Trauma and Anxiety

Anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, anxiety involves a wide range of physical symptoms. Because of the numerous physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. You may have visited many doctors and made numerous trips to the hospital before your anxiety disorder was discovered!

Trauma survivors often experience some type of anxiety. In fact, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder itself is classified as an anxiety disorder.

Other anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Phobias.

If you are experiencing any of the following over a month or more, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety and/or panic attacks:

  • Sudden onset of intense fearfulness, terror or feelings of impending doom
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pounding heart, chest pain or discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Stomach upset or dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
  • The urge to escape or fear that you would be unable to escape or get help if you needed to
  • Excessive concern about the outcome of routine activities
    particularly those related to health, being separated from loved-ones
    or finances
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Catastrophizing: Anticipating the worst
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Avoidance of places or situations where you experienced a panic attack in the past

Experiencing symptoms of anxiety like these can be terrifying and disrupt many aspects of your life. Contact me and I can help you manage and recover from anxiety.

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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4 Responses to Trauma and Anxiety

  1. J. says:

    thanks for this! It occurred to me recently I could probably take medication to help with this. Whenever I think of psychiatric meds I think of SSRIs which I definitely do not want to take. I don’t know why I never thought about anti-anxiety medication.

    Today I had a full blown panic attack which I know was triggered from a childhood trauma. It was so frustrating and embarrassing that I still apparently get upset over it. (has to do with being abandoned) It was really weird, to know why I was having this reaction but not being able to stop it. I was able to calm down before anyone came back to the office though, which was good, or it would have REALLY been embarrassing!!

    • kyoungpsyd says:

      Thanks so much, J., for contributing!

      It really is true, isn’t it? Awareness alone is not always enough to stop the reactions and emotional fallout. Please do be gentle with yourself about it, of course trauma like abandonment has a long-lasting impact!

      Many folks do find (sometimes even short-term, as needed) anti-anxiety meds helpful.

      Maybe others will chime in with what else works for them: what kinds of coping strategies help to manage anxiety? You obviously did somethings that worked, since you could calm down and return to work!

      If you haven’t already check out my “7 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Feeling Better” post.

  2. Good posting Dr. Young.

    I was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered on a daily basis from many of the symptoms you mentioned above for several months. During the worst of it, I would endure all day panic attacks, very high levels of anxiety, and constant muscle tension in my upper arms and back.

    Most of my symptoms are gone or significantly lessened due to therapy and medication.

    As my anxiety is related to a sexual assault from many years ago, it still flares up in cycles, but is nothing like it had been a year ago when the memories returned.

    Hopefully someone else will read your blog entry, recognize the symptoms and seek help.

    • kyoungpsyd says:

      Thanks for responding James!

      Glad the worst of your symptoms are behind you! Yes, it is my hope too that this information can keep reaching those who need it.

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