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Dealing With Anxiety After a Loss

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Topic Overview

Worry and anxiety can develop after a major loss. Anxiety is a general feeling of tenseness or uneasiness. You may feel generally anxious (called free-floating anxiety). Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as an upset stomach or a headache. Anxiety can also cause you to act in ways that are unusual for you, such as being more demanding, less patient, or more irritable.

Worries and anxiety can sometimes seem to take over your life, making you feel like everything is falling apart at the same time. You may need to slow down and take things one at a time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help from someone you trust.

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It's 9 p.m., and you're still at work. You can't relax at home with unfinished work on your desk. And if you don't get this done, your boss will be upset. At least, that's what you think. It isn't the work that leaves you unable to relax. It's that you see the work as a threat. Stress is not a reaction to an event but rather to how you interpret the event, says psychologist Allan R. Cohen, PsyD. You think, "If I don't work late every night, I will get fired," or "My boss won't like me," or "My...

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You can manage your worry and anxiety by:

  • Talking or writing about the things that are bothering you. Even if you are not sure what is bothering you, finding words for your feelings often helps you figure out what is causing your anxiety.
  • Taking charge of whatever you can. Making plans to deal with your day-to-day activities and concerns helps relieve the worry and anxiety that springs from a sense of insecurity. However, resist the urge to make major life decisions when you are anxious or worried.
  • Allowing other people to do some things for you that you would normally do yourself. This may be difficult. If worries and concerns are interfering with your ability to take care of personal needs and other responsibilities, ask for help from others. Allowing other people to help you also helps them, because it gives them an opportunity to show their care and concern for you.
  • Asking for comfort. You may need companionship and help until you feel less anxious and worried. Ask someone you trust to stay with you. This is not a sign of weakness-it is a sign that you are aware of your need and you are taking good care of yourself.

If intense worries and high anxiety last longer than a few days, talk with your health professional or a mental health professional. Counseling, medicine, or a combination of the two may help you manage anxiety that makes it difficult for you to function.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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