Anxiety: More than being on edge

Sep 29 8:47am | Marie Suszynski, Writer | @mariemayohecs | Comments (13)

 

 

Feeling anxious is a normal response to life’s challenges or major decisions. These sometimes uncomfortable, unsettling feelings tend to resolve as you work through the situation.

But for people with an anxiety disorder, the worries and distress don’t go away as easily. In fact, they may grow severe enough to disrupt daily activities and relationships. For example, James Tevlin (@thankful), who owned a construction company, was doing something routine 20 years ago — crossing a bridge he’d crossed many times near his home — when fear suddenly overtook him.

“I had this incredible sense of my vehicle being crushed,” he says. “It was like if I didn’t get to the other side, I would be thrown overboard.”

It’s important not to minimize feelings of anxiety when they occur — help is available. In older adults, the most common anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder. This is marked by excessive anxiety or worry across different areas, such as relationships, finances and health. Common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sleep problems, and feelings of restlessness, tension or being on edge.

Other anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder — This involves recurrent panic attacks — sudden periods of intense, unexpected fear. Typical signs and symptoms include a pounding or racing heart, sweating, shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, and a feeling of impending doom or an urgent need to escape.
  • Phobias — These stem from an intense fear and avoidance of something specific, such as an object, animal, situation or environment.
  • Social anxiety disorder — Also known as social phobia, this condition involves a significant fear of social or performance situations due to worries of embarrassment, negative judgment or rejection. The condition may lead to avoidance of social settings and difficulty forming or keeping relationships.

Sometimes, more than one anxiety disorder may be present — or anxiety disorders may be paired with another mental health condition, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance misuse. This can compound symptoms and worsen quality of life.

For Tevlin, that crushing fear of crossing a bridge spread to other routine activities. Soon, he feared flying. He feared driving down any road without a shoulder. His world caved in on him. “That initial anxiety exploded,” he says. Tevlin became oversensitized to things he had done for many years.

“I realized that trying to deal with what was going on by myself was not working,” he says. “I was slipping into adding more anxieties into my life and things I felt I could no longer do.” He saw a psychiatrist, which led to regular one-on-one counseling meetings and, later, participation in group therapy. He found it hard to make progress with therapy, so he eventually stopped. But the medication prescribed improved his condition dramatically.

“That seemed to help me to stop slipping and to begin having the courage to build on small victories and once again enable me to participate in life,” he says of the medication.

 

Looking for more stories about overcoming health struggles? Find them, along with dozens of health tips, with a subscription to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Thank you @thankful for sharing your story and experiences to help others. And for continuing to support people here on Mayo Clinic Connect. Forever grateful for members like you.

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I am going through the same thing now with anxiety.

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@nannette1941

I am going through the same thing now with anxiety.

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I've had panic attacks since I was 10 years old but was never treated for them until 1998. The medication has helped so much until I was diagnosed with COPD this past July and now the high anxiety is back and I'm so afraid the panic attacks will start again too. Now I don't want to go out of my house or see anyone. Not even my precious children. I feel frozen in time again and that's not good because I don't take care of myself when I feel that way. I'll need to make myself talk to my doctor about this. If anyone as any suggestions, I would appreciate them so much, and I'm praying for each of you with the same or similar problem. God bless you all.

Grace be with you,
Shirley

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I feel the same . I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago , and consider myself very lucky that I haven’t needed anymore treatment since . However my blood numbers have started to rise , and it feels just like when I was first diagnosed. I feel trapped in a bubble of overwhelming fear . I have been to my doctor,and he has referred me for counselling. I just hope that this will help me .

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Hello @manchesterlady2

I am so glad that you joined Mayo Clinic Connect. Your anxiety over a possible cancer recurrence is very common. Many of us who have had more than one cancer diagnosis live in fear of the next one.

I am so happy to hear that you were willing to try counseling It really helps to talk about these fears. If your hospital system has a social worker on staff, he or she might also be able to assist you with these worries.

Mayo Connect has a support group for gynecological cancers that you might find helpful. Here is the link to those discussions, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/gynecologic-cancer/tab/discussions/. If you read through the list of discussions, you will see that are several discussions related to ovarian cancer.

Mayo Clinic also has a monthly online support group for women with gynecological cancer. Since it is online, Zoom, you don't have to leave your home in order to attend. The next meeting is on October 11. Here is more information, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/event/gynecological-cancer-support-group-105/

Have you begun counseling yet?

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I am learning something new, but maybe not so new for some, about anxiety. Many times it is due to a dysfunctional breathing pattern that has been hardwired into our nervous system over the years as a result of some sort of trauma or traumas. Dysfunctional breathing is apparently quite common and at the root of various health issues. I have been testing it myself by practicing certain breathing techniques every day, and my anxiety has lessened. If you are interested in exploring this, a great book to start with is called Breath by James Nestor. Blessings to all.

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What medication was he prescribed?

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@hopeful33250

Hello @manchesterlady2

I am so glad that you joined Mayo Clinic Connect. Your anxiety over a possible cancer recurrence is very common. Many of us who have had more than one cancer diagnosis live in fear of the next one.

I am so happy to hear that you were willing to try counseling It really helps to talk about these fears. If your hospital system has a social worker on staff, he or she might also be able to assist you with these worries.

Mayo Connect has a support group for gynecological cancers that you might find helpful. Here is the link to those discussions, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/gynecologic-cancer/tab/discussions/. If you read through the list of discussions, you will see that are several discussions related to ovarian cancer.

Mayo Clinic also has a monthly online support group for women with gynecological cancer. Since it is online, Zoom, you don't have to leave your home in order to attend. The next meeting is on October 11. Here is more information, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/event/gynecological-cancer-support-group-105/

Have you begun counseling yet?

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Hello @manchesterlady2

Just a reminder that the online support group for gynecological cancer is tomorrow. You will need to register online prior to the meeting at https://connect.mayoclinic.org/event/gynecological-cancer-support-group-105/.

You will then receive information about joining either on the computer or by phone.

I hope you are able to be part of this group.

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@sears

What medication was he prescribed?

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Hi @sears, was your question about medication directed to @thankful, the member featured in the article.

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I think I lost track here!🙄🙄

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@colleenyoung

Hi @sears, was your question about medication directed to @thankful, the member featured in the article.

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@sears, @colleenyoung– I was put on 1 mg. of Klonopin now clonazepam. I've continued with that same dosage to this date. Jim @thankful

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@thankful

@sears, @colleenyoung– I was put on 1 mg. of Klonopin now clonazepam. I've continued with that same dosage to this date. Jim @thankful

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How are you doing with 1 mg.? Do you mind if I ask your age?

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