Anxiety disorders include a broad group of concerns including Panic Disorders, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and more. When most of us talk about anxiety, however, we are discussing the unsettling and often frightening combination of symptoms that impact both our bodies and our minds.

With anxiety, we may experience physical symptoms including racing heart, queasy stomach (such as Irritable Bowel symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, bloating, constipation, and more), tightness in our chest, shallow breathing, cold hands and feet, and more. We may also experience psychological symptoms such as intrusive, catastrophic, or fearful thoughts that will not seem to stop. Many with anxiety symptoms find that they feel it primarily in their bodies or minds, while others experience it in both body and mind.

This type of anxious response is good news gone awry. We need to have a signaling device within us to warn us of danger. This helps to keep us safe; we learn to “trust our gut.” But sometimes this system malfunctions and we perceive far too much as dangerous or life-threatening. Often, we may feel uneasy symptoms but be rather unaware of what the danger itself might be.

Often we find that a combination of psychoanalytic therapy, together with meditation, exercise, breathing exercises, healthier nutrition, and when needed, medications, can ease people through this type of suffering. If psychoanalytic treatment we explore not only what triggers the symptoms now, but how they began in the first place. Our hope is to get to the root of this reaction so that someone is no longer as vulnerable to such fears. Practical tools that we can use in our daily lives to minimize anxiety can help to manage and sometimes prevent these “attacks.” It is often helpful to utilize medications, at least at first, in order to minimize and even eliminate suffering. Antidepressants such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) enhance serotonin levels and by so doing, one’s sense of well-being. Anxiolytics may also be used to extinguish symptoms of panic and distress. If you have been suffering with anxiety (of any type), please know that effective and helpful treatment is available to you!