Are you experiencing anxiety that overwhelms?

Anxiety. We know it when we feel it. And it never feels good. Living on the edge with frayed nerves. For many anxiety manifests itself as a pit in the stomach or as strain in the chest or an overall feeling that a person simply cannot face what may occur. Many people feel the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety as soon as they wake in the morning and carry that feeling with them throughout the day as the feeling ebbs and flows, rising and lowering, and always looking to attach itself to a perceived threat. Many people know their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants but are unable to diminish the feeling; often because the anxious person perceives danger and lacks confidence in their ability to repel the threat. Thoughts of escape and avoidance in concern to a perceived danger is particularly prominent. Anxiety can usually be distinguished from fear in that fear is typically healthy and warranted when one is reacting to a concrete and immediate threat. In other words, fear is a reaction to something real in the environment. Whereas anxiety tends to be a reaction related to a remote threat or something that “might” occur. Often anxiety produces a reaction that lacks evidence to support the conclusion of the threat. This worry or nervousness is primarily concerned with what “might” happen in the near future (today) or the far future (weeks, months and years from now). Annually 25 million people suffer from anxiety disorders and many do not seek treatment because of the stigma that is often attached to overt acknowledgment of it. But the problem with trying to hide anxiety while never seeking treatment for it, is that anxiety often grows. It begins to affect more and more of our fiber until worry and tension becomes crippling and produces physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach trouble, muscle tension, ulcers or a host of ailments including weakening our immune system and making it difficult to relax, sleep or concentrate.­­­ Physically anxiety excites the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) and treatment focuses on stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response) through the utilization of psychotherapy, primarily, cognitive and behavioral therapy. Medication including antianxiety agents and/or anti-depressants may also be prescribed to treat anxiety. However anxiety disorders may respond successfully to psychotherapy treatment alone or when combined with the utilization of self-care methods that lower the arousal of the mind and relaxation practices that lower the arousal in the body, all of w­hich are powerful antidotes to stress and anxiety.