Julie Miller's Mental Health Blog

“A” is for Anxiety

Posted on: February 15, 2010

Anxiety.  Who doesn’t know what that feels like?  Butterflies in your stomach.  Sweaty palms.  Worried, furrowed brow.  Can’t stop thinking about the “thing,” like a test, job interview, etc.  Most of us can relate to this kind of anxiety.

But that’s just one end of the anxiety spectrum.  For those who experience anxiety on a daily basis, it’s not something that disappears when the interview or test is over.  Sometimes, an individual doesn’t even know what triggered the anxiety event today, or yesterday, or the day before.  The chronic, generalized anxiety is “how it is.”  No relenting, and it often gets worse or peaks in panic attacks.

Medications are often helpful, but many are habit-forming, like “benzodiazepines,” such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, etc.  There are other medications that might be helpful, and consulting with a skills psychiatrist and/or psycho-pharmacologist is a very important step to tease out the diagnosis and be evaluated for medications.

Identifying the original source of the anxiety can be a very important step in working on the issue.  Trauma often underlies anxiety, with setting the central nervous system on “high,” as the system scans for more threats in the environment.  If you find yourself only able to sit with your back to the wall, facing the door, etc. or if you startle easily, you may want to consider having an evaluation for unresolved trauma, or disturbing life events.  PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is currently classified on the anxiety spectrum in the DSM-IV.

If you suffer from anxiety in a way that impairs your ability to function or reach your goals, seek treatment.  Anxiety is treatable!

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