Is Anxiety on the Rise for Women?
A recent article from Glamor magazine makes a rather convincing statements regarding women being diagnosed with anxiety disorders more frequently than men, as noted from the article “twice as likely to be diagnosed in women than in men”. But for 40 million Americans, anxiety disorders are debilitating and omnipresent, and women are twice as likely to suffer as men, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
The diagnosis is reportedly delayed between 9-12 years from the onset of noted symptoms Glamor reporter cites from interviewing Robert Leahy, Ph.D., a clinical professor of psychology and psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “And of those who are diagnosed, only a very small percentage get adequate help.” It is commonly known that the primary care physician or family practitioner-internal medicine specialist is usually the first medical professional to make the diagnosis when symptoms are reported to the treating physician. It is thought, by the Glamor columnist, that one in five patients may have the disorder where as treatment often comes too late before serious symptoms arise.
As with most mental health concerns, patients or clients delay in seeking help due to the stigma associated with the decision to receive treatment by a mental health clinician-licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or social worker-due to the concerns by others-friends, family members, co-workers, or others in their lives-the individual is not able to control their emotions or their well being. This is not the case, at all, due to the need for mental health counseling and collaboration with the medical community-the treating practitioner-to provide a team approach to helping the patient/client learn about the the disorder for the return to a happier life. Often, besides the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, medication may be indicated to help treat the symptoms of anxiety. I explain to clients if they have hypertension or diabetes, would they not seek help from professionals? Often their answer is most definitely yes! The same is true with anxiety, counseling for wellness, use of CBT, and possibly medication, antianxiety medications, may provide the client/patient a return to where they want to be in life-hopefully, anxiety free!
Anxiety comes in various forms, such as social anxiety, fears, phobias, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or acute stress disorder. Anxiety can present with fears (such of presenting in front of groups, being in crowded places, being home alone, fear of crowds, taking examinations); phobias (such as being afraid of animals, heights-elevators, medical or dental concerns, storms, flying, illness); generalized anxiety which is persistent worry and anxiety with stress about two or more concerns such as finances, relationships, health, or school; obsessive-compulsive disorder with obsessions (recurring thought, ideas, images or impulses which create fears or concern about leaving lights on, checking for locked doors, or stove left on) and/or compulsions (behaviors or rituals to reduce anxiety such washing hands over and over so not to be ill, worry about hitting someone by checking car mirrors over and over, checking stove over and over a number of times so there won’t be a fire); and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can occur to anyone who has been involved in a near death experience such as natural disasters, violent crimes, various types of accidents, or war.
During these stressful times with a downturn in the economy, fears of job loss and financial security, changes in family dynamics with increase in the divorce rate, reduction of socialization with a turn to isolation through use of focus on social networking instead of personal interaction, reduction in the support that was available through extended family and close friends anxiety is on the rise. People report less personal contact with others, the inability to meet friends, the blending of work and personal time without healthy breaks in finding self-time, and increased responsibilities due to families, often single parent families, and having to work extra jobs or shifts to make ends meet as many of the reasons for their reported symptoms of anxiety. Often this leads to fear of failure. This is not the case as it is courageous to come for counseling and treatment as skills are learned to help strengthen the individual into hopefully a healthier way of life.
Some signs and symptoms of having anxiety may include rapid heartbeat, fear of losing control, dry mouth, sweating, apprehension, shortness of breath, trembling or shaking, choking, nausea, numbness, dizziness, hot flashes or chills, fear of dying, fear of going crazy, chest pain, thoughts of something bad will happen if certain actions are not completed, fear of failure, fear of disease, flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of certain places or activities associated with trauma, feelings of detachment, losing interesting in doing things, or inability of falling or staying asleep. If these symptoms are observed, you may wish to seek mental health counseling and also medical care to see if you may have serious anxiety symptoms. You may take the on-line Anxiety Screeing on my website at: http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/Welcome.aspx or visit the website at www.klfcounseling.com.
Patients and clients can use some basic approaches, with the help of trained mental health practitioners, to reduce their levels of anxiety. First, exercise is very important as it helps to release endorphins that provide a sense of well being and also reduce symptoms of depression. It is recommended each person exercise at least 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. These activities could include walking, bike riding, dancing, running, rowing, or activities at a gym. Second, learning to relax by learning to utilized mental and muscle relaxation at least once per day with twice a day being optimum. It is recommended being taught by a mental health practitioner to take 15 minutes twice a day to unwind and learn to relax with breathing techniques and good script to promote a reduction in symptoms of anxiety. Third, good sleep which means practicing good sleep hygiene such as having a good sleep schedule, not consuming caffinated drinks six hours prior to bed, eating healthy meals, having the bedroom for sleep, not work, and establishing a good sleep plan each day. Fourth, finding personal time each day to connect with others when feeling better is very important. Fifth, and most important, take care of yourself by going to your medical practitioner-family physician, internal medicine physician, or OB-GYN physician on a regular basis for “wellness check-ups”.
In my practice I stress “mental wellness” meaning learning to take care of you the client learning what strengths you have and what skills need to be developed. If you or a family member is concerned about having symptoms of anxiety, I can speak with you, having you complete in-person screening assessments for anxiety, and teach you or your family member about anxiety to learn healthy ways of dealing with stress. Call the office at (843) 652-5532 to speak with either the staff or me to schedule your appointment.