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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Is Excessive Shame A Symptom of Anxiety?

12/02/2008

Question:

I have suffered from anxiety my whole life. It started out as a panic disorder when I was very young (about 5 years old)and continued on until I was prescribed with an antidepressant when I was 15. I still experience anxiety, but try to deal with with with low dose medication and exercise. Anyway, for the past 8 years I have also experienced extreme shame and embarrassment quite often. When I do or say something "stupid" I obsess over it for days, months, even years. I can`t help but run over the these embarrassing experiences in my head constantly, and recollections of these experiences pop into my head even when I`m thinking of something completely unrelated. These feelings of shame and humiliation haunt me. Is this normal?

Answer:

While I cannot diagnose over the internet, what you seem to be describing sounds a lot like an obsessive disorder, which is a type of an anxiety disorder.   People with obsessive disorders think the same thoughts over and over again, and find themselves unable to stop thinking things.  In fact, they tend to get MORE anxious if they try to stop thinking these thoughts. Check out the weblink for more information about anxiety disorders.

I encourage you to consider counseling and an evaluation by a mental health specialist.  Therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective for anxiety and obsessive disorders, especially when combined with medications.

Good Luck.

Related Resources:

NIH NIMH anxiety

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati