Paranoia & Phobias Answers

Why I feel like I have something stuck in my throat when nothing is inside my throat

Hello Wiz,  Many causes can cause you to feel like you lump in your throat. They can be physical, linked to pathology, as well as psychological, following an emotional shock. The feeling of lumping in the throat, like a lump, is relatively standard. Multiple causes can explain this unpleasant sensation.  If there is a feeling of a lump in the throat, the main symptom is difficulty in swallowing, swallowing. Sometimes this lump can cause a sore throat. This discomfort can also give a natural feeling of strangulation. You have already ruled out physical explanations by consulting doctors and getting an endoscopy. If the lump is just emotional, sometimes relaxing can be enough. I am therefore going to support you with ways to address it through therapeutic techniques.  The sensation of globus is often described as the sensation that there is a ball of peanut butter stuck in the throat. This is an exclusionary diagnosis, which is a fancy way of saying that the symptoms are not due to some other cause, such as an obstruction, motor disorder, or acid reflux.  The cause of globus sensation is not fully understood; perhaps the most interesting proposed reason, however, is what doctors call "psychological abnormalities." In the late 80s and early 90s, several studies linked the sensation of globus to neuroticism, introversion, anxiety, and depression. Recent studies have supported the earlier work and have attached the success of globus to other psychological disorders and high-stress situations, such as living in an urban area. It has also been reported that being assessed for globus sensation can improve symptoms by reducing patient anxiety. Although these studies do not necessarily prove a cause and effect relationship between globus sensation and affective disorders (association ≠ causation), they provide a reason to suspect that the two are related. Have you consulted a psychiatrist? Antidepressants are believed to be helpful, particularly in patients who have psychiatric disorders, such as panic disorder, somatization, major depression, or agoraphobia. However, data supporting antidepressants for globus sensation is mainly limited to case reports and retrospective studies.  Relaxation therapy can also offer benefits. Current evidence supporting its use for globus sensation is minimal. However, relaxation therapy is effective for people with anxiety disorders in general. This makes it a good option, especially compared to medications, which can have unwanted side effects. To recap, the globus sensation causes extremely annoying, misunderstood, and long-lasting discomfort that does not have simple treatment. If you're someone who is actively showing symptoms, this probably isn't the most reassuring news. Globus sensation is a mild disorder and often resolves on its own. However, if you do have symptoms, don't assume they are mild. Many genuine and hazardous illnesses can cause similar symptoms. If you are diagnosed with globus sensation, it is crucial to understand that just because the symptoms are "psychological" does not mean they are less accurate or valid. At the very least, a diagnosis could be an opportunity to take a step back and look inward. Another disorder I would like to discuss is phagophobia. It manifests as the overwhelming and irrational fear of swallowing and choking.  Those affected fear more than anything the suffering that could cause suffocation and what would follow, that is to say, death. Often confused with anorexia nervosa, phagophobia is not manifested by the fear of putting on weight. In milder cases, the person will eat solid food but spend a significant amount of time chewing to make tiny pieces before eating. They fear being ridiculous in the eyes of others and will progressively separate themselves to avoid any situation presenting the slightest risk. In many cases, the fear is triggered by a harmful event such as food swallowed the wrong way or unloved food that elicits terrible feelings. Like many phobias, many patients speak of an irrational fear without explanation. Phagophobia triggers several psychic and bodily manifestations: Anxiety Weightloss Vertigo Excessive sweating Nausea Dry mouth Tremors Tachycardia Fear of dying Agoraphobia As the name suggests, phagophobia is a phobia, therefore a fear. The most suitable treatment is a psychological follow-up, based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the objective of which is to support the patient in modifying his thoughts and behaviors. You have to put yourself in a situation gradually. For instance, you have first to eat things that are moderately easy to consume, then eat something that is a little harder little by little. This helps to desensitize, much like allergies. There needs to be gradual desensitization. In people with pain, the throat muscles contract during times of anxiety. Some patients report that seeing an osteopath helps a lot with their muscles. Once individuals become aware of their illness and begin a care process, the food diary and the feel at application can be a valuable tool to support them throughout their healing journey. In the short or long-term objectives section, patients will list the foods they wish to reintroduce as and when they see their progress. I hope that my answer is helpful. If you want additional clarification or if you have another question, don't hesitate to reach back. Also, I am available for therapy, and Betterhelp has many great providers available.     
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to deal with Maladaptive Daydreaming and Misophonia ?

Dear FyoMakiAure,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions from the symptoms you mentioned. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Needle phobia

