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Reducing the Weight of Anxiety

Feb 22, 2017 06:45PM ● By MED Magazine
By Brandy Bunkers

Forty million adults struggle with anxiety, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. So when should you refer your patient to therapy for help?  It’s as easy as knowing what triggers to look for.

With generalized anxiety, it’s present most days of the week and has been occurring for at least six months. Your patient may tell you it may be difficult for them to control their thoughts of worry.  The patient might make statements about not being able to turn off his or her thoughts. These thoughts could be interfering with their sleeping and eating patterns.  

Many times, the intrusive thoughts make it difficult to fall asleep or may cause interrupted sleep. In some cases, individuals with excessive worry might find themselves engaging in different eating patterns; either not eating because they can’t set aside those thoughts long enough to take care of their needs or possibly overeating to cope with the stress of the worry.  

Other patients might identify feeling on edge or may become irritable about what would normally be viewed as daily functions of life.  Muscle tension and indigestion, in combination with the symptoms listed above could be a good indication that your patient is affected by generalized anxiety.  

Anxiety can display itself in many ways, including panic, phobias, and social anxiety which are often proclitic in allowing your patients to have a full and vibrant life.  

Other disorders that are closely related to anxiety include areas such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Remember, at times patients may not able to identify that they are struggling with a mental health condition; they are paying more attention to the physical changes they are experiencing. Patients are not usually aware of the impact the additional stress is having on their day-to-day life and it manifests as physical symptoms or irrational thoughts.

Anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, phobias, and separation anxiety disorder, are the most common class of mental disorders present in the general population according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you think your patient is struggling with anxiety, it’s time to bring up options for treatment, including psychotherapy, which can be a very successful form of treatment because it often includes a focus of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Seeking treatment for anxiety is often full of stigma and self-critical consequences. However, if a patient can visit with you, their trusted physician, about their symptoms, it may be a way to help reduce barriers and create an avenue toward successful treatment and recovery.    

Brandy Bunkers, CSW-PIP, owns Clarity Counseling, LLC, in Sioux Falls. She s a member of the
  Academy for Eating Disorders and The International Association of Eating Disorders Professional Foundation.