When I was 13, I started seeing a therapist, a psychiatrist and went on medication. I’m not sure if there was an “official” diagnosis but my psychiatrist said I had clinical depression. I’ve been in and out of therapy and off and on medication since then and always told my new therapists and doctors I had depression.
So when I started to feel anxious and experience panic attacks a few years ago, I self diagnosed myself as just having an anxiety disorder and left it at that. It’s been a hard road to find a therapist and a doctor I like and after failed attempts with many medications in the past year, which led to weaning my son to formula long before I meant to I decided I needed an official diagnosis.
In June I started to see an art therapist (I love her!) and one of the first things I told her was that I wanted to figure out my official diagnosis. Why? Because I felt like there had to be a more specific answer that would lead to better medication treatment or therapy that would be better suited to what I’m going through. My art therapist told me she takes diagnosing very seriously and we spent a whole session going over the DSM-IV together, talking about my symptoms and what I go through on a normal basis.
Together and with her expertise and schooling we came up with Panic Disorder (without agoraphobia) and Major Depressive Disorder (basically ‘clinical depression’).
She asked me to do some reading on my own in between our next sessions to make sure I thought it was a right fit. I love learning and researching things so I got right on it when I got home that night.
According to this NAMI page:
“A panic attack is an uncontrollable and terrifying response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations. People who experience recurrent panic attacks, have persistent anxiety or fear regarding their panic attacks and change their behavior in an attempt to avoid further panic attacks may have panic disorder.”
It sounded very much like what I experience. Panic Disorder is classified under the Anxiety Disorders so my low level anxiety that I feel most days is a factor. With a Panic Disorder, I worry about having a panic attack and often avoid situations that I know will bring them on. Yes. That’s me.
So what has having an official diagnosis changed for me? Not much yet, I’m still doing some research on my own and seeing my art therapist. I have an appointment with my general practitioner doctor to get a physical and rule out any thyroid problems and I know I need to find a new psychiatrist to discuss medication.
I am doing a lot better than I was 6 months ago or even 3 months ago but I still am not sure how to get to the next step of my recovery.
I will keep you all updated on my progress.
Share: In the comments below, let us know have you gotten an official mental illness diagnosis? Did you feel like it helped?