Who Me, Anxious?

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Yes, it could be you and you don't even know it. Anxiety in it's many forms is like emotional carbon monoxide: silent, odorless, and invisible. You don't know about it until it hits you and then, it may be too late. Best to learn about it now.

The DSM V has several criteria for anxiety as well as different classifications of anxiety. Anxiety disorders share features of excessive fear and preoccupation and have concomitant behavioral and emotional reactions. Anxiety is overwhelming in many cases. This “fear” can be real or perceived and the anxiety is based on what might happen in the future not on the present circumstances. DSM V names several classifications of anxiety:

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

  • Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Agoraphobia (fear of open areas, crowds, public places, etc.)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Substance/Medication induced Anxiety Disorder

  • Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition

  • Phobia (specific)

  • Selective Mutism

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Closely related disorders include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic Stress (PTS) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety is a fact of life, a physical reaction that tells you something is not quite right: a sense of urgency, a jittery feeling, a recurring reminder. If it is persistent and sometimes overwhelming and even keeps you from performing customary activities of everyday life, then you might have an anxiety disorder

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America website states that anxiety is the most common psychiatric illness and that it affects an estimated 40 million adults and children. According to ADAA, only one third of those suffering with anxiety receive treatment.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America differentiates between everyday anxiety and anxiety disorder: Here is how they differentiate between everyday anxiety and Anxiety Disorder. Everyday Anxiety

  • Worry about paying bills, landing a job, a romantic breakup, or other important life events

  • Embarrassment or self-consciousness in an uncomfortable or awkward social situation

  • A case of nerves or sweating before a big test, business presentation, stage performance, or other significant event

  • Realistic fear of a dangerous object, place, or situation

  • Anxiety, sadness, or difficulty sleeping immediately after a traumatic event

Anxiety Disorder

  • Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant distress and interferes with daily life

  • Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated

  • Seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and the preoccupation with the fear of having another one

  • Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, or situation that poses little or no threat of danger

  • Recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before

MEDICATIONS FOR ANXIETY

There are numerous medications for anxiety that can stop or lessen the symptoms of anxiety. These medications work well for some people and consequently they feel that the anxiety is treated successfully.

MY APPROACH TO DEALING WITH ANXIETY

Fortunately, anxiety is a very treatable condition from a psycho-therapeutic standpoint. This is very good news and very sad news for the population that does not receive treatment- an estimated 26 million plus who do not receive the treatment that could give them a new life. The holdup is that many are not aware that they could reduce or eliminate this anxiety. Frequently, they know that treatment is available but are fearful that it won’t work for them and they would sink deeper thinking that there is no hope for them. They are so accustomed to living with anxiety that it seems the ‘normal’ way of life.

While medication will often reduce symptoms of anxiety, it does not treat the core cause of the anxiety. So they continue to take costly medication that can cause unpleasant side effects. They are stuck and just don’t know what else to do .

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that “research indicates that anxiety disorders run in families and that there is a biological basis for anxiety. The ADAA also feels that anxiety may develop from a set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”

I could not agree with The Anxiety and Depression Association more. My philosophy and treatment approach is what differs. I’ll ask the controversial question: "Is it learned or inherited?"

If you grow up in a family that is anxious, you learn that anxiety is a reaction to many situations and events. You follow the role models. And, yes, some homes have more risk factors than others. And, yes, some individuals are more predisposed biologically to anxiety than others. Everyone with a family history of diabetes does not have diabetes.

So, in therapy, my assumption is that a lot of things can be changed even if life and biology have stacked things against you. I have expectations that people can and do alter their imagined destiny. I see it every day. I could not have done this work for 35+ years with no success- I would have given up a long time age. Granted the work is done by each individual or couple or family and I can only give it my best shot.

THERAPEUTIC OPTIONS

I employ treatment options based on each situation that is presented- what each individual, couple, or family needs or prefers: individual, couple, and family therapy; hypnosis, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Often it is a combination of all three. My systems training keeps me doing a family history in the first session since this can greatly shortcut my assessment process and move therapy along more efficiently. All of these approaches are listed on my website. I have seen excellent results with hypnosis and EFT in treating anxiety and phobias.

I really enjoy working with anxiety. I see it metaphorically as a subconscious issue that needs to be brought to the surface so it can be resolved.

THE CONNECTION OF ANXIETY WITH DEPRESSION

It is interesting that there is a strong connection with anxiety and depression although they are considered diagnostically separate in the DSM V. In my professional opinion, many individuals who suffer with anxiety are (or have been) depressed on some level at some time. Maybe it is low grade and comes and goes, but usually it is there, somewhere. Again, they “live with it” because it’s not really THAT bad. I see the two going hand-in-hand. Often, when one issue is treated, the other gets better. Does the anxiety cause the depression? Maybe. Does the depression cause the anxiety? Maybe. It doesn’t matter which affected the other.

Treatment needs to address both issues if they exist. Call me, Sandy Hennies, at (803-787-3131) and let's discuss the "Who Me Anxious?" question before it's too late.

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