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Anxiety & Stress: The Wisdom of our Bodies
We all get nervous. We all get anxious. It's part of life. In fact, it keeps us alive.
Flash back to caveman days when our ancestors were faced with life and death scenarios on a daily basis. They needed to have a heightened alarm response when something was threatening their safety. This allowed them to be hyper-alert in case a saber-toothed tiger came ambling along.
Everything you experience when you get anxious is actually years of evolution conspiring to keep you safe and sound. When we're in danger, we need to be able to react quickly. Our heart rates elevate, our breathing quickens, our blood flow changes, and digestive and sexual functioning shut down.
So what's the problem? Well, luckily, we no longer live in a world where our survival is threatened at any given moment. Unfortunately, evolution, and more specifically, our nervous systems, haven't quite gotten the message.
Our lives are filled with all sorts of stressors and hassles. Some of them are minor, but some are biggies. However, because of the way we're wired genetically, our bodies have a tendency to respond to these life events with the survival response.
For some people, this leads to chronic stress, anxiety, or panic. All three of these have significant effects on your mental health as well as your physical health. Left untreated, the symptoms can get worse, making it more and more difficult to get through the day.
Stress itself is not considered a mental health disorder, but chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health. Stress can be a factor in obesity, difficulty sleeping, depression, lack of energy, heart disease, and chronic pain. Stress is often caused by external factors, such as life changes, money problems or relationship issues. Something like a frustrating daily commute can also lead to stress. However, stress can also be caused by internal factors such as taking on too many responsibilities, being a perfectionist, and lack of assertiveness.
Anxiety is considered a clinical disorder when it interferes with your daily functioning. Anxiety disorders include any of the following: • Agoraphobia • Panic Disorder • Phobia • Social Phobia • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder • Acute Stress Disorder • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
It's important to understand that these disorders don't just disappear. In fact, they tend to get worse over time.
Most of us have some characteristics of each of these disorders, and it can be tempting to try to diagnose yourself from a book or a website. However, a proper diagnosis requires assessment by a licensed professional, such as a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. If you believe you are suffering from any of these, it's important that you seek assessment and treatment from a qualified professional.
You don't have to live each day suffering from anxiety and panic. It can be treated effectively. When selecting a therapist, be sure to find someone who specializes in anxiety and panic, and has the proper training to treat both mind and body. You can find more information about anxiety symptoms and treatment in both children and adults at http://www.jennifersneeden.com.
Jennifer Sneeden,PhD(c), MS, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides anxiety treatment in Boca Raton and is also a Boca Raton Marriage Counselor. She specializes in treating children and adults with anxiety and panic disorders. For more information on her services, visit her website at http://www.jennifersneeden.com.
© Copyright 2013 by Jennifer Sneeden, therapist in Boca Raton, Florida. All rights reserved.