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Anxiety & Mood Swings

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Since I can remember I have had horrible anxiety when it came to change and social interactions. On top of that I would experience horrible mood swings, from feeling like I was a superstar to feeling so sad and hopeless I wanted to die! I have been on many different anti-depressants and anxiety drugs. I have always felt out of place and had few, if any, friends. As a kid I would fake being sick so I didn’t have to go to school, if I had to do a presentation in front of the class I would pretend I was sick or hurt to go home to get out of it, as I got older, like high school I would go hide in the rest room until that class was over so I didn’t have to be in front of the class. In my adult life I have hid in a rest room at work so I didn’t have to give out an award in front of a 100 people! I have walked off jobs because I was to scared to walk through the door.

Now I just moved and transferred to another store and in a completely new dept. I know nothing and feel like a complete idiot! My anxiety is off the charts, I am hundreds of miles away from my wife and kids all alone in a little studio apt and my depression is the worst its ever been. I am so tired of feeling like this, I can remember all the way back to preschool and feeling the anxiety from being around others. I am at the end of my rope, I feel something is majorly wrong with me. I have been to numerous therapists but only go a couple times then get freaked out and quit! It feels like its getting worse and I am afraid I am going to lose my job!

Anxiety has plagued you since childhood. It continues to be a problem, most likely because it has never been properly treated. You feel as though the problem has become worse over time. It seems as though it has. Avoiding or fleeing anxiety-producing situations reinforces an anxiety problem and will increase future anxiety, in most cases. It temporarily provides relief but in the long run, it makes it worse.

There are very effective treatments that exist for anxiety and panic. Two of the best are (1) cognitive behavioral therapy and (2) exposure and response prevention therapy. Both are very good but they cannot work if you quit therapy prematurely.

The key to overcoming anxiety is to resist the urge to flee a situation when you feel anxious. Your desire to flee a situation is understandable in the face of severe anxiety but it is this very behavior that reinforces the anxiety. Resisting this urge to flee and enduring anxiety are the only true ways to solve this problem.

It is important to understand the nature of anxiety. It can increase to very high levels but it can only reach a maximum. It will eventually peak and then decrease. Part of exposure and prevention response therapy is encouraging the client to endure all of the stages of anxiety, from the most intense periods to its ultimate decrease. Exposure and prevention response therapy would essentially force you to face your fears in a systematic and controlled environment.

Force yourself to attend therapy even if it makes you uncomfortable and anxious. It may be unpleasant but it is a cure. Anxiety does not have to be a crippling or lifelong problem.

My suggestion is to find a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety disorders. Also consider a therapist who specializes in exposure and response prevention therapy. For those who are willing to undergo this type of therapy, the success rates are very high. A Psych Central blogger recently posted about her experience.

Psychotropic medications can help to decrease your anxiety while undergoing therapy. You have tried several medications and they have not worked but that is not an uncommon beginning. You should continue to work with your prescribing physician and continue to search for one, or a combination of several, medications that will provide relief. Remember, relief is not a cure but merely a means to manage symptoms.

Unfortunately, if this problem is left untreated it will very likely worsen. This is often the nature of an untreated anxiety disorder. The find help tab, at the top of this page, can help you locate a therapist in your community. I wish you the best. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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