Am I losing it, or what?

OK, I’d like to get a diagnosis of my mental health from all you teeming millions.

I realize that a message board is no place to get advice of this sort, but hey - it’s a place to start, and you just can’t beat the price.

Basically, it seems like I’m losing the ability to concentrate, and essentially think. I notice this most at work, where I am a computer programmer. Over the past couple of years, I am finding it much more difficult to stay focused, and to think through problems. It thus takes much longer to get projects done, and I am more prone to errors. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to get started. I guess I’d describe it as a sort of “mental paralysis”.

This has the added side effect of increasing my anxiety level. The fact that I can’t concentrate is causing me to worry about it, which turns into an endless cycle. I dread going into work, because of the struggle I’ll have during the day, and I know that I’ll feel guilt at how little I’ve accomplished by quitting time. I worry when I go to bed, and thus I don’t sleep as well as I should.

Just today I was working on a program, and I noticed that one aspect of it was similar to something I wrote about six months ago. I thought I would just take a look at the older project, copy some code, and be on my way. But when I looked at it, I just couldn’t figure it out - how does this work, and why did I do it this way? (I’ll spend a couple of hours with it tomorrow, but why does it seem so complicated now?)

My boss is getting progressively annoyed with me, and I guess I don’t blame him, but he’s not the type who is easy to talk to. He’s the type who likes to point his finger at you and say “you should know this”.

So is it my thinking process that’s really beginning to atrophy, or is my emotional state causing this thick fog to form in my head? Is there a way to tell the difference? In general I guess I’m a worrier and a pessimist, but I try to project a more positive attitude than I’m actually experiencing.

Can depression cause this phenomonon?

Do people go to therapists to get help with this kind of problem?
------- Long time lurker, first time Doper.

Yes it can, and yes they do, definitely.

You should definitely check and see if the place you work for offers mental health counseling/therapy. Mine does for free (or the standard health insurance co-payment); yours might too, especially if you feel that it’s affecting your work. It’s completely confidential. I’d recommend it; therapy doesn’t necessarily have to be for anything “serious,” and if you think it’s affecting you, then it’s worth talking to someone about. It might end up not costing you anything.

I am definitely NOT an expert on any of this, so DON’T misinterpret this as anything than a wild-assed guess. If you feel it’s a problem, see a professional. That said: an inability to concentrate, if it’s persistent and usually on a larger scale than what you describe, is often diagnosed as adult attention deficit disorder (ADD). But just general depression can have the same effects. Other posters who are going through depression can give you more details.

You may want to see your doctor to rule out anything organic.

OK, first off, I am not a psychiatrist or therapist, or even close to one.

If this is bothering you, bring it up with your doctor or ask for a referral to a psychiatrist or therapist.

An anxiety disorder or depression could possibly cause this kind of thing, but lots of other things probably could, too. Trouble concentrating can be one symptom of generalized anxiety disorder, or depression, or some other things.

Here is a quiz that might help you figure out if you have generalized anxiety.

I have generalized anxiety (and depression), and thought for years that I was just “a worrier and a pessimist”, and there was nothing that could be done about it. I’m now being treated for it, and I’m very glad that I was wrong.

Even without depression, finger-pointing bosses can kill morale. If part of your ability to concentrate was based on trusting that you wouldn’t have to watch for incoming flak or cover your behind and could just get into the zone and program, only now part of you is always partially alert for incoming criticism, that would do it. Has anyone else been having problems?

You could also have picked up more non-programing responsibilities around the office and are having difficulty screening them out. Have you taken on more management duties?

Have you had a vacation this year?

I agree that seeing a therapist or councilor would be a good idea. Having a physical wouldn’t hurt, either, if you haven’t had one recently.

That’s nothing to worry about. Happens to me all the time. I l ook back at my own code, that I wrote just a few months ago, and have trouble figuring it out. It’s seems so complicated, how the helll could I understand it then and not now?

The reason is, when I wrote it the problem was fresh in my mind. Also I didn’t write it all in one go. I solved a huge complex problem by breaking it up into little ones. So when I go back at look at the whole thing it looks overwhelming and too complicated to understand.

You may have other issues you need to address. But don’t worry that this is some kind of indicator you are losing it.

I’m sorry, what were you saying? :smiley:

In all seriousness, if you feel you have a problem, ask your doctor about it. Get a referal to a mental health specialist, and see if that helps.

How are you sleeping?
Do you need caffine to get going in the morning as well as through the day?

Do you take naps during the day?

Do you drop off while reading?
A good night’s sleep is essential and it will mess with your concentration.

Thanks for the comments so far.
I guess I’ll give a few responses:

Actually, I considered titleing this thread “How bad do things have to get before you should go see a therapist?”. Things arent’ really so bad that I’m suicidal, but it’s definitely affecting my work, my home life, and my attitude in general.

I had a flight physical a few months ago (to maintain my private pilot’s license) and nothing unusual was detected. They also did a number of blood tests because of a minor temporary problem with an eye (PUK), and again it all seemed fine. However, because it was a flight physical, I didn’t volunteer the info I mentioned in my OP.

I took the quiz, and I had a lot of “yes” answers. I need to look into it further.

The employee who sits next to me mentioned that the boss seems to be giving me (in particular) a hard time. I’m probably somewhat reluctant to ask questions because he’ll instantly get irritated. (And no, I’m not rude or obnoxious to him or anyone else in the office).

Yeah, I understand what you’re saying, and I shouldn’t get uptight so fast.

I’m sure this is part of my problem. I’d say I rarely get a good night’s sleep.
So hopefully I can stay focused long enough to get to a therapist.

Talk to your medical doctor about your sleep.

Do you snore? You may have sleep apnea. I had that problem and for a while I thought I was depressed. Since I had no energy, couldn’t concentrate etc. etc. but really it was my sleep apnea. Maybe some sleep aids would help you. Take the upcoming three day weekend to catch up on your sleep.
Good luck.