AP NEWS

Chance To Ease Anxiety

March 29, 2019

National Anxiety Screening Day is April 4 and, across the country, clinics and therapists will be offering free, anonymous, and confidential screenings for anxiety concerns. This day offers confidential opportunities for individuals to consult a professional to learn more about anxiety and the symptoms they may be experiencing. All screenings are open to the community and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. Almost everyone has experienced anxiety at some point, and, in many cases, it can be an adaptive response. Sometimes anxiety is what makes us alert when walking alone through an empty parking lot at night or when driving in inclement weather. Sometimes anxiety is what makes us perform well, such as on a test or in a sports competition. However, when anxious feelings become overwhelming and interfere with our ability to function in certain situations, it becomes problematic. Excessive worrying is one of the hallmark signs that anxiety is interfering with the quality of one’s life. Moreover, people who worry more than the average person may exhibit physical symptoms as a consequence of their anxiety. Anxiety-based physical symptoms can vary from small discomfort to severe pain. Symptoms may include racing heart, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing, or may be severe enough to mimic a heart attack. At times, a person might think he is dying or going crazy. It is also common for anxiety to interfere with sleep, appetite, concentration, and mood. Depressed mood may also be associated with anxious feelings in some people. These symptoms are very real and not just “in a person’s head,” nor are they something that the person can “just snap out of.” Though not a complete list, some of the additional signs of anxiety disorders are avoiding certain situations or people because they invoke fear, refusing to go out unless accompanied by a trusted person, feeling compelled to perform rituals in order to reduce uncomfortable feelings, experiencing painful and intrusive thoughts about feared events, resisting separation from one or more loved ones for fear of what could happen, having frequent nightmares about a previous traumatic event, avoiding activities for fear of being embarrassed, and routine panicking. Being able to tell when anxiety is expected/adaptive and when it may be a sign of a disorder can be very difficult to do. One of the reasons for having anxiety screening day is so that people can get help in making these determinations. For those who are suffering needlessly, help can be made available through a proper referral. While there is still much yet to discover about anxiety, we know that anxiety symptoms usually can be managed or eliminated in time. Despite tremendous scientific strides in assessing and treating anxiety disorders, only a small percentage of the more than 23 million people affected receive appropriate profession help. Part of the problem is that many people with anxiety disorders are afraid to disclose their symptoms for fear that they will suffer humiliation or will look weak or crazy. This day is designed to bring awareness and assistance to those who may be suffering in silence. Anxiety Screening Day can help guide you in the next step and refer you to the appropriate resources. After completing a brief questionnaire, participants will be able to meet alone with a therapist to discuss their concerns. Among other local sites, Marywood University is participating in National Anxiety Screening Day on April 4. The screenings will be in the McGowan Building for Professional Studies, in the Psychological Services Center on the Marywood campus, from 9 a.m. 7 p.m. For directions or questions, please call 570-348-6269, or visit www.marywood.edu/psc/. Free educational videos and pamphlets will also be available.