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You're uneasy about lots of things, your muscles are in knots and you can't sit still for any length of time. But there's no job interview or other daunting event on your calendar. Should you be worried about your worrying?
"Anxiety lives in all of us, there should be no stigma," says Joann Wright, PhD, director of Clinical Training and Anxiety Services at Linden Oaks at Edward. "But if anxiety stops you from doing the things you want, or if you're constantly seeking answers to unanswerable questions, you might benefit from professional help."
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem. Among U.S. adults 18 and over, there are 40 million people suffering from an anxiety disorder in any given year, more than 18 percent of people in that age group.
These troublesome maladies include generalized anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive and panic disorders. The most common anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety in which the person worries about many things, often throughout the day.
"We call it the 'big what if' disorder," says Dr. Wright. "It takes you out of the present moment to a focus on future events you have no control over."
Anxiety also can cause physical symptoms including shortness of breath, digestive problems, muscle tension and difficulty sleeping. Many people with an anxiety disorder also deal with another mental health issue, such as depression or substance abuse.
|Steven Prinz, MD, Anxiety
Psychiatrist, Genesis Clinical
Linden Oaks offers a dedicated Anxiety Program, directed by Dr. Wright and staffed by a variety of mental health professionals.
The first phase is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), with a regular outpatient program to be added later. In the IOP, participants will spend about 3 hours a day in individual and group therapy. This includes a weekly "Ask the Doctor" session, led by Steven Prinz, MD, the program's medical director and a psychiatrist with Genesis Clinical Services.
"It can be quite satisfying for both the therapists and the patients to tackle anxiety because there's a tremendous amount of success," says Dr. Wright. "The quality of life often increases in a relatively short time."
People can join the program at any time; there's no "first session." Therapy is tailored to the individual and draws from a variety of therapeutic approaches, all under the umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy. In this approach, therapists help the person explore other ways of thinking about situations that might lead to less intense reactions.
"Anxiety and phobias can feed on themselves and worsen," says Dr. Wright.
People who want to get off the anxiety train might note three steps Dr. Wright describes as part of the healing process: "accept you have anxiety, choose to move beyond it, and commit to take action."
To make an appointment for a free behavioral health assessment, call the Linden Oaks Help Line at (630) 305-5500. For more information, visit edward.org/lindenoaks or edward.org/anxiety.