My daughter is in Grade 12. In the middle [last year], there were circumstances - where my husband lost his job and all - because of that she was going through anxiety problems. She used to cry and had little breathlessness. It scared me, so I got all the medical check-ups done but medically she was fine. For anxiety, the doctor suggested no medication, just keeping her at home and talking to her about her worries. We did that and it helped in the middle but again she got a panic attack.
It was the time of applications for college – she’s always wanted to study in the US – she worried about how it would work financially. We are trying our best to help her go. She’s applied, but we were trying to apply in such places where she can get scholarships and all that. She’s getting into it. It’s manageable, but still is there any way to help her feel better?
A reader who wishes to stay anonymous asks
Answered by Dr Balan Vijay Kumar, Psychiatrist, Al Soor Specialist Clinic
Anxiety and worry are common feelings, especially in difficult times. However, normal anxiety will not be severe, and it will usually not last too long.
From the information you have provided, your daughter’s anxiety problems started last year – so it has now been going on for several months. Also, you report that she had a ‘panic attack’ which usually refers to a spell of severe anxiety.
In addition, you state that she may be traveling abroad for her higher studies. I assume that she will be living in a hostel and away from you at a new unfamiliar place where she will have to manage on her own. These are circumstances that can exacerbate anxiety.
You have already taken her for a medical checkup and this has ruled out some common medical causes of anxiety symptoms – for example, thyroid disease.
The next step involves ruling out various anxiety disorders and depression. So, it would now be advisable to get her assessed by a psychiatrist, and this ideally must be done before she travels abroad and lives alone.
After assessment, the psychiatrist can guide you regarding the nature of her condition and the details of the treatment required. Commonly used treatments for anxiety are CBT (Cognitive-Behavior Therapy) and medications.
CBT involves finding unhealthy patterns in her thinking and behavior correcting it. Medications used of anxiety are safe. Most cases of anxiety are mild and can be managed well, especially if treatment is started early. If left untreated, anxiety can affect performance, decrease quality of life, and cause a lot of suffering.
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