Hello, Thank you for reaching out with your question. Yes, online therapy can be very helpful with a wide range of issues, including phobias, fears and anxiety. What comes to mind for treating a fear of needles would be techniques such as exposure therapy and desensitization strategies.    Exposure therapy involves exposing you to the stimulus (in your case, needles) in a safe and controlled environment. For example, you would first look at a picture of a small needle, then look at a small needle directly, handle it, hold it, touch it. During all of this, your comfort would be checked throughout. If, at any time, you become anxious or scared, relaxation techniques would be taught and utilized. You would not at any time be forced beyond your comfort level. We would discuss the increased level of discomfort, as it was happening and look for triggers and causes of the fear.   The concern for your situation, in particular, is that you say you are avoiding needed medical care and treatment. If we were working together in therapy, I would want to know whether you have spoken with your medical professional/physician about your fear. Is this fear rooted in any one particular incident or situation? If there is a specific event that led to this fear, we would explore that in more detail to figure out the root of the fear. Do you or any of your family member have a history of previous medical treatments which were painful or traumatic, possibly a death? What specifically are you fearful of, discomfort, pain, finding out you have a specific diagnosis?    I wish you all the best in this journey and applaud for taking the time to ask this question and look for guidance. Oftentimes, once someone is able to conquer their specific fear or worry, they often report that it was not as bad as they thought it would be. We often exaggerate events in our minds that you are fearful of, only to realize later than it was not so bad. This could very well be the case for you. Reach out to your physician/nurse and be open and upfront with your fear and worry about the needles. They should also be able to help you with this. Take care.    
Answered on 01/21/2022

Um stressed and having anxiety, indulge into drugs, due to some personal issues, My head is stuck

Hello, I'm sorry you're going through so much! Typically with hallucinations, paranoia and possible delusions (scared of people and things) we would recommend you see a doctor to help you decrease those symptoms or get more sleep, which could be causing those symptoms. A psychiatrist is the best, but if you cannot get in soon enough, a family doctor can typically help you get on a medication and refer you to a psychiatrist.    Therapy for this would help you to learn grounding techniques, mindfulness and eventually work out your trauma. Those techniques, and other things that distract your mind, will help decrease the hallucinations.    You do mention drug use, that can invoke paranoia, delusions or hallucinations, and may be complicating your trauma. I understand it may decrease other symptoms when you use, but it is detrimental to your mind overall. For instance, if you are using alcohol; the night after drinking you will be more depressed as alcohol is a depressant. It turns into a vicious cycle as you're trying to feel better but it may increase symptoms. Prescription medication has many studies to show what part of the brain it targets and the side effects are minimal compared to street drugs.   Grounding techniques and mindfulness are things such as: Use your five senses to identify what you are doing. (Pet a dog and notice how they smell, look, sound, and feel [don't taste them :)).  Play I spy games such as noticing 5 red things around you. You can also just reach out for a friend when you're wondering if something isn't real such as touching, someone else's arm. Another good trick would be getting a strong mint or sour candy that will bring you back into the present when you eat it.  Step outside in the cold, take a cold shower or hold an ice cube. This will also bring you back to the present.   We have many great therapists at Betterhelp that can assist you in deploying these techniques and getting you a referral to a doctor who can assist you in getting on some medication to help decrease your symptoms and also the cravings for other drugs. 
(MSW, MN, LICSW, #26706, EMDRIA, Certified)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to get over a fear/phobia of blood and injury

The fear you describe is common and it is completely understandable that you developed this as a reaction to the trauma you witnessed.  It completely changed your brain chemistry and now your brain overreacts to blood of any kind and even to situations that are not unsafe.  Cognitive-Behavioral therapy would be the best choice to focus on this specific fear.  It’s good that you want to face the issue rather than avoid it.  There are many reasons to address this issue in your life.  There are many occasions in our regular life that require you to have a calmer reaction to seeing blood.  Even in your own self-care and health, it is necessary for you to be able to give blood and participate in supporting others in their medical procedures.  First and foremost, I want you to know that you are not alone.  This is a common problem for many people.  Doc Martin is a popular BBC show that created a comedy out of a surgeon’s sudden inability to deal with blood.  However, in  the reality that you live with, it is not a laughing matter. The fact that you have been able to identify the triggering event is very helpful.  Some have this problem without trauma—just in their unique brain chemistry.  I believe that you would respond very well to therapy in processing through the trauma and addressing the unrealistic fears that you have developed regarding blood and fear of potential injury. Recovery involves going back to the place of your pain.  You would re-live the incident where you witnessed the horrific scene.  This seems the opposite of what you would think is appropriate for dealing with the situation.  Most of your life you think you have been trying to escape the horror of that one event.  Yet the opposite is true.  It is through going back to that event and identifying the lies that you have come to believe that makes you uncomfortable when someone in a completely different situation is using a sharp object in an appropriate way.  You will be led to think through this event in a new and freeing way.  I can’t say that it won’t be hard.  Everything in you tells you not to think about that event.  However, it is that event that has trapped you in this way of thinking.  It’s important for you to face this fear so that you are free to be there for your loved ones and for yourself as you never know when you are going to be faced with another not dangerous incident that involves blood and does need your ability to respond well.  I’m sure that there are many ways that you have learned to avoid the situations that involve blood and that is okay.  However, you don’t want to become paralyzed by fear in the future if there is a situation that you could not plan for or have known would happen.  The therapy work that you do will prepare you to be ready to face life and the reality of blood.  I’m glad you asked this question and I hope you follow through in therapy.
(D., Phil., LPC, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how do i handle rejection or the fear of being rejected. how do get over someone

