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Suffering from extreme anxiety, sleepless night and weight loss. How to overcome this problem?

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Practicing since : 2003
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Hi Doctor,

I'm a 27 years old man. For for the last 9 or 10 days I have been suffering from extreme anxiety. This was caused by a very minor incident at work but I have been unable to stop obsessing about.

I have been almost fearful of doing the most basic things. It has been very hard to sleep at night and even when I do, I've been waking up very early in the morning shaking but also gagging, wrenching and vomiting saliva.

I have lost at least 8 or 9 pounds because I have been really struggling to eat. Even the food I do eat like soup or sandwiches I have wanted to vomit back up, and I have done at least 4 or 5 times.

This is making me even more stressed out as I know I have to eat and sleep in order to stay generally healthy but I just can't seem to do it. I am afraid it will affect my relationship with my girlfriend as I have had to make up excuses not to see her. Also I have not been able to go to the gym or do any exercise because my energy levels are so low.

On a psychological level I am angry with myself for not being able to do simple things like eat or sleep and I generally have a good life and know there are others less fortunate than me.

I am really desperate for help as I know I can't go on like this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Posted Sat, 11 May 2013 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 1 hour later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

I understand that you are going through a very difficult time. From the description of your symptoms, you appear to be suffering from a mixed anxiety depression. You seem to be experiencing anxiety symptoms like fearfulness, obsessive ruminations, shaking, gagging, etc. as well as depressive symptoms like low energy, loss of appetite, poor sleep, etc.

Though it is common to have some amount of anxiety and low mood in response to stressful events, in your case, things seem to be going out of control, and your symptoms are disproportionaltely high and disabling.

Now, at this juncture it is important that you seek professional help, because it is clear that you are not able to cope with this and your functioning and relationships seem to be getting significantly affected. During such times, it would not be a good idea to try to keep pushing yourself because it will only leave you more frustrated and depressed.

So, my sincere advise to you would be to consult a psychiatrist for professional help. You may need medication for a short duration to help you come out of this phase. There are also effective psychological therapies which will help you control these obsessiv, negative thoughts and fears.

I would also like to give you the following tips to help you manage the stress in a better way:

- When you feel overwhelmed by the stress, tell yourself that this is just a passing phase and that you just have to 'stay afloat', till this bad phase passes away.
- Take one step at a time. Postpone any major decisions.
- Practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, etc. can help relieve stress.
- Ensure that you get as much sleep as possible whenever you can.
- Avoid negative thinking and guilt feelings. Don't be too hard on yourself. Remember, your thoughts determine your emotions and behaviour. If your thoughts are constantly negative, it can pull you down and worsen your stress.
- Keep talking to someone and share your feelings. This will offload a lot of emotional burden and make you feel more supported.
- Keep your mind active and engaged as much as possible - spending time with nature, doing tasks which you normally enjoy, etc will all help in avoiding depressive thoughts.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
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