Anxiety can have other symptoms that are not often mentioned. One of them is disassociation. You may know this as “brain fog.” It is a feeling like you are outside of yourself and you may think that you are going crazy or losing your mind.
The body has several protective functions that help you cope in times of physical and mental stress. It actually shuts parts of itself down that are not needed in order to conserve energy to cope with the stressful situation. In an anxiety situation, the fight or flight mechanism does this so you can flee some unapparent danger. Your body thinks you are being chased by some huge dinosaur, so it conserves the energy needed to run.
One of the processes shut down is extra brain power. The body only keeps the parts turned on that are needed for vital functions like; heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and temperature control. Extra thinking won’t be needed at the moment. You won’t need to work through any complicated math problems or read “Pride and Prejudice” to help you get away from that dinosaur, so your body shuts down those parts. What you are left with is a complete focus on the fearful situation. This is where the anxiety cycle starts, and can keep going.
As a protective measure from the anxiety, your body keeps your brain in that “quiet” mode. You begin to experience daily brain fog, forgetfulness and a reduction in cognition. Your short term memory is affected and maybe even some of your long-term. You tend to be “lost” for words at times or forget to do important tasks.
It is important to know that often, people with disassociation related to anxiety are often misdiagnosed with psychiatric disorders. Studies are now beginning to show that disassociation is a result of traumatic events and often appears with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You’re not going crazy and studies also show that common treatments for psychiatric disorders do not help the disassociation.
How do you treat disassociation? You need to first treat the severe anxiety that is causing it. Cognitive Behavioral Therapies can help the anxiety, as well as relaxation techniques, deep breathing and natural supplements. You will notice that even after you have gained control of anxiety the disassociation may persist for quite some time. This is not something that you have to live with and can be treated. Here are some tips to help you deal with disassociation and keep you from feeling like you are going crazy:
Take an effort to control racing thoughts and worry. When you overwhelm your mind with worry, these thoughts can take over. Try to focus on something positive and send negative thoughts back to wherever they came from.
Take a break from technology. With all the new advances in technology, researchers are beginning to find that there is a “dumbing” of society. We have needed resources at our fingertips and do not need to resort to using our minds and memories. Our brains need exercise and use to stay alert and on top of things. Try putting the computer and smart phone down for a day, you will notice a gradual awakening.
Try art therapy. Drawing, painting or working with clay can help center the focus of the mind. Dance and making music is also helpful in relieving brain fogginess.
Talk to someone, either a therapist or trusted friend. Talking about feelings of disassociation can help bring you out of the dark. Someone on the outside can help you find your way out and give you ideas on how to see through the fog.
Hypnosis has been shown to be effective. If the disassociation and anxiety are the result of a traumatic event, you may have shut down to forget the trauma. Hypnosis can take you back to the point where the trauma occurred and help you deal with the anxiety provoking situation. This helps to “lift the veil” that your mind has been hiding behind, and brings you back to reality, so to speak.
Anxiety may make you feel like you are going crazy, but you are not crazy. Your body is just using a protective mechanism to help quiet your fears. Think of it as kind of a “warm blanket” mode. Just like a child that is afraid and cuddles up under their favorite blanket, your body is doing the same. In time, dealing with anxiety and dealing with disassociation will help you deal with stress better and you will no longer feel like you are going crazy. Treatment will help to clear your mind and you will experience an awakening like never before!