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Is It an Anxiety Disorder, or Just Life in 2020?



Community Psychiatry’s Pavan Madan, M.D. and Moe Gelbart, Ph.D were featured in Lifehacker discussing the connection between anxiety, anxiety disorders, and 2020. 

Is It an Anxiety Disorder, or Just Life in 2020?

Although anxiety and fear are two different things, constantly dealing with fear of uncertainty is something many people with anxiety experience regularly. And for the past six months—amid a global pandemic—almost nothing has been certain. It makes sense that we’re anxious about whether we, or our loved ones, will fall ill, but the uncertainty extends far beyond that, into questions regarding our employment, what to do about the upcoming school year and when (or whether) we’ll be able to see older relatives in person again.

What is anxiety?

Just because you deal with anxiety—even on a semi-regular basis—doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety is a completely normal human emotion, and even has some benefits, says Dr. Pavan Madan, a psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry. “In a dangerous situation, it keeps us alert from threats and might save our lives,” he explains. “For an important situation, like a job interview, it keeps us aware of the magnitude of the issue and helps us prepare to show up at our best. This is all ‘normal’ and productive anxiety.”

When does anxiety become an anxiety disorder?

Madan says that this distinction comes when your anxiety grows so excessive that it gets in the way of your everyday life. But again, if you’re some with a low baseline anxiety that suddenly spikes, it may feel as though it does get in the way of your life.

According to Dr. Moe Gelbart, a psychologist and director of practice development at Community Psychiatry, some potential signs you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder include:

  • Thoughts becoming so overwhelming that they interfere with your ability to do your best.
  • That the thoughts become obsessive and you’re unable to ignore them.
  • That the behaviors become compulsive and something you’re unable to refrain from.

What are some ways to help alleviate anxiety?

According to Gelbart, there are also some basic behaviors and understandings which could help you deal with anxiety, including:

  • Learning to control the things you can, and letting go of the things you have no control over.
  • Learning how to live in the here and now, rather than looking into the future and catastrophizing unnecessarily. This includes changing your “what if” feelings to “what is” statements.
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and the combination of both

If it gets to the point where you think that you are experiencing severe anxiety—or still aren’t sure about it—the experts recommend making an appointment with a mental health professional who can assess your situation and provide potential treatment options.

Click here to read the entire article on Lifehacker.