Often, in this fast-paced world we live in, anxiety is a common, every day experience that we somehow find a way to manage. However, for many people, anxiety can become unmanageable and may result in debilitating panic or other symptoms in the body that may exacerbate or be mistaken for general health conditions. The following is a list of symptoms taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (DSM IV, 2013) which may be indicative of Generalized anxiety:
Excessive worry or apprehensive expectation about daily activities, such as school or work
It is difficult to control the worry
Restlessness, or feeling keyed up or on edge
Being Easily fatigued
Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
If these symptoms have been present for 6 months or more, occurring daily, more days than not, then you may have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is estimated that in any given year (defined as a 12-month span of time), approximately 3% of the United States Population meets the criteria for this disorder; females more so than males (at least by self-report) and peaking out at middle age. I am sure most of us can identify with many symptoms on the list, at least during certain times in our life. All of us have experienced brief episodes of stress, anxiety and maybe even panic. It is estimated that the 12-month prevalence of individuals experiencing panic attacks in the United States is even higher at 11.2%. (DSM IV, 2013).
The more concerning fact about anxiety is that it has a higher correlation to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than any other isolated mental health condition. The largest presenting mental health complaint at Emergency Departments around the country is Anxiety. Anxiety and stress are also large contributors to obesity and heart disease. There is also a high correlation with anxiety to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. A person having a panic attack or experience high anxiety symptoms can present as if they have a multitude of other disorders including those where paranoia or delusional thinking may occur. Sometimes Anxiety can be connected to phobias, both social and object related. It is important if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of anxiety that you seek a mental health assessment. Many therapies, including the ones in which Melissa Wheelock, LMFT is trained (CBT and DBT) have been proven to be effective mediators of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction can also be useful tools to promote awareness and decrease emotional reactivity to perceived stressors.