How To Help Yourself Overcome The Fear Of Going Crazy
Updated October 14, 2021
While the phrase “going crazy” isn’t the best or right term to use (it’s overused, has many different meanings, and isn’t accurate for describing mental health concerns), worries about mental health and feelings that things in life are out of control can be very real. Effective strategies and help are available so that you can manage your worries and feel better.
Have you found yourself feeling so overwhelmed you ask yourself, “Is my mental health okay?” When dealing with rising levels of worry, stress, or feeling overwhelmed, fears about your mental health can become very real and distressing. Sometimes the difference between emotional challenges and mental illness aren’t crystal clear. For instance, if you usually feel anxious about upcoming deadlines, does it mean you have an anxiety disorder? Or if you feel down or in a bad mood because of overwhelming demands, does it mean you’re depressed? These may be typical or expected responses to obstacles. A person can experience mental health challenges and not be diagnosed with a mental illness.
Possible Reasons Behind Your Feelings
If you find yourself fearful or excessively worried about your mental health, looking at how you feel and what’s going on in your life can help. Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling down? Are you overwhelmed with demands and commitments? Are you experiencing relationship challenges? Are you worried about a loved one? Are you fearful about world events? Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition? Are you overusing or abusing drugs, alcohol, or other substances? Are you having intrusive thoughts that are distressing? These are just a few examples of questions to ask yourself.
Being aware of how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally can be a good first step for addressing your concerns. From there, you can learn ways to manage your fears and treat mental health concerns.
What Is Mental Health?
What Should You Do If You’re Worried About Your Mental Health?
If you’re worried about your mental health, consulting your primary care doctor/healthcare team or a licensed mental health professional can help you address your concerns. They have resources, knowledge, and tools to help you with your worries, whether you have a mental health disorder or are facing other life challenges that affecting your emotional wellness or fueling worries. If you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, they can give you resources and guidance about finding the right treatment, including medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
You can also try self-care strategies that boost and support mental wellness.
Self-care strategies include:
- Eating regular, healthy meals and staying hydrated. Nutrition and hydration can help you maintain your energy and feel good physically and emotionally. (Limiting caffeine can also help ease nervousness.)
- Thirty minutes of walking or other forms of exercise can boost endorphins—the “feel good chemical” that your brain releases.
- Spending time outside. Research shows that spending time in nature can improve mental health.
- Getting enough sleep in a regular sleep pattern. The right amount of sleep helps with emotional regulation and supports mental health. Adults should aim for seven or more hours a night; teens should get 8 to 10 hours a night.
- Prioritizing tasks and setting goals. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, setting goals for what is most important to accomplish can help.
- Practicing gratitude. Consciously reminding yourself each day about specific things you’re thankful for can help you feel better.
- Focusing on being positive. If you find yourself being negative, try to check your negative thoughts and change them. Try considering whether they’re accurate or whether they may have more positive alternatives.
- Staying connected with others. Friends and family can offer emotional support and prevent you from feelings of isolation that can harm mental wellness.
How Do I Know When To See A Mental Health Professional?
If you are worried about your mental health, connecting with a licensed mental health professional who will listen without judgement can help address your concerns.
If patterns or changes in thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (or a combination) cause distress and/or interfere with functioning in work, social, or family life, a person may be living with a mental health disorder.
- Notable changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, and personality.
- Prolonged depression or sadness.
- An inability to cope with day-to-day activities and challenges.
- Withdrawal from activities that you found pleasurable or a necessary part of your life (like a job or school).
- Social withdrawal.
- Strong feelings of anger.
- Many unexplained physical ailments.
- Substance abuse.
- Intense fear of weight gain.
- Suicidal thinking.
If at any time you or a loved one is in danger of suicide, please reach out for help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers help 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
Where Do I Find A Licensed Mental Health Provider?
Your primary care physician/healthcare team, insurance company, or local health department can offer you referrals for mental health care. You can also find affordable mental health services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Many resources are listed on the SAMSHA website, or you can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). BetterHelp is an online platform that can help you connect virtually with a licensed mental health professional. They offer convenient, affordable therapy from wherever you are.
Tips To Try If Worries About Mental Health (Or Other Issues) Become Intrusive Thoughts
What is, are intrusive thoughts? Unwanted, intrusive thoughts are thoughts that seem to come from nowhere. They can cause distress or anxiety. Sometimes the repetitive thoughts may be worries about safety or health (including mental health). Other times, they could be questions about religion, death, or topics that cannot be answered with certainty. They may include violent, sexual, or socially unacceptable images, which may cause shame and fear, such as an intense fear that the person experiencing them may act on the image that’s popped into their mind. People who experience intrusive thoughts may also have distressing worries that the unwanted thoughts or images mean that they unconsciously want to act on them, which mental health professionals generally say is not the truth. The thoughts may be so distressing because they’re unacceptable to the person having them and not in line with what they think is right, what they want to do, or what they will do. A person with intrusive thoughts may try desperately to suppress the thoughts, which can fuel the thoughts even more. It can become a vicious cycle that can fuel anxiety. A strategy to shut down intrusive thoughts is to try to form a new relationship with them.
- Know what you’re dealing with. Label the thoughts or images as intrusive.
- Remind yourself that the thoughts are automatic and that you did not cause them.
- Accept that the thoughts are in your mind and try to pause and let time pass without urgently trying to push the thoughts away. You might try deep breathing.
- Continue what you were doing before the intrusive thought. The thought and uncomfortable feelings may be present, but you can continue without trying to push the thoughts away while you wait for them to pass.
- Avoid trying to engage in the thoughts or to analyze what the thoughts mean.
- Continue applying this approach. It may not work immediately, but it can help decrease the intrusive thoughts with practice, and you may begin to feel better.
While most intrusive thoughts are just that—thoughts only—if you feel that you’re planning to act on a disturbing image or thought, please seek help. Call 9-1-1 if you believe you are an immediate threat to yourself or others.
Your Mental Health And Mental Healthcare
Try to remember that being worried does not mean you’re “going crazy.” The way you feel can vary from day to day, but when mental health concerns become more of a pattern or are causing you significant distress, seeking help can offer relief and reassurance. There is no shame in seeking help, and it does not mean you’re “going crazy.” Society is learning more about mental health concerns and the value of mental health care. With that knowledge, the stigma of mental illness and seeking mental health care has begun to diminish. With support, people who have mental health concerns or mental illness may begin to let go of self-stigmas, which refer to people's negative attitudes about their conditions. We can address mental health without using loaded words like “crazy.” You can be part of that positive change by communicating about mental health, having open discussions about its reality, using self-care strategies at home, and reaching out for professional help when it’s needed.
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