Some of the holidays are past and others will soon be over. I find that many people dread the holidays.
There are expectations heaped on about family, friends, good will, and a meal shared with loved ones together in a cozy atmosphere. The holidays don’t change things; the holidays amplify things.
If we are in a close family unit then holidays will magnify this and make the experience even better. Many people don’t live in that type of world.
Geography has separated us from family and friends. Families used to live together in the same village or town for generations. This did not guarantee that folks got along, but it did provide for a sense of belonging. If you have two dozen relatives in a town chances are you get along with at least some of them. If you only have one or two relatives the chance of conflict is greater. If you have no relative then you are at the mercy of the dreaded long-distance relationship. You can be cut off without any recourse.
Children and teens often talk about their holiday experiences in counseling.Â
Anxiety feels bad. Adolescents worry more than parents realize. They may act indifferent, bold, or even brazen. They can be caustic with words and insulting in their attitude. Sometimes adults make assumptions that certain behaviors mean certain things. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
I work with many teenagers. It is one of my favorite populations. I like the energy of a teenager. I like their openness to new things, as this will be useful in counseling. They are frequently quite open to looking at things of an emotional nature from anothers’ point of view.
Just because a teen acts angry, insulting, indifferent, or apathetic doesn’t mean this is the complete story.
An overly anxious child is not necessarily doomed to an existence of dread, anticipatory anxiety and fear, or worse things emotionally down the road. A wonderful defense in life against things that feel bad (i.e. anxiety) and our thoughts about what we might like to do about those feelings is sublimation. Some other defenses are repression, displacement, denial, intellectualization, reaction formation, and projection. A child is in a crossroad position every time he or she encounters conflict.
Sometimes clients say to me, “What do children have to feel anxious about? After all, they don’t have to worry about bills, foreclosures, or employment.”
Children are sensitive people. It may not show on the outside, but there are many feelings going on in that young person. Children are often the center of the universe. This is normal and expected. Children of a young age are egocentric. The world revolves around them until such time that they learn the world doesn’t. They are little kings and queens occupying a throne up high. The job of parents is to help them gradually step down from the throne and descend down to the ranks of the rest of us. Being on the throne is what we call normal or primary narcissism.
So many people suffer from anxiety that it is often difficult to find someone who hasn’t had some form of anxiety. There is considerable dread (angst) involved in having or anticipating anxiety. This also applies to self and others. It is not comfortable to be caring about or loving someone with anxiety. Perhaps we can take some of the angst out of anxiety with some basic information on the types of anxiety that exist.Let’s look at the types of anxiety that exist. Don’t worry if you find yourself in the descriptions, as we will also be talking in future blogs about how to address different forms of anxiety.
If we view anxiety as a big black umbrella, much like the kinds that we use for heavy rains, it helps us view the types of anxiety that are found housed under that umbrella.
One form of anxiety under the umbrella is generalized anxiety. As the term suggests, the feeling of this type of anxiety is generalized. It is not about anything and it is about everything.
It is like the Peanuts cartoon strip, by cartoonist Charles Schultz, where Peanuts says, “My anxieties have anxieties.”
Welcome to the first blog on the Angst in Anxiety.
Anxiety is an emotion, a feeling, and a condition. It involves the body and our physiological responses. Its most common feature is fear. Anxiety always involves fear.
Angst is from the German word Furcht, which means fear. Angst focuses in on a person’s intense feeling of inner turmoil, apprehension, and anxiety. Angst also took on a life of its own when the Existential philosophers such as Soren Kierkegard used it to describe a spiritual condition that involved fear, insecurity, and a sense of being lost.
When the words are combined I intend this to convey the double-dose inherent in anxiety. The word appears rather benign, but to experience anxiety, in any of the forms in which it may present, is anything but benign.
Here is an overview of some basics to consider:
Anxiety is one of the world’s primary mental health problems, according to the World Health Organization. It is too often overlooked or not recognized as the problem it is, since anxiety disorders encompass such a wide variety of concerns.
The Angst in Anxiety blog is, naturally, about anxiety — “the big black umbrella” that encompasses a wide range of disorders and diagnoses, such as: obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, acute stress disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
The author of our new blog is Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, Ph.D., who works in private practice as a psychotherapist. Nanette works with children, adults, adolescents, couples, and families. She also works as a consultant with public and private schools on issues ranging from suicide and violence prevention to topics on mental health issues affecting youth. She is the author of multiple books, including the recent The Everything Self-Esteem Book with CD.
Please give Nanette a warm Psych Central welcome! I look forward to reading her insights and writing about anxiety and anxiety disorders.