Chronic Anxiety: Managing Chronic Anxiety Symptoms
Here's what chronic anxiety feels like:
"The sky is falling! A piece of it just hit you on the head! Now be calm. Don't get panicky. Run for your life!”
This quote from the story "Chicken Little" has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a false belief that disaster is truly imminent. The chicken in the story believes the world is coming to an end. People with chronic anxiety actually feel like the sky is already falling and only seconds away from hitting them. The emotional distress is real and painful.
What is Chronic Anxiety?
Professionals define chronic anxiety as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics (such as work, school, family, and health). These anxious feelings must arise more days than not for at least six months. People suffering from chronic anxiety feel unable to control their fears. For an official diagnosis, six of the GAD symptoms on the checklist below must be experienced.1
Checklist, Symptoms of Chronic Anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Easily startled, jumpy
- Have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
- Chronic fatigue
- Headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches
- Unexplained pains
- Difficulty swallowing
- Trembling, twitching, and feeling shaky
- Dry mouth
- Accelerated heart rate
- Excessive sweating, feeling light-headed
- Feeling out of breath
- Frequent urination
- Nausea, diarrhea, or other abdominal distress
- Hot flashes, chills
- Feeling on edge or wound up
- Sweating, cold/clammy hands
Treatment of Chronic Anxiety
When considering treatment of chronic anxiety, the first step is to see a doctor to take a history and to consider any physical condition(s) that could be causing the symptoms of anxiety.2 There are a lot of medical conditions that can cause or mimic anxiety, so it is very important to get a complete exam that includes blood work.
In the book, “The Anxiety And Phobia Workbook,” Edmund J. Bourne, PHD., offers the following approach to manage the symptoms of chronic anxiety (pg. 61):
- Learning relaxation skills
- Using self-talk
- Examining mistaken beliefs
- Identifying feelings
- Developing assertiveness
- Working on self-esteem
- Examining nutrition
- Reviewing medications
- Searching for life meaning and spirituality (pg., 61)
More Suggestions for Management of Chronic Anxiety
- Make an appointment with a qualified licensed therapist to determine whether a psychiatrist is needed.
- Engage in hobbies/creative activities.
- Make sure you are getting proper sleep (eight hours a night).
How can you manage your chronic anxiety? Basically people with chronic anxiety need to learn how to self-soothe. This significant idea for the management of chronic anxiety involves relaxation of the body, proper self-care, and learning how to change your thinking. For example, you can examine the likelihood of a feared event actually happening. In using this approach, you should consider the fact that most people with chronic anxiety significantly overestimate the probability that such an event could really occur. They also underestimate their practical ability to deal with a feared event even if the anxiety-producing situation should happen. They don’t realize how strong they really are as problem solvers. So “If the sky falls, hold up your hands” (Spanish proverb). And perhaps you can catch white clouds and rainbows and place them gently on the earth.
About the author:Jill Cohen, LCSW provides counseling and therapy services around Ardmore , PA. Her specialties include treatment of anxiety disorders, eating disorders and depression.
Staff, H. (2012, August 6). Chronic Anxiety: Managing Chronic Anxiety Symptoms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, May 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/gad/chronic-anxiety-managing-chronic-anxiety-symptoms