Jack Bragen
Thursday November 19, 2015 - 08:22:00 PM

Anxiety, that knot in your gut or that giddiness in your spine, isn't always a villain. Sometimes, your body is trying to tell you something. The message could be essential, or it could be erroneous. There is no absolute rule concerning whether you should push past anxiety, or heed it and back off.  

When anxiety is chronic and interferes with daily living, it needs to be addressed. In some instances, therapy or meditative practices can help, while in other instances, a medication is needed. And some of the time, anxiety can be solved with a combination of both.  

Anxiety isn't always an instance of your body trying to warn you. However, that possibility ought to be explored first, before assuming that the anxiety is merely a symptom. If you have established that there is nothing about which you need to be warned, antianxiety practices, whether they consist of mindfulness, or medication, can be pursued.  

Self-confidence is usually a better approach to solving a problem than a state of anxiety. Too much anxiety can be debilitating and can render the inability to do anything. 

Evolution gave us the capacity to be afraid so that we would have the ability to run away from danger or fight for our lives. However, in modern times, anxiety often does more to interfere with necessary actions rather than helping us to survive. Even if put in a situation where we must fight, run, or face being obliterated, anxiety can interfere. If you are fearless, it puts you in a better state of mind to deal with situations that would normally be fear inducing.  

So far, I have neglected to add that anxiety can be very darned uncomfortable!  

(I am not clear as to the origin of social anxiety, but many people try to deal with it by drinking alcohol, and then you have a party. Or else you have alcoholism, in which case alcohol is used to shield the mind from the emotional discomfort of living.)  

People who have a lot of anxiety may also have specific phobias. In a very unexpected place, a mental health worker admitted to a phobia of dogs. That person was frightened even of the part Chihuahua, part who-knows-what, little yappy dog that is my wife's pet. People can also be otherwise "normal" but could still have a few phobias.  

Some mental health professionals advise gradual desensitization to deal with phobias. I do not know if this strategy works for everyone.  

Moving "through" the emotion and getting to "the other side" of it could work for some individuals who suffer from anxiety. To do this, the anxious person must be completely aware, at least on an intellectual level, that there is no need to worry.  

Antianxiety medications may be the solution for some people. Some medications that are not benzodiazepines do not have much potential for abuse.  

For some people with PTSD, whether they are veterans or have experienced other trauma, a service animal can do wonders. I had a cat named Boris, who, whenever I was stressed out, could sense it and would meow at me in a whiny voice that said, "Sit down and calm down, I need to sit on your chest." When he passed away at age fifteen, it was the beginning of a very difficult time for me. Now the other cat we have is finally starting to warm up to me a bit more even though she is well into her middle age.  

If someone has a schizophrenic type disorder, keeping anxiety at a minimum helps with remaining stabilized. Anxiety for someone with schizophrenia can worsen symptoms. I have heard one psychiatrist claim that valium is very helpful to people with schizophrenia. However, some psychiatrists are reluctant to prescribe benzodiazepines, and they would rather prescribe antidepressants that have anxiety reducing properties, or sometimes "beta blockers," such as Inderal. 

Regardless, anxiety can feel awful, can be hard to be rid of, and it can be debilitating. If having chronic anxiety, one should not be a martyr and try to live with it--one should do something to feel better.