Experiencing some amount of anxiety can be normal as a natural survival instinct or to enhance motivation and perform well under stress. It may be related to work and school performance, important events, or taking caution to protect oneself. But when anxiety becomes a pervasive disruption to your daily life, it can take an insidious toll on many aspects of your mental health, work and relationships.
Although anxiety may be focused on one particular item or event, it can easily be displaced or generalized to a broader sense of fear. Every individual is different and depending on the circumstances, symptoms may manifest in a variety of ways. If you’re experiencing symptoms like these on a daily basis, you may be able to benefit from counseling.
Some of the most common signs of generalized anxiety are:
- Feelings of restlessness, irritability
- Disruptions in sleep, excessive fatigue, insomnia
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling as if your mind is going blank or racing with thoughts
- Persistent, excessive sense of worry, which can be described as “apprehensive expectation”
- Physical symptoms such as muscle aches or tension, gastrointestinal distress, headache
- Recurrent fears of losing control over oneself or possible adverse events
While generalized anxiety may always be present, panic attacks are most likely to occur in episodes of varying intensity. They can peak within minutes, but fatigue and distress after the attack can persist for much longer. You may experience anxiety prior to the panic attack, but sometimes they can be unexpected and sudden.
Some of the things you may experience during a panic attack can include:
- Chest palpitations/pain, tightness, shortness of breath, sensations of choking
- Chills, sweating, numbness or tingling
- Nausea, GI discomfort
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Derealization – feeling as if ones surroundings are not real
- Depersonalization – feeling detached or distant from oneself
- Fear that you are losing control
- Strong sense of impending doom or danger
- Shaking, restless/agitated movements
Panic attacks may lead to the avoidance of certain situations to prevent an attack from occurring. Many distressing events can make you feel helpless, and this perceived loss of traction can lead to a downward spiral. Feelings of anxiety may also be repressed or channeled into unhealthy behaviors, creating dangerous patterns that only intensify the cycle of anxiety.
Attempting to cope with anxiety alone can contribute to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and despair. Discussing your fears in a safe, non-judgmental environment can be key to reclaiming control over negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Nancy Hilsenrath, LCSW, CASAC can help you identify the factors that interact with your anxiety & establish lasting coping mechanisms. Together, you can formulate an individualized treatment plan that will help you harness the power to reclaim your life from the grips of anxiety.
Anxiety can be a feature of other mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, amongst others. Nancy can help assess factors such as physical health, life stressors, and certain behavioral patterns that may exacerbate anxiety.
Although it might feel difficult to reach out, it is the first step in the journey to healing whilst fortifying your mental stronghold through compassionate support and guidance. Persistent dread is an unwelcome passenger on life’s road to fulfillment and happiness. It is important to know that you are not alone and have the ability to express your feelings freely.
Nancy is currently offering therapy sessions through Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime to make healing treatment accessible to all amidst challenging times.