Thank you for having teh courage to ask this question! I know it is not easy to put yourself out there in that way, and I hope that I can provide some insight. After reading the context you described when addressing your emotional distress, I kept going back into choice theory and how it may help you with the decision-making process that you seem to be struggling with when it comes to handling rejection. The choice theory emphasizes the individual’s control over his or her feelings and actions and teaches the concept that all behavior is chosen. It was created by Dr. William Glasser. The theory states that all human behavior is driven by the desire to satisfy five basic human needs: the need to be loved and accepted, the need to be powerful, the need to be free, the need to have fun, and the need to survive. Conflict arises because humans can only control their behavior. The Ten Axioms: We have already seen the first axiom: humans can only control their behavior. The second is that all we give or get from others is information. Number three is that all long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems. Axiom four is that we must have at least one satisfying relationship. The others are: • The past has a lot to do with who we are, but it does not hold us, prisoners. • We are driven by five genetic needs. • We satisfy these needs by building “quality worlds.” • All behavior consists of four components: acting, feeling, thinking, and physiology. • Recognizing that we all control our behavior brings us freedom. • We only have “direct control” overacting and thinking, but we can gain indirect control over feeling and physiology through these. How it Works: Patients who are frustrated over their inability to conquer certain concepts and gain specific skills may be taught to reframe their thinking about what constitutes a quality world for them. Other therapies concentrate on past behaviors and ask the clients to work through “triggers for the behavior so that they can avoid them in the future. Choice Theory and its component, Reality Therapy, do not spend time on the past. They ask clients to concentrate on the present ( the reality) and ask them to envision changes they might make in their behavior that would help them get what they want out of their lives ( or the perception they have of their quality worlds). The concept of Total Behavior is also involved. That is the concept that people can do little to directly change their physiology (such as anxiety attacks) or their feelings, but direct changes to thoughts and actions cause indirect alterations in those areas. Choice Theory encourages people to build relationships that create “quality worlds” to build cooperation and connection with others. Reality Therapy: Reality therapy was created using the principles of choice theory. Its main objective is to have the client make adaptive decisions that will help them meet their basic human needs. Glasser did not believe in mental illness, per se. Instead, problems were the result of unfulfilled goals. Because choice theory deals in the here and now, the client is asked to focus on the present rather than rehashing past experiences. Reality therapy emphasizes the client-therapist relationship. It is thought that the therapeutic relationship serves as a model for other relationships in the client’s life. Indeed, Glasser believed that many problems were due to the disconnection between people. It is the therapist’s job to guide the client toward making the choices that will yield the most positive interpersonal outcomes. It is very much a problem-solving approach. A client must assess how their current behavior is ineffective and then work on changing it to better realize their objectives. The successful client will learn to take responsibility for their actions and make a commitment to enacting more adaptive behavior. With its focus on problem-solving, reality therapy is effective with numerous problems, including addiction and other behavioral disorders. However, it possibly has shown the most success in helping adolescents address behavior problems in school and the community. Rational Choice Theory: Another offshoot of choice theory, the rational choice theory states that people make decisions based on analyzing the pros and cons of a situation. This means that people weigh the costs and benefits of potential choices before settling on a course of action. Originally conceived as an economic theory, it was a way to understand how people make decisions to maximize their money. As time has passed, however, the rational choice theory has evolved to include all areas of human decision-making, including sociology and political science. Under this assumption, all human behavior can be seen as a way to meet individual needs. For example, relationships are assessed by the benefits they provide a person. According to rational choice theory, human interaction is a transactional process where the perceived gain is emphasized over other motivations.   I hope that this could help address some of your questions, and if you want more information please let me know, and have a blessed day!
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What should I do?

Hi there and thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you are having some uncomfortable feelings of paranoia and are hearing people laughing at you. It also sounds like maybe some people have told you that you have delusional thoughts. A worry that you have is if you talk to a provider that he or she will diagnose you with a mental health disorder and that you will be put in a locked institution. That is a really scary thought.  But it also sounds like you feel like you have managed some of these thoughts and feelings in an effective way but then also feel like your friendships and relationships get stymied. This keeps you from having the kind of friendships and romantic relationships that you are interested in. It sounds like it has also kept you from achieving some goals that you have for yourself professionally or otherwise.  So where to go from here?  You feel like you can do some things on your own but might not mind some support but if you ask for the support you will get locked up. Well, that depends right? In most states, you are not able to be "locked up" unless you present as a clear danger to yourself or others. And even if that were to happen there are evaluation periods that are generally 24-72 hours before there would be a formal commitment. So that is the scariest scenario.  What is the next scariest scenario? Talking to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist who has the ability to give you a diagnosis and they might say that you have an anxiety disorder or a thought disorder or schizophrenia. They might be able to help you get some meds or seek out treatment that would provide support in your life with activities of daily living or help your thoughts become more manageable. This could actually help prevent you from being locked up.  Less scary than that? Reaching out to a counselor here on betterhelp to help you explore what you are feeling and what your options might be to implement some coping mechanisms or get some support that you may need. Taking a step like asking the question that you did was a healthy first step... trying to find out more information and to find out what your options might be.  I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about what your options to get some help look like. It is all about at what level you feel comfortable and what will ultimately help you get to the place in life that you want to be: achieving more of your personal goals and maintaining meaningful relationships.   
Answered on 01/21/2022

When does having high Anxiety levels become a proper mental condition?

