Attacking Anxiety before It Attacks You
The tell-tale signs of anxiety are familiar: the sweaty palms, the racing heart, the worrisome “what ifs.”
Almost everyone, even the most seasoned actor, gets this kind of “stage fright” anxiety at some point. But free-floating anxiety with no obvious cause can make you and your doctor get, well, anxious.
According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, as much as 18 percent of the adult U.S. population has an anxiety disorder, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress and panic disorders. Many more people, both men and women, experience intermittent anxiety, a low-grade unease that is harder to pinpoint and equally hard to experience.
With anxiety, often there is no easy explanation as to why you are feeling that way. However, with the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to understand why you may be feeling more anxious than ever.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lessen both the impact and the frequency of anxiety.
If attacks of anxiety are impacting your routine, and you find yourself not wanting to spend time with friends or avoiding activities in which you used to participate, it may be time to consult a medical professional. Your physician will evaluate your anxiety symptoms, looking at eating and sleeping routines, external stresses, depression and related illnesses. He or she may recommend a stress management program or refer you to a specialist, or suggest specific anxiety management techniques.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you “unlearn” certain types of thinking patterns by following a strategy to mitigate anxiety-producing thoughts. If someone is afraid of heights, for example, treatment might include standing on a step and discussing what thoughts come to mind, and then gradually increasing the height to boost confidence.
Guided relaxation, meditation and biofeedback can also be helpful in coping with anxiety by slowing down breathing and lowering an accelerated heart rate. Some experts recommend a “fake it until you make it” approach, where patients engage in the behavior they want to exhibit, such as feeling confident while practicing a speech. Athletes often successful practice this technique to increase their performance.
Having something else to focus on besides yourself can also reduce anxiety. Even something as simple as caring for a pet can help take the internal focus off of you and lower your stress level.
Journaling, such as writing down things for which you are grateful, can have the same effect. If you are a worrier, you may want to schedule a specific time to worry, and then cataloging your concerns in writing. Getting your thoughts on paper may help you solve some of your problems–or realize that you’ve been letting them weigh too heavily on your mind.
You may also want to re-examine your diet to eliminate refined sugars and reduce caffeine consumption. Paying attention to the way certain foods make you feel can have an impact on anxiety levels. In addition, determine when exercise gives you the best personal boost—morning, afternoon or night—and pledge to work out then.
6 Tactics for Managing Anxiety
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
2. Guided relaxation
Help is Available
If your anxiety is affecting your everyday life, Lake Haven Behavioral Health Center at Henry County Medical Center can help. We offer individualized care in a warm, caring atmosphere. The first thing that our team of mental health professionals will do is a thorough evaluation to help determine what’s causing your distress and how we can best help you.
Treatment Services Include:
• 24-hour behavioral health nursing care.
• Behavioral health diagnostic assessment and evaluation.
• Medication stabilization and management.
• Individual and group therapy.
• Patient and family education.
• Discharge and aftercare planning.
To learn more about treatment and services offered at Lake Haven Behavioral Health Center at Henry County Medical Center, call 731-644-8420 or 1-800-489-1203.
The Future Is Now: How Online Medicine Can Improve Your Health
From information-sharing to remote diagnoses, online medicine is quickly making real-time medical expertise available anytime, anywhere.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are now more commonly utilizing virtual visits to treat their patients for both well and sick appointments.
Some healthcare experts believe we are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using technology in the medical field. There are costs and learning curves involved, but its future is unlimited.
But remember, always go directly to the emergency room if you have chest pain, trouble breathing, are bleeding or have any other severe symptoms.
Health Information Technology
One of the most visible applications of online medicine is electronic medical records. Instead of flipping through paper charts, doctors are now bringing notebook computers into exam rooms.
This advanced technology has made a huge difference in your healthcare provider’s ability to effectively treat patients. They now have a lot of information in one screenshot that summarizes your medical history. It’s very intuitive and tells your healthcare provider how often you come to the office, what medications you’re taking, and alerts them to subtle changes in your lab tests.
Healthcare providers say it can also help save patients money by identifying issues that would normally require a second appointment. For example, if you visit your doctor because you have a cold, they can see at a glance that you’re past due for your mammogram and can write you a prescription for that as well.
One of the most fascinating applications of electronic medicine is in the field of telemedicine, defined as the ability to provide remote diagnosis and treatment. Telemedicine itself is not new, but improved technologies have expanded its possibilities.
For example, in critical care settings, physicians can use cameras or telemetry to monitor or triage patients. Being able to link to a trauma surgeon can help determine if a patient can be stabilized or needs to be transferred to a more well-equipped unit. Telemedicine in the intensive care unit (ICU), sometimes called eICU, can enable the hospital to offer a higher level of service to patients.
Other applications are available to monitor chronically ill patients in their homes, often supported by visiting nurses who take vital statistics and submit them electronically. Remote monitoring may now include scales and blood pressure machines in the patient’s home that link directly into the system and the patient’s care provider.
Electronic medicine also is transforming communications between doctors and patients. Physicians can use online resources to expand their access to cutting edge treatments and to provide patients with a detailed explanation of their condition, its treatment and educational materials that may help them heal.
Since physicians now have instant access to various sources for online patient education, they can provide an after-visit summary that says what you were here for, when your next appointment is, and what you need to do in the meantime. Patients may sometimes be distracted during an office visit and may leave, get home and not be able to remember exactly what was said. This gives them a detailed overview so there is no confusion.
In some instances, patients are able to use health portals to access their own medical records, and send questions to their doctors via online communication.
Making it Work
Telemedicine is not without its drawbacks. The main one is that electronic medical records are usually run on proprietary software, and many different systems are available. One platform can’t recognize another without an expensive–and often complex–communication system.
These systems are also costly, and integrating them adds even more expense. In addition, medical professionals may lose productivity while they’re learning the system.
In the end, most physicians agree that telemedicine will never completely replace physicians. While remote medicine can be a lifesaver in some cases, many physicians believe that there’s no substitute for sitting down with a patient when they have the opportunity, since that intuitive human touch will always be crucial.
Eagle Creek Clinic now offers virtual visits from the comfort of your own home using Zoom. If you don’t have an emergency, starting with a phone call to Eagle Creek Clinic allows them to assess whether you can receive care from home. To schedule an appointment in advance, call 731-407-7013.
Always go directly to the emergency room if you have chest pain, trouble breathing, are bleeding or have any other severe symptoms.
5 Benefits of Online Medicine
1. Reduces exposure to transmittable viruses and diseases
2. Easily accessible electronic health records
3. Remote diagnosis and treatment recommendations
4. Monitoring of chronically ill patients at home
5. Immediate after-visit summary with doctor recommendations and additional resources for information