Don't ignore anxiety, treat it

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Forty million adults suffer from anxiety disorders, yet only a small percentage seek professional help. It is highly treatable so why do so many continue to suffer? 

Monica Reveley is finally loving life after being haunted for years by anxious and unwanted thoughts. 

“The violent intrusive thoughts; the sexual intrusive thoughts, especially. They were really uncomfortable, you know. You’re not supposed to have those kinds of thoughts," Reveley said. "On the outside, I was straight A, involved in all the clubs, had all the friends. But on the inside, I was really miserable.”

If anxiety lasts for two weeks or longer, depression may be right around the corner. And that combination is not something you can think your way out of. 

“Despite your efforts at self-talk and whatever else you do, you can’t get rid of it,”  said psychiatrist Harry A. Croft.

Prescriptions like Xanax and Klonopin help, but Croft said “far and away, the best treatments for anxiety disorders are therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization therapy.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy means facing anxieties head on.

“It’s like the bear. The bear comes to get us and how do we respond? We respond with rapid heartbeat and all these other things. It’s simply a way to help us get away from the bear to stay alive," licensed counselor Randy Pollock said. "I’m a big believer that if you change the thought, the feeling will follow, so I put a lot of emphasis on again the cognitive part of it.”

If it’s been two weeks or more and anxiety is still tormenting you, here are a few quick tips: 

  • Avoid caffeine which amps you up even more
  • Exercise will help drain away anxiety
  • Breathe deeply every day

“I wish that a lot of people had a lot more awareness about mental illnesses, so that people could be more open about it,” Reveley said.

Alleviating stress and addressing any childhood trauma with a professional can go a long way toward keeping anxiety at bay.

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