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Every Symptom I Have Puts Me In A Panic

Published: September 16, 2015
Dear Every Symptom I Have Puts Me In A Panic,

I'm going through a tough time right now. It all started in mid June when I caught the flu. I have always had hives triggered by sickness, so I took some Zyrtec and then took a hot bath to relieve the symptoms . While I was bathing, I dunked my head under, coughed, and water shot up my nose. I googled it, and then it become full on hypochondria. Ever since then, every little symptom sets me off. Headache? Brain amoebas. Dizzy? Cancer. Bubbles in mouth? Rabies. And so on. Now, it's august and I'm still like that. The worrying has gotten better, but now I have random dizzy spells, insomnia, and quite a few times where I completely freak out . I know stuff like this can be treated with therapy, but is there any way I can fix this problem at home..

Dear Every Symptom I Have Puts Me In A Panic,

TeenHealthFX thinks that it is a positive sign that you are at a point where you realize your fears require treatment since the one of hardest thing for hypochondriacs is to accept is that there is a problem. One important part of addressing this issue is for you to figure out exactly what your triggers are for your episodes. One of the best ways to do that is to keep a journal. Write down whenever you have an episode and describe it well (e.g. dizzy spells, sweating, difficulty breathing), as well as what triggered it (e.g. studying, working). If you are unsure of the specific trigger, you can simply write down what you were doing or thinking before the episode occurred.

Keeping this kind of journal will provide you with something you can do at home to help the situation in terms of better understanding your triggers and looking for patterns between specific events/thoughts and reactions. In addition to the journal, you might consider some of the following things you can do at home to help your anxiety:

  1. Yoga – This is a great form of meditation and a calming exercise that will teach you controlled breathing techniques which can help control symptoms of anxiety such as shortness of breath or a rapid heart rate. You can find a local class in your neighborhood or get recommendation from your doctor, P.E. teacher, or school nurse about reputable DVDs or YouTube videos that would have appropriate yoga sessions for your level and needs.

  2. Eating Healthy – Avoiding high-fat, high-sugar foods will prevent stomach cramping, reflux, heartburn, feeling sluggish and constantly fatigued. This will help in controlling your mind from thinking there is a physical aliment to any disease.

  3. Sleep Hygiene – Adequate sleep improves positive thinking and decreases any distress that can easily occur with lack of sleep. Establish a bedtime routine such as a regular set bedtime, reading your favorite book or a cup of herbal, decaffeinated tea. This bedtime routine will help any worrisome thoughts you have before falling asleep.

While there are certainly things that you can do at home, it is also important to reach out for help from reputable professionals. It can’t be one of the other to effectively treat this kind of issue. If your doctor has determined that there are no underlying medical concerns, then it would be helpful for you meet with a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, who can address these issues with you in weekly sessions. You can get a referral of someone reputable from a family member or family friend, from your doctor, or from the social worker or psychologist employed by your school. Once you have started therapy, you can discuss with your therapist whether it would be helpful to have a consultation with a reputable psychiatrist who can assess whether you would benefit from taking psychotropic medications, such as SSRIs.  

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.