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Similar mental health symptoms how do you tell them apart?

prplchknz

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If you have other examples please share

I've experienced both paranoia and anxiety and here's how I tell them apart because they both feel very similar
Anxiety is more like I'm terrified but I don't know exactly why
Paranoia is I'm terrified because my doctor wants to poison me

At least that's how it works for me
Ymmv
 

Taito

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This is a good question. For me its slightly different due to my disassociative behaviors. I do not have emotional awareness. (i.e. I don't feel fear) but I have physical sensations instead. Anxiety is more gut twisting, while paranoia is more movement sensativity/sound sensativity.

When I'm paranoid, generally when I am trying to sleep. A single sound can send me into a hypersensitive state where I then imagine someone breaking into my house etc. This can happen on top of my anxiety, as my anxiety is almost entirely perpetual (but low thankfully). I can't really give an anxiety specific situation because of it, but if I had to. Probably any situation someone is waving an object around that can give harm, even if by accident. Or if someone tries to throw somthing at me. This instantly puts me in fight or flight, and makes me mad very quickly or even violent in supressing that threat. Because my brain sees these actions as a threat, even if the other person didn't want to create that effect. When my anxiety is stronger i these situations, it feels like pure physical impulse. Very different than paranoia which is sensativity to unknown noise and movements.
 

Frosty

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If you have other examples please share

I've experienced both paranoia and anxiety and here's how I tell them apart because they both feel very similar
Anxiety is more like I'm terrified but I don't know exactly why
Paranoia is I'm terrified because my doctor wants to poison me

At least that's how it works for me
Ymmv

Anxiety: Due to something based in external reality. Sometimes has a specific trigger, sometimes is general. Tends to grow more steadily for me- doesn’t usually come on completely all at once. Sometimes I try to avoid feeling it, but when it’s there it’s always there mildly until the trigger passes/situation passes or I have some sort of panic/anxiety attack. Usually fairly rational even if my response is exaggerated/the situation isn’t “really a big deal”. Usually am able to “calm down” if given time to work through my thoughts.

paranoia: Externally irrational. Definitely not linear at all. Everything is a trigger. Everything is a sign. I struggle to distinguish what is meaningful and what isn’t- can’t parse information well. Or maybe I can- because I do try. But for everything I “sort” there are two new things waiting. Example of what it’s like after things have started to get bad [SPOILER="Spoiler"]I’ve figured out that the guy across the street isn’t trying to kill me- but what about that lady who had glared at me this morning? What about the fact that today is the 13th- thats unlucky. Is it a sign? No. Well that movie last night said that demons would attack people who thought “x” thing. Have I thought that lately? Is that why they are trying to kill me? No. No one’s trying to kill me. Fuuuck ok that guy TOTALLY just looked at me and started to type on his phone. Who is he communicating with? Oh no. I hear police sirens. Did I do something wrong? Is it because I thought “X thing” like the movie said? I need to get inside NOW.”[/spoiler]. With paranoia what people don’t realize is that at least for me- there is some attempt at rationality. If there wasn’t there’d be no resistance and Id be acting on my fears. People are always like “well just don’t THINK that” or “calm down” when it’s basically 98% impossible. The level of fear is basically at a constant panic attack level- for hours, days, weeks. Its exhausting and tends to get much worse as time goes on. Ive said if before. Its like someone has a gun to your head and everyone around you is telling you need to calm down because there is no danger. Terror. Self hatred at night being able to just “think normally”. Isolation because reducing level of stimuli reduces, somewhat, the amount of information available that needs to be parsed.
 

Lady Lunacik

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Jeez, it's been so long since I've dealt with most symptoms that I'm struggling to even remember. Actually, I don't even have much interest in talking about this stuff anymore, either...I just realized because I don't feel like trying to remember, not interested in delving into all of that. Damn, I'm a bit taken back by that, as it is a stark contrast in comparison to the way I was the last time I frequented this forum. It's hard to focus on other things besides your broken arm when your arm is broken and hurts like hell, though. My arm is no longer broken, so to speak, so I don't focus on it I guess. Anyway, I'll force myself, since I've already written this much anyway.

