ask dr-robert

ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Dear Dr

I am 27 years old and a mother of one. I don't even know where to start. I am in urgent need of answers. I don't know what is wrong with me.

I have been abused for several years. My stepfather has had heart surgery, where they have placed metal valves in he's heart. We could hear he's heart all the time.. it was a tick, tick sound like the sound of a clock. 9 years ago he passed away of a heart attack. 3 years ago I started getting severe anxiety attacks. I didn't know it could even happen and I didn't know what it was. I thought I was attacked by ghosts. It always happens when I sleep. I get a feeling of pins and needles in my face, hands and feet. Hot and cold flushes and then I'm getting very cold. I then get a buzzing sound in my ears and my body starts vibrating, when that happens I can't do anything. I wake up, I know what's happening, but I can't move. When it's over, I feel sick, dizzy, out of breath, my heart feels like it wants to jump out of my chest and my tongue feels a bit swollen along with a pins and needles effect. I always ignored it, coz i thought if it was ghosts and it would go away if i ignored it. But it became worse and more. I got these attacks several times a week and it feels like it lasts for a a couple of minutes. I then started to hear weird sounds in my apartment. Like someone washing dishes, the kettle that starts boiling when I get back from work, doors opening and closing. I started to become very scared. I could also hear my dad's heart beat, a tick tick sound. I thought he was by me, I could feel him touch my hair and my face. At another time I also saw figures creeping up the wall, I saw a man in black with a mask, I could see he's eyes, very big round blue eyes. He was also creeping up my wall against the roof where he was hanging over me. I saw a little kitten playing in my parent's house, they didn't have any cats. And a tiger in my friends house. It seemed like it was floating in the air and it was coming for me. I was very scared, as it got closer, I closed my eyes, when I opened it, the tiger shattered apart and the pieces looked like the pieces of a puzzle. I then started to talk to people and they told me it was supernatural. Our minister came and prayed at my apartment, through holy water. It didn't go away. My parents told me to go and see my doctor. He told me I was having anxiety attacks and I'm currently on medication, Alzam 0.5mg.

It started getting better after a while. But now I'm experiencing those sounds of my dad again. It's on and off. Sometimes it goes away for a couple of hours. Sometimes I hear it all the time, in my car, at my house, in shops. I'm still experiencing anxiety attacks, but not as much as I used to.

I'm naturally a very paranoid person, but it feels like it's becoming too much lately. For the last six months I experienced extreme fears. A fear of driving alone. I work in different towns and travel a lot. I'm scared because it feels like people are following me to push me off the road. When I drive and I'm the only vehicle on the road, I would still think about it and then look if I see someone. When there's a vehicle behind me, I think about it too, then I get so scared, I sometimes start crying. I think these things and when I'm in that situation it feels like it's really going to happen. I expect it to happen even before it happens. I have a terrible fear of death. I'm scared. I'm scared my loved ones or my son would die. I sometimes cry even only if I think about it. I'm scared people would attack me. I don't know why I feel like this, but it's affecting my relationships with my family and my fiance, they get upset because they say I always expect the worst.. I've emailed one of my doctors, but he doesn't reply. He said he would. I just want to know if it would go away and why do I feel and hear things. What is that?

Thank you.

ask dr-robert


Some of the discomforts you have been experiencing do sound like various symptoms of panic disorder. These are things like the pins and needles feelings in your body, the dizziness, the shortness of breath, and the awareness of strong heartbeats. But some of the other experiences you report cannot, in my view, be explained as panic symptoms. These are things like seeing and hearing things which are not there (hallucinations), and imagining that someone is following you with the intention of pushing you off the road (paranoia).

Although without a personal interview I cannot make a firm diagnosis, these experiences of hallucination and paranoia are suggestive of the onset of some kind of psychosis, and I consider it urgent that you be examined by a qualified mental health expert—not a family doctor—in order to find out if you are suffering from psychosis. If your symptoms indeed are signals of the onset of psychotic illness, you will require treatment with a very different type of medication than Alzam (Xanax)--Xanax will do nothing at all to help you to deal with psychosis--and that treatment with anti-psychotic medication and psychotherapy must be started as soon as possible.

When I say as soon as possible, I mean right away, because if left untreated, psychosis almost always worsens, often causing the affected person to become a danger to herself and/or others, or even to lose touch completely with the world of shared consensual reality, and so to descend into a place of total and complete aloneness.

Your minister should be ashamed of himself for praying over you as if some "Devil" were causing your suffering and needed to be "exorcised" by scaring it away with "holy water." What nonsense! What utter and complete bullshit! And the doctor who prescribed the Alzam has, in my view, failed completely in his professional responsibility which certainly required much more than simply to offer a bottle of pills to a person who is reporting the kinds of paranoia and hallucinations you have been experiencing.

My advice: leave the minister to his absurd religious delusions and the doctor to his pill pushing, and find a better kind of help, which means looking for a skilled psychologist or a psychiatrist who will be able to understand what you are going through and will be able to help you deal with it.

Be well.

ask dr-robert

Thanks to your support, "ask dr-robert" has become the world's number one ask the psychologist site.

Pass it on:

Tell a friend about this page!
Their Name:
Their Email:
Your Name:
Your Email:
(all information remains private)

Or, if you find the site worth sharing, link to from your webpage, newsgroup, discussion forum, or blog.


Stumble It!

return to ask dr-robert archives

page last modified October 23, 2008

copyright robert saltzman 2008 all rights reserved