Anxiety symptoms are the most common complaint of patients in my practice, so I am going to cover this subject in my next several blogs. My practice focuses full time on treating depression, anxiety symptoms, bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, eating disorders, addiction, etc, but the most common complaint is not “I’m depressed”, but rather “I’m stressed out” or “I’m not really depressed, I’m more anxious”.
Anxiety symptoms are easier for people to relate to, since they know what that means, while the word “depression” is defined so differently by so many different people. For the most part, symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of depression occur together at the same time.
Anxiety is an experience that everyone has at times. It’s really a matter of degree and frequency that separates the normal stressors of life from a disorder that needs medical attention. It becomes a problem when the anxiety interferes with functioning and quality of life. A good way to explain these symptoms of anxiety it is by explaining the well-known “fight or flight response”, which is meant to protect us from harm by being alert when needed in order to avoid harm. For example, if you witness a car accident in front of you, you punch the break and swerve the car away from the accident and go past it. Afterwards, you notice that your heart is racing, your breathing has quickened, and you’re shaky and sweaty and have other stress-related symptoms. These are appropriate responses of the body that help to protect the person from harm.
The problem is when these responses and symptoms occur when one is not confronting a major life-threatening stressor. In fact, most anxiety symptoms occur when a person is at rest. They rarely occur when a person is active such as while exercising or when heavily involved with work. When the body is at rest is when the mind can be over-active in negative ways by ruminating/obsessing/worrying about negative things.
Anxiety symptoms happen more in the evening after work, in the morning after awakening before work or school and during sleeping hours. These are the times when we tend to think about stressors of the previous day and week and the upcoming stressors of the next day and beyond. I will continue with this subject in a couple of weeks and through the fall. Bye for now.