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Too much anxiety can be crippling

Mirelle Zamudio
Tahoe Youth & Family Services

Accelerated heart rate and breathing, possible upset stomach, worry and dread, all sensations that a person may have when experiencing some anxiety. Whether you are presenting in front of a group of people or interviewing for a job, our immune system kickstarts our fight-or-flight response by flooding our nervous system with hormones and chemicals that help us deal with high stress or intense situations. However, imagine experiencing these symptoms on a constant basis, not permitting your body to return to a normal level of functioning. While experiencing anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion, disproportionate levels of anxiety can lead to effects that disrupt and cause distress in your everyday life.

A common misconception is that anxiety is not really an illness. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the United States, with more than 40 million Americans over the age of 18 struggling with its impact on their daily lives. Anxiety has been used as a blanket term that represents a group of disorders, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders, concluded that “Anxiety disorders impose a substantial cost on society, much of which may be avoidable with more widespread awareness, recognition, and appropriate early intervention.”

Some individuals who suffer from anxiety self-medicate, which addresses the immediate symptoms, but fails as a long-term and effective treatment, sometimes leading to substance abuse or addiction. Other individuals delay getting treatment or do not acknowledge their anxiety exists; some experts comment that individuals with an anxiety disorder will not seek treatment for about 10 years. In teenagers, anxiety can often sit as background noise and can develop into a general feeling of uneasiness or panic attacks and phobias.

Being aware of the symptoms associated with anxiety can help you or a loved one reach out and receive the support needed. It is important to listen without judgement and provide reassurance when trying to help teens or adults who may be dealing with anxiety. Encouragement of exploring different options for treatment or professional help within your community will remind them that you are there through their process and recovery.

Tahoe Youth & Family Services remains open and offers counseling and support services through video calls using Telehealth. Recently, TYFS received a grant from the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood foundation for $5000 that benefits Mental Health and Substance abuse services for adolescents in Douglas County. Their foundation continues to contribute to the growth of hope in our community for adolescents.

If you want to make an appointment for counseling for your adolescent or yourself, call Tahoe Youth & Family Services at (530) 541-2445 or (775) 782-4202. Information on services is also available on their website at tahoeyouth.org.