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Anxiety! How Being Anxious Can Affect You

panic-attack-symptoms

Anxiety is a unique mental health symptom because it is something that in some way affects everyone. Yes, everyone! Anxiety does not care who you are; it can have its effect on you. Anxiety can strike at a variety of times. Many people may recognize some of the physical symptoms before they are mentally aware that they are anxious. Learning to recognize the warning signs of anxiety can help us find relief before anxiety spirals out of control.

I previously worked with a young woman who was highly ambitious, extremely successful in school, was social, seemed to have it all together, and… had anxiety. Her anxiety symptoms were primarily physical: chronic vertigo, sleeplessness, and lethargy. Because of their physical nature, she was not aware they were linked to her mental health, and they went untreated for far too long. For this young woman, the start of her treatment was learning to recognize the warning signs; which, for her consisted of worrying, angst, and over stretching herself by not being assertive with peers. Learning to recognize our warning signs can help us to manage our anxiety appropriately.

Some physical warning signs of anxiety consist of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Feelings of numbness in limbs
  • Nausea or Diarrhea
  • Feelings of fatigue or weakness
  • Sleep disturbance

You might be asking yourself, “Well, I have some of these symptoms. What can I do to overcome them?” Thankfully, there are a number of things that we can all do to manage anxiety appropriately.

Therapy is a great way for anyone to be able to explore these symptoms and what might be causing them in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Having a therapist who you can discuss these anxious feelings with and determine possible causes can bring symptoms of relief. During a session, the mental health counselor will discuss an individual’s’ specific situations and possible solutions. A study done by Quast (2014) found that therapy has a positive effect on the reduction of symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety can also be treated at home with a few simple things. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere anytime. This technique allows individuals to bring more awareness to their current situation by assessing their thoughts, feelings, senses, and how their body feels. The more people practice mindfulness, the easier it can be to overcome anxiety. Mindfulness tool can be found in phone apps; such as, Headspace. These apps provide a great way to begin a mindful daily structured routine. Mindfulness can be as simple as yoga, meditation, coloring, or drawing.  The use of mindfulness alone has been shown to reduce worrying and helps to prevent the negative effects of anxiety (Hoge, Bui, Goetter, Robinaugh, Ojserkis, Fresco, and Simon, 2014).

Deep belly breathing can be an easy way to overcome anxiety in any situation. At times when I get frustrated or anxious, I stop what I am doing to take three deep breaths. While taking these deep breaths, make sure the amount of time you inhale, hold the breath, and exhale are five seconds or more. During these breaths, ensure that your breath is coming deep from your stomach and rather short breaths from your chest. While working with children, I recommend that they “fill their balloon” which is their diaphragm, or stomach area. If you have done yoga, this is like abdominal breathing or ujjayi breath. After completing these breaths, your body will be back in a more relaxed state.

The young woman I mentioned above could overcome many of the physical symptoms of her anxiety by seeing a therapist who helped her recognize her triggers, negative thoughts, and by building healthy habits; such as, mindfulness and deep breathing. Anxiety should not be the one in control in your life. You can take back control by utilizing the techniques mentioned above.

If you continue to struggle with managing your stress or anxiety, do not hesitate to contact us at Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.  Together, we can learn further tools to help you through your specific challenges.

Quast, A. (2014). Yogerapy: An Integrated Yoga and Cognitive-Behavioral, Family-Based Intervention for Children with Anxiety Disorders in High Achieving Environments. Ph.D. of Pyschology. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2014. Print.

Hoge, E., Bui, E., Goetter, E., Robinaugh, D., Ojserkis, R., Fresco, D., & Simon, N. (2014). Change in Decentering Mediates Improvement in Anxiety in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research Cogn Ther Res, 228-235.

Nathan Watkins, MFT INTERN

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Ask A Therapist: Am I Developing A Panic Disorder?

I just recently graduated high school and I currently don’t have a job. I spend both day and night inside the house either babysitting, watching TV, or writing on my novel. I don’t really have anyone to talk to besides my family because all of my friends have left for college. I’m beginning to feel pretty alone. Starting last month I have been having indigestion, trouble swallowing, a little bit of nausea, and my thoughts race out of control. Do the symptoms that I feel have anything to do with anxiety or is my boredom causing my mind to create symptoms? The symptoms are starting to happen when I get into a car to the point where I flat out refuse to even get into one. I’m afraid that I have the beginnings of panic disorder. Is this all in my
head?

A: Thanks for writing in. The concerns you’re describing do sound concerning enough to warrant a mental health evaluation. Watch the video below for my complete answer…

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Get Serious Anxiety Before Therapy

I do therapy over the phone, and my stomach gets really hard and tight before I call my therapist. I get a ton of other physical symptoms, including muscle tension, diarrhea, tightness in my chest, shallow breathing, nausea, etc. I’ve talked it over with him, as I think it might be a transference thing, but it’s getting to the point of not being okay. I’ve had nervousness with other men, particularly doctors and people in an authoritative position, but I’ve never had it this bad. The kind of therapy I do is based on primal theory as well as other things, but it also makes it very hard for me to feel my feelings when I get so nervous around him. I don’t really want to switch therapists right now, but I would appreciate any suggestions!

A: Thank you for writing in with your question. What you’re describing sounds like a panic attack. Please talk to your therapist about possibly making some shifts in treatment, like meeting face to face instead of talking by phone, or getting a medication evaluation. While therapy is often uncomfortable, my concern is that your anxiety may be so overwhelming that it is getting in the way of your progress. Watch the video below for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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