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From Everyday Stress to Full-blown Anxiety Disorder | How It Feels and What To Do About It

Sara Lindberg

“Most of us would agree that life is hectic. At some point, we all find ourselves on the proverbial hamster wheel, going round and round, without any breaks. And although some people are masters at managing all that life throws at them, others, (most of us) have some physical and emotional fallout from the daily stressors in our life.

Think back to the last time you felt threatened or stressed. Did you notice your breath quickening or your muscles tensing up? Maybe you’ve been experiencing an uneasiness in your stomach for the last several months or chronic headaches when you worry too much.

Jenny C. Yip, PsyD, ABPP, “These are all signs of the fight-or-flight response in action — a common, biological reaction that we all experience under stress.”

“Despite what you might imagine, the fight-or-flight response can be healthy,” explains Yip. “After all, our ancestors needed it for survival when faced with a real threat.”

(Sara Lindberg, 7 signs your body is telling you that your mental health is in jeopardy, This is Insider)

Tracie White, “Stanford Researchers have identified five new categories of mental illness that cut across current diagnoses of anxiety and depression. The five categories, which researchers define by their specific symptoms and areas of brain activation, are: tension, anxious arousal, general anxiety, anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure), and melancholia.

The research is part of an ongoing effort by Leanne Williams, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and senior author of the study, and her lab, along with other groups within the field of psychiatric neuroscience, to better define mental illness in order to provide improved treatment plans for the millions of Americans who suffer from these disorders:

  1. Tension: This type is defined by irritability. People are overly sensitive, touchy, and overwhelmed. The anxiety makes the nervous system hypersensitive.
  2. Anxious arousal: Cognitive functioning, such as the ability to concentrate and control thoughts, is impaired. Physical symptoms include a racing heart, sweating, and feeling stressed. “People say things like ‘I feel like I’m losing my mind,” Williams says. “They can’t remember from one moment to the next.”
  3. Melancholia: People experience problems with social functioning. Restricted social interactions further cause distress.
  4. Anhedonia: The primary symptom is an inability to feel pleasure. This type of depression often goes unrecognized. People are often able to function reasonably well while in a high state of distress. “We see it in how the brain functions in overdrive,” Williams says. “People are able to power through but at some time become quite numb. These are some of the most distressed people.”
  5. General anxiety: A generalized type of anxiety with the primary features involving worry and anxious arousal—a more physical type of stress.
  6. (Tracie White, There may be at least 5 kinds of depression and anxiety, Futurity- Research News from Stanford University)How does Anxiety feel when you are in jeopardy?Sara Lindberg tells us how it feels:
    1. “You feel like your heart’s going to burst.
    2. Your skin feels funny.
    3. Your insides are angry.
    4. Your head won’t stop pounding.
    5. You’re always tired.
    6. You can’t stay focused.
    7. You’re up all night.”

Catriona Harvey-Jenner, “Anxiety, to those on the outside, could be simply articulated as ‘worrying’.  But for those who suffer with a crippling anxiety, they’re aware of how it’s so much more than that.  And a Facebook post written by anxiety sufferer Brittany Nichole Morefield earlier this year gave a powerful insight into exactly what it is.”

Brittany’s story : “Brittany posted her important words along with a picture of her legs curled up against one side of the bath, and the image invites people to understand just how intensely anxiety can impact a person, and how fragile it can make them feel.” (Catriona Harvey-Jenner, Woman shares the raw reality of anxiety with this powerful Facebook post, in cosmopolitan)

In Brittany’s words:

“Anxiety isn’t just having a hard time catching your breath,”

“Anxiety is: waking up at 3 am from a dead sleep because your heart is racing, breaking out in a rash for no reason, stressing over things that may or my not be real, questioning your faith, how could my creator allow me to feel this way!? calling your sister 3 hours before she gets up for work, in hopes she’ll answer so you can get your mind off the attack, a 2 am shower, your mood changing in a matter of minutes, uncontrollable shaking and twitching, crying, real and painful tears, nausea, crippling, dark, having to make up excuse after excuse for your behavior, fear, worry, physically and emotionally draining. raw, real, a fight with your spouse, even though you’re not mad, snapping at the smallest annoyance, flashbacks, ‘what if.

Anxiety is a lot of ‘what’s wrong’ and ‘I don’t know.'”

What you can do About it, by Jen Doll:

Consider what makes you feel in control

“Anxiety is an excessive focus on something that might happen in the future,” said Bea Arthur, a licensed mental health counselor in New York and founder of the mental health machine learning start-up, The Difference.

“This is always related to a perceived lack of control, so add back things that you do feel in control of,” she said. “Think about how you can contribute, do things, make progress. Just walk outside — even that does wonders.”

Ms. Arthur also suggested “editing your life” to help bring back a sense of empowerment. This means giving up things that don’t make you feel in control.

Yes, medication can have its place

Talk therapy is rarely a bad thing. Many doctors urge caution, however, with regard to prescriptions, as well as indulging too heavily in “self-medicating” with beers or rosé with friends.

“They do have a role for some patients either short or long term as they are generally safe under the care of a doctor,” Dr. Simon added.

“Ultimately, people have to face their fear. To get a person to that place, that’s the art of therapy.”

Ms. Arthur agreed. “Pills don’t make you feel better, they reduce the intensity of the episode,” she said. “But so does talking to someone about it.”

Yes, you should start a meditation practice

Meditating doesn’t have to be scary. Aaron Dias, a meditation coach and yoga instructor, encourages people to create “a very simple daily practice in the beginning of the day. Keep it to five minutes, or do five breath cycles if five minutes causes anxiety. For example, breathe out anxiety, breathe in goodness, strength, or whatever you’re trying to cultivate.”

A meditation practice, she said, will help you start to feel more empowered.

“If I sit down and enter a space I’ve decided is safe and healthy and healing, it sends a message to the rest of my system that I’m not just at the whim of all these other things that are going on,” she said.

Your phone is not your B.F.F.

“It is important that you get off the devices and try to spend time with people you care about and not only be interacting around these topics,” Dr. Simon said.

Getting sweaty is great

“The gym and exercise is one of the few bastions where you have to put your phone away,” said Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an associate professor of history at the New School who teaches Intensati, a workout combining interval training, martial arts, dance and yoga. “I no longer see it as a guilty pleasure, I see it as a way of taking care of myself so I can engage more meaningfully.” Plus, unlike medication, not only can exercise “help reduce stress and anxiety, it’s also good for your cardiovascular health,” she said.

It feels really good to say no …

“Packing our schedules with activities and obligations takes a toll, no matter how much we want to do them. Cory Nakasue, a somatic therapist and astrologer, told me she’s getting over her “FOMO issues” — Fear of Missing Out — and instead enjoys missing out on things.

“Anxiety creeps up when I’ve let demands — even fun distractions — from the outside have their way with me,” she said. “When I ‘miss out’ on things, it feels like I’m reshuffling the decks so that I’m a priority and not ‘the things.’”

… but say yes to the right things

“I think self care has become a bad word because it’s often a marketing strategy for things that feel frivolous,” Ms. Mehlman Petrzela said. “But I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the scented bath water.”

(Jen Doll, How to Combat Your Anxiety, One Step at a Time, New York Times, she is:senior writer, The Atlantic Wirestaff writer, Runnin’ Scared, staff writer Village Voice,  media managing editor OK Magazine, managing editor Radar Magazine, copy editor Rodale, editor Reader’s Digest, assistant managing editor Pohly & Partners)

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