Excerpt from Healing The Mind and Body, Volume 2.
If more people paid attention to their level of anxiety, they could avoid a great deal of unhappiness resulting from ongoing rumination, ill health, and disruptions in relationships with family members and co-workers.
Typically, the agitation and irritability are the body’s way of telling us we need to make some changes. In the United States, too many men and women work too many hours for too many months, and take too few vacations. Anxiety disorders tells us that it is time to slow our pace, to seek out quiet and stillness, to return our hearts and minds to the present moment (anxiety is usually fixated on the past or future), and experience the good things in our lives for awhile.
However, patients who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders do not usually improve by taking time off, even though they are notoriously susceptible to stress, and especially so if the stress is persistent or recurring.
There is no doubt that anxiety symptoms are excaberated when stress is intensified and there is no predicting when the patients’ symptoms will worsen, which cold occur without warning or for no apparent reason. Whereas we could expect flare-ups during exposure to acute stress, it is not until they try to relax that they are hit with the worst.
It seems that being kept busy – and, in that regard, occupied and distracted – they do not feel the increased symptoms as severely. However, when they need to rest, their minds will not allow them to settle down, and that is when they are plagued by racing thoughts.
This is why patients report that they experience their most severe symptoms in the evening when they begin preparing for bed, during the night when they would rather be sleeping, first thing in the morning, or while driving or engaged in any other activity in which the body is less busy than the mind.
There are actually 12 types of anxiety disorders, but the following six represent the cases most frequently presented to me in my practice:
General Anxiety Disorder – excessive anxiety and worry for at least six months.
Social Phobia – being exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others.
Panic Disorder – when fear or anxiety comes on suddenly and is debilitating.
Agoraphobia – related to Panic Disorder, this has the added element of being caught in a place or situation where escape may not be easy.
Separation Anxiety – anxiety about leaving or loss of a loved one.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – The greatest misconception about PTSD is that it is unique to men and women who have seen active military duty. PTSD can occur after experiencing any traumatic event, including childhood physical, mental and sexual abuse, rape, violent crime, the death of a loved one and so on. It is not unusual to experience nightmares or relive their experience in disturbing and frequent dreams.
As you can see, “Anxiety disorders” don’t land in just one bucket. Once we’re able to better identify the type of anxiety and its resultant activity, we can more easily treat anxiety disorders along with helping the patient develop healthy habits to circumvent the anxious episodes.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing anxiety, there are answers and treatments that allow them to live a much calmer, more rational daily life. Call my office any time at (949) 481-0118 or complete our Patient Application Form here.