Overcoming mid-life Anxiety
"Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to
his life's span?"
If instigating renewal to our physical and mental health
issues was as simple as extracting a painful tooth,
healing would be relieving. A physical symptom such as
chest pains can alert us of the possibility of a
cardiovascular illness (stroke, heart attack), but can
also be the trigger alerting you of anxiety. Your
anxiety in return can be the trigger of depression!
Try to assemble these pieces of puzzle together without
frustration or confusion! It takes a good dose of
patience to journey into healing without relapses or
without giving-up entirely.
In our last encounter we mentioned the importance of
working towards achieving a positive self-esteem. This is
the basis for instigating renewal into any of our
...and speaking of mid-life concerns... let me present you
what I believe to be another of the most popular mental-
health challenges our generation encounters...ladies and
gentlemen, let me introduce you to anxiety!
DEFINITION OF ANXIETY
Anxiety is not a sign of weakness…Celebrities such as
Donny Osmond, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln
suffered of this illness. People of all walks of life
can be afflicted. You will understand this better when
I present the different anxiety illnesses and their
causes. But for now, let's try to answer the following
question: What is anxiety?
Everybody experiments anxiety symptoms at one time or
another and that is normal. Pain is a body signal
alerting you of a health concern - requesting the need
for medical attention. Anxiety plays a similar role
warning us about a danger: be extra cautious! E.G.:
You feel a little anxious as you prepare to cross a
freeway where cars circulate in both directions.
It’s also normal to feel anxious when you must speak
in front of a crowd or must go for a job interview.
Anxiety becomes a concern when you intentionally avoid
any contact with the source of fear. E.G.: You avoid
grocery shopping because you feel anxious surrounded by
to many people. You avoid any outer contacts with
strangers, you refuse to leave the house; you depend
on others entirely for your needs.
In this case, anxiety is not a warning of cautiousness or
a situation of nervousness. Anxiety as now become a state
of painful or fearful uneasiness of mind over an impending
or anticipated event; it is a very intensive sense of
concern mixed with doubt,fear sometimes reaching a fealing
This state of emotion is intense, frequent, often
appropriated to given situations, things or locations;
it could go as far as to interfere into your personal life,
restricting your social relationships, and your work
performance. Real Life by Dr Phil McGraw)
Let’s now take a pause and try to assess your level of
anxiety; answer the following questions - I quoted them
from Psychologist Dr. Joni Johnston’s book entitled:
"Controlling Anxiety – Keep your fears and worries at
Does your anxiety interfere with your ability to work?
Does it interfere in your relationship with others?
Does your anxiety cause you to avoid specific
places, events, objects,or situations?
Are you always stressed out?
Are you highly upset by changes in your normal routine?
Do you ever experience actual flashbacks of traumatic events?
Do you worry about the same things over and over again?
Does your anxiety cause you discomfort or distress
on a regular basis?
Do you frequently feel irritable?
A positive response to most of those questions could reveal
your level anxiety to be a health concern? But don’t panic!
Let’s continue this reflection one step further; we will
look over the four components of your anxiety: physical,
emotional, behavioural and cognitive.
N.B. The following description contains quotes from
Psychologists: Dr. Joni E. Johnston’s,
Dr Phil McGraw and Dr Charles Nemeroff.
See bibliography for details.
The four components of your anxiety
Nausea and indigestion (butterflies in the stomach)
Sweating (palms, forehead or underarms)
Shortness of breath
Racing pulse or feeling of heart pounding
Trouble swallowing or feeling of choking
Dizziness or headache (vertigo)
Chills or hot flashes
Muscle tenseness (goose bumps)
(legs,neck, shoulders to the extend these areas ache)
Trembling or shaking
Difficulties in sleeping
Feeling fatigued and tired regardless of what you
have done (majority of time)
Numbness (tingling in hands, feet, mouth)
Sensation of feeling apart from one’s body during
of after an attack
Fear of losing control
Fear of going crazy
Fear of dying
Fear of embarrassment
Fear of being rejected by others due to anxiety
Fear of the future
Feeling on edge
Feeling irritable, impatient and short-tempered
Feeling of intense guilt
Overestimating the real danger of situations
Doubting your ability to cope
Thinking excessively about the possibility of
failure, of drawing negative attention
Thinking unwanted thoughts again and again, no matter
the effort to put them out of your mind
Avoid situations that have made us anxious in the past
Avoiding situations that we are afraid might
make us anxious
Refusing to try new experiences
Performing rituals that help control the anxiety
Unable to perform some normal tasks of everyday
life because of fear of anxiety
Engaging in harmful, dangerous or self-abusive
Using drugs or alcohol to try to cope
These symptoms are the most common to anxiety. However,
as mentioned in this introduction, any of these symptoms
can be physical-related illnesses. So how do I know if
these symptoms are anxiety disorder related? Visit your
family physician and open up about your feelings and
concerns; request for a general examination. Remember
also, that medication, illicit drugs have anxiety-like
symptoms. Some people can be very sensitive to caffeine
I conclude with this definition quoted from the book:
Controlling Anxiety –keep your fears and Worries at bay.
"An anxiety disorder is an illness that produces an intense,
often unrealistic and excessive state of apprehension and
fear. This may or may not occur during or in anticipation
of a specific situation, and may be accompanied by a rise
in blood pressure, increased heart rate, rapid breathing,
nausea, and other signs of agitation or discomfort."
In our next encounter I will identify different
their specific characteristics and their impact on your personality. You might recognize some of them already:
Agoraphobia (fear of the marketplace)
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Complete Idiot’s Guide to:
Controlling Anxiety -
Keep your fears and worries at bay
by Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D. Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Alpha Books, 800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis,
IN 46240 Copyright 2006.
Real Life -
Preparing for the 7 most Challenging Days of Your Life
by Dr. Phil McGraw Simon & Shuster, Inc. 1230 Avenue
of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Copyright 2008
The Peace of Mind Prescription –
An Authoritative Guide to Finding the Most
Effective Treatment for Anxiety and Depression,
by Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.,
Dennis S. Charney, M.D with Stephen Braun,
Houghton Mifflin Company Boston New York
Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary
by Merriam-Webster,Incorporated Springfield,
Massachusetts,MA 01102 Copyright 2003
Holy Bible - Catholic Edition - NRS Version,
Thomas Nelson Publishers Copyright 1993 with Imprimatur
Canadian Catholic Bishops of Canada