse of craziness by any stretch of the imagination, just the inner task that lies ahead of you, along with all the fun, adventure and excitement that is out there waiting for you also.

Best always,

Dr. Andrew Elmore

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.


30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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