My Anxiety Disorder Is Hurting My Accounting Career

Woman having a conversation with her therapist on couch in office

From the mailbag:

Hello Andrew,

I messaged you the other day about your Big 4 course and my anxiety and you told me to email you my resume and tell you more about my story. Recently we had our second child and after she was born I developed postpartum depression (PPD). I sought out help for my PPD through information my doctor gave me after he evaluated me and started attending counseling.

While I was in treatment for the PPD I found out that some things that I have been doing my entire life are not normal behavior and that I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD affects many aspects of my life and because of it I have a hard time in school as well as talking with people. I can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. I have trouble falling asleep and sometimes I wake up feeling wired because of everything running through my mind. It is like my mind never shuts down to let me rest. Because of being unable to shut off my brain I am often fatigued, have frequent headaches, muscle tension and aches, and can get irritated easily. When it comes to school I have to approach everything carefully and force myself to sit down to work if I can’t concentrate.

Lately, I have been attending career fairs to try and get an internship, but I have a hard time approaching people because of my GAD. This is because I stumble over my words and lose my train of thought. When I do this the recruiters from the companies think I’m unprepared and try to finish talking to me as fast as possible in order to move on to a person who is confident and seems prepared. It is very difficult to deal with my disorder and I hate that it makes me feel as though I will never accomplish anything. I was raised that if you want to accomplish something or do something in your life you have to make it happen, so I’m trying to find any and every way to make it happen.

Do you think this program will help me?


Bean Counter Fan

This seems to be a two part issue so I’ll cover it as such.


My courses and I can’t help anyone with any psychological or health issues. However, in my personal experience as someone who came from a very troubled childhood and has spent 3-4 years in therapy and almost 2 of those years in a 24 hours 7 days a week therapeutic boarding school.

You need to find a good behavioral therapist that can help you confront this head on. I also typically refer people to not use medication while going through that process if its an option, but I am not a medical professional and you should seek such advice. I have just seen that be much more successful for people in the long run with friends, family, and fellow therapy program participants. However therapy, more than ANYTHING else will contribute to your family happiness, earning potential, and professional success.

I would not spend less than 1-2 years in weekly or bi-weekly therapy because the truth is, people spend $20-100K on education but two parts of you go to work:

Your skills and YOU!

You need to spend just as much time and money on you as you do on school. If you can overcome this in the next 2 years, that will be far more effective to your future than any course, recruiting tip, or resume I can provide. If you do decide to go to therapy 1-2 times per week and can’t afford the Big 4 course, I’ll give it to you for free.

My Courses

While my courses and working with me personally won’t help solve GAD (or any underlying issues like ADD, ADH, etc), it will help by giving you a better understanding of the process. You will be better prepared and can potentially reduce your anxiety because you will know what to expect, how to act in certain situations, what to ask at career fairs, what interview questions you will be asked, etc.

In that regard it could be of huge help to you but I wouldn’t make my courses my primary focus and concern. YOU need to get better and the only way for that to happen is confrontation of the issue head on in therapy!

  • rt

    I relate to this post because I too was diagnosed with General Anxiety
    Disorder (GAD). I started taking Zoloft 3 years ago and it has helped a lot. I
    continue to take the Zoloft and see a psychiatrist regularly. Prior to taking medication I was working with a personal coach for several years and I still have sessions once a week with the same coach. I realized a few years
    ago I was in a bad place so I sought out the personal coaching. Eventually my coach recommended seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication because she sensed that my anxious feelings in a specific work situation were more extreme than the situation itself. Anxiety and nervousness are normal to a certain degree, but my coach, who knew me very well at that point, sensed that this was maybe a situation where medication would be needed.

    The main thing I learned in these past several years is no matter what
    to never give up. Never stop searching for advice or solutions. Never give up on yourself. When you live life with this mindset, you start attracting good things into your life. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect life, there will always be
    problems. But you can make improvements on how you handle these problems.

    I can definitely say I’m able to cope and deal with life in a much more positive way compared to 5 years ago.There are many life skills that I have learned from my personal coaching sessions that I never learned just through living life.

    I also have issues with focusing and studying. I mean seriously major
    issues! Lol. But I can say that each semester that has gone by I have improved my studying skills. I’m in my last semester of school and I definitely improved my ability
    to sit and study no matter how badly I don’t want to. Also, full disclosure, I take a small dose of medication to help with these ADHD-like symptoms. It’s a
    very small dose of adderall. I only took the medication after many sessions of talking to the psychiatrist. So I don’t abuse the medication and I don’t
    even take it every day. I only take the medicationa few times a week when I need to have some serious studying sessions. Once I’m done with the CPA exam I don’t plan no using the adderall anymore.
    If you see a psychiatrist you can ask them about the drug called Straterra. It is effective for both anxiety/depression and ADHD/concentration issues. And the benefit is that it is not a stimulant like adderall, so it doesn’t have those addictive qualities. I even had a trial run with Straterra and found it helped but I couldn’t continue with it because it was so expensive and I didn’t have insurance at the time. That is why I had to take adderall because it is much cheaper than Straterra.

    About the career fairs….I came to the conclusion that career fairssuck! Sorry, I can’t think of a better way to put it. lol. I felt totally awkward at the career fair too! It’s so unnatural! But at least it’s not something we have to do every week. It’s just a couple of times in our lives when we have to do it and then that is it. In my opinion, the main solution to the career fair nervousness is to practice. I
    practiced for the career fair the same way I would practice for a class
    presentation. I just did it over and over again. And keep remembering that
    many other people feel as uncomfortable as you do at the career fair.

    I was also very nervous for my first and second interview and the pre-interview dinners the night before! I had not felt that nervous in a long time! And again, for lack of a better word, it sucked. But I knew that this was not going to be forever. And I also tried to focus instead on how happy I was that I got the interviews. I kept reminding myself that I worked hard and deserve to be here. And I’ll be grateful no matter whether I get the job or not. Many experts say that practicing gratitude is an effective way to deal with anxiety/depression.

    With finding a therapist or personal coach…I had 2 other therapists/coaches before working with my current coach. I’m so glad I have my current coach. The first two in my opinion were not as good. But I think it is different for
    each person. So my advice is try out a coach or therapist and after a few sessions if you don’t like him/her or feel it’s not working then find someone else.
    Don’t give up on finding the right person to help you! Same thing applies to finding a psychiatrist you like and trust.

    I hope I have been able to help in some way! Again, I completely relate to your issues. In a weird way it’s sometimes nice to know you’re not the only one dealing with these kinds of things.