I realize this is slightly different than what is being asked, but most of the distinguishing I have to do has pertained to root causes. For instance: the fear of loss...is it from borderline, PTSD, or from injury left by narcissistic abuse? The extreme mood fluctuations...are they from borderline, or from rapid cycling bipolar? Basically, having to pinpoint the origin of something that multiple diagnoses share in common.

I definitely mixed things up initially, as did the psychiatrist who misdiagnosed me with borderline (they didn't know my past history, which involved 20-something years of narcissistic abuse). I remember an embarrassing phase in which I actually tried to identify bipolar mood swings VS borderline mood swings when they happened, even, lol. I suppose things only became more distinctive while overcoming the entailed challenges over time.

My load lightened enormously due to getting the right medications in my system, which is when I started to notice the fact that I wasn't having mood swings anymore. It wasn't that I learned self-control, which I needed tremendous amounts of before I was on meds; it was that there wasn't actually much of anything even there to be controlled. This is so much the case that, in the rare event that I do have to live without medications for a while, I am no longer as good at coping as I was before. It's like lifting more weight than you're used to, it requires some adjustment. I'm out of practice with coping with anything that intense. That was among the first indicators, to me, that my borderline diagnosis was a mistake. This is because medications do not correct the mood swings of borderline, they only work for bipolar. What one therapist explained about how bipolar works also helped. She said that when feelings are triggered, the brain chemicals can basically just get carried away and go too far into the extremes, unable to maintain appropriate levels. So, I guess, the short version is...the way I was able to tell the difference between the origin points of the mood swings was through knowledge about the subtle differences in the disorders, and with trial and error (finding that medications corrected things; if they hadn't, it'd have told me that it likely wasn't bipolar).

I'm at a point now where I have MAYBE 2 out of 9 symptoms of borderline personality disorder, but I know the exact reasons why I have those things, I know they are caused by specific traumatic injuries/the way things in my life are structured, and I know exactly how to overcome them. I'm just still in the process of working on them, as Rome wasn't built in a day. The vast majority of those symptoms that I already overcame really boiled down to narcissistic abuse. I had no idea there was so much similarity between damages in narc victims and borderline, so again, it really boils down to being educated about the different nuances of psychological matters. Sorry, I don't feel like explaining in more detail than that.

EDIT:
Well, I will if anyone asks me to. If it could potentially be helpful to anyone, I don't want to just say "no cuz I don't feel like it," that's fucked up...so feel free to ask if it would help.
 
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Frosty

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My load lightened enormously due to getting the right medications in my system, which is when I started to notice the fact that I wasn't having mood swings anymore. It wasn't that I learned self-control, which I needed tremendous amounts of before I was on meds; it was that there wasn't actually much of anything even there to be controlled.

Relate so strongly to this
 

Saturnal Snowqueen

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Anxiety and autism are pretty hard to separate to me, but having pinpointing my meltdowns it makes it a little easier. Screeching, hitting things, hitting myself, plugging my ears and rocking back and forth-those are meltdowns. The world becomes loud, way too loud. I've lost all sense of self, and I can finally say to myself that I'm not ok. I'm overwhelmed and I can't compress. Anxiety is never ending rumination and not really being able to make any logical sense of anything, but the main thing that separates it is that it rarely manifests physically to me-I do stim when anxious, but also when I'm excited or in just deep thought.

There's social anxiety and autism too. Social anxiety I'd say though is more for me being straight up too shy to talk to people to the point it's impossible to get anything done. This has gotten better for me due to exposure therapy, but I still have to "monitor" everyone socially so I don't feel ostracized by everyone else. It's usually a worry I'm not "letting up" on something fast enough.

Also, I really thought I ADHD but I don't. One of the things that lead to this thought was that I run around a lot, but my stepmom said that she never seen that kind of controlled movement in the kids she knew with ADHD. It's essentially just another stim for me.
 
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