Coping with Anxiety

Several subscribers have asked me to address symptoms of anxiety after reading the post about depression. Anxiety is another common reason patients visit Dinner Table Doctor in the office, and a topic that has been approached while partaking in many a dinner with family and friends. Most recently we discussed this as we were enjoying a recipe from Antoni Porowski’s cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen. He is the food and wine expert on the Netflix series Queer Eye.

Much like depression, DTD explains anxiety with a Venn diagram where life circumstances, coping skills and biochemistry interact. There are several types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety, socialized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias and more.

Everyone feels anxious from time to time. Many primary care physicians are seeing a huge increase in patients with anxiety resulting from the current pandemic and state of the country’s divisive political climate. A generalized anxiety disorder is when you’re feeling extremely anxious or worried on most days for 6 months or longer. Everyday tasks become difficult. You frequently have a feeling of being “on edge” and may have trouble sleeping or remembering things. Physically, you may feel exhausted, have tense muscles, or have a stomach ache or tightness in your chest.

Some people with severe anxiety experience panic attacks. These are short periods of time when you feel very anxious and scared for no apparent reason. Physical symptoms can include chest pains, shortness of breath, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, headache, and stomach ache.

Once again, DTD stresses that you don’t have to live this way. Treatments exist for anxiety disorder. In mild cases, regular exercise has been proven to help. In more severe cases, medication or cognitive behavioral therapy, where you discuss your experiences with a counselor or psychologist and devise effective coping skills, can be very effective. Sometimes a combination of the two will make a huge difference. Your doctor should be able to suggest the best course for your individual needs.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, it is perfectly normal to see your primary care physician to address the issue. Don’t suffer needlessly.

Personally, I have been experiencing a lot of back pain recently, and am beginning to wonder if it’s a result of anxiety. Like many others, I’ve been so worried during this pandemic over a variety of issues. Regular exercise has definitely helped. Also, creating delicious meals is an excellent coping skill for me. I like to counterbalance the exercise with savory dishes- I wouldn’t want to be too fit. DTD likes to feel needed, after all!

The meal we made from Antoni’s cookbook was Moroccan-style Pasta Bolognese. The lamb and tomato-based sauce spiced with cumin, cloves, coriander and fresh mint on a bed of linguine was fabulous and flavorful. We had a Tempranillo which paired perfectly. Follow this with a few episodes of Queer Eye and you can have a heart-warming evening. Every single episode of that show makes me cry, in a good way.

I want to thank all of my readers who, after reading Dealing with Depression, sent me ideas for theme nights and shared some they have done with their own families. One of my good friends actually had an entire week of theme nights where the kids helped cook and decorate and they all dressed up! I will be sharing some of our ideas in future posts. In the meantime, hang in there and utilize your personal coping skills.

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