Anxiety and catastrophizing?

Hi, I'm new here and joined after careful consideration as to what I should be doing. To keep it short and straightforward, since about January this year I've been getting increasingly 'consumed' by the thought that calamity/disaster is coming to me. Strangely, I have it in mind that 'September is the month', but it could be sooner. Initially, it was just an idea that 'this year isn't going to be a good one' but over the months has progressed to what is now all-the-time worry. Now, logically, I know that this is catastrophizing and that nobody can predict the future and I ask myself what evidence I have to support the dysfunctinal belief (CBT stuff). That's all well and good but does not stop me returning to my dysfunctional belief. It just keeps coming back at me. To make matters worse, I've read that the more you believe it, the more it's likely to happen. So I take extra care to make sure it *doesn't* happen. But even that's getting in the way. When I'm approaching a green traffic light, I'm convinced it'll turn red and I'll have a crash. Needless to say, sometimes I'm right about it turning red, and I have (so far) stopped in time. I tell myself that it was a close shave.

My wife says I should see my doctor. They may then refer me to see a consultant psychiatrist (I have private health cover) - then my employer will find out - then I'll lose my job - and then I'll have to sell my house - pull my children out of private education - everybody'll think I've 'lost it' - and hey presto - calamity comes true.

Now - I'm too scared to do anything as it could precipitate the disaster.

I thought about asking my GP for anti anxiety meds - but that is not a solution - rather a cover-up. What to do?

Some background. Male, 51 years old. Married, two children 6 and 8. Employed full time in the same company for 18 years. Have had anxiety in the past (but nothing like this), only drink moderately at the weekend (only time the anxiety lessens - interestingly - or worryingly), smoke - but otherwise healthy.

Thanks for reading.

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6 Replies

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  • hi your constant worrying is a symptom of the anxiety but you are in a vicious cycle of feeding the anxiety by as you have said catastrophizing. i have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for 6 years and was very much like yourself for a few years, but i have learned over the past twelve months how to control it a little better, i still suffer with anxiety i have felt quite anxious today but have found that the power of positive thinking should not be underestimated, distraction technuiqes and breath control all play a positive roll. if u read through my questions and blogs i had a positive few days last week by changing the way i think and react to the anxiety not always easy when you are in the grip of an anxiety attack and the disturbing thoughts wont go away but its important to persevere i now have as much determination to destroy the anxiety as it has tried to destroy me at times. i hold onto the positive days and the happy feeling i had when i chased the feelings away spurrs me on. i dont take prescription medication either i take st johns wort, omega 3 cod liver oil and i use a rescue remedy maybe its mind over matter but i do feel they help me a little. marie

  • Hi Meerkatz.

    Sorry to hear you're going through such a hard time. GillyMc recently posted a great website about anxiety from a man that suffered for 10 years. He wrote a book on his problems and how he overcame them after attending numerous GP's and CBT specialists. I just had a quick read myself today and it sounds great.He looks into different forms of anxiety too.

    anxietynomore.co.uk/

    I think my way of coping with such thoughts is to rebel against them. If I look at something and think 'This is going to end in disaster' when at the back of my mind I have an inkling that it's an irrational thought, I just go for it to prove myself wrong and it kind of triggers a message to myself that all went OK. My current situation is fear of flying. I'm convinced the plane will crash and it's already resulted in us losing money for a trip to France :( My first thought is to just jump on a plane because by the time I land at the other side I'll have proved to myself that I was wrong (and it will be followed bya nice holiday:)) Although I'm struggling to follow this one through lol.

    x

  • Hi, I do feel for you although all my symtpoms are not exactly like yours. When I approach traffic lights sometimes when I am driving I wish for them to stay on green and if they turn to red I become increasingly anxious and feel like a panic attack is about to come on, which when travelling on your own is scary. If I have someone with me then I can chat and divert the situation (for the life of me I cannot understand it) only that when I have anxiety and feel constantly dizzy I find that to keep moving about makes me feel better and so I can only assume that the lights being on red is making me stay put in one place and I cannot deal with that!! You said that meds is not an option it is only a cover up but if it would help to ease your condition or maybe counselling to talk through your thoughts and fears. It does not matter how irrational or crazy anything of this is to other people, it matters that we get the help and support we need to lead a "normal" life. Whatever you choose I wish you all the best.

  • P.s. Same as you, when I drink alchohol I feel much better (more relaxed I suppose) but also worry that It could cause you to have a major drink problem!!!

  • Thanks for the answers - really helpful. Seems like, ironically, a lot of it is mind over matter. The website is really informative.

    I've come to the conclusion that I must be the only person in the country who likes to see all traffic lights ahead of me on red. That way - I don't worry about will I/won't I have to stop.

    But then I thought 'The more often I'm stopped - the more chance there is that somebody will read-end me - and knowing my luck - there'll be somebody crossing in front of me - and I'll wipe them out. - and it'll be a child - and the guilt will be with me for ever'. (That's what I was thinking at 2am this morning).

  • Proving the thoughts are wrong are an excellent way to confront and change them. However sometimes this can cause you to focus on the thoughts even more. If you are a member of Anxiety UK we have a specialist helpline about medication to talk you through it and help you with any queries you may have about it. The fact that you're on here and wanting to change is a good indication of overcoming anxiety; sometimes it's good just to speak to someone and get it out so therapy may be a good option for you.

    I would try to refrain from drinking, especially binge drinking as this can have adverse effects leading to alcohol addiction and can prooduce worse anxiety when not drinking or via hangovers. If drinking I suggest drinking with food or drinking water inbetween to reduce the adverse effects of dehydration that can provoke symptoms similar to anxiety.

    Similarly smoking can also increase anxiety as it too causes chemical changes that increase attention; in the case of anxiety can increase attention to negative thoughts and increase anxiety when experiencing a withdrawal symptoms.

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