Thank you for reaching out for some help, Lena. It sounds like you have been struggling with high anxiety and paranoia. While anxiety and paranoia share similarities and may even be co-occurring symptoms, they are entirely different phenomena that are not mutually exclusive. In other words, you may experience anxiety, paranoia, or some combination of the two mental health issues. Of note, you can experience these symptoms - anxiety or paranoia - and it not necessarily rise to the level of clinical significance. Anxiety and paranoia can also manifest as byproducts of other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Perhaps none of these apply in your situation. You may be experiencing anxiety and paranoia secondary to trauma you endured from bullying or abuse during childhood.  Whatever the cause of your anxiety and paranoia, you did the right thing by reaching out for help.  The common ground shared between anxiety and paranoia are negative thoughts that are not necessarily rooted in reality. It sounds like your paranoia seems specific to social settings where you believe people are thinking and speaking negatively about you. While you have no concrete evidence to support your suspicions, these negative thought patterns nevertheless seem to prevail in your mind. You may have rehearsed these unhealthy narratives for so many years that they have become automatic thoughts making challenging them even more diffuclt. I can imagine living this way would complicate your interactions with others, making relationships nearly impossible to function healthily. Many people who face similar challenges isolate from others to avoid feeling this way, which unfortunately only worsens anxiety over time.  I am especially proud of you for overcoming the additional challenge in reaching out for some assistance with this matter in particular. Although I am licensed to diagnose mental illnesses, we are not permitted to provide you with a diagnosis as a licensed therapist on BetterHelp. If you are seeking an official mental illness diagnosis, you may wish to consider seeking treatment from another source where diagnoses are offered. However,  you may benefit from initiating counseling with a therapist on BetterHelp to master coping strategies to help you more effectively cope with paranoia and anxiety.
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

would i be oblivious to the fact that i have schizophrenia if i really do have it?

Hi Cat, First of all, you should be proud of yourself that you're reaching out for help. It sounds like you've been bothered by this paranoia and hallucinations for a while now, and getting help can significantly improve the quality of your life. To answer your question, some people with Schizophrenia are well aware that the hallucinations are not real and that it's resulting from their mental health, while others do not have that insight.  I can understand how scary all of this must be for you. There's actually a lot of good news here. If you do have Schizophrenia (which I'm not sure you do--I'll explain below), there are much better treatments for it today than there were decades ago. Many people with Schizophrenia, if they take their medications as prescribed, have no symptoms at all, and there's a good chance that you know people with Schizophrenia who live perfectly normal lives because they're on the right medications. I You have an appointment with someone and I'd imagine you'd receive a diagnostic assessment, and so a lot of questions will be asked to determine whether you do in fact have Schizophrenia. However, there are a lot of explanations for what you're experiencing, and if you've been able to function pretty well in life, my guess is that you probably don't have Schizophrenia. Some people experience these symptoms due to significant stress in their life. This is especially common for those who have endured trauma. In those cases, working on stress management and on the trauma can often reduce or eliminate these symptoms. In other cases, the symptoms are a result of using substances. I don't know if you do use any substances, but even marijuana for some people can result in hallucinations and delusions that don't necessarily disappear immediately when the marijuana use is stopped. There are also other mental health disorders that can involve having depressive episodes. For example, some people have Schizoaffective Disorder, which is less severe than Schizophrenia, and some people only have mood disorders with psychotic features, which means that their depression or mania is resulting in the hallucinations and delusions and that the focus needs to be on treating the mood disorder. Given that you may be describing a depressive episode before these symptoms start, I'm not sure that Schizophrenia is what you have. Honestly though, the diagnose itself is not what's important--you receiving the support that you need, and if you do need medication, receiving that--that's far more important than any label that can be given.  So, I certainly couldn't diagnose you based on the information that you've presented, but I just want to assure you that what you're experiencing is very treatable and also much more common than what most people think. I absolutely think therapy could be helpful, and I do encourage you to sign up for it, but do also keep your appointment with a psychiatrist or medical doctor who can prescribe medication if necessary. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for reaching out for this support. I'd be happy to work with you if you're interested in participating in therapy. 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Starting to get paranoid. Is there a test for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder?

To answer your question, yes there are assessments and medication that can assist with these issues. Based on your question I'm not sure if you're concerned about schizophrenia is because of family history?   Better help therapists cannot prescribe medication and that needs to be the first step in order to help stop the voices. so you'll need to speak with your primary care physician. They will then most likely need to refer you to a psychiatrist because they are able to prescribe certain classes of medication that a primary physician cannot.   Insurance companies often require a referral from a primary care physician for a psychiatrist  anyway, so that's why I suggest you start there or local ER, whichever is easiest.    If I chance you do not have insurance then going through your ER would be the quickest route since they cannot turn you away is simply because you don't have insurance.  There are definitely meds though that can assist with bipolar and or schizophrenia  symptoms depending on the actual diagnosis given. The fact that you are hearing voices and experiencing paranoia, is essential that you contact your doctor to initiate this process for you. Once your medications are determined you can then ask for referral for outpatient counseling.   If you find that the primary care physician is not available due to scheduling, you can also Go to an ER in your nearest hospital. There should be someone there Who could assist with getting medication Until you can make an appointment to an appropriate physician.  If the ER staff cannot provide an assessment they will have resources to refer you to a local agency who can help you.  In my area we have a local psychiatric hospital that specializes in providing assessments and testing as well as medication. If you have an option like that where you live, this may be the quickest route For getting assistance. Start with these beginning steps and that should get you headed in the right direction. I wish you the very best and applaud your efforts to reach out for help. The right medication can go along way to stabilizing your symptoms. Once that is in place then it will make Counseling more effective since you'll be able to focus better.
(LCSW, MSSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how to deal with paranoia

