From a teen in the U.S.: I have been unable to find what anxiety disorder I am suffering from for years, and when I had a therapist years back, she never diagnosed me either. I’ve been able to manage it thoroughly and in a healthy manner, but I want to have an official diagnosis (or a predicted diagnosis) in order to finally replace “I have an anxiety disorder”with “I have _____”.
My symptoms are very aligned to that of panic disorder. I experience random and unpredictable episodes of panic, sweating, an accelerated heart rate, feelings of choking, feeling dizzy, strong nausea, and fear of losing control. I used to fear having another panic attack (because I thought that would be the end of me for sure), but I learned to overcome that a while ago. I sometimes avoid situations (like heights or the theatres) that I’ve experienced panic attacks in before, but I can eventually fight through it.
This is where it gets interesting: my panic attacks are caused by completely irrational thoughts. I can get unleashed into a panic attack if I randomly start thinking about (bear with me here) the sky. Why? I fear that the whole world will flip over and that we’l all fall into space. No, I’m not kidding, but unfortunately, these thoughts can bring me into a state of panic. When I’m feeling calm or recovered from a panic attack, though, those thoughts are extraordinarily fascinating to me and I like to think about them. I also experience a panic attack when I think about the world being in constant motion, as I’m terrified gravity will malfunction and we’ll all be launched around. There will be times where I’m sitting in a classroom and I get an urge to stand up and leave. Because I know that it’s obviously inappropriate, I don’t do it, and I get unleashed into a state of panic.
Sometimes, I like to think that some thoughts serve as obsessions, except there are no compulsions. These thoughts get stuck in my mind, and I can’t stop thinking about them. As far as I’m concerned, I have not met a single person with panic disorder or any other anxiety disorder that experiences similar distressing thought patterns to my own. To me, my own situation is incredibly bizarre (and hilarious when I think about what’s actually driving my anxiety). What anxiety disorder do I have?
I’m sorry. It would be unethical for me to provide a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. Please consider going back to your therapist to talk about your concerns. If she submitted a bill to an insurance company, she most likely had to assign a diagnosis.
Please bear in mind that any diagnosis is only helpful if it informs treatment. It is not intended to label you. What you are describing may be the product of a very active and creative imagination and not necessarily a mental illness. It would probably be helpful for you to describe your thoughts and reactions to your therapist for a closer analysis to determine whether or not it is a psychological problem.
I wish you well.