Feeling anxious? Here’s what to do.

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2011-10-04 09:30:16 -0500
Started 2011-09-05 16:54:38 -0500

I don’t know anyone, including myself, who doesn’t get hit with a wave of anxiety from time to time. Life can throw a lot of curveballs, and in these uncertain times that we live in, we are all susceptible. But if you are dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes, the challenges can leave you feeling overwhelmed at times by anxiety, if not feeling panic. Sometimes the curveball hits you before you have a chance to duck.

I don’t have any easy answers for dealing with those times when anxiety hits especially hard. But I do have a few ideas that have worked with my clients. You might give some of them a try, if you haven’t already. And I am interested in any techniques that have worked for you that you might want to share.

First, what are your anxiety symptoms? The common ones are feeling irritable, restless, or tense. Having a sense that something bad might happen, even if you aren’t sure what it is or don’t want to think about what it might be. Looking around for signs of danger. Scary visions about the future. Having trouble focusing. Physical symptoms like dry mouth, sweating, headaches, upset stomach, and others. And just plain old panic.

Being aware of your own anxiety symptoms is a good place to start. Some of the anxiety-reduction techniques are symptom-focused (more to come on this…).

Also ask yourself: What triggers my anxiety? You may encounter certain situations – or people – that, for some reason, you tend to react to with anxiety. You might want to consider having a strategy in place for dealing with these situations or people, or even seeing if you can avoid them. Some prevention might be useful here.

Now, here are a few ideas to help you to get through those anxious moments:

Don’t fight yourself. Acknowledge how you are feeling, including the fear. Don’t try to pretend you aren’t feeling anxious or tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling that way. Assure yourself that you are safe and that you will do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Calm yourself down. Are you familiar with any relaxation techniques that you might use? Going off by yourself and taking some deep breaths. Visualizing a calm scene, like the beach, with yourself in the middle of it. Taking a couple of minutes to meditate. You might want to learn relaxation techniques that work for you so that you have them handy when you find yourself in an anxious moment. If you use relaxation techniques, you might find it helpful to focus your calming thoughts on your specific anxiety symptoms.

Avoid catastrophic thinking. If you decide to view a situation as a catastrophe, then it is more likely to feel like one. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself some questions. What is making me feel anxious? Am I in real danger or does it feel that way? Am I turning this into a catastrophe when maybe it isn’t so bad or is only temporary? The idea here is to get a quick reality check on what’s going on. And really important: Ask yourself if you are letting yourself create a catastrophe before you have the facts about what’s really going on. Don’t jump to conclusions until you and your doctor know what’s going on and what you can do!

Remind yourself: I have been through this before. Chances are, this isn’t the first time that you have felt overwhelmed by anxiety, even if the situation was different. Sure, it’s never easy. But the point is that you have felt this way before and you got through it (another way to avoid catastrophic thinking). Give yourself some positive self-talk.

Remind yourself that you have options. Anxiety affects your ability to think rationally. As a result, you may feel so overwhelmed by the emotions of the moment that you don’t think you have a way out. While you’re taking those calming, deep breaths, also remind yourself that you have options. You’re not trapped. These positive messages this may help to activate your rational side and add some balance when your emotions are on overload.

Ask yourself: What has worked in the past? When you have found yourself feeling overwhelmed by anxiety in the past, have you done anything that has helped you? Any techniques that helped? Anything that you told yourself, or that someone else said to you, that helped? You may have some coping strengths that you forgot about.

Reach out for support. Calling upon friends and family members during times of anxiety can be a big help. Consider taking stock of your support network, and make a list of who you can count on the most to be available and supportive, that you can check in with, when you need a port in the storm. You might even ask them to be available during when you are feeling anxious, and let them know what you most need from them during those times. Talk it out with someone you trust!

