Living With or Living Free From Overwhelming Anxiety May 1st, 2015

Most people have experienced worry at one time or another, however, for a person with Anxiety Disorder that worry is amplified to the point it is disruptive and can be debilitating. General Anxiety Disorder affects more than 6.8 million adults each year.

Experiencing extreme anxiety can have undue influence over thoughts and beliefs which may result in feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness. What for many people may be a passing thought, such as thoughts of personal mortality can become overwhelming. For example thoughts of mortality may contort into certainty of terminal illness or impending harm.

In addition to influencing thoughts that may affect behaviors and decisions, heightened anxiety can also result in physical symptoms such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating or trembling
  • Difficulty breathing or the feeling of pressure on the chest

What might help

When a person is experience acute (severe) or chronic (over a long period of time) anxiety there are several treatment options that should be discussed with a professional therapist or psychiatrist. Some options may include therapeutic counseling, counseling with medication, behavioral and cognitive therapies, relaxation techniques, such as guided relaxation and mindfulness. Clinical hypnosis can also be useful in alleviating symptoms and can even teach how to do self-hypnosis to use at your leisure. Counseling is often considered an important component of treatment for anxiety because it helps develop skills needed to deal with the tensions caused by the anxiety and more easily relate to others.

There are some personal strategies that can also help when feeling overwhelmed by anxiety:

Accept your thoughts and feelings without allowing them to have power over your state of mind. Sometimes, particularly if a behavior, thought, or feeling is embarrassing or considered “bad”, trying to ignore it will make it worse. As if it is demanding attention as you are trying to pretend it does not exist. In that vein, acknowledging anxiety triggered thoughts and feelings, but without engaging them, can reduce the hod they have on you. Consider acknowledging those thoughts and feeling as if at an emotional distance while recognizing you are prone to an exaggerated reaction then let go of those thoughts.

Recognize what is happening. “I am experiencing anxiety over X and my thoughts are turning obsessive”. That is to say, recognize you are experiencing anxiety and your reaction both in thoughts and feelings may be exaggerated. Try to remain in the present moment and only focus on what demands your immediate attention. Accept your symptoms as they come and remind yourself that they will soon pass.

Manage the physical symptoms. Slow your breathing by taking deep breaths through your nose and slowly releasing through your mouth. If possible take a moment to slowly sip a cold or hot beverage taking care to pause a moment between each sip. Longer term behaviors that may reduce your anxiety or help you more effectively manage the physical symptoms when they occur include:

  • Activities that reduce stress and increase mindfulness such as journaling, yoga, or meditation.
  • Activities that increase self-control such as marital arts.
  • Increasing exercise and sticking to a healthy diet can also help, particularly avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.

Distract yourself with something unrelated to the anxiety. Think or engage in something completely unrelated to the source of the anxiety. Focus and expend your excess energy into something that you find engages you fully, perhaps something that you enjoy but also requires concentration or you find soothing.

Talk it out with a confidant. Talk to a trusted friend or loved one about how anxiety affects you. Keep them apprised of strategies that help so they can talk you through the moment when your anxiety is escalating. Make sure to focus the conversation so that you are able to put the source of your anxiety back into a perspective.

When to see a therapist for help:

  • If your worry and feelings of anxiety are interfering with your work, relationships, or other aspects of your life.
  • If you feel depressed or are using alcohol or recreational drugs to avoid or curb your feelings.
  • If you experience physical symptoms to the point it is concerning or distracting; or if you consistently experience overwhelming anxiety in certain situations.
  • If you have thoughts or behaviors of suicide or self-harm seek emergency treatment immediately.

For more information or to schedule an appointment contact Dr Carol Phone: (513) 244-6990, Fax: (513) 244-6911, email:

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