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Anxiety

Question:

Hi, I’m a young woman who has been suffering from what I feel is an anxiety disorder. I have tried to talk to family and friends but no one takes me seriously, they all say its normal cause everyone gets nervous… but I feel so nervous at points in time that i really can not think or speak. I feel nauseous and fearful of life. Its odd because most often I have physical symptoms although mentally I know everything is okay & theres not much to fear. My nerves stop me from enjoying my life sometimes even from doing certain things. Do you think this is a normal thing for a 21 year old girl, or should i seek help? Thanks.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Your family is correct that everyone gets nervous to some extent, but then again, there is normal nervousness and then there is nervousness that gets in the way of your life. For instance, people with social phobia are normal people, but their level of anxiety in particular social situations (dating, public speaking, etc. – its different for each person) is so excessive that they would rather avoid engaging in those activities then suffer the anxious feelings that would result. Whether or not you have a ‘disorder’ like social phobia I can’t say, but you are clearly reporting that you avoid things out of anxiety. Also – you don’t need to have a diagnosable disorder to benefit from psychotherapy.

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p> There are two basic approaches towards getting help for anxiety problems. The first and easiest involves getting medication for anxiety. I don’t recommend this approach (at least not all by itself) because if you lean on medicine to take away uncomfortable feelings, you don’t learn how to manage them yourself (you remain a child in this capacity), and also because many of the medications used for anxiety are highly addictive. The second approach is to enter into psychotherapy for anxiety problems. There are many kinds of psychotherapy out there and most of them don’t work well for anxiety. What you want specifically is ‘cognitive behavioral’ therapy for anxiety. This type of therapy tends to be the most focused and effective format for anxiety problems, so ask for it by name. Therapy involves no medications (so there is nothing to get addicted to), and tends to work as well as or better than medication treatment for anxiety problems if you engage it properly.<!

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