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Anxiety - a Commonly MIssed Diagnosis

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There are very few conditions that are missed as often as anxiety in clinical practice. There are two reasons for this, (1) the patient feels alone and afraid of what might possibly be wrong with them; (2) the patient’s personality with anxiety is one that is more withholding (less forthcoming) than in a patient without anxiety.

The most common symptoms of anxiety are:
Troublesome Sleep
Chronic Worry
Ongoing Tense, Restless Feelings
Difficulty Concentrating

Poor Appetite Control or Lack of
Easily Startled

As a Naturopathic Physcian, our goal is to identify and treat the underlying cause to a patient’s illness. In treating anxiety, I feel very strongly that using medications is essential while the underlying cause is being identified and addressed.
I have found that until a patient understands what it feels like not have anxiety, our therapy lacks understanding of what our goal is. It’s one thing to not want to feel one way, it’s another thing to understand exactly what they want to feel. A good comparison is treating a patient for headaches. They clearly know what it feels like to not have a headache, so the goal is clearly definable. If a person has always suffered anxiety, this is the only thing they know and the journey to wellbeing is seemingly elusive.

Once a person can own a perception of what it is like to not be anxious, then and only then, can they step into the journey of unwinding it. Many things cause anxiety. To understand the cause, we must understand what it is.
Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling accompanied by fear or worry. Physcians use questionnaires to diagnose anxiety along with clinical findings. There is no other type of test you can take to diagnose it. Some people who are simply stressed most of the time or who lack emotion to life events or simply lack natural laughter can be suffering from anxiety without even knowing it.

Whatever we feel individually is a very unique experience. Until one can experience true joy and wellbeing on a daily basis (outside of traumatic stressors), which is the opposite of fear and worry, it is difficult to perceive what it is like to not have anxiety.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Dr. Ramsey,

As someone who has dealt with anxiety since childhood, I want to thank you so much for writing this post. The concept of needing to feel what a life without anxiety is like is so important. I remember the first time I took medicine to help my anxiety and learned what it is like to feel that you are clear and on firm ground. I thought, is this what it's like to feel "normal"? It was a true Aha! moment. I didn't feel tranquilized or sleepy. I just felt FINE. I felt able to cope. I felt rational, reasonable. It was bliss.

Thank you so much for exploring this topic. I believe you'll help many people who up to this point in their lives may have just thought of themselves as "worriers" who should just be able to "stop it" on their own. Learning that a constant state of anxiety is not normal is life-changing.

October 28, 2009 - 8:50am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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