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Chemical smell from hand only at work, have OCD, GAD. Hallucination, schizophrenia or BP?

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I’m after some advice about potential hallucinations…I have OCD, and GAD, and im convinced I suffer from either BP or Schizophrenia, but my PDoc disagrees, especially with the Schizophrenia.

I’m always checking if I see things out of the corner of my eye, or hear thing, or smell things, im always asking my friends to confirm if I have seen/heard things etc, this seems to come in waves, I keep making out faces in carpets rugs etc also – nothing gruesome, it just startles me though fuelling my anxiety. I know this is related to my Schizo hallucination fear. However recently the following has happened to me:

I keep getting a strange chemical ‘whiff’ on my left hand at work, it smells like a paraffin type waxy smell (I work in the Jobcentre) this has happened maybe 6 or 7 times over the past 6 months – I think when this happens I am normally quite stressed at the time (Lack of sleep – although I normally am 24/7) I think the stress is first before this? Or maybe it comes after im not sure.

I can not pin point where the smell is coming from, and it only occurs on my left hand, it does seem to spread to my pocket or clothing if I rub it on my hand (If that makes sense?!) I have retraced my steps just after the smell appears, and can not for the life of me identify where it is coming from…I look crazy sat at my desk sniffing my coat etc to try and find out. It sends me into a panic, sets my anxiety off, and makes me feel awful.

I’m convinced it could be a hallucination, and a sign of Schiz or BP? It only happens in work…

The smell gradually disappears throughout the day…and leaves me feeling confused after…now I just don’t know if its real or not, and there’s no way for me to find out? Does this sound like a hallucination as such? I know im asking for reassurance…but I don’t know what to do…its driving me crazy
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 16 hours later

Thanks for your query.

I appreciate your efforts to seek medical consultation in so much distress.

Till now from your description it appears to be Hallucination, but hallucination not associated with insight, which is present in your case is a sign of good prognosis.

You have provided with good information but I would like to know a few more things as this would help me in suggesting you better. Hence please answer the following…

- Your symptoms in detail as you experience them.

- Duration of symptoms: OCD and hallucination.

- Type of hallucinations and description of them. (as you have given about smell)

- Information about your mood, sleep, appetite, memory and routine functioning.

Waiting for your reply.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chemical smell from hand only at work, have OCD, GAD. Hallucination, schizophrenia or BP? 5 days later

I just wanted to add, the smell thing on my hand, I don't know if its real or not, it 'may' be something I have picked up on my hand? I'm not sure, but would you say it could be a hallucination? Its just I cant prove or disprove if it is real or not...

I have never seen anything clearly as in a hallucination, or tho I am always checking things out of the corner of my eyes, or checking noises I hear, or asking my friends to confirm they have heard them. I have heard random voices while drifting off to sleep.

Okay my symptoms...

About 10 years I took amphetamines (Speed) and suffered a panic attack, since then I have suffered constant GAD/Anxiety and De-realisation. This has come in waves, and some days/weeks/months I am okay, but then I also have bad times where I feel depressed.

Part of my OCD is I become obsessed with having the worst illness I can imagine...more recently it has involved Bipolar/Schizophrenia/HIV. I become obsessed I am suffering from possible symptoms (As illustrated in my original post) and spend hours searching the internet for symptoms etc...these thoughts make me very upset...I have had this for many years. When I feel 'up' these thoughts pre-occupy me less, but when I feel 'down' they take over my thoughts.

Recently I think it has become worse, and I am convinced its either Bipolar or Cyclothymia. If I have a lack of sleep I become, restless, agitated, and get stressed easily, but sometimes I feel 'up' and great - I talk faster than normal, and get easily involved in new interests, and chase women, I realise when this is happening that something seems different, but my PDoc (Who has since discharged me) sticks to his original diagnosis of OCD and GAD. I dont know if its just a normal mood swing or not? These episodes last for a few days, or weeks....

My appetite doesn't change as such, I do have trouble sleeping, but still feel tired with lack of sleep. My memory is normally good, the only thing I would say is that I do have random memory flashbacks during times that I am stressed, random unrelated memories popping into my head, I hold down an office job and have done for nearly 6 years, my routine functioning is okay I would say, I lead a busy life, and I think I like it that way.

I know we all have normal mood swings, but it does seem like something different, during these 'up' times...I also don't worry much about my health anxieties, compared to when im feeling down I worry a lot...

I do have a history of obsessive worrying, so I guess me bringing this up to my PDoc, and my concern of being Schizo/Bipolar may seem just like obsessive worrying? I mean maybe it is? I don't know? Im just tired of this, my main worry is that I have schizophrenia....please can you help?
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 4 hours later
Hello again,

1. Your symptoms appears to be due to OCD) only. Fear of different illness, anxiety symptoms like GAD and sleep difficulty is common in OCD.

2. Hearing voices when going to sleep (Hypnagogic hallucination) does not have much significance and may occur in normal person too.

3. About smell, it may be olfactory hallucination. But in spite of that I would prefer OCD diagnosis because of good insight for illness in your case.

Though it appears that it could be olfactory hallucination, I suggest you to get an MRI brain scan to rule out any structural abnormality.

Hope this helps

Wish you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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