Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Health Care and Anxiety

Do you ever get nervous or anxious about something? Have you felt ill at ease in certain circumstances or during some particular situations in life? Everyone does from time to time; but if you are constantly in a state of anxiety, you may be susceptible to feelings that go beyond the typical anxiousness just due to lack of awareness or uncertainty. Anxiety is a clinical form of fear. And, it can be harmful not only to your mental health but also your physical wellbeing.

In the 1970’s a movie called High Anxiety was released. This is Mel Brooks' spoof of over ten Alfred Hitchcock classics--including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds. Brooks played a renowned Harvard psychiatrist with a concealed fear of heights, or High Anxiety. His character in the movie takes over as the newest director of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. Although the film was not well-received by critics, it picked up a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for best picture and landed Brooks a nomination for best actor.
Contrary to comedic cinematic emphasis, true anxiety is no laughing matter. People who suffer from it also contend with some potentially very serious health concerns and mental illness issues. According to ExperienceLife.com, one of 40 million Americans have been derailed by what psychiatrists call “anxiety disorders.” It’s a broad medical diagnosis that includes several distinct categories:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which consists of intrusive thoughts (obsessions) combined with repetitive behaviors (compulsions), such as excessive hand washing, that the sufferer performs to avoid the obsessive thoughts.
Panic disorder refers to recurring episodes of intense physical fear, without an obvious or immediate source of fear. These episodes, also called anxiety attacks, are commonly characterized by heart palpitations and may be accompanied by chest pains. It might also be difficult to breathe, and you may feel like you are choking (symptoms that can make the situation even more frightening and further ratchet up anxiety).

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) follows a severe traumatic event that threatens actual harm.
Social anxiety disorder describes the condition of people who suffer overwhelming anxiety when faced with everyday social interactions.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a catchall category that describes any chronic anxiety or exaggerated worry that lacks an obvious cause.
While these diagnoses, symptoms and distinctions sound clear-cut on paper, in practice they are anything but. In part, this is because separating the typical from the pathological isn’t always easy. The human brain, it seems, is hardwired to worry even under the best of conditions. More details can be found at this website: http://experiencelife.com/article/high-anxiety/ .

Even the job market is still suffering some very anxious moments.  In fact, anxiety among American workers has reached a fever pitch. According to a new Washington Post, the Miller Center poll suggested more than six in 10 workers are scared of losing their jobs due to the weak economy—the highest level since the 1970s. The poll also finds 48% feel less financially secure than they felt over the past years ago, the report finds. One in three say they “worry a lot” about losing their jobs—another record high. The Post reports that, “Job openings are low, hires are low, consumer confidence is low; we are at the lowest labor force participation rate since March 1978. Confidence would be higher if more people were participating in the labor force and that is why more people are worried.” Anxiety is certainly a driving force in the labor market.
If you are the parent of a child that exhibits anxiety, you can help him or her develop the skills and confidence to overcome fears so that they don’t evolve into phobic reactions. The following steps will guide you in helping your child deal with common fears and anxieties, according to www.HighAnxieties.org .

--Recognize that the fear is real. As trivial as a fear may seem, it feels real to the child and it is causing him to feel anxious and afraid. “Being able to talk about fears can help,” says Katharina Manassis, MD, author of Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child. “Words often take some of the power out of emotion; if you can give the fear a name it becomes more manageable. As with any negative feeling, the more you talk about it, the more it becomes less powerful.”
--Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing the child to overcome it. Telling a child, “Don’t be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!” may get him to go to bed, but it won’t make the fear go away. However, don’t cater to fears. If your child doesn’t like dogs, don’t cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided.

--Teach the child how to rate fear. If your child can visualize the intensity of the fear on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, he may be able to “see” the fear as less intense than first imagined. Younger children can think about how “full of fear” they are, with being full “up to my knees” as not so scared, “up to my stomach” as more frightened, and “up to my head” as truly petrified.
--Teach coping strategies. Try these easy-to-implement techniques. Using you as “home base,” the child can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again. The child can also learn some positive self-statements, such as “I can do this” and “I will be OK,” which he can say to himself when he feels anxious. Relaxation techniques are helpful as well, including visualization (of floating on a cloud or lying on a beach, for example) and deep breathing (imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

The key to resolving fears and anxieties is to overcome them. More details about helping people who suffer from anxiety can be found at the High Anxieties website.
Many individuals use prayer and meditation to seek relief from anxiety. Belief in a personal God goes a long way to help you. According to Christianity Today magazine, General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, which reportedly affects about 3 percent of the U.S. population, is characterized by frequent, constant worry with little or no cause. A GAD sufferer will generally bear a daily burden of anxiety not tied to any specific threat. Through no choice of your own, you live in a state of anxiety that is largely disconnected from the reality of our otherwise normal circumstances.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported on a study that found women are 60 percent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. Perhaps the higher frequently is due to women's desire to control certain aspects of their lives; perhaps it lives in the same gap everyone does, between expectation and reality.

Either way, an anxious life is a hard one, and the less you talk about it, the more isolated you may feel. The truth is, though, that while healthy anxiety can breed creativity, unhealthy anxiety will kill it. Unhealthy anxiety demands perfection, and creativity can never flourish in an environment where fear of failure is the guiding motive. Living in unhealthy anxiety can paralyze you and draw you into unfair comparison, envy, and fear.
Healthy anxiety, though, can remind you constantly and fruitfully of your joyful dependence on and confidence in God as a Believer. When you feel fear, you can allow God's good grace to draw you to Him and be reminded of His sufficiency in all things. You don't need to draw a direct connection between your spiritual health and your experience of anxiety when you trust God to use your anxiety for good, according to the website www.ChristianityToday.com .

If you or someone you care about is experiencing issues with anxiety that appear to be ongoing with no relief, then do the right thing and seek professional medical, mental, and spiritual help from a counselor, health care provider, minister, or someone in a role that is trained to deal with this type of health issue. Don’t prolong any unnecessary mental or physical problems related to anxiety as it only proceeds to get worse over time without the attention it deserves. Any stigma associated with anxiety can be addressed as needed, but take care of yourself or those you love so the end result of overcoming anxiety can be done sooner rather than later.

Until next time.

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