Thank you for reaching out to get some help, Sour. I can imagine living like this has created a lot of suffering for you. I find it fascinating that you are able to acknowledge that your thoughts are irrational, yet it seems you still believe them to be true. These thoughts are so invasive that they interfere with your ability to sleep at night. I wonder if you are able to sleep at all. If you are not sleeping or sleeping very little, then I would imagine these symptoms will only worsen over time. Sleep is so imperative to achieving optimal mental health.  It sounds to me as though you are experiencing not only paranoia, but you are also endorsing delusional thinking. Paranoia and delusional thinking are components of psychosis.  In other words, you appear unable to distinguish what is real from what is not real. Although it feels so real that you repeatedly check your bed, you are still not convinced that there are no bugs crawling on you. You are afraid of bugs crawling on you even though you have no evidence to suggest that they are indeed there. I am curious as to when this phenomenon began. I would also like to know why this sensation only occurs at night and if it is restricted to your bed only or if it is generalized to other locations. I wonder also if you experience any paranoia or delusions in other aspects of your life. Most people who experience paranoia and delusions have these thoughts in other areas, as well.  However, if your belief that bugs are crawling on you is the only "irrational" thought you have, then there may be a specific trigger. If you were exposed to bed bugs previously, maybe you are reliving the memories and now you feel anxious and hypervigilant of it recurring. If there are no actual historical cases of a bed bug infestation,  then this phenomenon may be explained by other factors. Some drugs - namely, stimulants - may actually trigger this sensation.  In this case, it would be a substance-induced psychotic episode.  If you are using any drugs, I would advise you discontinue their use immediately as they are triggering and/or exacerbating your psychosis. Psychotic symptoms like the ones you described could also be a symptom of your "psychotic break," mania, and/or depression with psychotic features. Although some conditions can be managed without medication, psychotic symptoms typically require pharmacological interventions. I recommend you additionally pursue psychiatric medication options to target the psychotic symtoms. In order to adequately treat your symptoms, you will need to speak with a psychiatrist for further evaluation. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why am I scared if darkness

Thanks reaching out for help, Easa. Your fear of the dark sounds like it is bringing you quite a deal of distress. I can imagine having this fear could have severe implications on your quality of life. It sounds like you have had a lifetime long fear of the dark. Child development experts would agree that some degree of fear of the dark would be considered appropriate and normal for younger children to experience. However, it would seem that your fear of the dark has persisted into adulthood. It would be helpful to know where you could trace back the origins of your fear of the dark. I wonder if your fear is rooted in something traumatic that happened to you in the dark or if it is based on messages you received during childhood.  Despite the origins, the fact remains that your fear remains and it does not appear to be abating. Not surprisingly, your fear has not only continued, but your fear has intensified. You also mentioned not only being afraid of the dark, but you are also afraid of ghosts. I wonder if your fear of the dark is linked to your fear of ghosts and their connection to darkness. Nevertheless,  your fear is so intense that you experience physiological responses with your insomnia, shortness of breath,  and racing heart. What you described is your body's fight vs flight response. When we feel threatened,  our sympathetic nervous system revs up and our bodies essentially respond as though they are in a life vs death scenario. To exacerbate the matter,  it appears you use distractions to avoid facing your fear of the dark. When you turn on the lights, for example, to avoid confronting your fear of the dark your fear of the dark only continues to flourish. Avoidance is a typical fear response and while it does offer temporary relief, it actually makes your fear loom larger than ever before! The more you avoid, the more the fear grows as you are not acquiring  memories (or evidence) that counter the fear.  Perhaps there is a message you are telling yourself (i.e. "Bad things happen in the dark") that has no opportunity to be challenged because you are not permitting yourself an opportunity to actually spend time in the dark free of all the avoidance mechanisms. Lastly, I encourage you to address your fear in therapy. Therapy provides an invitation for you to uncover the origins of your fear and learn how to overcome this fear. The hardest part often times is getting over our own fear of fear. You took a courageous step today by reaching out for help. Your next step will bring you closer to a solution in transcending your fear of the dark. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get myself feeling unstuck from where I am?

