2018-05-01 / OnCall

Brain Drain

‘Don’t worry, be happy’ is easier said than done for those with anxiety disorders

If you worry almost constantly — and seemingly uncontrollably — about the decisions you’ve made, the things you’ve said, whether a loved one will get home safely from a daily commute, or that “something bad” will happen, you’re not alone.

Anxiety disorders can develop during times of prolonged stress; as the result of a trauma or loss of a loved one; during major life transitions like pregnancy, menopause, moving and job uncertainty; or while experiencing any number of upsetting events.

If worry is holding you back in your personal or professional life, it’s important to speak to your doctor about it. Treatment for anxiety typically includes cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches you to assess how reasonable the worries are, how likely the things you worry about will actually happen, and how to worry more productively. Treatment also includes helping you cope with the uncertainty of the future and learning to not avoid things that make you anxious. Relaxation training, problem-solving techniques and even mindfulness meditation can be part of the treatment. These coping strategies are highly effective.

Usually, worriers feel better in just a few sessions. In some cases, a doctor will prescribe medication to treat an anxiety disorder.

In addition to therapy, regular exercise, yoga and staying engaged in enjoyable activities can help improve your mood and curb feelings of anxiety. Reducing caffeine or alcohol intake can also improve the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. •SCM

Generalized anxiety disorder can range in severity, but some symptoms include:

  1. Excessive, uncontrollable worry more days than not
  2. Feeling uneasy or keyed up
  3. Difficulty sleeping
  4. Fatigue
  5. Trouble concentrating
  6. or mind going blank
  7. Muscle tension
  8. Irritability

Dr. Amit Mehta, Director of Community Practice at Geisinger, is a family practice physician serving State College and Lock Haven. Dr. Mehta obtained his medical degree from T.D. Medical College. He completed his residencies at Alexandra Hospital, Bushey Fields Hospital, Regis Medical Centre and Oakeswell Health Centre. Dr. Mehta is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He is committed to helping his patients enjoy a healthier lifestyle. He works with each one to discuss ways they can make better choices for their health.

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