After Lots of Stress, My Nerves are Fried!

Reader’s Question

I have recently been through a lot of emotional stress with my family, moving and personal life. My mind is clear from loop thinking (an old habit) but my body doesn’t want to seem to get on track. I have been trying exercise, listening to calming positive subliminal music and just “relaxing”, but my body seems to be on red alert. I have suffered anxiety since I was a teen and after reading your articles I am going to assume the reason is a combination of Avoidant Personality Disorder which I have self treated as anxiety mostly by just not going anywhere where I have to be with people for 15 years now. But now I feel “fried”, my nerves are always on edge and I feel like death and doom are waiting around every corner. My mind is intact and I don’t have conscious thoughts that come with the intense emotions but it is draining me completely to be this nervous all the time. Can you please recommend something as I am also very sensitive to most medications and try to avoid them.

Psychologist’s Reply

Emotional stress and changes in our life can often produce the sense of being emotional fried, exhausted, and on-edge. In a way, you probably need the additional energy, alertness, and rapid brain speed to cope with your recent stresses and changes. Now the brain won’t turn it off. As a result, you are stuck in “high gear”. When that heightened emotional state is combined with Avoidant Personality, you have the situation you describe but now with added social avoidance and withdrawal.

While the procedures you describe are helpful, they may not be enough to put out the fire. Long-acting antianxiety medications are your best bet for a combination of agitation/anxiety and avoidant behaviors. While I’m not a physician, I’ve seen Buspar work very well in this type of situation. While you mention that you avoid medications if possible, at this point you are avoiding almost everything in your life — a situation created by such a high level of agitation. I would recommend consulting with a physician or psychiatrist, followed by a therapist/counselor for your avoidant personality features. This two-discipline approach not only puts out the fire, but will help you recover from the recent stresses.

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