Let your doctor know about your anxiety. If anxiety or panic is an ongoing experience for you, or if you have an experience that is overwhelming, let your doctor know. Make sure your doctor is aware of the symptoms and see if they might be somehow related to your blood sugar levels and/or your medication. He/she may want to take a look at your medication regimen, as well as talk to you about your diet and lifestyle, to see if there any factors that might be contributing to feelings of anxiety. You may also want to talk to your doctor about treatment for anxiety.

Okay, so I gave you a few ideas. Anything that has worked for you that you want to share? I’m all ears (eyes)!

17 replies

Bogy 2011-09-28 18:01:06 -0500 Report

Is this the place to be practicing, Rational Emotive/Cognative Behavioral Therapies? There is a fine line between being a member of a community offering suggestions and being the community's Counselor.People with anxiety or any other emotional issues should be seeing a "Therapist/Counselor/Social Worker.,You seem to present this as an afterthought.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-10-04 09:30:16 -0500 Report

My intention is to provide some practical ideas that members can make use of in their own lives, similar to what you have most likely encountered on other Websites, not to offer online counseling. If you read my other posts you will see that I invariably emphaise the importance of seeing a counselor or therapist. Thank you for your feedback. I am sure it was intended to be positive and well-intentioned.

jayabee52 2011-09-28 18:13:31 -0500 Report

I have found his postings insightful and helpful. And he has been recognized by Alliance health as a "CA" a "caregiver associate". He is not just here on DC, Pete, but on several other sites of which I am a member. He generally recommends that folks seek the advice of a Dr or a counselor, as he did here. I think Dr Gary is a great benefit to this community and to the others on which I have seen him.

Bogy 2011-10-03 13:21:06 -0500 Report

jayabee52, thank you for clarifying this. I am a very cautious "former practioner".You explaination has reassurred me. Thank you, Pete

Godsfavorite 2011-09-07 13:06:25 -0500 Report

I find that when my brain is working overtime enough to effect my anxiety level I need to do some sort assessment. Assessments like: who am I talking to? …What am I watching on tv etc. Pulling back just a bit helps me with that assessment. Exercise also helps! I have noticed that when I feel this way it is usually when it is a situation I have very little personal control over. For example, I was following the Casey Anthony trial and when the verdict came in I found myself anxious for the next 2 weeks. I had to shut down that flow of information cold turkey! So, i realize that t The issue of missing/abused children is a trigger for me! Being aware of some of my triggers helps me to filter them out and therefore reduce my anxiety levels.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-09-08 13:36:00 -0500 Report

Hi Godsfavorite,

Thanks for getting in touch! It sounds like you are doing some mindfulness work with yourself. As you said so well, pulling back to assess yourself. That can help to make sure that you maintain your perspective on what's going on and how you are reacting.

And yes! What makes us anxious are often situations that we have no control over. So when we recognize that, and give up the need to control, we can finally relax. That trial is a good example of something that could only cause frustration and anxiety.

Knowing your triggers -- and then either avoiding them or having alternative and positive ways to cope with them -- is power!

Thanks and let's stay in touch!


stilllearning 2011-09-07 11:07:32 -0500 Report

Dr Gary, I so much needed your post at this time. Have been dealing with very difficult life cirumstances for a year now. Last month was admitted as I could no longer deal with it all and felt like my world came crashing down. Anxiety and depression has been a part of my life for the past 10 yrs. Was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in 2001 after 2 hospitalizations in 2 months. Also suffer from PTSD and anxiety disorder since then as well. Have been diabetic since 2000 but was in denial for yrs. Last Oct. 2010, husband lost his job 2 weeks after our wedding (1st anniv 25th this month!), Nov 2010 had a serious cancer scare, found out my A!C was 9.3! Had to have a hysterectomy in Jan 2011, Mar 2011 husband arrested for driving impaired. Also he has had a problem with addiction to prescription drugs. Financial situation has gone from bad to worse due to all of the fines and costs associated with that. Early last month my daughter shut me out of her and my grandkids lives which led to last admittance. Then late Aug was put on insulin. This has fed more depression. Have not been able to get therapy due to finances but have finally found a possible solution to that problem. Anxiety has been overwhelming. Have cried everyday for several months now. Have had several days when I could not bear to give myself shot. Fortunately husband is doing much better and has given me my shot on bad days. Even cried after getting shot one day as I felt it was one more thing going wrong in my life. I will try to put some of your tips into practice starting now! Thank you so much!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-09-08 13:32:32 -0500 Report

