Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Anxiety


QUESTION: Hello Allan,
I am 32 years old man. I am doing PhD and living abroad, away from my family since last four years. As an international student, I have limited resources and time so I have struggled a lot to finish my study on time. Six month before my father was seriously ill and I needed to go back to my country. He was in ICU for 25 days. That was the first experience of me to be in hospital for that long period. It affected a lot on my thinking. I come back when he recovered but still the situation was not good I needed to call my family multiple times in a day. Four months ago, one day I noticed that my heart is palpitating which I ignored but the next day when I was driving back to my home in night I recalled that palpitation and I had a panic attack but becuase I had concern about my heart I thought that my heart is going to burst. After that day, the thought remains in my mind that my heart is racing. After some days, I noticed that my heart is, perhaps, not racing but beating very hard. Now, I am struggling since then. Holter monitoring result is normal. Other bad thing which I did, was reading blogs on google where people have written that they have anxiety since ages. It never goes blah blah... That time I feel fear first time and My anxiety got worse. This though that anxiety never goes and I have to face these symptoms all my life makes me anxious. My gp gave me propanalol 10 mg and said nothing is wrong and you should not think about it. But I can't stop myself to not think about this. It does automatically.

Now a days, I feel disturb like uneasiness in my chest most of the time. Fortunately, I can sleep well. My anxiety and its symptoms almost finish in evening. But that uneasiness frustrates me a lot and sometime put me in a great depression.   
I am here to ask that IS THERE ANY HOPE? Does medical science has some solution? Can I recover and be like I was before?
I am living in a very isolated life because my university is in a remote region of Australia. this month, I am going to submit my thesis and planning to back to my country for few months. Do you think this will help?
Sorry for this long story.

ANSWER: Since you were able to rule out medical reasons (good for you), I can say with reasonable confidence that you are simply a victim of common anxiety, and that it is due to serious stress coming at you from two directions.

I predict that with the recovery of your father and the completion of your doctorate, the anxiety will vanish. But if it does not, or if some other problem surfaces, I suggest that the helper to see would be not a physician but a mental-health professional such as a clinical psychologist. Such a practitioner can work with you on how to cope with the feelings and worries so that you can control them.

I thank you for asking us and hope my comments will prove helpful. All the best to you, Rizvi, and feel free if you have a follow-up.


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

QUESTION: Thanks Alan. Your comment is really helpful.
My father is better now and I am also going to submit my thesis in next two weeks. I hope it would help me.
The problem is that I believe that anxiety never goes. These thoughts came from the blogs which I read on internet. The thought (anxiety does not go) always comes whenever I feel good and then makes up upset.
I believe it is a lack of confidence and fear that I will be remain like this, which keep me depressed. What will be your answer if I ask you that is that possible to get over from anxiety and its disorders? Is this common among people?
If someone give me a placebo injection saying that this is a cure of your anxiety then, I think, would feel better and possibly my anxiety will go away.  

Thanks again for your very supportive comment. I highly appreciate it.


Well thank you for your generous feedback ratings.

I think you are right, that probably anxiety is part of who and what you are. And that is why I talked not of curing or eliminating your feelings but simply of learning how to handle them, how to deal with them. That is the current tendency in modern psychology, and one that I recommend for you. It usually works well.

I really recommend you grit your teeth and do your best to push through whatever you have to do to get your submission in to your committee. Then, even if you feel fine, look for a clinician qualified to help you manage your anxiety and depression, which are the most common mental-health symptoms, which you can expect to come back when things are not going right, and which you can learn to handle.  You might have a better chance of finding one in Australia than in your native country, but you can check that.

Glad your dad is recovered, and good luck with your defense.


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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