Written by Dani Merriam, LPC, CADC-II

Just calm down, it’s not a big deal, take a deep breath. Have you ever had anyone say this to you when you were nervous or anxious? For someone who doesn’t suffer from an anxiety disorder, these phrases may actually be helpful. They may offer just enough support or distraction so the person can focus and continue on with whatever it is they are doing. However, for those who do struggle with panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias or generalized anxiety, these phrases will likely offer little support, and could potentially exacerbate the anxiety and cause frustration or even a feeling of alienation.

Anxiety disorders affect 18.1% of Americans. That’s approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54. It is very common for a person to feel confused, different, and like they don’t belong or fit in when they struggle with anxiety.

During a panic attack, a person could feel like they are unable to catch their breath, their heart may beat rapidly and they may start to sweat or shake. They may have an overwhelming feeling of doom and believe that they must leave wherever they are immediately. Some people end up in the ER thinking they are experiencing a heart attack, only to be told it was anxiety. It makes sense that people suffering from panic disorder may avoid places they’ve had a panic attack or become home bound (agoraphobic) due to not wanting to bring on an attack.

Those who suffer from social anxiety have an irrational fear that they will be judged or scrutinized by others. This can lead to major disruptions in daily life, often rendering the person incapable of performing their job to the best of their ability or even at all. Sufferers often have difficulty forming close relationships and this can leave them feeling alone and powerless.

People who suffer from a phobia experience an irrational fear and avoidance of something. Common phobias are fear of spiders and fear of flying. Those who struggle with generalized anxiety experience excessive, ongoing worry that interferes with their daily lives.

Have you heard of the phrase liquid courage? Or have you ever heard someone say, “I need a few before I can dance?” One can see how people struggling with one or more of these anxiety disorders may use drugs or alcohol to try and alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms. It can and often does become a very painful cycle of use/abuse and addiction.

The treatment providers at Beacon House are able to help people suffering from alcohol and/or drugs and anxiety disorders. At Beacon House, modalities can include; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Neurofeedback, 12- Steps, and Experiential Therapies and activities such as Equine Therapy, Golfing, Surfing, and Birding.