November 27, 2005

About Shokooh

Please see your doctor!


Dear Shokooh,

I am a 32-year old woman.  I have never had any psychological problems until this past month. All of the sudden, I am feeling very anxious. I never had anxiety before but I am now overwhelmed with it. It happened overnight, without any warning. Nothing bad has happened to me and my life is otherwise very good. I am truly a happy person except for this sudden anxiety. I don’t have any reason to be anxious! But I have all the symptoms: upset stomach, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and “del shooreh.”

Can someone develop an anxiety disorder for no reason, out of the blue this way?  I am very frustrated and scared.

Please help!




Dear Maryam,

Thank you for taking the time to write me. It sounds like you are going through a very frightening experience—I can imagine your frustration and fears given that your symptoms have come on so suddenly and are interrupting an otherwise happy life.

I have not met you and have very limited information on your experiences. However, the suddenly development of your symptoms leads me to strongly recommend that you speak with your physician as a first, and immediate, step.

Psychological symptoms can result from a medical condition. In your case, given that you describe your condition as coming on “overnight,” and describe symptoms that are physical in nature (upset stomach, rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath),  I feel it is imperative that you visit a medical doctor who can determine whether or not your symptoms are due to a physical illness. When you meet with your physician, be sure to communicate the details of your experiences -- tell him/her about the symptoms, their history, frequency, and severity. 

Also take note of any recent changes in your life. Have you started or stopped taking any medications? Have you changed your diet? Have you experienced any stressors or life changes? What was happening in your life when you first noticed these symptoms? This type of information will be important in helping your physician to make an assessment.

If your physician rules out a medical condition, the next step is to try and better understand what you are experiencing. Ask him/her for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can speak with you, assess your symptoms, and make an informed and educated diagnosis. If it turns out that you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, please know that there are many successful treatments that can help. There are several empirically-supported treatments for anxiety that can lead to reduced symptoms and increased quality of life.

I wish you all the best and hope that you quickly come to a healthy resolution.

Be well,



This column is for general educational purposes only-- it is not a substitute for medical attention, counseling, or therapy of any kind. The Couch and the staff of this website urge you to seek immediate medical attention if you are in an urgent, harmful, or potentially dangerous situation. Psychiatric emergencies or urgent matters should be handled by calling 9-1-1 or going to the nearest emergency room.   Please note that your emails will not be answered on an individual basis and your confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Top

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