I'd first like to introduce myself and say hello since I've just signed up here! I've been suffering from on-off GAD for about 4 years, however it's never seriously bothered me as my worst 'spells' only last no more than a couple of weeks until recently. In May I had a kitchen accident which ended in a few burns but nothing ridiculously major, but since then I've suffered from terrible anxiety every single day. It began with just consistent light-headedness, and I approached it with a "just-ignore-it-and-it'll-be-fine" attitude which hasn't worked for me this time. Since then I've been experiencing alot of the symptoms, most notably a tight chest/throat and severe derealization. I've literally just had a panic attack and the derealization is affecting me the most, which is infuriating since I had one of my better days yesterday (little/no anxiety).
I'm just wondering if anyone else is going through the same kind of thing as me in terms of symptoms, or if anyone has any advice to give? Just to go into a bit more detail:
- I'm a student, 19, live with friends. This makes it tough when i'm suffering particularly bad as I'm scared that they'll think i'm being strange when I'm panicking.
- I'm a smoker, 10-15 cigarettes a day, smoked for 3-4 years (I know smoking is bad for me, I know that it won't help my anxiety physically but I don't want to quit until I've fully recovered from this bad spell)
The symptoms I suffer from are:
- Lightheadedness: the most consistent symptom, this has been constant since May. This scares me into thinking there's something beyond anxiety that is wrong with me (brain tumor, etc.)
- Tight throat/chest: I know this is anxiety related as I don't feel it unless I think about it, which makes me breathe funny. I've woke up in the middle of the night hyperventilating.
- Lack of energy: given.
- Headaches: both tension headaches and normal ones
- Derealization: I'm constantly hyper-aware of my surroundings, to the point where there's so much on my mind I can't pay attention to anything and my short-term memory is horrific.
- Panic attacks: I suffer more from consistent symptoms than full-blown panic attacks, however they do happen every once in a while and I've just had one.
These symptoms are making me convince myself that there is something physically wrong with me (cancer, brain tumor, lots of other scary things!) although I know deep down that it's just anxiety, it's just convincing myself i'm fine when I'm suffering. I'm also wondering if anyone feels their sleep is affected by anxiety? I have no problem falling asleep (normally takes about half an hour, this is normal for me), and I get plenty of sleep but I wake up feeling hungover, with tension in my head and I feel as if I've not slept at all? I feel this may be due to subconscious negative thoughts which mean I am restless when I sleep.
I've tried anti-anxiety medication (20 mg citalopram, I tried one but I couldn't deal with the side-effects and swore to myself I'd get over this without medication). Meditation helps, but I struggle getting the time since I live with 4 friends and my girlfriend but I'm going to make sure that I get 20 minutes a day to myself to make sure I carry it on daily.
So yeah, if anyone has any help or advice they can offerr, or can just reassure me that these symptoms are normal just so I can chill out that'd be great! Cheers