May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We are going to highlight anxiety as a means to increase awareness.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms is the first step. Seeking the help of a counselor is the next step in the process of gaining empowerment and a voice to recovery. The process of change in recovery can be scary sometimes but change can bring a life of hope, love, and fulfillment.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
“Over 21% of American adults between the ages of 18-64 will have diagnosable anxiety disorders in a given year” (www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may). Anxiety impacts all aspects of an individual’s life – the physical body, the mind, and relationships.
Some symptoms of anxiety on the physical body include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, stomach discomfort, nausea, fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, and trouble sleeping.
Some anxiety symptoms that impact the mind are exaggerated worry about everyday life, fear of dying, repeated unwanted thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks, irritability, anger, trouble focusing, and negative thinking.
Behaviors that manifest in an individual struggling with anxiety impact relationships. Some of these behaviors include avoidance or anger outbursts. Sometimes ritual behaviors take hold and leave an individual feeling out of control.
Coping with Anxiety
There are a number of tools that can help you cope with anxiety. Skills to help reduce the physical response to anxiety include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer and meditation, as well as yoga and other forms of exercise. Additionally, utilizing pleasurable activities to decrease stress and increase the brain’s production of serotonin naturally.
Counseling can provide coping tools to deal with the panic and anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aids in thought stopping and challenging thoughts. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps identify the thoughts that are increasing worry, analyze those thoughts to determine if they are accurate or faulty thinking, and then challenge and replace thoughts that are faulty. Additionally, a therapist who is using CBT will be working with the client to identify core beliefs that relate to the anxiety that may also need to be challenged and replaced. The beliefs are sometimes so ingrained, it is hard for the client to realize until they are talking about and analyzing with the help of a therapist.
Counseling offers a safe place to process the fears, the anger, the irritability and intrusive thoughts and can help to challenge these thoughts and provide insight and replacement thoughts that are based in truth. Finally, counseling can provide a place to process the feelings that become overwhelming and aid in reducing the impact on relationships.
Contact a Counselor
If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or any other mental health diagnoses, the following link provides screening tools. These are not diagnostic but can provide information to help you in speaking with a counselor. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools.
At Covenant Counseling Center, we would like to walk this journey with you as you seek the path to recovery. If you would like to make an appointment, please contact us at 423-247-5676.