Fear of going crazy is not as uncommon as you might think. Lots of people have experienced feelings of detachment from reality, which made them think they might lose their connection with reality.
The good thing is, as the saying goes: “If you think you are going crazy, you probably are not.”
In this article, we will discuss the topic of people that are feeling that they are “losing a touch with reality” – in other words, of people that are afraid that they are going “crazy”.
When you hear the word “crazy”, a lot of assumptions can come to your mind. While someone imagines a funny-behaving person, others might think of a brave and extreme-loving individual. Yet, another interpretation of “crazy” refers to a person that is suffering from mental health issues. This word carries a lot of stigmas, and, typically, psychologists are trying to avoid using it. However, for the sake of keeping things simple, we will use this word in this article.
Can I Go Crazy From Anxiety?
This is one of the most asked questions people are interested in. While during high anxiety periods, your feelings can definitely make you feel like you are going crazy, you are not. Anxiety is known to cause a variety of symptoms, including feelings of detachment from reality, with some people even reporting that they had experiences observing themselves from outside of their body.
All these symptoms are related to how our bodies react to emotional stress. Typically, when the anxiety wave comes in, you can feel your heartbeat increasing and breaths becoming fast and shallow. In addition to these physical symptoms, you can have sweaty palms, a tight stomach, and dizziness, among many other sensations.
It’s very important to acknowledge that these physical sensations are just sensations and nothing else – they can’t harm you. Some people get overwhelmed by these feelings and start hyperventilating, which can sometimes cause “out of the body” experiences or feelings of detachment.
Is It Normal To Worry About Going Crazy?
It is totally normal to worry about going crazy as long as you are able to function on a daily basis and it does not have a negative effect on your well-being. Whenever worry takes the majority of your time and thoughts, it is time to seek professional help.
If you find yourself worrying about going crazy occasionally, it might be due to rising and falling anxiety or due to some events that happened in your life. Simply worrying about going crazy does no harm to you and will not make you go crazy.
According to Gerald Goodman, PhD, a professor of psychology at UCLA, most people that are worrying about going crazy aren’t actually experiencing it in real life. He mentions that a part of “crazy” is getting away from reality – which means that people that are actually going crazy don’t know it.
Another psychologist from New York, Marty Livingston, PhD, supports this theory and adds that people that are actually experiencing mental health problems “are not aware of the difference between a feeling and a fact.” For example, a person with psychosis can believe that someone is following them and they truly believe it. In this case, a healthy person might feel like someone is following them, but in reality, they know it is not true.
Overcoming Fear Of Going Crazy
Living with the fear of going crazy, which is also called “dementophobia” is not easy. Fortunately, there are a number of methods that can help you to deal with this phobia.
Educate Yourself About Anxiety
Learning the ins and outs of anxiety and how it affects your body and mind can have a tremendous effect on you. When you understand why you are feeling certain sensations and how it is happening purely due to the surge of adrenaline in your body, dealing with your fears is much easier.
Once you learn about anxiety and its impact on your body and mind, you can learn how to deal with them. Some of the methods include cognitive behavioural therapy, abdominal breathing, and positive affirmations, among many others. Check out our article about best-rated anxiety rings to see if this is a good solution for you.
Get Yourself Grounded
Keeping in touch with reality can help a lot in times when you are feeling you are losing control of your emotions. To establish a solid connection with yourself and the world around you, do a reality check. Some of the methods include:
- Lie down on the floor if the situation allows. Being close to the ground can help you feel “rooted” and balanced. You can feel that you are present in the moment and this can help bring your back to reality.
- Try yoga – a lot of poses in yoga are aimed at keeping your attention focused on your breath and body, bringing you back into reality. In fact, any physical exercise can help you get back into feeling your normal self.
- Get outside. Take a walk or look out the window. Observe people, nature, or moving cars. Internally tell yourself what you are seeing. Describe people and objects you see in detail – this can help activate the part of the brain that switches off anxiety feelings and bring back the “logical” mind.
- Take a shower or a bath. The feeling of water on your body can relax your muscles and take your mind off anxious feelings. If you are feeling like you are going crazy, try a contrast shower, your body will react to a change in temperature, thus giving your senses a “shock” – which can help bring you back to reality.
If you are feeling that self-help is not doing much for you and you’d rather take advantage of available medication, speak to your doctor. It is very important not to make decisions about taking supplements or drugs without first speaking to your doctor since you might not be aware of some drug counteractions and allergies.
Join Support Groups
Having someone to talk to is helpful when you are suffering from fear of going crazy. Having a whole group of people that share the same problem is even better. You can find people that are having the same fear on forums and online groups. You can also try to find offline groups if you are feeling up to it. Connecting with people and sharing your experiences can have a world of difference on your perception of these anxious feelings.
Why You Might Feel Like You Are Going Crazy
Aside from anxiety-caused feelings of detachment, which can make you feel like you are going crazy, there are some other potential reasons why such feelings might arise.
It’s possible for a person to feel like they are losing a touch with reality in case they are disconnected from others. The lack of social interaction can be very hard for some people that are used to always be in contact with other human beings.
These feelings might arise in case you are feeling lonely after a breakup or after you’ve lost someone very close to you. The defense mechanisms in our mind can make us feel “unreal” since the close person is no longer next to us.
If you have other phobias that are related to being outside or around people, you can sometimes experience the fear of going crazy, as your nervous system can already be sensitized and overreacting to outside stressors.
When a person is having a stressful period in life, feelings of “unreality” can creep in due to bad quality of sleep or otherwise physical exhaustion.
What Going Crazy Feels In Different Anxiety Disorders
If you are suffering from panic attacks, it is very possible that you’ve already experienced a fear of going crazy or losing your mind. Panic attacks are very closely tied to anxiety and are simply very bad episodes of anxiety attacks. We’ve already discussed how anxiety is connected to fear of going crazy.
In this case, since feelings are so intense, people can experience feelings of derealization and depersonalization. These feelings subside once the panic attack is losing its power. For those that are looking for help dealing with their panic attacks, check out the book by Barry McDonagh, “Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
People with OCD can experience fear of going crazy in a way that they can think their mind is controlling their actions. Since OCD involves obsessive and compulsive behaviours that are very hard to stop, sometimes people are feeling that they are losing control of their life and reality. Even though people with OCD know that some of their actions are irrational, they can’t help themselves and continue to do their rituals, which contributes to the feelings of “unreality”.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People that suffer from severe PTSD can experience symptoms that can make them feel that they are losing their minds. Lots of them can experience flashbacks and paranoia, as well as there are cases of people having hallucinations. In most cases, this condition can be treated with recommendations from a professional.
Having a fear of going crazy is not pleasant, but it’s 100% possible to deal with and manageable. If you suffer from fear of going crazy, remember that you are not alone and there are thousands of people that have the same issue.
Try the self-help advice that we provided in this article and if you feel like you are more comfortable working with someone on your fears, reach out to a professional that can help you structure a recovery plan.