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Anxiety - when to worry

Sweating, heart racing, stomach in knots, numbness or tingling sensations, tight chest, choking sensations. Everyone has experienced some anxiety at some point in their life. You might be facing a big exam, a move, an important meeting at work or experience anxiety before making an important decision. This is normal. However, anxiety becomes worrisome when it becomes more than just general worry and fear. If your anxiety doesn't go away and actually seems to get worse over time, it might be an anxiety disorder. The feelings may interfere with your daily life and relationships. If it does, you could be suffering quietly from generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or social anxiety disorder.

Generalized Anxiety disorder symptoms may include inability to sleep, irritability, difficulty controlling worry, or difficulty concentrating. Those suffering from panic disorders experience panic attacks which include a feeling that many describe as feeling like they are having a heart attack- they may not be able to breathe, have chest pain, feelings of throat closing, sudden intense fear. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by intense fear of being in social situations, feeling very self conscious or worried in front of others, avoiding social situations, worrying for days or weeks before an event where people might be.

So what can you DO?!

Psychotherapy can definitely help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or EMDR therapy can help you rewire your brain to think differently to react differently. Another thing that is proven to help is stress reducing activities such as exercise and meditation. Lastly, sometimes medication is helpful for some patients. However, it's important to note that medication does not cure anxiety, it simply helps control symptoms. It is HIGHLY recommended that if you are suffering from an anxiety disorder that you seek out psychotherapy.

It's important to realize that anxiety is like a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm can help to protect us when there is an actual fire, but when a smoke alarm is too sensitive and goes off when there isn’t really a fire (e.g., burning toast in toaster), it is rather annoying.Like a smoke alarm, anxiety is helpful and adaptive when it works right. But, if it goes off when there is no real danger, it is not only scary, it is also very exhausting. However, we DO NOT want to get rid of the alarm (or eliminate anxiety) because it protects us from danger. We want to fix it(i.e., bring the anxiety down to a more manageable level) so it works properly for us. This is where therapy works.

Anxiety is a natural response but when it becomes overwhelming, do not be ashamed at reaching out for help.

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