'I have lost interest in everything, please help'

  • Posted by Moderator: Biju Mathew
  • Published 16:29 April 4, 2013

B.R. asks: I am a 27-year-old unmarried man. I am facing many problems.

  1. I am not able to concentrate
  2. Thoughts keep my mind occupied...I keep thinking all the time
  3. Always thinking of sex
  4. Lost interest...no interest in doing any activities
  5. No peace of mind
  6. I want to get married as soon as possible
  7. Always worried, but don't know why

Please help me to overcome these problems.

Dr. Melanie C. Schlatter, (PhD, Consultant Health Psychologist, Well Woman Clinic, Dubai) replies: It appears that you have symptoms of both anxiety and depression; however a complete diagnosis can only be made with further investigation by your medical practitioner because there is still crucial information that is missing, and I believe that you need additional guidance. Indeed, I do wonder when these symptoms started, and how your mood is in general, as this would give us an indication of how long it might take to help you.

Anxiety in general is characterized by continual worry about some aspect of your life or surroundings, which holds uncertainty. Although you say you are not sure of the underlying reason, it is very possible that your need to get married soon could be a primary or contributing factor. If you have other life stressors, such as a difficult or unsatisfactory job, money worries, or you live away from your family and are experiencing loneliness, then these may also play a role. Sometimes we have small life stressors that add up, and we don’t notice them too much until we experience symptoms like those of yourself.

The cycle of worrying thoughts, which causes an exhausted or distressed mood, is known to affect us physically, and the cycle can continually repeat itself, making us feel worse and worse to the point where we withdraw from activities (hence your loss of interest), and then engage in unhelpful habits to overcome the negative thoughts and feelings. I suspect that thinking about sex a lot is only providing you with temporary satisfaction, and although it may be a way for you to disengage from your negative state, it could actually lead to worsening anxiety and depression. We would not wish for this cycle to continue with you. Furthermore, the fact that your sleep is also affected shows that you are not getting the proper rest and rejuvenation that you need, which will significantly affect how you feel in the daytime, particularly your energy levels and concentration.

I think you need help to overcome your difficulties, as opposed to trying to help yourself, but there are definitely some basic techniques that you could start doing in order to take control and feel a little better. Many people have experienced the same symptoms as yourself and have been able to overcome them with guidance, so you are not alone.

Firstly, write down all possible worries in your life at this time. Writing can be helpful to clear your mind and give you perspective into what needs to be addressed first. Do this earlier in the day, rather than later.

Likewise, do not hold onto your worries or try to manage them all by yourself. If you are concerned about finding a wife, then gather your friends or family to help you decide on a plan. The connection with friends could be beneficial to you. You may also need to look at ways to interact with people and fulfill yourself in different ways, for instance in your spare time. Perhaps you need to socialize more, for instance? Or learn particular skills that will give you confidence and help to reduce your anxiety?

Be mindful of what is going well in your life — sometimes we jump to the negative things too quickly. Think about what you have done well each day, no matter how small it may be.

When your mind jumps to thoughts of sex, be mindful of what led up to that moment, so that you can learn about your triggers, as we need to reduce and eliminate these. Then, try to change your thoughts and/or do something completely different. Are there other things you could do that would make you feel better about yourself?

For whatever you are having difficulty concentrating on — start small and slow, and take regular breaks. Do not force yourself to do large chunks of work. It may even benefit you to develop a simple timetable of your daily routines that will keep you active, rather than slowly detaching from your normal activities.

Keep fit and healthy — eat well (eg., fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains) and eat regularly; keep hydrated; and do daily exercise to release tension.

Regarding your sleep — have a sleep routine, whereby you try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Also, try to wind down at the end of the day by taking a bath or shower, reading a nice book, dimming the lights, and silencing/turning off all electronic gadgets. When you are in bed, focus on a relaxed breathing style, and make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable (dark, the correct temperature, no distractions etc). Don’t exercise or eat too late into the evening, and don’t drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol.

When a person has started losing interest in things that they once found pleasurable, it can be difficult to believe that life can ever be the same again. If you feel that this loss of interest is too much for you to overcome on your own, then please consider visiting your general medical practitioner or a mental health professional, especially if this has been going on for a long time.

Write with your concerns to inmind@gulfnews.com and selected questions will be answered by a panel of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. Your contributions will be modified for length and appropriateness, and will be open to other Gulf News readers to comment and suggest solutions. Let us know if you would like GulfNews.com to withhold your name from your letter should it be published.

Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of psychologists and psychiatrists are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.