The new year has begun, and at UCLA we are learning about Psychiatry. This past week I went to preceptorship to shadow an Internal Medicine doctor. I told him we were learning about personality and mood disorders. Fortunately, several of his patients that day had some form of psychiatric disorder. Luck may not have had anything to do with this coincidence though. Everyone has some traits of a personality disorder or suffers from anxiety in one shape or another. It was now that we were actively looking for these disorders that we were able to find them in more than just a few patients.
Anxiety is a daily part of life in my opinion. I believe this worry drives you to be active in getting things done and achieving your goals. You worry about the future, so you work harder in the present to prepare for that future. When this anxiety starts manifesting in physical symptoms is a sign medical help may be required. The patient I was seeing hadn’t had a panic attack in years. She had some family history of anxiety and also was personally affected by some traumatic experiences. This combination led to a generalized anxiety disorder. Things have been under control for years until just recently. Her life was going extremely well. She is getting married and moving to Colorado. She is starting a family and a new job soon that will be much less stressful than her current job. One night, she wakes up feeling she is having a heart attack. Her prior experience clues her in that this was a panic attack. She attributes the attack to her subconscious stress from all these new changes she is going through even though she does not feel stressed presently in her mind. Her body is the true detector of the stress.
It pays to be in tune and listen to your body. Stress is present all around us and we can’t avoid it. Good diet and exercise are good ways to start relieving your subconscious stress. Being present and knowing what stresses you out also can be seen as an introspective form of cognitive behavioral therapy. Keep an eye on your stress.