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The number of anxiety disorders continues to rise each year

Participants in the first

AP Photo/ Fredrik Sandberg

Participants in the first "Anxiety Race" run up the Gotgatan street slope in central Stockholm, Sweden, Monday March 23 2009. Some forty runners took part in the race that was a manifestation against mental ill-health, organized by Fountain House, an international organisation dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness by providing opportunities for members to live, work and learn. The race was 209 meters long and all bibs were also numbered 209. (AP Photo/Scanpix Sweden/Fredrik Sandberg) ** SWEDEN OUT **

Courtney Bush, Staff writer

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When it comes to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it’s nothing to joke about. “An estimated 44 million American adults undergo anxiety and about one-third of these adults seek treatment knowing anxiety is highly treatable,” according to an article on adaa.org. Anxiety plays a drastic role in society today, and the numbers keep rising as we bring in the new year. “This mental illness happens to be one of the most common disorders in the U.S. today followed by depression; 18.1 percent of the population has been diagnosed with anxiety starting at age 18 and older,” according to an article on adaa.org. Facts and statistics on an article on adaa.org state that “anxiety disorders also have an affect on children between the ages 13 through 18, 25.1 percent of children suffer from it too. As professionals describe this disorder, anxiety is just as real as any other medical condition and needs to be treated as soon as signs start to show. When people start to fear and worry too often, the signs of anxiety show and should not be ignored.”

According to the symptoms listed in an article on nimh.nih.gov, “signs that come along with an anxiety or panic disorder are excessive worry, sleeping issues, irrational fears, stage fright, panic, compulsive behavior, etc., but these are conditions that can be treated.” According to statistics on adaa.org., “only 36.9 percent of adults diagnosed with an anxiety disorder receive the help they need.” To get help when experiencing signs of a panic disorder, contact a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a social worker for therapy. A psychiatrist can prescribe someone medication to control the anxiety when it occurs.

Sometimes, the medication prescribed can easily become an addiction to the point where one has to rely on it to get through the day. There are multiple substances one can take to control an anxiety attack, but medication cannot cure anxiety entirely; it often relieves symptoms.

“Psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ can definitely help with anxiety disorders, meaning psychologists conversing back and forth with their patients to get to the root of the problem,” according to an article on apa.org. “Meditation and bettering your health mentally can alleviate stress, reducing the amount of anxiety attacks. Sharing your thoughts with someone close to you can help in the moment when experiencing a panic attack, or simple breathing exercises and calming music can help in minutes; this all depends on the type of anxiety disorder,” according to an article on psychologytoday.com.

According to an article on adaa.org., social anxiety is a big factor when it comes to anxiety disorders and is one of the most common disorders people deal with in everyday life. Social anxiety is the fear of surrounding yourself with a group of people and things that one knows nothing about. The effects of social anxiety causes people to feel humiliated or embarrassed.

Therapists and psychologist have seen a rise in patients suffering from anxiety disorders as more traumatic events keep occurring in either one’s personal life or in the world.

Psychologists are trained in diagnosing anxiety disorders and teaching patients healthier, more effective ways to cope,” according to an article on apa.org.

Marianne Auten, M.C., Ed.D., counselor and professor at PVCC, shared her thoughts on anxiety and depression.

How often do you get students coming into your office sharing their stories on their experiences with anxiety/depression?

“I have a bunch of younger students rather than older students coming in every so often with anxiety disorders and the numbers are straggling. Over the past 28 years I have been here at PVCC, depression has been more dominant than anxiety in students, but as years progressed, the numbers of students coming in with anxiety/panic attacks seem to rise. Each student has a story, and that story really explains how anxiety plays a role in their lives.”

What are your own thoughts and opinion on anxiety and how it plays a drastic role in most lives today?

“Anxiety is down right scary and should be taken more seriously. I feel that the reasons for anxiety disorders are endless, but social media plays a big part in this. We have a more materialistic culture which sets standards high for younger students. A majority of students care what everyone thinks of them which causes anxiety and pressure to be the best of the best. Those diagnosed with anxiety see the greater picture, but as soon as reality hits them, anxiety gets in the way of one’s dream. Less face to face conversations turns in to less social skills, which is where social anxiety plays a big role in.”

What do you, the counselor, suggest to those who suffer from anxiety to do? What techniques do you suggest to students?

“A big factor played in anxiety is a student’s cell phone. I did an activity with my CPD (college success class) and had asked my class of 27 students to raise their hands if they slept with their phones next to them, and all but 2 raised their hands. Sleeping with your phone next to you is not good for the mental aspect of your brain. Always put your phone away an hour before going to sleep. Yoga, meditation, exercising, taking care of your mind and body is what society is missing. Bettering your health can easily make someone feel greater than before. I am not one against drugs to help calm anxiety, but I believe there are different motives that can be taken such as getting more sleep and less time away from your phone.”

How does PVCC help and provide for students who suffer from anxiety/depression?

“Counseling visits really do help, we are available with appointments at anytime. A faculty member named Donna M. has a stress management class in the fitness center which I highly recommended to my students. Take advantage of our nice fitness center, bettering your health is what’s best. Social communications such as joining clubs on campus is an indirect approach to anxiety. Helping students finding their ‘why’ is a factor where counseling helps for anxiety.”

  Through the intellectual component of therapy, patients who seek a psychologist for help learn to understand how one’s thoughts have a big contribution to anxiety symptoms. These thought patterns can be changed, which can reduce the likelihood of the symptoms recurring.

PVCC will be participating in Mental Health Awareness Week on Feb. 21 and 22, located in the KSC Courtyard and KSC1000B. Administered by counselors, there will be a free and confidential anxiety and depression screening, with mental health information provided throughout the entire event. There will also be several presentations on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in KSC1000B talking about mental health, and it goes more in depth on what mental health is. Around 12 social service agencies will have information available about their services at tables located on the south side of the KSC building. Some examples of the agencies include Horses Help, City of Phoenix Family Advocacy Center, Quail Run Behavioral Health and Terros Health. 

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The number of anxiety disorders continues to rise each year