Anxiety is an inevitable part of everyday life. If you didn’t feel any anxiety in response to everyday challenges involving potential loss or failure, something would be wrong with you. However, when anxiety becomes more intense (e.g., panic attacks), lasts longer, (for months after a stressful situation has passed) or leads to phobias that interfere with your life and daily functioning (i.e., inability to leave the house), it is time to seek the help of a trained professional.
Anxiety affects the whole person. It is a physiological, behavioral and psychological reaction all at once. It can take the form of any one of the following diagnostic categories: Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia, Simple Phobia, Generalized Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some general symptoms of anxiety, but not all may include: shortness of breath/feeling smothered, heart palpitations, trembling/shaking, choking, sweating, nausea/abdominal distress, feeling of unreality, numbness/tingling in hands or feet, hot/cold flashes, chest pain/discomfort, nightmares, fear of losing control and difficulty getting to sleep. Symptoms of anxiety will vary with each individual and diagnosis.
Most individuals find it of interest to know the “Why” or cause of their anxiety. While understanding the “Why” provides insight into the development of anxiety, it is not necessary to overcome anxiety. Anxiety problems are brought about by a variety of causes operating on numerous different levels. These levels may include such areas as heredity, biology, nutrition, spinal misalignment, family background and upbringing, recent stressors, self talk and personal belief system.
A good therapist can assist the individual in developing their own unique recovery program. Depending on the type of anxiety, anti-anxiety medications may be recommended. These medications can be prescribed by a psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner with prescriptive authority or a primary care physician (PCP). There is no “magic” pill to cure anxiety. While medications can be helpful to manage the immediate symptoms, it is often critical that the individual use medications as an adjunct to talk therapy in order to make as much progress as possible. Utilizing medications allows the individual to practice new skills to overcome anxiety and master stressful situations. It is not typically recommended that people remain on anti-anxiety medications for life.
If an individual needs the help of a trained professional, it’s important that he/she make a commitment to attend regular counseling appointments, follow through with assignments given by the clinician, and be willing to take risks (often in the form of baby steps towards an end goal). If anxiety is left untreated, it can become a much larger problem or create additional therapeutic problems (e.g., abusing alcohol or drugs to self-medicate). Anxiety and its debilitating effects on one’s life can be overcome without years of therapy. It starts with a phone call to schedule an appointment and can be the beginning of a new YOU!
Sarah Page, LCSW
To learn more about Denver Counselor Sarah Page, please visit http://www.westsidebehavioral.com or visit her page directly to read her bio at http://www.westsidebehavioral.com/therapists/page-sarah.html