As physicians, we all know that anxiety is extremely common, especially now when we are faced with so many stressful and worrying situations. That fear, apprehension and worry, accompanied by nausea, palpitations, chest pain, and breathlessness can be enough to interfere with your normal life.
As healers, we are known to care for everyone except ourselves. But where do we draw the line? We are months into a pandemic with no end in sight here in the US. Cases are on the rise, PPE is being reused, and frankly, we are just tired. It is imperative that we keep our mental and physical health in check so that we can remain healthy as we do our jobs. Specifically, let’s tackle anxiety and how to recognize and tackle it head on.
As a reminder, anxiety has four components:
- Cognitive: This imposes fear of uncertain danger.
- Somatic: When faced with a frightening situation your blood pressure and heart rate are increased, you tend to sweat, and blood flow to the major muscle groups is increased. The somatic signs of anxiety might include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupil dilation.
- Emotional: The emotional components of anxiety cause a sense of dread or panic, nausea, and chills.
- Behavioral: This would lead to both voluntary and involuntary behaviors, and you maybe directed at avoiding the source of anxiety which is quite common.
Given the potential physical symptoms of muscle tension, heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, cold hands, jumpiness, difficulty falling asleep, hot flashes or chills, diarrhea and irritated bowel syndrome, it is important that you not brush them under the rug.
In additional, anxiety can make you cranky and irritable. You may get tired easily and often suffer from insomnia. I know that as physicians we are the worst at seeking medical care but it is very important that you seek professional medical help. Get your mental health in check before the anxiety worsens.
There are several therapeutic modalities that can help you overcome anxiety. From cognitive behavioral therapy to psychodynamic, and alternative, there is a modality for you to make sure your mental health is cared for. In addition to seeking care, try to think positively, challenge limiting beliefs, try self-help and relaxation techniques, improve your eating habits, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, exercise, and reach out to your friends and family and share your troubles. Anxiety is very common and you are not the only one, so don't hesitate to seek help.