Patti Waits, M.Ed., LPC, LICDC (ADAMH Consumer and Family Advocate)
Anxiety -- at some point we've all been there. Your brain is shouting “calm down” and “there is no real threat here” but your body refuses to listen. Your heart is pumping fast, you can’t catch your breath, your stomach hurts, and you are shaking like a leaf. Logic isn't working and being told by others to “calm down” just increases the anxiety and panic. Let's be honest, while anxiety happens to everyone at some point, it's never really fun.
There are different degrees of anxiety that people struggle with. For example, when you are buying a new home a little anxiety is appropriate. If you were just scolded by your boss for being late to work, some anxiety is warranted. However, if you have anxiety for more days than not or anxiety that causes you to worry excessively about money, health, family, and work, even when there are no signs of trouble, you may be experiencing Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
GAD is anxiety that feels out of control and symptoms might include: intolerance of uncertainty, belief that worry is a helpful way to deal with problems, and poor problem solving skills. It can make it difficult for people to concentrate at school or work, function at home, and generally get on with their lives. Approximately 2.7% of adults suffer from this mental illness every year, but there is help and hope available.
One thing I cannot emphasize enough is that no one has to suffer a mental illness like Generalized Anxiety just because he or she thinks they are “weak” and are “making too big of deal” of what they are experiencing. It is true that we sometimes describe people who have a lot of anxiety as being “overly sensitive” but that is because we often stigmatize mental illness rather than treat it.
If you have tried self-help techniques of meditation and exercise, as well as watching your caffeine intake, and you still have constant worry and anxiety, you may want to discuss this with your family physician or a mental health professional. Anxiety disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance and successful treatment is usually achieved by a combination of medication and talk therapy. See our website here for a list of available treatment providers.