November 27, 2005
Please see your doctor!
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.
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
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
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