Anxiety Disorders & How to Cope

david

King David Had Anxiety Issues

For those who have to deal with anxiety issues in some form or the other, it is little consolation that so many others are in the same boat. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million American adults who are 18 and older have some kind of an anxiety disorder. If this figure is correct, that means that about 18% of the adult population.  According to Web MD, anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times.  Everyday life, especially in these high paced times, gives rise to anxieties that many of us did not experience in the lazy, hazy days of those years so long ago.  So! The real question here is not whether or not we all have anxiety, but why it gets severe enough to be diagnosed as a disorder, and what can we do about it?  It becomes a disorder when it distresses us to the point that we cannot lead a normal life. For those who have it to this degree, the worry and fear can be constant, overwhelming and crippling. Anxiety disorders come in many types. To name a few, there are panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, social anxiety disorders, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorders, and most of us have at least one of these, at least to some degree.  Self confession: I once had a mild obsessive compulsive issue. Oh, it was not debilitating, but nevertheless a slight problem. If I picked up an object, I had a compulsion to sit it down in the exact same place where it was before. If I picked up a coffee cup, it would take me a minute or two to get it back to the place where I felt it was right. After watching me go through this ritual, my wife would sometimes reach over and move the cup, and I would have to reset the cup. Eventually, I stopped that nonsense cold-turkey. I am now proud to say that when I set down a coffee cup, I no longer need to adjust the cup until it is just right. Since I am still in a confession mode, I have one more issue. I am a counter. If I stop at a red light, I find myself counting to see how long it takes for that light to change.  I have been trying to wean myself from this habit, and have been making a little progress.  What seems to be working is for me is to think and do something really worthwhile, like quoting the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm or some other scripture or poem.  The only problem here is to not get caught up in the poem until the guy behind you honks you a reminder that the light has changed!  While we are on OCD, let’s not forget one of my favorite detective shows, Monk! Although entertaining, this show is an excellent example of a debilitating disorder. Also, make no mistake!  Anxiety is no respecter of persons. It cuts across all socioeconomic  classes, so fame and fortune makes no difference.  Many current celebrities like Anthony Hopkins, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Depp, Kim Bassinger, Howie Mandel, Oprah Winfrey and many, many others have issues. On the historical side, it is interesting to know that the emotional rock (supposedly), Sigmund Freud, had anxiety issues. This may have been the reason (at least partly) that Freud chose his profession.  On the world political stage, the great Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln had anxiety problems. Lincoln’s severe depression is well known and documented.  According to some modern day psychologists  & psychiatrists, Lincoln may have been bipolar, a term not used in those days.

It is interesting to note that the Bible is loaded with people who had heavy anxiety. Moses was so loaded with stress that he literally begged God to take  away the stress he was carrying for trying to shoulder  the whole burden of his people, (Numbers 11: 10-16). One of the most celebrated cases of all was Jonah! Read the whole book! It tells of the despair, the depression and the high anxiety of a man who tried to run from God – – – and responsibility. Personal note:  (If you know what you are supposed to do, and don’t do it, you are setting yourself up for some guilt feelings that will tend to drag you down.) This list of Bible characters who suffered with heavy anxiety could go on and on, but let’s center on one in particular. A man after God’s own heart! You got it! King David! This beautiful person had anxiety problems his whole life! Even as a child, being hated by his brothers caused him great stress, but he ultimately found solace in the Lord. There is a hidden jewel within the Psalms that is a major key to relieving stress.  When David played his harp and sang his songs for the tormented and stressed out King Saul in order to help the King with his mental issues, David also helped himself. This is a major key in helping to relieve stress!  Lose yourself in helping others!

Study the Psalms and Proverbs! Those books are loaded with stress reducing verses! Now, let’s cut to the chase and discuss the most wonderful and beautiful of all! Jesus himself spoke so much about stress! Within the depths of His mind, He knew what was coming and the ordeal that He was to endure. As He hung on the cross, the stress He felt was well documented, especially in the book of Luke! The drops of sweat intermingled with blood (mentioned by Luke) is recognized by the modern day medical community, and even given a name (hematidrosis). Under great emotional stress, tiny sweat capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture, thus making sweat intermingle with blood! It is very rare. Wow! Do you have chill bumps? You better! No wonder Jesus spoke so much about stress and anxiety! It is beyond the scope of this essay to list all the scriptures in which Jesus spoke on stress, or which stress and anxiety were discussed throughout the Bible, but I will leave you with only one:  Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So folks, if you have stress and anxiety, I would say you are in pretty good company.  In addition to the Biblical therapies mentioned above, there are some other simple stress-reducers that will help. Here are just a few:

1-     Face your particular anxiety head-on, a little at a time. Can’t leave your house? Each day take a few steps outside. God understands and has your hand.  There is nothing to fear out there. Remember, “—Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

2-      Another big time help is hugging and loving your pet. Hug your dog or cat and hold them close. It has a calming effect that tends to help bring peace.

3-     Take daily walks! This has proven therapeutic value. On a personal basis, I find walking or sitting by a river or sea to be a great help. I find this to have a mysterious calming power.

4-     Spend some time with yourself.  Write poems about your anxieties, loves or whatever. You will find yourself doing a self-analysis, and this is very therapeutic.

5-     And last, but most important of all, is to lose yourself in praying (really praying) for others – – for all others. Loving and praying for others has a built-in therapeutic value that was designed and given to us by God, and it is free!


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