Q: Holidays are coming and like so many, I am scurrying about trying to get things completed. The problem this year is that I have started having anxiety attacks. I am having difficulty going into malls, I am shaking and crying at home, and I often feel totally overwhelmed and I don’t really think it is holiday related. What is happening to me?

    A: Anxiety seems to have reached almost epidemic proportions. Winter holiday season is a time of high stress when feelings of anxiety and depression get worse. We often see the same symptoms on the final days of summer and Sunday nights before a Monday workday. The truth is, any time or location can elevate stress in anxiety sufferers.

    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 sufferers often begin to isolate themself. They may refuse to see friends and family and frequently request a leave from work. Although the sufferer hopes that reducing outside involvement will contain the anxiety, this approach does not help. Anxiety can affect children, teens and adults but everyone can be taught to effectively manage stress.

    Our bodies have what we refer to as a fight or flight response. The adrenal glands release adrenalin making the sufferer feel anxious. Anxiety, when it is contained to low levels, is a normal and healthy response. But debilitating anxiety is unnecessary. Assuming your physician has ruled any physical causes now is the time to deal with your anxiety.

    Anxiety is very treatable. You do not have to suffer with it. It responds well to a number of therapeutic approaches. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one method that has proven successful, as has hypnosis and deep relaxation techniques. We can try any and all of them to see which combination works best for you. There is no need to suffer the effects of anxiety attacks.

    Free yourself from the stress of anxiety and enjoy your time with family and friends all year round. Do not lose sight of what is important in life. You cannot enjoy even the simplest things when you are full of stress and anxiety. We need more calm and love in this sometimes chaotic world. I wish everyone happiness, health and contentment and we will meet again in the New Year.


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