Good morning Allison, Sorry to hear that you are struggling with so many symptoms.  I'm glad you reach out to for help.   First of all, it is difficult to diagnose what condition you might have base on very limited information you provided.  I strongly advise that you seek out a mental health professional to describe your symptoms, severity, duration more thoroughly in order for the mental health professional to form at least a provisional/working diagnosis.  Once a provisional diagnosis is reach, the mental health professional can work with you on a treatment plan to help "unstuck" you from the symptoms and behaviors that you are suffering from.   Since you have been "almost positive that I have either adhd,ocd, or autism" and also have "severe anxiety disorder and depression", I would like to provide you with some pointers about OCD for you to prepare yourself on what to present at an official meeting with a mental health care provider, in order to be diagnosed properly.  Again, these are just the pointers for you to check off and prepare, and only limited to OCD, not a "self-diagnose" tool.  Please avoid diagnosing yourself.   I wish you all the best, Man   SYMPTOMS OF OCD Anxiety Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts Repetitive thoughts Compulsive behavior Feeling the need to perform certain tasks Seeking reassurance Avoidance Becoming isolated Depression   WHAT ARE OBSESSIONS? Obsessions are uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts, images or the fear of performing an impulse.   Common OCD Obsessions Exaggerated fears of contamination from contact with people or everyday items Fear of causing harm to yourself or others Overwhelming urge to arrange items in a particular order so that they are just right Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky Fears of committing violent, sexually inappropriate, immoral, or sacrilegious action Overly concerned with illness or disease   WHAT ARE COMPULSIONS? Compulsions are behaviors one engages in to neutralize or mitigate fear, stress, or anxiety from obsessions. Compulsions can become incredibly time-consuming and take over someone’s life.   Common OCD Compulsions Repeatedly washing hands or showering Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety Continually seeking reassurance from others Repeating; re-reading or re-writing Ordering or arranging objects unnecessarily
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can i get over and make my life better

Hello, and thank you for your question. Fear of heights, or acrophobia, is a specific type of phobia that usually involves severe anxiety and may include panic attacks. Typically, phobias develop after a situation involving the stimuli (in this case heights) causes a person to fear for their life or wellbeing of someone else's life or wellbeing. The threat can be real or just be perceived as real by the individual. For example, a child can see someone fall from a building and develop a fear of heights. Every time the child is somewhere high up they may experience anxiety and can even suffer a panic attack even though there is no threat of actual harm present. A common situation could be walking up a flight of stairs  and experiencing a panic attack     The most common practice to work on and improve specific phobias is exposure therapy.  Exposure therapy is a therapeutic technique where the individual is exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli without any danger is present. Depending on the level of the anxiety and the specific phobia exposure therapy can be done in several ways.  Before actually exposing an individual to the stimuli (heights) it is important to create a scale where they can measure their current level of anxiety. I like using a 0-10 scale where 10 is having a panic attack and 0 is no anxiety being present. Before exposing yourself to the stimuli, it is important to be able to differentiate what each number is. Maybe a 1 might be going up a small set of stairs, and a four is looking out the window of a two-story house. Creating distinctions between the numbers will help you measure your growth and push yourself to overcome your fear.   Before exposing yourself to the stimuli, you also want to make sure you have appropriate coping skills in place. Exposure therapy is about being uncomfortable and you need to have skills to manage that discomfort. Before exposure therapy, I would recommend exploring grounding techniques that can help you feel safe and calm down during situations of anxiety or panic.  Once you have developed a scale and have appropriate coping skills, you can slowly put yourself in anxiety-inducing situations that have no threat present. A common one is to imagine yourself in the situation and visualize the experience. Sometimes looking at photos or videos can help visualize and start to challenge the phobia as well. With each new step, you should also use your scale to record where your anxiety is.  The concept behind exposure therapy is that over time your response to the stimuli gets less and less until it is appropriate. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is it normal to obsess over a traumatic event?

Hello Zeze,    I'm sorry you have been experiencing so many losses and keep having intrusive thoughts about death. An obsession with death is often linked to intrusive thinking and anxiety, which places them are at risk of developing specific anxiety known as thanatophobia.  It is a phobia characterized by persistent ideas and fears related to death in general and especially to death itself. Symptoms vary from case to case and may include obsessive thoughts about death to avoiding any situation considered risky or even not leaving the house. Before talking about a phobia, it's important to face your obsessions and try to contain them. I would like to invite you to not avoid thinking about death, but rather to think correctly about it by reframing your thinking. Instead of thinking about death or fearing it, admit that death is an inevitable end and that, in the meantime, you must live your life to the fullest. Death can be scary to most but in many people, obsessive thoughts can impact daily life preventing them from fully appreciating their existence. Death is a subject that people, in general, don't like to talk about but that they often think about a lot. And while thinking about it is quite normal, becoming obsessed with death, your own or other people’s death is problematic. Death has always been a sensitive, uncomfortable, and avoided the subject. No one wants to think about the day when a loved one dies, or about their own death, which will cause family suffering. And yet, these thoughts happen from time to time because death is part of our reality. Thousands of people die around the world every day for different reasons, and the media are here to remind us. Added to this are our own experiences with the death of a loved one, friend, or neighbor. People recognize that death exists and that it is close to them. Worse yet: you never know when it will be your turn. Suddenly death becomes some kind of predator that could attack at any time. Death is unpredictable, even for a person with a fatal illness. We can only think about it, try to understand, and prepare for it. These realizations about death stress people on different levels. There are those who are afraid of leaving those they love and think about the pain they will feel, those who are afraid of no longer existing, those who are afraid of the process of death (illness, suffering, loneliness, etc. .,) and those who are afraid of what will happen after death. Fears of death vary depending on a person's development, experiences with death, religious and cultural beliefs, etc. One could try to rationalize the fear of death for an elderly person or a seriously ill person. But the truth is, these people often accept death better than others who (logically) have no reason to worry. Death is no longer a mystery to them (at least not as much as before) and they reach a certain level of acceptance. On the other hand, someone who has no reason to worry finds it more difficult to accept death. If you are young, healthy and in all likelihood should live a long time. And yet, you know that anyone can die anytime. This idea alone is enough to create a series of negative and obsessive thoughts. Also, try to discuss the topic with an elderly person. You will see things from their perspective, those who are approaching death and do not see this as a bad thing. Obsessions with death are not to be taken lightly. They can cause real physical symptoms and prevent you from living your life normally. If this is the case, it is necessary to seek professional help in order to obtain adequate psychological treatment. I wish you a great evening and I hope that my answer will help you. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to deal with a harsh inner critic?

