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The Many Faces of Anxiety

Anxious man in front of computer with woman behind trying to comfort him

My stomach felt tight, my throat was dry, and my breathing was shallow. With sweaty hands and a pounding heart, I was getting ready to sing in my church choir. This was not my debut. I had been singing since I was fifteen, yet here I was at twice that age, with the same feelings week after week. Once the choir began singing, my anxiety would lessen enough so I could sing. But why did I continue to have these symptoms year after year?

A few years ago I started using a nutritional supplement and within about two weeks, I started feeling very different. It's still hard to describe, but I felt smooth and silky inside, without any feelings of worry or anxiety. This was foreign to me!

I never realized I had "Anxiety Disorder." I just felt that my insecurities and shyness were the reason for my bouts of anxiety. Once I experienced life without the anxiety, I realized how tense I was, living in a constant state of stress. Now I could live a more relaxed lifestyle, despite the many challenges that caused chaos in my life.

Little did I know that I would learn more about Anxiety Disorder with the adoption of our youngest son. He also has Anxiety Disorder that often displays itself with frustration and aggression if not resolved. I won't bore you with a lot of statistics, except to say that this is the most common mental illness in the USA and that it is highly treatable.

Some people choose to use medication, as we did with our son. Some choose health supplements, as we also did, and ultimately with myself. Psychotherapy (talk therapy), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Self-Help/Support Groups, and Stress Management Techniques are also recommended. A combination of interventions usually yields the best results.

The term Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is used to describe the overall anxiety issues. However, there is a breakdown of types of anxiety: Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Specific Phobias. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are closely related and one may experience these together, along with Depression.

For simplicity, here are the symptoms for Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

  • Easily fatigued

  • Irritable

  • Restless

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Suddenly having mind go blank

  • Difficulty controlling worry

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep problems

For a completely natural solution, you might want to try using a weighted blanket. Years ago weighted vests were being used in the classroom for children with anxiety and sensory processing issues. Our youngest son had both issues and used a vest. I am now in the processing of ordering a weighted blanket for him because of the success stories I've heard from moms I know. I'll even order one for me to aid in a deeper sleep!

The way the weighted blankets work is quite fascinating. The added weight stimulates the production of serotonin, which in turn, converts to melatonin, the hormone that tells the body to sleep. The blanket also provides Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS) which is a kind of therapy with physical and psychological benefits. DPTS helps the body switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps the body switch from the "flight or flight" mode to the "rest and digest" mode. It helps our special needs kids make this switch naturally.

If you are noticing symptoms of anxiety in your children or yourself, seek a diagnosis first, and then decide on your treatment. You do not have to live with constant anxiety. Using a combination of the above methods of treatment should help considerably. Lest I fail to mention the spiritual aspect of anxiety, spending quiet time each day with the Lord is also essential to obtaining a peace that passes all understanding.

At our church this Sunday, June 15th (EV Free, 2801 N. Brea Blvd., Fullerton, CA, 92835, USA), a lecture on "Stress Reduction, Anxiety, Fear & Phobias" is being presented by Dr. John Kelley in the Chapel (11:15 am - 12:30 pm). For more information, call Chen Ross at (714) 257-4330.

To close on a lighter note, my siblings know I am crazy-afraid of spiders! I could write a book on the many creative ways I have killed them over the years. While growing up, my sisters thought it was funny to scare me with fake spiders hidden around the house, and loved watching my discovery as I screamed. I know this is a Specific Phobia that I need to day!

Do you have a Specific Phobia? I'd love to see how many of you are in the boat with me!

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