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Struggling with Anxiety

Posted on July 15, 2015 by gschaywood

Ask the PA…

I was physically and emotional abused as a child. I still struggle with anxiety and constant fear even though the abuse was more than 15 years ago. Is this normal? – Sarah

Thank you for your question Sarah. Unfortunately, many adults who battle anxiety and depression report a history of childhood abuse, neglect or trauma. New research has shed light on this very issue. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest scientific research studies of its kind; the focus was to study the link between childhood trauma and the risk for physical and mental illness in adulthood.

The ACE study has shown that when compared to adults whose childhoods were not fraught with abuse, those adults who suffered abuse as children have higher rates of mental and physical illness. Survivors of childhood abuse were found to be at greater risk for anxiety, depression and other chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. A large portion of these adults were also found to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating and substance abuse.

These research findings link America’s increasing rates of physical, mental, and social diseases with our national failure to strengthen our families and protect our children. If we as a community and nation work to protect and nurture our children, these serious health and social problems could be reduced.

Often children of abuse develop coping strategies in order to survive their terrible situation. Coping strategies such as self-imposed isolation as well as escaping in to the fog of drugs and alcohol are common in children who are traumatized. Overwhelming feelings of guilt and grief become pervasive even in to adult years.

Sarah, I encourage you to seek treatment for your anxiety. Help is available in many forms. Speak to your health care provider about your anxiety, some simple blood tests can rule out anemia or thyroid disease which may be contributing to your symptoms. Your provider may advise you to begin medications and mental health counseling, both of which are extremely helpful. Exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy, well balanced diet are also shown to be beneficial in treating anxiety. Consider joining a support group, journaling, confiding in your pastor, family or friends can all be very helpful in learning to take control over your anxiety and fears.

Sarah, we wish you well and will lift you up in prayer as you work to overcome your fears and anxieties.

Kristin Gruner, PA-C

The Good Samaritan Clinic of Haywood County



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