Anxiety has become more and more prevalent in our society in the last while. I have heard anxiety/depression referred to as the “common cold” of mental health. It certainly describes a collection of symptoms that, as mental health professionals and students studying within this field, we know well. But is it really so simple?
I have noticed in some anxiety support groups that anxiety is seen as a natural extension of living in a society that is anxiety-producing for all of us, although to different degrees. The genetic component seems to be widely accepted, although I have certainly treated clients with no obvious, identified family histories of anxiety or related disorders. Anxiety seems to be a collection of symptoms that most professionals conceptualize depending on how they treat it. So I would love to see a professional dialogue to hear how you explain anxiety to your clients when they come to your office presenting with either self or doctor diagnosed anxiety. Is it created by disordered thoughts? Is it environmental but can be treated ex: mindfulness techniques?
I feel genetics can be a part of the equation and speak to how some folks are born with a lower threshold for anxiety, needing less information introduced before anxiety symptoms result. So meditation may be effective. However, I often use an idea I got from a supervisor of mine many years ago. It refers to anxiety as being like a temperature. A temperature is a symptom that tells us when something is wrong in our bodies. Well anxiety is similar. It tells us when something is wrong with our emotional centre, “too much change at once”, “overload” etc. So if we do not process intense emotions and experiences it can build up and create anxiety symptoms. Most people find when they begin opening these things up, they feel a bit better quickly. Whether the sessions involve healing traumatic symptoms or the recent death of a family member is decided on together, etc. As well as how we do this.
I was recently reading a novel “The Heretic’s Daughter” by Kathleen Kent involving the Salem witch trials and the line, “You cannot harvest the corn unless you go into the corn” stayed with me. I believe only with appropriate processing comes full healing. With remembrance, comes healing. Do you believe this?
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA