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by Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

The other day my young son left the door open by accident and our 7-month-old puppy, Joey, darted out the door. My heart raced; I felt the tension grow in my shoulders as I started yelling, “Joey! Come Joey!” My mind started racing ahead, to “Oh no, what if he runs away? How will I catch him? Who will stay with the kids while I chase the dog?” Fortunately, Joey hopped in the front yard for a few minutes and flew back in the front door when we called him.

Sometimes my children all talk to me at the same time. They are kids, they are still learning – but oh wow does that stress me out. My mind feels flooded and I have to hold up my hands and say “Stop! One at a time!” My brain is not made to filter and process requests from all three of my children simultaneously.

None of us can escape stress and anxiety. That’s just how life is sometimes. We feel nervous before presentations, when we are in new social situations, when our to do list seems endless, or when we are stuck in traffic. We all need to learn to manage our stress.

When is anxiety a problem?

When stress and anxiety start to impact your daily life, it’s time to pay more attention. Here are some signs anxiety is becoming a problem:

  • Muscle tension. Constant muscle tension, especially in your neck and shoulders.
  • Irritability. Having a short fuse, losing your temper quickly, and just generally finding all things annoying.
  • Trouble sleeping. Either struggling to fall asleep, or waking up and not going back to sleep, for many days.
  • Constant worrying. Always waiting for the next bad thing to happen, assuming the worst.
  • Irrational fears. Jumping to the worst-case scenario immediately. For example, you have tick bite and right away think you have Lyme’s disease, or you make a simple mistake at work and assume you will get fired.
  • Panic attacks. When you have panic attacks, you need help with your anxiety. Panic attacks often include racing heart, sweaty palms, dizziness, feeling “out of body”, fear of dying, and tightness in your chest.

If I struggle with anxiety am I weak?

No. Let’s make sure that’s very clear: No. Anxiety is not a weakness. Anxiety has a very real biological component. Some of us just have brains that don’t make enough serotonin – the chemical in the brain that helps manage anxiety. This is why for some people medication can be helpful. Sometimes we just have personalities that tend to be anxious.

No matter why you struggle with anxiety, I can promise you this: there’s nothing wrong with you. However, you also don’t want to live with anxiety running your life. So, it is up to you to make changes necessary and take care of yourself to minimize anxiety’s impact on your life. If you think anxiety is a problem for you, a professional counselor who specializes in anxiety can help you learn new skills to understand your anxiety and manage it well.

In part two of our Anxiety Truth Series, we will answer the question: What can I do about my anxiety?

Anxiety Counseling in Ambler, PA

Our team of therapists at Lime Tree Counseling specialize in anxiety treatment. Please contact us today to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation or your first appointment. We understand how overwhelming anxiety can feel, and we want to help you feel more in control again. We are here to help you!