Anxiety and Trauma

Anxiety is a very common issue in our culture. It often involves emotional, psychosomatic (affecting the body), and behavioral impairments. Anxiety is typically a future-oriented issue in the sense that it involves fear or concern for something that may or may not happen. Examples include financial worries, social anxieties, fears and phobias, and relational concerns.

Here are some common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Excessive and ongoing worry
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Restlessness or difficulty focusing/concentrating
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Body aches and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Panic attacks
The good news is that anxiety is treatable with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT looks at the interactions between our thoughts and feelings, which directs our behavior. Oftentimes anxiety issues involve irrational beliefs or “thinking errors” which cause heightened emotional states, resulting in prolonged exposure to stress that wear the body down. The typical baseline level of stress is higher than a person without anxiety issues, though everyone worries to some degree.
Trauma is an anxiety-related issue that is specifically developed after an experience, real or perceived, where a person’s life (or someone close to them) was in danger. It can be a single event, such as a car accident, or repeated traumas such as childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. The important thing to remember, though, is that it is a normal reaction to abnormal events. Traumas often create other problems in life as a means of coping with the original experience(s), such as addictions and unhealthy relationships.
While generalized anxiety can simply be a matter of changing how a person thinks (interprets life) and feels (managing emotions), trauma usually involves having to deal with painful past experiences. This is a difficulty process, but can produce significant relief and freedom from the anxiety symptoms.