I can’t stop worrying!
Anxiety disorders are conditions that interfere with your ability to control or stop a sense of continuous worry or fear. They are very common and have the same incidence and lifetime risk as the mood disorders. Anxiety disorders are commonly found with depression since the continuous anxious thoughts are just another form of negative clutter and racing thoughts that can’t be shut off. In my opinion, anxiety appears to be a subtype of the depressive mood disorder since they both have negative thoughts that can’t be controlled and they both respond to the same medications.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. Panic disorder is the most severe and disabling of these conditions. In this disorder, panic attacks will start with no obvious trigger. There will be sudden unexplained terror and a sense of impending doom. There will be many physical symptoms that occur simultaneously like a pounding heart, sweating, chest pain and light headedness. Phobic disorder is when a person will become very fearful or even panic over a well defined object or situation like heights, snakes or crowds. General anxiety disorder is when a person is worried all the time about everything.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.) is quite a common disabling anxiety disorder. Three percent of the population will suffer from it at some time in their lives. It is more common than schizophrenia or manic depression but it is well concealed and rarely diagnosed.
Obsessional thoughts are recurrent, intrusive, unwanted ideas, images, impulses or worries that are often senseless but can’t be shut off. They will often take the form of swear words, repetitive phrases, violent thoughts which are totally out of character or feelings of being dirty or contaminated. This is very disturbing for the victim who feels powerless to control the thoughts. The anxiety associated with O.C.D. can be overwhelming.
Compulsions are repetitive unnecessary acts done in response to the obsessional thoughts. They are intended to neutralize the fear or discomfort that comes with the obsessional thoughts. These acts are purposeless, time consuming and unwanted. They are very disruptive to relationships and to one’s performance at home or work. The acts usually involve excessive touching, checking, cleaning, washing, counting or note taking. The victim hates doing it but must continue the act until they get a sense of completion which may require a large number of repetitions. During the compulsion there is never a sense that the action has been completed correctly. Some have described it like an itch that won’t go away until it is scratched a certain way and a certain number of times.
Driven by fears
The most common obsessions are fear of contamination by dirt or germs, fear of harm to self or others, fear of illness, fear of sexual thoughts and fear of committing sins. The most common repetitive rituals to suppress the fearful thoughts are repetitive cleaning, recitation of a phrase or number, touching, checking of locks, excessive orderliness and hoarding. It is not uncommon for someone with O.C.D. to wash their hands thirty times a day to stop the fear of contamination.
Anxiety and depression are often so intertwined that they are indistinguishable. In my clinic I have not found it necessary to separate the conditions. They both have negative thoughts that can’t be shut off and they both respond to the same antidepressants which are designed to restore thought control.
What do I do next?
We have lots of resources to help you assess yourself for depression, anxiety or mood swings. These resources will also help you understand the conditions so you can help a loved one.
Throughout my medical career I noticed that Christians suffered from depression differently than non Christians. You can download my article that describes this difference and why it happens in How depression affects Christians.
Personal coaching appointments are available where we can meet online or by phone. I will answer your questions about mood disorders and explain the recovery process.
Emotionally Free – The first third of the book explains the nature and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective and includes the symptom checklists for self assessment. The rest of the book explains problems with our personality and spirit.
Have a look at these DVDs/CDs/direct downloads – watch 5 minute previews online
Depression, The Path to Recovery As 2 disc of 10 TV interviews with Dr. Mullen where he explains a Christian understanding of depression, anxiety and mood swings. Our most popular DVD.
Moods, what Christians should know about depression, anxiety and mood swings Christians are often very confused and misinformed about the nature and treatment of mental illnesses. They are also very suspicious of psychiatric treatments, so many are suffering needlessly from correctable conditions. This presentation will remove the mystery and confusion about the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and mood swings.
Fear, When Trust is Lost You will get the tools to overcome and take control of the worries and fears that disrupt your life.
Free Q&A videos
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How do I know if I need medications for my mood?
How do I know if my depression has been healed?
How long do I need to stay on antidepressants?
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