Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Worry, Insomnia Mark Disorder

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Worry, Insomnia Mark Disorder

Article excerpt

Dear Open Mind: A member of my family has been concerned about feeling nervous and worried to the point where he doesn't sleep well, is irritable all the time, and has a hard time concentrating.

He said he feels this way because his racing heart and chest pains and other symptoms mean there's something wrong. We went to the doctor and our doctor said there's nothing medically wrong. Could it be this is all in his head?

It is quite possible that the symptoms you describe are the result of anxiety and that doesn't mean the symptoms are "all in his head." For people who suffer from anxiety, the symptoms are very real. Unfortunately, by the time a person gets to the safety of their doctor's office, the symptoms have subsided. The physician does his or her best to be reassuring and let them know that there's nothing medically wrong. A doctor's reassurance may only confirm their worst fear that the symptoms mean they are losing control or that their symptoms are in their head.

Many people who have problems with anxiety disorders (panic, agoraphobia, social or specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder) think they are alone in their suffering, but this is not so.

Recent research dictates that 17 percent of the population experiences problems with anxiety during any six-month period and that 25 percent of the population experiences an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

The good news is that very effective treatments are available. Cognitive behavior therapy and/or medication have proven effective in helping people manage their symptoms and improve the quality of their life.

One way your family member could find out if his symptoms are a result of anxiety is for him to participate in National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day on May 3. For information, call the Mental Health Association of Greater St. Louis (314) 773-1399) or the national information line at (800) 442-2020. …

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