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I've been feeling really anxious lately and I don't know what to do about it -- help!

By May 24, 2011 - 10:32am
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About a year ago I had what I imagine was some form of an anxiety attack. It was just a few weeks before graduation and prom and I was drowning in schoolwork and last minute projects. I was also extremely worried about my future, about what I was going to do in regards to my post-secondary education (I was quite undecided). In short, I was terrified. I woke up one morning and I was more nervous than I'd ever been before in my life. It came to a point where I couldn't hold back tears. I had no idea why I was crying, but I just couldn't help it. I stayed home for a few days, in my bedroom, just thinking and worrying about everything imaginable. I went to my family doctor but he told me I was just stressed out and the feeling would soon pass. After a few days I attempted to return to school, but I only lasted a couple of hours before my mom had to pick me up and take me home. Fortunately, a week or so later I was feeling much better and two months later I'd probably forgotten all about that one dreadful week. However, in many occasions I have experienced that same feeling of anxiety and fear; I'm able to control it better. That is to say, I don't burst out in tears and stay in bed until it's over. But I do feel it, and it scares me. I'm on vacation right now, been on vacation for over a week. The Sunday before I left, during a dinner at my boyfriend's house, I began to feel extremely anxious. It came out of nowhere. I went to the bathroom frequently, to put cold water over my face, in hopes that would have some kind of effect, but it didn't. I was able to control my anxiety but it was a terrible, terrible feeling. It happened once more on the airplane, on the way to where I am now. Worries, dread, of nothing in particular, though. I have never before been afraid of being on a plane, and I wasn't thinking that anything tragic would happen. All I could think about was how anxious I was and how to get rid of it. And now it's happening again. And I'm terrified that it will persist to haunt me for the rest of my life and will interfere with daily life. What do I do?

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Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. There are 5 major types of anxiety disorders:
generalized anxiety disorder
panic disorder
obsessive-compulsive disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder
social phobia
Your experience seems to lean toward generalized anxiety disorder or possibly, panic disorder.
People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months
People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. The disorder develops gradually and can begin at any point in the life cycle, although the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age.
Panic disorder is a real illness characterized by sudden attacks of terror usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. Panic attacks often begin in late adolescence or early adulthood,but not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder.
Anxiety disorders are treatable. Before treatment begins, a doctor conducts a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine the cause of the symptoms. In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medications and specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Sometimes several different types of treatment or a combination of treatments need to be tried to find out what works best.
You need to find a well-trained mental health care provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. You can begin by contacting your health insurance provider for participating psychologists, or ask your doctor for a referral. With treatment, you will be able to cope with your anxiety and live the life you dream of. Wishing you the best.

May 24, 2011 - 6:07pm
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