Q: I am experiencing a number of symptoms that feel like I am having a heart attack. My physician assures me that in spite of my racing heart, I am fine. My GP suggested I talk to a therapist regarding anxiety. How can that help me?
A: Anxiety seems to have reached almost epidemic proportions in our community. Not a week goes by that I am not greeting a new client suffering from anxiety. Anxiety sufferers are both female and male; from children to seniors.
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, depression and what I refer to as a “smaller life” meaning that the sufferer begins to narrow their contact sphere—not wanting to go out socially; refusing to see friends and family and eventually taking a leave from work. Although the sufferer hopes that the anxiety and potential embarrassment can be contained by reducing outside involvement these approaches do not help.
Although you may feel like you are dying, I can assure you that in all the years I have worked with this problem I have never had a patient die of anxiety or a panic attack.
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.
Changing your thinking and learning anxiety reducing techniques will assist in coping with high anxiety. Just because you feel that a situation is stressful is not proof that it actually IS so bad. Once you start to fear a stressor, you create more anxiety when forced to face it. This is a very treatable problem and the longer you let it become entrenched the worse it will get for you.