Age of (Even More) Anxiety
To Worry Is Human; to Carry On, Divine
WebMD News Archive
Mennin notes that both psychotherapy and drug treatments are equally effective. As a clinical psychologist, he advises people to try therapy first. Rosenblatt says that people often have the wrong idea about what therapy is for.
"So many people come to a therapist or counselor to help them get rid of their anxiety," he says. "The therapist's job is not to do that but to help people cope with anxiety. Anxiety is a fact of life. We are concerned about the people we love dying and getting sick, about our jobs and homes and what's going on in the world. The therapist's job is not to make anxiety go away but to help people deal with it and go on in their lives in the best way they can. You help them cope with their anxiety but you can't eradicate it."
There's a lot one can do to deal with anxiety. All of the experts tell WebMD that activity is the most important thing.
"Worry serves a purpose -- it pulls us away from the immediate experience of the problem," Mennin says. "We run things in our head, but we don't act. People who worry all the time are always in their head. That is the problem. We have to move on with our lives. That's how we are able to live in times of uncertainty. That is the skill we learn. People have done this throughout history."
Katz says the most important thing is the serenity prayer: a focus on finding the strength to do what one can and on finding the serenity to let go of the things one cannot do.
"Anxiety is all about the feeling that something is going to happen -- when is the next shoe going to drop," he says. "Remind yourself that you are an empowered, capable individual."
The good news is that coping with anxiety makes us better people.
"These are difficult times," Mennin says. "People should recognize that life is tough but not become immobilized. We are built to withstand a lot of worry and pressure. It will make us stronger. Anxiety is around for a reason. If we didn't have it we would be in trouble. It is a signal, but it is just a signal, not an illness. Anxiety disorders happen when people respond poorly to that signal."