In my work in a health center and in my private practice as a clinical social worker, I’ve worked with many people with anxiety symptoms. In the health center people often mistaken their anxiety symptoms for medical problems with either their heart, chest, head or nerves. Once cleared medically from the doctor I’m called in to assess for anxiety and offer treatment recommendations.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting 40 million adults each year, and it is twice as likely to occur in women. Anxiety can originate either genetically, in brain chemistry, in aspects of one's personality, life events, or a combination of ways.
In my private practice I mostly see people who have dealt with trauma in their lives that often manifests itself as difficulty sleeping, drugs like alcohol and marijuana, troubling relationship, difficulties at work and problems with socializing and communicating effectively.
Most of the people I see have some insight into the possible origin of their anxiety. What they don’t understand is why an event that occurred many years ago still affects them today. They have been able to intellectualize their trauma and sometimes even convince themselves that they have forgiven those who may have contributed towards the trauma. What I often tell my clients is that the adult mind may be able to intellectualize the trauma but the child mind and body remembers it. The mind and body are stuck in a fight or flight mode of that time and easily triggered by a stimulus that relates to the trauma.
So, how does one deal with these unresolved issues triggering anxiety? And how do we handle this emotional child who is acting out inside of us? This is not an easy task because it requires one to access that child and go back to the time when the trauma occurred. This can be a very uncomfortable, vulnerable and painful place. It is important to allow the child to feel the emotions that he/she needed to feel. It is also crucial for him or her to express what was needed to say at that time.
It’s hard at first to get out of the intellectual mind and connect to those emotions. The more one tells their story, the more the feelings and emotions will come up and be released from the body.
Some people need to expose themselves to certain situations or places in order retrain the body to get out of the hyperarousal state. The more one avoids certain things or places, the more the anxiety will increase and possibly manifest into something else such as fear of intimacy or being in crowded spaces.
It is important to learn ways to get through the anxiety or panic attacks as they occur. Proven methods include focusing on the breath, yoga and mindfulness meditations. There is much information or videos on Youtube to utilize. It’s just a matter of finding the right technique for you. Still, some people need medications to deal with intense bouts of anxiety or panic. But this will only provide temporary relief and often have side-effects.
Anxiety attacks, panic attacks and unresolved trauma can be very disruptive to one’s life and if it is untreated can get worse. We naturally tend to avoid things that are unpleasant and painful but it is necessary to face the pain in order to get a better handle on it. We may not ever be able to cure anxiety symptoms for good but at least we will be better able to manage the symptoms and gain a better perspective when those symptoms come.
Please contact me at Sheric73@yahoo.com or 516-849- 2152