By Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC
Regaining Your Life
Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree. Anxiety and related issues are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting 40 million adults or 18.1% of the population every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
The illness is highly treatable, yet only about 40% of sufferers seek treatment. Untreated mental health issues often get worse and may have other negative effects.
WHY DO WE HAVE ANXIETY?
Anxiety occurs when a sound, sight, smell, taste, or texture triggers a message to your nervous system that results in fear, worry, and stress. And when anxiety is managed effectively, it can serve a valuable purpose in our lives.
It warns us of a potential threat and alerts us to protect ourselves from real or perceived danger. But when anxious thinking and self-doubt remain after the “threat” is removed, it can become overwhelming.
That is when it may start feeling like your anxiety is managing you instead of you managing your anxiety.
When you understand what triggers your anxiety, you can learn strategies and tools that will enable you to manage it in ways that reduce the fears, worry, or stressful feelings. And that results in you gaining a sense of control over your life.
Unfortunately, we may not have those skills and support systems in place when we need them. Our society expects us to always be on the go, accomplishing more, and managing any problem on our own.
But anxiety doesn’t exist in a bubble: it is sometimes related to trauma, grief and loss, and depression. And even when we experience positive events or life transitions—such as accepting a promotion, going off to college, getting married, starting a family, or buying a home— that, too, can trigger anxiety to a level where it seems to take control over our lives.
Trying to tackle these challenges on your own can turn anxious thinking into an obsession that takes over your life. You know you can manage the worst of it, but living in a persistent state of worry or fear has left you so exhausted and burnt out that you’re questioning how much longer this can go on. Fortunately, a therapist who specializes in anxiety can help you learn effective ways to manage it so you can take back control over your life and experience peace and relief.