Is persistent anxiety robbing you of your enthusiasm for life?
Does recurrent nervousness and apprehension interfere with your ability to enjoy relationships and social activities?
Do you constantly second guess yourself, your decisions, and your actions?
Are you attempting to eat, drink, drug, smoke, overwork, or otherwise self-medicate your uneasiness?
Are you longing for serenity, peace of mind, contentment, and confidence?
Many, many people struggle with anxiety.
IN FACT, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older in the United States alone. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). This means that approximately 1 in 7 individuals suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder at any given point in time and it is reported that 31 percent of the expenditures on mental health care in the US is attributed to treatment of anxiety related disturbances.
Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that left untreated, children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and may be more vulnerable to substance abuse than their less-anxious peers.
Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions that can look very different from one individual to another. Whatever the differences, the common factor is an intense, pervasive sense of apprehension and feeling that something frightening or overwhelming is going to happen. The physical and emotional response is over the top and physical arousal may be as intense and debilitating as when there is a real and present danger - fight, flight, or freeze. Anxiety kills relatively few people, but many more would welcome death as an alternative to the paralysis and suffering resulting from anxiety in its severe forms. David H. Barlow, Anxiety and Its Disorders (2004)
Anxiety is as common among older adults as among the younger with Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the worry, worry, fret kind, showing up as the the most common anxiety disorder among older adults. Anxiety disorders in this population are frequently associated with traumatic events such as a fall or acute illness.
What is an anxiety disorder anyhow?
Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened. It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Both conditions can severely impact the quality of life for the individual and their loved ones.
Only weak people get anxious.Not at all true! Anxiety is sometimes referred to as a disease of civilization and the modern age, particularly in the United States. However, anxiety disorders are not a new phenomena by any means. In the Bible, for example, anxiety is addressed throughout both the Old and New Testaments. I recently downloaded some 50 scripture verses for a client that dealt with some form of anxiety or fear.
A favorite story of mine that illustrates that an overwhelming anxiety can be experienced by the bravest of individuals, is found in the Old Testament concerning the prophet, Elijah. After a mighty confrontation and victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah hears that the queen has threatened to kill him. Fight, flight, or freeze. Elijah chooses flight and runs into the desert. Finally resting under a juniper tree, he cries out to the Lord, “I’ve had enough. Just let me die! I’m no better off than my ancestors.” Read the rest of the story i 1 Kings 19, how tenderly the Lord nourishes and restores Elijah's nervous system, and his faith. Elijah was suffering from long-term overwhelming stress, during which he had been brave and dutiful.
The good news is that most anxiety disorders are treatable.
The vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care. Several standard approaches have proved effective including:
complementary and alternative treatment approaches.
There was a point in my own life when I came to realize that if I didn’t take action, move out and through my fears, that I would ultimately find myself unable to leave my home. I would lose any opportunity I had to achieve important dreams and goals, Particularly uncomfortable for me was the incessant dread. I so wanted to stop dreading every social situation and to be able to utilize that emotional and physical energy for something other than fighting the desire to flee, to hide, to curl into a fetal ball and return to some place of safety - the womb perhaps. It sounds a bit funny to me now but when I was struggling through the worse of my own anxiety, there was little humorous about it.
You don’t need to suffer in silence and solitude. There is hope and I can help you find it.
Early intervention gives the best prospects of success.
Simply overcoming the sense of shame and stigma to make an appointment and commitment to the work is a vital first step.
Not every anxious individual responds to the same mixture of interventions. I remember that when I was a child, scared to death of going underwater, my teenage uncle deemed the best course of action, to get me over this quickly, was to carry me out and toss me flailing and screaming into the water. For good measure, he held me under just a bit. He was perhaps pleased with himself, thinking he'd helped me face and defeat that devil, but frankly I was set back for many years. I was an adult in my late 20s before I learned to enjoy swimming.
As your therapist, I won’t toss you in or hold you under. The pace will be yours to set. We’ll create a hierarchy of your fears, place the worst ones at the top of the ladder, and begin to address them one by one through gentle exposure. We'll address negative thinking and develop new ways to approach challenging situations. We will discuss your specific needs your strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and sources of support. We’ll come up with a plan and goals that you can live with. There is light at tunnel’s end.