10-08-2014 07:42 PM
I'm a 28 year old currently living in a small country town. I don't have much of a social support group outside of a family member, as I don't have any friends. My GPs over the past 14-15 years have suggested that the symptoms I've experienced are common to social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, although I've never been formally diagnosed with anything. Until this year, I had struggled to maintain contact with any mental health professionals and usually abandoned counseling/psychological treatment after a month or two due to anxiety. I'm currently attending a community mental health psychologist who is making a great effort to assist me in turning around my life.
I'm uncertain whether psychological treatment alone will be enough to help. I feel like I'm beginning to exhaust the avenues for assistance and so emotionally worn down, that a significant portion of my life has been snatched away by the illness.
Should I seek out treatment and a potential diagnosis from a psychiatrist? I recently received a one hour consultation with a psychiatrist, where I was asked a range of questions concerning my symptoms(anxiety was heightened and I likely missed significant details), then a letter forwarded to my GP with further recommendation for medications if my current don't start to help.
At the moment I'm considering trying either ECT or a psychiatrist.
Any advice would be appreciated.
10-08-2014 08:44 PM
Thanks for your post - I was 39 y/o when I chose to see a psychiatrist, I managed to keep putting it off but I think the Freudian theory is that one can only keep pushing down these sorts of issues for a limited period of time, until they come back to bite you later on in life. I also live in a small rural community, have limited social outlets and suffer from anxiety.
Personally (and this may not suit you) I was relieved to have a clinical diagnosis and a name put to my illness, as somehow verbalising my illness (to myself) seemed to give it less power over me. I tried medication for anxiety at the suggestion of my GP, but found the side affects to be worse than the anxiety itself.
I am not saying not to use medication if it has been recommended to you, just that in my case, I chose to 'ride out' my anxiety, as it comes in deep 'waves' and then dissipates (usually with mild exercise) over time.
If you don't mind having a 'label', then it may help you with having a clinical examination (only you can decide) but I'd be selective in sharing it with people who have no understanding of mental health issues, as there is still quite a bit of stigma out there in society.
10-08-2014 09:51 PM
Welcome to saneforums, it's nice to meet you.
Seems like you've not felt well for quit a long time, and have had a lot of different suggestions about symptoms, which can be pretty confusing. Jake raises a good point about getting a diagnosis by a trained mental health professional. Essentially, a diagnosis is a description of a cluster symptoms that can give both yourself and practitioners are framework to understand and treat it, which can help ease the confusion for some people.
While GPs are trained in mental health, they don't have the same extent of training that a MH professional has. In this sense, MH professionals are more equipped to give you an official diagnosis and develop mental health treatment plans. I'm wondering what type of psychologists you have seen - a counselling or clinical? If you're unsure of the difference, you can find more information here. But generally, a clinical psychologist is particularly helpful with assessment/diagnosis, and a counselling psychologist focuses on using psychological talking therapies. You can search for psychologists based on their areas of expertise and their location by going to the APS. A psychiartrist on the other hand, unlike psychologists, can prescribe medication. If you're unsure of how to find one, you can search for psychiatrist based on the area of expertise by going to RANZP.
While psychologists and psychiatrists differ, it's important to consider that mental health can have several factors that influence it (i.e., social, psychological and biological), so it's important to take a holistic approach. Generally speaking, psychiatrists tend to focus on the biological, and psychologists tend to focus on the psychological and can also help with the social. Though this can differ from practitioner to practitioner.
It sounds like your last experience with getting assessed was overwhelming, and that it was hard to focus. One thing that might help with this, is writing down some of your concerns, symptoms and things that you want to address before the appointment. That way, you can ensure that you cover things that you were wanting.
I'm really glad that you have reached out and sought assistance on the forums. I hope you find some of this information useful. Let me know if you'd like me to expand on any areas.
11-08-2014 01:41 PM
Thank you for the reply, I greatly appreciate it. The reply you provided concisely summed up my desire to better understand what is going on in my head and put a name to the illness. I feel like if I receive a clinical diagnosis, that will provide a sense of relief and allow me to find specific strategies to deal with the problem.
The stigma is why I haven't really been able to share my problem with anyone outside a few immediate family members, as I've received some hurtful remarks on the subject.
If you don't mind me asking about the psychiatrist experience, what sort of timeframe did it take for the psychiatrist to determine your illness?
11-08-2014 05:49 PM
Not a problem, thanks for your reply and your question. In respect of the clinical diagnosis/es, I first had about 3 years of weekly visits with a psychiatrist, then around 4 years of fortnightly psychotherapy with a counsellor, before being referred back to the psychiatrist for a clinical diagnosis/es (the counsellor could not give a clinical diagnosis/es).
So around 7 years all up for the diagnosis/es (hope that hasn't scared you away from seeking professional help) but in my case I have what is called co-morbidity - a personality disorder (borderline) and an identity disorder (dissociative).
I can just function without any psychotherapy, but not when I am am not coping with too many stressors - remove the stressors and I am ok. Trouble is, the stressors come from being around people too much, so I have to deliberately limit the time I spend with any social interactions.
Some people 'trigger' me off rather quickly - mainly the dysfunctional ones - you know, the ones who think every one else has a problem - except them! At the moment, I am in fortnightly psychotherapy, so all up I guess it has been 10 years of 'talk therapy'.
Just to address the stigma issue - there is a high level of ignorance out there, I don't mean that word in a derogatory way, but purely in a 'lack of understanding' way. My adult children have not spoken to me in 19 years, they have no idea what I am going through and I have no idea what they think about me.
I hope that addresses some of your concerns.
11-08-2014 06:36 PM
Thank you very much for the great response and welcome, it's nice to meet you, too. I felt relieved to find the forum, being able to interact with others that can relate to my situation takes some stress off my mind and I don't feel so alone on this journey.
I immediately realised while I was at the psychiatrist consultation that I should have wrote some of my queries down on paper, as I felt swept up in the moment and overwhelmed with anxiety.
Based on the link you provided for School of Psychology, I'm certain that I'm seeing a counselling psychologist at the moment. I never realised that there was more than one type of psychologist, so thank you for teaching me something new today. I'm seeing the psychologist tomorrow, so I'll ask whether she recommends also seeking assistance from a clinical psychologist.
11-08-2014 07:43 PM
I'm so glad that you feel connected with other through the forum, and I'm happy to be sharing part of your journey with you too.
I hope writing down some of your queries next time can help you feel like you got more of your concerns covered.
Keep us updated on how things progress.
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