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Quit looking at the falling markets and get to the gym
Beating Anxiety
Dr . Yoel Abells, National Post Published: Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Last night, I had difficulty sleeping. I felt my heart beating rapidly as
various thoughts raced through my mind: work, family issues, financial
concerns. I was a bit sweaty and felt as though I had trouble taking a full
breath. I got up and out of bed repeatedly, unable to find any solace.
Eventually, I was able to fall back to sleep, but this was not a restful
sleep. Clearly, I was suffering from an anxiety reaction.
We have all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. It can occur
in many ways and with varying intensity. For most of us, this uneasy
feeling is situational and time-limited, often connected to particular
external stressors. Given these uncertain times, I am seeing more
patients complaining of anxiety-related discomfort. But some people
suffer from more paralyzing forms of anxiety. In these cases, the anxiety
seems to be out of proportion to the situation prompting the emotional
reaction and often becomes chronic in nature. When this occurs, one is
said to be suffering from an anxiety disorder. There are many types of
anxiety disorders, including the generalized anxiety disorder (the
commonest form), panic attacks, phobias and acute and post-traumatic
stress disorders. It has been estimated that between 5% and 10% of the
population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Women appear to be
affected more than men. However, the numbers may not be accurate
because of under-reporting. Not infrequently, individuals who have an
anxiety disorder have other co-morbid conditions such as depression.
Anxiety can be characterized by different symptoms. The patient may
complain of excessive worry and difficulty dealing with even minimal
stress. However, often the initial presentation may be a constellation of
somatic complaints such as chest pain, headaches, dizziness or
abdominal discomfort.
So what can one do to deal with these concerns? I believe that a large
part of the situational anxiety -- the type that I was experiencing -- stems
from a sense of loss of control. In these circumstances, it is important to
try to gain and/ or maintain control over those things that one can. By so
doing, there is a lesser sense of feeling overwhelmed and an overall
greater sense of wellbeing. Finding social support systems is crucial and
partaking in distracting activities such as exercise is beneficial.
At times, more formalized support in the form of psychotherapy
(especially cognitive behavioural therapy) is required. This is particularly
true when the level of anxiety is dominating. In these cases, medications
such as anxiolytics may be introduced, as well. But the use of these
pharmacological therapies must be carefully supervised because of
potential for significant dependence.
These are indeed trying times, making more of us feel increasingly
stressed and anxious. We must be prepared to confront these fears and
address them with the help of family, friends and trained professionals.
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks
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