Q: I was determined to start the New Year with a new attitude but I feel terrible. My physician assures me that in spite of my racing heart, I am fine and suggested I talk to a therapist regarding anxiety. How can that help me?

    A: Happy New Year! Anxiety seems to have reached almost epidemic proportions in our society. Unfortunately, the New Year seems to bring with it a time of high stress when feelings of anxiety and depression get worse. Anxiety sufferers are both female and male of all ages.

    Anxiety, a normal reaction to a stressor, is associated with feelings of fear, unease, panic and dread. It is often accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, racing heart, crying, and sadness. The sufferer begins to narrow their contact sphere. They do not want to go out socially. They often refuse to see friends and family and eventually take a leave from work. Although the sufferer hopes that reducing outside involvement will contain the anxiety, this approach does not help.

    Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressor. It is your body’s way of trying to prepare you to deal with a high stress situation that will result in a fight or flight response. Everyone experiences anxiety regarding some stressors and the reactions that you are feeling is a normal and healthy response if not to this extreme. Although you may feel like you are dying, your physician has confirmed that you are healthy, I can assure you that in all the years I have worked with this problem I have never had a patient and die of an anxiety or panic attack.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) involves changing your thinking and learning anxiety reducing techniques. This will assist in decreasing your anxiety. High anxiety is a very treatable problem and the sooner you deal with it, the better it will be. Let’s start the New Year off right!

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