Struggles With Hypochondria and Anxiety
Hello General Discussion,
I am a graduate student in physics in a very good US program. I have maintained perfect grades and begun what i consider rewarding research in an exciting new field. I have an excellent relationship with a loving girlfriend and enjoyable hobbies on the side. In short, everything I have worked hard for in my life has come to fruition so far. I should be (and for the most part) am very happy, happier than perhaps I've ever been. Why the post then?
I have terrible anxiety related to hypochondria, and it's been this way for the past couple years. I don't need to go into the details of what's wrong, but I've been convinced (at times) that several fairly serious illnesses are upon me at the same time. I have seen doctors, quite a few of them, including one who is a family friend and whom I trust to take his time to determine nothing is wrong with me. Many tests have come back negative (though I've never had a thorough physical done) and the doctors and my loved ones have all assured me that nothing is wrong.
I still don't believe them and have scheduled a comprehensive physical, with blood work, in the next week. I am 23 years old. As an undergraduate I smoked fairly heavily and at times drank even more heavily. These foolish endeavors of youth coupled with a relatively sedentary life since high school contribute greatly to my anxiety. I have since quit smoking completely and drink only occasionally and in moderation now. My diet is good, but not spectacular. I do not eat fast food and I take a multivitamin. I drink both a lot of coffee (two to three cups a day) and a lot of water (perhaps 8 - 10 cups). I have only one chronic ailment that I know of and it is neither serious nor related to my causes of anxiety.
I am torn between denouncing myself as an irrational imbecile and wanting to scream at everyone that I'm not OK!
The anxiety strikes at me on nights weekends. On weekdays I go into the office and work the whole day. I am efficient and competent, and I enjoy this work. I don't think about my health in a negative light until I'm at home with the lights out, lying in bed. Then the anxiety sets in. I usually can't sleep at this point so I do some math in my head, perhaps taking the square root of some 3 digit number or thinking about the convergence of some series, anything to take my mind off of it. Then after an hour or two I exhaust myself into sleep. Coffee jolts me into efficiency in the morning. By Friday, I am sleep deprived. I sleep in on Saturday, intent on getting some enjoyable work done, maybe on a side project. Perhaps I want to learn something unrelated to my area of primary interest. I wake up after my first good night's sleep in a week and become paralyzed with anxiety for the rest of the day. Sunday is the same and then Monday morning, after 4-5 hours of sleep I am fine... until bed time...
Today has been especially miserable, thus this post. I don't know how to get rid of this irrationality. After each doctor's appointment my mind usually settles for a week or two until I convince myself there's something the doctor missed. I have considered seeking counsel of a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have had bad experiences in the past and sort of wish to avoid seeing these sorts of professionals in the future.
I am sorry for the long winded post. I'm not sure what I am trying to accomplish other than getting this off my chest and asking for a bit of advice from like minded people(you physics soundrels, you). I wish to hear anything about similar experiences.
As a final note I will mention that my grand father was a huge hypochondriac all of his life. It ended up SAVING his life... Perhaps this knowledge serves to only further my nuttiness.
TL;DR -> I'm sort of crazy
ZF, the version of Feynman with no brains at all
Re: Struggles With Hypochondria and Anxiety
We cannot diagnose you, but relax, many people suffer from anxiety. Speak to your primary physician, they can prescribe something that will relieve your anxiety and allow you to get back to feeling normal again.
If your primary physician feels that you need a specialist, a psychiatrist can prescribe the correct medicines. The relief you can get from appropriate medication can give you back a normal life. Don't keep suffering, see a medical professional about your anxiety asap.
Hope your physical tests all come back normal. A psychiatrist can also help you. Psychiatrists have gotten their MD's already, then spend years afterwards specialing in the brain. Find one that does both therapy and medication, if you feel you want therapy also. A good psychiatrist will be concerned with your physical health as well, and can be a great resource for recommending specialists for physical ailments, and take everything into consideration.
I hope you find a good doctor and good luck.
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