STRESS AND ANXIETY

In our daily experiences we may experience stress and anxiety at various levels multiple times. This stress and anxiety may escallate to an overwhelming sense of fear. The disorder exemplifies itself in panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, even low level stress and anxiety over prolonged periods of time can cause drastic changes to our health and well being.

A generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic exaggerated worry and tension that usually is totally unfounded. People with this problem usually worry excessively about money or health, family or other things, including work, even when there are no real signs of a problem. Social anxiety can manifest as an overwhelming anxiousness and excessive self-consciousness in every day social situations. People with this problem may have persistent intense and chronic fear of being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions.

Perhaps at its worst, these problems manifest themselves as a panic disorder which is characterized by unexpected and recurrent episodes of intense fear which may be accompanied by many other bodily symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort or chest pain, just to name a few.

Post-traumatic stress disorder may result from traumatic life events such as violent personal assaults, natural or human caused disasters, accidents or military combat. Many people with post-traumatic stress disorder have flashbacks or memory experiences which trigger the stress and anxiety and fear.

Depression may be coexist with stress and anxiety disorders. This can be a prolonged with associated symptoms of insomnia (or difficulty sleeping), anhedonia (or the inability to enjoy normally enjoyable activities), anorexia,( loss of appetite), and obsession over unnecessary and sometimes constant worry.

These problems can be disabling and have a tremendous impact on health and well being. In association with a chronic pain syndrome these problems can facilitate and exaggerate the experience and suffering from pain.

All of these problems, however, are responsive to treatment which may include cognitive and behavioral therapy as well as the use of appropriate medications .

Unfortunately, the majority of people with these disorders do not seek appropriate treatment and the effects upon daily living can be dramatic.

There are many sources of information that can help one to become educated and to make appropriate lifestyle and behavioral choices that can result in gradual and steady improvement in these pervasive and insidious problems.

If one has a chronic pain syndrome and associated stress anxiety and/or depressive disorders, treatment of the pain will be unsuccessful without appropriate treatment of these emotional and psychological problems.

In partnership with one's physician, self education and the making of appropriate lifestyle and life choices should occur on a daily and ongoing basis. Consultation with one's physician should also include discussion of appropriate medications to facilitate control and recovery.

The effects of these problems on chronic pain can be extremely strong, and in fact make control and resolution of a pain syndrome impossible. Treatment must start with the will of the suffering person and a determined effort to proceed with those treatment modalities, the reaction to their situation not the situation itself. Stress, anxiety and depression are often a reaction to life situations which may or may not be alterable. However, the reaction to those life situations is alterable.