In gaining a better understanding of when you say that you have this “harsh inner critic” I had to read more about what you have described.  I had a general idea of what you have expressed but wanted to gain a better understanding. It appears you are experiencing a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward yourself and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue about yourself which could be the root of much of your self-destructive and maladaptive behaviors. Your inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is your experienced thoughts within your head. This stream of destructive thoughts forms an anti-self that discourages you from acting in what is in your best interest. It appears your harsh inner voice is an internal enemy that can affect every aspect of your life, including your self-esteem and confidence, personal and intimate relationships, and your performance and accomplishments at school and work. These negative thoughts affect you by undermining your positive feelings about yourself and what you think others are thinking and it fosters self-criticism, distrust, self-denial, addictions, and a retreat from any goal-directed activities. At times, some of the common voices may include thoughts like “You’re stupid,” “You’re not attractive,” or “You’re not like other people.” Some people have voiced about their career, like “You’ll never be successful,” “No one appreciates how hard you work,” or “You are under too much pressure, you can’t handle this stress.” Many people experience voices about their relationship, such as “He doesn’t really care about you,” “You’re better off on your own,” or “Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll just get hurt.”   I’m sure you are wondering where my harsh inner voices come from.  These inner voices usually come from early life experiences that are internalized and taken in as ways we think about ourselves. Often, many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary caretakers, as children, we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves.  Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings or influential adults. Additionally, your inner voice can be different than your conscience. Many people think if they stop listening to their inner voices, they will lose touch with their conscience. However, the harsh inner voice is not a trustworthy moral guide like a conscience. On the contrary, the harsh inner voice is degrading and punishing and often leads us to make unhealthy decisions. These negative voices tend to increase our feelings of self-hatred without motivating us to change undesirable qualities or act in a constructive manner. I am sure you are wondering how I conquer my harsh inner voice. Working with a counselor can help you take back the power of your destructive thought processes.  Counselors can help you first to become conscious of what your inner voice is telling you so you can stop it from ruining your life. To identify this, it is helpful to pay attention to when you suddenly slip into a bad mood or become upset, often these negative shifts in emotion are a result of a critical inner voice. Once you identify the thought process and pinpoint the negative actions it is advocating, you can take control over your inner voice by consciously deciding not to listen. Instead, you can the action that is in your best interest. Counselors here at Betterhelp can assist you to overcome your “harsh inner voice”.  
(EdD, NCC, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Can someone help my husband to get his driving anxiety under control?

Good Evening Driving Anxiety, I am so very sorry to learn of your husband's issues related to a potential phobia surrounding driving. It can be rather heartbreaking to watch as someone you love is crippled by fear, especially when you feel you do not have any tools to help them. I am not sure how long you have both had to cope with this problem but I imagine it is too long and I am deeply sympathetic. That said, yes, a BetterHelp therapist/psychologist could certainly help your husband through his phobia related to driving on parkways, bridges, and traveling via planes. They would first have to identify the origin of the fear. They would likely ask the following questions in an initial assessment of the problem: 1. When did the problem of becoming afraid of driving on parkways, bridges, and traveling on planes begin? 2. When did the problem intensify to the point of you feeling like it is necessary to avoid these scenarios altogether? 3. When is the last time you attempted to engage in driving or flying? 4. What symptoms do you experience when trying - sweating, heart racing, crying spells, etc? 5. What was the history of your treatment for these issues - when did you begin treatment, when did it end, what was helpful in relieving the symptoms that may have arisen when you were driving on parkways, bridges when you were flying? They will take a full inventory and likely settle on exposure therapy to help treat your husband. This is likely but it is not the only treatment modality that could be helpful to him. In fact, there are plenty of others and they can be highly effective in helping people work through the thoughts, feelings, etc. that are creating barriers to them interacting in their lives with the quality that they deserve. It seems your husband has lot some of that quality and you have lost as well as a result. I hope this answers your question and allows you to think about the next steps for your husband and your family. It certainly is highly important that he is able to take his life back and reclaim the road. Please feel free to come back to us here on the BetterHelp platform should you have any further questions and need some help taking on life's very tough hardships! We are here and rooting for you always. Be well and safe! 
(MSSW, LCSW, LICSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is there any other way to get healed apart from counseling

