Understanding Anxiety

July 10, 2012

Understanding Anxiety

Several patients here at the clinic have recently been diagnosed with various forms of anxiety disorders. I thought maybe it would help to write a little bit about what anxiety is. One of my professors in college said that, “… while depression is great sadness about what has happened, anxiety is great fear about what might happen.”

Some anxiety is actually normal. We get anxious, for example, when we start a new job, buy a car, or give a speech in class.  This is to be expected and is actually the body’s way of sensing a stressful situation and helps us to respond accordingly. Some of us, however, have a more difficult time calming down or may, in fact, over-respond to a stressor. For some, the anxiety occurs out of the blue, without any real explanation. These can be very upsetting for the person and may be an indication of an anxiety disorder.

You may have heard of Generalized Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Phobias. All of these are various forms of anxiety and can be treated. The first step is to talk with your medical provider. There are many anti-anxiety medications that may help; you and your provider can talk about which one might be right for you. You may also want to talk with a mental-health therapist. There is a lot of research to indicate that medication combined with therapy can benefit those struggling to manage an anxiety disorder. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is considered to be the most helpful form of talk therapy for anxiety patients. The National Institute for Mental Health describes CBT the best, stating, “The cognitive part helps people change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations.”

According to HELPGUIDE.org, there are some things to look for regarding diagnosing anxiety. It is really helpful to let your medical provider know if:

  1. You are constantly worried, tense, or feeling on edge.
  2. Your worries interfere with your work, school or other responsibilities – like family.
  3. Your fears are irrational.
  4. You worry that things will go wrong if you don’t do things in a certain way.
  5. Everyday activities increase your anxiety.
  6. The sudden experience of heart-pounding panic.
  7. You fear catastrophe around every corner.

You do not have to have all seven symptoms to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. If you see yourself in the list above, or have a loved one experiencing some of these symptoms, I encourage you to make an appointment with a medical provider to determine the best course of action. Struggling with an anxiety disorder can be difficult, but the good news is there’s help available … you don’t have to go through this alone.

Until next time, take care!

  1. heather Sheffield

    Hello my name is heather and I do have GAD last week my last grandparent wich was my grandpa passed away today was the funeral and tomorrow is the grave side service Iam so said what can I do to stop crying its stinks

  2. Karen Bermel LIMHP, MC

    Karen Bermel LIMHP, MC

    First of all, I’m so very sorry about your loss. Dealing with grief and loss of a loved one can be very difficult. You mentioned you have been diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). Certainly, the loss of a loved one can increase the symptoms of this disorder. I’d like you to consider contacting your medication provider and your mental-health therapist. It’s important that they know what you’re going through so they can offer you increased support. In general, when someone we love dies, it takes time to adjust to the loss. There is no handbook or timeline on how long it will take, Heather. Everyone is different. Since your grandpa just died about a week ago, the feelings of sadness may be quite overwhelming for you. It’s very important to take really good care of yourself right now. Your health-care providers know your specific needs for good self care, and they will help you with this. Some of the things that may also help you are: making sure you are getting enough to eat, getting some sleep, and talking with family and friends. Some other ideas are: brushing your teeth, feeding the dog, making your bed, or watering your plants. I know these ideas might sound overly simplistic, but creating a routine and sticking with it can really help anchor and stabilize us during times of grief and loss. Heather, I’m really glad you wrote. If we can be of further assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out again. Take care, Karen

  3. Inyo

    Yes, I went to my family dooctr, and described how I had been feeling he asked me several questions, checked my vitals and gave me a prescription for anti anxiety meds. Since then just knowing what's causing this has made me feel so much better, before I was always scared there was some horrible physical illness causing me to feel this way, now I know and feel much better. Please see your dr, you will be glad afterwards, good luck, you'll get thru this

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