Trinity Valley Community College

   

Guidance Services

Athens Campus
Linda Daniel
Director of Guidance 

Services

100 Cardinal Drive
Athens, TX 75751
(903) 675-6350

Palestine Campus
Dr. Jeffrey Watson
Provost
Vicki Dossett, LPC
Counselor
2970 N. St. Hwy 19
P.O. Box 2530
Palestine, TX 75802
(903) 723-7046

Terrell Campus
Dr. Algia Allen
Provost
Luanne Bourland
Counselor
1200 E. I-20
P.O. Box 668
Terrell, TX 75160
(972) 563-4904

Health Science Center
Dr. Helen Reid
Provost
Jeffrey Ballom, NCC
Counselor
800 Ed. Hall Drive
Kaufman, TX 75142
(972) 932-4309

General Anxiety
   
Posted: 1/20/2012 9:04:00 AM
College can be an experience that can cause even the most calm person to experience some level of anxiety.


Understanding and Treating Anxiety

Everybody has some familiarity with anxiety. Anxiety is simply the feeling of worry, apprehension, fear and or panic in response to situations which seems overwhelming, threatening, unsafe or uncomfortable. You may experience anxiety as an intense worry before a final exam, the nervousness felt before making a presentation, or the heightened alertness when you believe you are in danger. Anxiety is your body’s way of alerting you that some kind of action is needed in the face of a situation that is perceived to be threatening or dangerous. Anxiety can be useful or adaptive whenever it prompts you to take an appropriate action in response to an anxiety-provoking situation. It can provide motivation that is necessary for a successful completion of a class. You may study harder or organize better in order to relieve some of the anxiety you feel. However, anxiety can also be detrimental, especially if it becomes overwhelming and prevents you from taking appropriate actions that are counterproductive. Anxiety may be detrimental if you avoid studying for a major exam that worries you, or if you cope with worry about your relationships by getting unnecessarily suspicious and then yelling at your partner. This can help you distinguish between normal or expected anxiety that everyone experiences and anxiety problems which may require intervention. Because the feeling of anxiety is frequently intense and distressing, it is quite normal to want to avoid or eliminate these feelings. However, this is not necessarily the best approach to anxiety. If you ignore or try to eliminate your anxieties, you miss out on valuable information about your life and about your options for dealing with unavoidable stressful and demanding situations. How do you know if anxiety is a problem? The following will help you determine whether anxiety could be partly responsible for some of the problems you are experiencing:

  • Do I feel anxious more often than not throughout my day?
  • Have I restricted my activities as a way of coping with anxiety?
  • Do I experience panic or panic-like symptoms in certain predictable situations?
  • Am I intensely fearful of specific situations or things (e.g., animals)?
  • Do I experience extreme anxiety in social situations?
  • Have I develop elaborate rituals or thought-processes to manage anxiety?
  • Is my anxiety related to a specific, traumatic event?

If you answered yes to some of the previous questions, you may have more specific questions about the anxiety symptoms you have been experiencing. The following are various conditions for which anxiety is the predominant feature.

Types of Anxiety

Panic Disorder-A panic attack is defined as a period of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling and chest pain as well as cognitive (brain) symptoms such as fear of losing control and/or dying.

Specific Phobia- The anxiety in specific phobia is associated with persistent, excessive and unreasonable fear when there is an anticipated or actual encounter with a specific object or situation. There can be significant anxiety and sometimes panic whenever a phobic person is exposed to the feared object or situation. Examples are: fear of heights, fear of blood, and fear of places such as bridges or elevators.

Social Phobia-Social phobia is defined as a marked and persistent fear of a social situation or a performance in which embarrassment is considered to be a likely outcome. A fear of public speaking is one of the more common forms of social phobia. IN all instances of social phobia, there is acute anxiety whenever the feared situation or performance is anticipated or encountered and there is frequently a strong desire for avoidance.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-The presences of recurrent obsessions and compulsions which are time-consuming, impair life activities, and are recognized by the person as being excessive or unreasonable are features of this condition. An obsession is defined as persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses or images which are intrusive, anxiety provoking and distressing. A compulsion is a ritualistic behavior which is intended to modify or reduce the anxiety through activity or behavior. The most frequent compulsions involve washing and cleaning, counting, seeking assurance, checking and repeating actions.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)-The primary feature of GAD is excessive anxiety and worry which occurs more days than not for a period of at least 6 months. In addition, symptoms of restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance may be present. The anxiety if perceived by the individual as being difficult to control or regulate.

Treatment of Anxiety

If anxiety symptoms are interfering with your ability to do routine, day-to-day activities, or if you have restricted your life activities as a way of coping with anxiety, you should consider seeking professional help. All anxiety disorders are treatable and many individuals experience a full recovery from their symptoms.

What Can I Do?

It is usually helpful to identify the events surrounding the experience of anxiety:

  • What provokes the anxiety?
  • What thoughts or physical sensations accompany the anxiety?
  • How distressing is the anxiety?
  • How are you coping with the anxiety?

Specific changes you can make that may help alleviate anxiety symptoms:

  • Exercise or engage in some form of daily physical activity
  • Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet
  • Obtain an adequate amount of sleep
  • Seek emotional support from friends and family
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life
  • Establish realistic, attainable goals which do not rely on perfectionist values
  • Monitor how you think about stress and reduce and/or change thoughts which are negative
  • Identify activities which feel overwhelming and reduce your involvement in them
  • Consult with a physician if you are experiencing any medical problems
  • Consult with a mental health profession if any of these symptoms interfere with your academic or personal life.
  • Reduce or eliminate your use of alcohol or drugs and limit caffeine intake
  • Assume responsibility only for events that are within your control.

For more information about Panic Attacks:
http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/panic/panic.html