This is an interesting question that could stand to be brought up in counseling to help define what you mean by healing. Without your input, it is difficult to determine how you see these thoughts and how they affect your behavior. Other questions could be how do you want this to change or appear different; do these thoughts disturb you; or even can you realize these are bizarre delusions and would like to be able to tolerate them? Maybe you want to use them as a resource to create fiction writing.  The most important question accompanying these kinds of thoughts is do they prompt malevolent behavior?  If it turns out you are a danger to yourself or others, it will likely lead to your being removed from society. Discussing this with others could help you determine what kind of help you would need to avoid being incarcerated. Those others would be people trained to discuss in a calm rational way the content, focus, meaning, and possible resolution to what you see needs healing. Some counselors are such people. They are trained to not judge or label you, but sit with you and explore your thought world experiences and how you may be able to bear with them. As far as healing, there could be several options. One is medical and involves taking medicines that reduce the intensity of the thoughts so they seem less powerful and intrusive. Other ways could involve spiritual practices like breathwork or such that help you tolerate these thoughts and turn them to good use. The prime concern here is to help you stay behaviorally safe both to yourself and others. It is OK to entertain the notion that you may be the leader of a pack of werewolves, but it is a whole other issue to act out as such.  The importance of working with a counselor is that it enables you to make the best possible choice in choosing the path that enables you to live successfully while these thoughts manifest in your psyche. Thoughts are neither good nor bad, but what is brought to justice is how we react to our thinking. Others with similar thought disorders have taken many paths dealing with them. Some have led to long-term incarceration, others to mandated medical delivery, while still others to satisfying thriving peaceful lives punctuated by rich thought lives of somewhat bizarre nature.  However, you proceed, I wish you a healthy journey. I hope your way is filled with helpful people who both support and encourage you to follow your best leadings. Counselors could be such people. Good Luck.  
(LMHC, LCMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I cope with my wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness?

Thank you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you would like to know how you cope with your wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness.  Sounds like your wife has a lot of paranoia that is affecting her life.  Sounds like you should see a mental health professional get a good diagnosis and treatment or medication. Sounds like she might be suffering from a psychotic disorder of some type.  Without treatment, this won't get any better. She probably needs some medication.  Sounds like your wife isn't a danger to herself or others. If she was you could request she go to the hospital. I would suggest you talk with her and how concerned you are for her wellbeing and just get a good medical checkup. Many times people that experience symptoms like this believe they are true and wonder why you don't believe them. This can be scary for them. You really can't change her beliefs or what she will do but can encourage her to get a good medical checkup. Do you have a good family doctor that your wife trusts and would be willing to talk with?  She might feel people think she is crazy and will lock her up. The fact is no one thinks she is crazy or wants to lock her up. Sounds like you just want her to get treatment. Once she gets on some good medication she will be more like her old self and these paranoid thoughts will go away and she can enjoy her life more. It would be like if a person has diabetes they need to take medication. If a person has high blood pressure they need to take medication. Is there something wrong with these people taking medication? They have a chemical imbalance in their bodies. Sounds like your wife might have a chemical imbalance in her body. She also needs to make sure she is getting enough sleep. Is she sleeping enough? This kind of paranoia can happen if a person goes too long without enough sleep. Encourage her to get good sleep. I hope this helped some and I wish you and your wife the best. I look forward to hearing from you.
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I am 34 and I think I might have ptd. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety can you plz help

Hello there, Unfortunately, determining whether or not someone has a diagnosis requires more than just a short consultation. To ensure that the diagnosis is accurate, I would recommend meeting with a psychiatrist a few times so that they can gather a thorough history and symptom picture.  "According to the DSM-5, there are two primary diagnostic criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder of which criterion A has seven sub-features, four of which must be present to warrant a diagnosis of PPD: Criterion A is Global mistrust and suspicion of others motives that commences in adulthood. The seven sub-features of criterion A are: 1.The person with PPD will believe others are using, lying to, or harming them, without apparent evidence thereof. 2.They will have doubts about the loyalty and trustworthiness of others, 3., They will not confide in others due to the belief that their confidence will be betrayed. 4.They will interpret ambiguous or benign remarks as hurtful or threatening, and 5. Hold grudges, 6. In the absence of objective evidence, believe their reputation or character are being assailed by others and will retaliate in some manner and 7. Will be jealous and suspicious without cause that intimate partners are being unfaithful. Criterion B is that the above symptoms will not be during a psychotic episode in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depressive disorder with psychotic features, A qualifier is that if the diagnostic criteria for PPD are met prior to the onset of Schizophrenia, it should be noted Paranoid Personality Disorder was premorbid (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Onset The DSM-5 notes that Paranoid Personality Disorder features may be apparent in childhood and adolescence. Children may act strangely, resulting in teasing (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This is an interesting note, in that it raises questions of premorbid causality. A child who exhibits abnormal behaviors and who is rejected by peers may learn not to trust and may become suspicious of others' motives. This could be a contributing factor in the development of a paranoid personality. Prevalence According to the DSM-5, the prevalence of Paranoid Personality Disorder is 2.3 % to 4.4 % of the US population and is more frequently diagnosed in males. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Risk Factors The DSM-5 indicates that a family history of Schizophrenia, or persecutory type delusional disorder are risk factors for Paranoid Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Comorbidity The DSM -5 identifies the following conditions as comorbid: Other personality disorders, specifically, schizotypal, schizoid, narcissistic, avoidant, and borderline personality disorder. Substance abuse disorders, Major depressive disorder, OCD, and agoraphobia are also noted as conditions which can develop in conjunction with PPD (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)." All of this information was taken from https://www.theravive.com/therapedia/paranoid-personality-disorder-dsm--5-301.0-(f60.0) but I highly encourage you to meet with a mental health professional to determine if this is something you have.
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022