“Okay, so I have these ‘mental disorders.’ I don’t know – major depressive disorder, PTSD. Maybe a pinch of generalized anxiety for flavor. But I’ve done my research, and I know the symptoms I’m supposed to have. And what’s going-on just isn’t right. My God, I’m in worse shape than I thought – and that ice-cold-frightens me.”
Based upon my personal and clinical experience, I tell clients I’ve rarely heard of a symptom – as exotic as it may be – that I couldn’t attribute to their particular circumstances. Most often they’re surprised – and very much relieved.
But as with anything in life, excess can cause problems. And when it comes to monitoring our mood and anxiety disorder symptoms, we can snowball ourselves to a very bad place, very quickly. I mean, let’s not forget about the power of our cognitive distortions.
This business of over-the-top symptom awareness has all sorts of angles. But we’re going to focus upon just one – freaking-out because we’re not familiar with all the stars in our constellation of symptoms – especially those lesser known back pagers.
All Sorts of Misinterpretation and Overreaction
Our friend above seems to be stuck in the thousandth roll of her particular snowball, and her symptom monitor is beeping like a son-of-a-gun. She’s apparently done a good bit of due diligence; however, she’s experiencing symptoms that in her mind aren’t supposed to be players.
Is it possible she isn’t familiar with all the stars in her constellation of symptoms? And if that’s the case, is it possible she’s the victim of misinterpretation and overreaction?
Um, I vote “Yes” and “Yes.”
As a counselor, I see it all the time. A client is ice-cold-frightened because they’re experiencing a symptom that isn’t on their misery roster. And in short order I receive an email or text telling me all about it, as though I’m going to be shocked and direct them to the nearest E.R.
More than understandable, and that’s why I advocate giving back page symptoms front page coverage.
Here, to make my point, let’s consider major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Commonly known symptoms of MDD are depressed mood, decreased capacity for interest or pleasure, appetite and weight change, sleep issues, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration, and suicidality.
When it comes to GAD we’re looking at restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep issues.
News flash! Symptom-wise, anything goes when it comes to MDD, GAD – or XYZ. Based upon my personal and clinical experience, I tell clients I’ve rarely heard of a symptom – as exotic as it may be – that I couldn’t attribute to their particular circumstances. Most often they’re surprised – and very much relieved.
And had they known what to expect, they’d have been spared buckets of aggravation.
Common Back Page Symptoms
So how ‘bout those MDD and GAD back page symptoms? These – and the list isn’t all-inclusive – are all fair game…
Derealization, depersonalization, intrusive thoughts, pounding/accelerated heartbeat, tremor, tics, sensation of smothering, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, balance issues, feeling of losing control, fear of dying, strange skin sensations, hyperventilation, memory loss, sensation of freezing/immobility, poor coordination, mental confusion, headache, dry mouth, GI/urinary tract issues, odd and intense cravings, flashy temper, and on and on and on.
And by the way, let’s not forget about symptoms generated by meds we may be taking.
It isn’t difficult to understand why the presence of any of the above would cause someone great alarm – if they had no idea they’re within the “norm.” And that’s why back page symptoms need to garner the coverage they deserve.
Doesn’t matter what we’re trying to manage – major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, other “mental disorders.” Experiencing symptoms that don’t appear on our misery roster is disturbing. However, once we become familiar with all the stars in our constellation of symptoms, we become more comfortable and calm.
So go ahead and flip the switch on that symptom monitor of yours. But do yourself a favor – stay well-informed and open-minded. And watch those cognitive distortions.
Life becomes so much easier.
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