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Say 'Aaah | StayWell

Can't Quit Worrying and Just Be Happy?

November 22, 1999|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Everyone feels anxious now and then. You may worry about a big job interview, for example, or fret about paying your bills on time. But anxiety can be a problem if it gets out of control. Constant worrying can make it difficult to eat, sleep or enjoy life.

When you feel anxious, your body releases chemicals that prepare you to react to a threat, real or imagined. This is called a fight-or-flight response. Some people know what causes their anxiety: work deadlines, family problems, airplane travel and the like. Others experience free-floating anxiety--being anxious but not knowing why. And still others have anxiety attacks, when a surge of symptoms occurs.

Some common symptoms of anxiety are fear, muscle tension or pain, restlessness, fast breathing, shaking or trembling, loss of energy, sweating, chest pain and dry mouth.

Most health insurance plans cover anxiety disorders. See your doctor, who can evaluate various treatments. Your doctor might suggest counseling, medications or both.

Counseling works for many people. Talking to a trained professional can help you understand what makes you anxious, learn how to cope with stress and figure out how to pick your battles. Some people have found relief through medications.

You can help yourself by engaging in some or all of the following:

* Try to identify what triggers your anxiety. Then try to put the threat in perspective.

* Keep in mind that there are some things you can't control. So change what you can and try to deal with the rest.

* Exercise. It's an effective way to release tension.

* Think about avoiding caffeine and nicotine, which can worsen anxiety symptoms.

* Alcohol and nonprescription drugs may only make your condition worse, especially if you abuse them.

Your local hospital or mental health clinic can be a good source of support or guidance. In addition, many companies have employee assistance programs, which can also be a resource.

Source: StayWell Co.

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