Hi stilllearning,

I am honored that you took the time to tell me what's going on in your life, what you have been dealing with and hoe it has affected you. I hope that you are giving yourself credit for facing some incredible challenges and for doing the best you can to take care of yourself, without as much emotional support as you need from your family. You sound like a very strong and determined person.

YOu mentioned that you thought that you had found a solution for getting access to counseling. I hope that you are able to make that work at some point soon. It could be really helpful to have a supportive, listening ear who could help you to coping with everything that has been coming your way.

I am really happy to know that I have been able to help you in some way. Please let's stay in touch. Keep me posted on how you are doing.

Take care!


stilllearning 2011-09-08 17:54:20 -0500 Report

Dr Gary, Hopefully 9/13 will be a good day for me as then I will find out if I can get therapy for a reduced rate. Ins. copay is $30 per visit and that is impossible right now. Daughter is still causing me to grieve the loss of contact with my grandkids. Can I ask what kind of Doc you are? I am not familiar with you as your post on anxiety was the first I had seen. As to sounding like a strong and determined person, I am faking it right now. But I hope if I fake it long enough I will start to believe it.

lorene1212 2011-09-05 21:43:28 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary!

Very good subject! I deal with depression as well. Just asked my dr. for something else or whatever and she upped my dose from 1 to 1 1/2. I ask when I need. Probably about 15 years ago. Life was mixed with drugs and my children and my addictions. Did not have diabetes then but the other things we discussed before today. Had severe panic attacks back then. Went like 9 months up all night scared I was going to die. Calling a nurse named Debbie at Fallon Community! 2am it did not matter. My left arm would go numb breathing was included in these sever attacks. After 9 months went to my doctor thinking she was going to admit me I had my daughter with me she was like 3 or 4 yrs old at that time. I cried sobbing for an hour. They took my daughter out as soon as I began to sob. I told her what had been happening to me well she sent me home with presc/ zanax. Began counseling also. She set me right up. I had gone through a few counselors but got from each one of them. I did not want to be like this every day so the zanax helped but I began to take hot baths when I would go throught these panic anxiety attacks. Sometimes 5-6 times a day. Kept doing this and taking myself out or away from whatever it was that was stressing me. Then I began to meet people that had had them also . Felt normal almost hearing it… I still have them but have learned to just let them go. They go away now. This took me months.
Years have gone by and people I know have never gotten rid of their panic anxiety attacks, this baffles me cause I do not understand how someone would even want to feel like that every day more than 5-6 times a day. Maybe I am the lucky one here as well as survivor! I work hard at everything I do.
Change has been very good. Drug free since 1987! I am not so fearful with change I like change. My sugars are still doing good.
Have a wonderful night Dr. Gary and do take care of yourself.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-09-06 22:53:04 -0500 Report

Hi Lorene,

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. This is an incredible story. You recognized that you had a problem, you reached out for help, you worked with the available resources, you were determined to find an answer. You are not liucky, you did the hard work that it takes to get better. You are survivor and an inspiration.

I hope that other members who are experiencing anxiety attacks read your reply and take heart. Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off.

Thanks again. I hope you are havng a good week.

Take care!


lorene1212 2011-09-07 12:41:47 -0500 Report

Thank you Dr. Gary! You have a way of making me feel so good about me! Thank you again. Have wonderful day and sweet dreams every nite when you put your head to your pillow.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-09-08 11:43:15 -0500 Report

Wow it is great to know that I was helpful. You made my day! I hope you have a great day today! Thank you.