Marla K. Ruhana, Psychotherapist

Women's Renewal Retreats

Anxiety in these difficult times  
Ask the Experts from Grosse Pointe News

July 02, 2009
Q. Lately, I've been feeling especially anxious for no good reason. I am grateful for my health, family and current employment. Why is it I feel more anxious than I've ever felt in my life?

A. What you are feeling in these difficult economic times seems to be becoming the new norm. Sad but true, I've not seen this many struggle with generalized anxiety since 9/11. Quite honestly, at least here in the Greater Detroit Area, the anxiety appears to be worse than 9/11.

I attribute this heightened sense of anxiety specific to this geographic area as a direct result of auto industry and job loss. Even if it is not directly impacting your family, I'm certain we all know someone who has lost their job or has relocated to another state to obtain employment.

We see more evidence as teachers are being laid off due to school closings. We can drive through the community and see the high number of houses for sale. We notice our favorite restaurant is fairly empty when we dine out on weekends. 

Yet we second-guess ourselves as we cannot understand why we are feeling so anxious. These economic hardships have a detrimental impact on all of us. For many, fear often creeps into our unconscious as we wonder if we will be next.

In addition to psychotherapy, exercise, healthy diet and sleep are all essential in maintaining balance and well-being. Yoga, meditation, journaling and surrounding yourself with optimistic, supportive relatives and friends will alleviate anxiety.

Be proactive. View these times as an opportunity to get back to basics, invite friends, family, or neighbors for a barbeque as opposed to dining out. View this crisis as a way to break free from isolation and establish a new sense of community and social network.

Q. How does a person know when to seek a mental health practitioner for their anxiety?

A. If we are already prone to anxiety and depression, then our thoughts tend to be more negative and in this case, the fear and projected negative outcome can often be far greater. It is imperative that we attempt to know ourselves and our own tendencies.

Listen to your support system. Have they expressed concerns regarding changes in your mood state? If so, psychotherapy can be helpful to assist in becoming more self aware and offering cognitive techniques to help to change your thoughts. Therapy can also be beneficial if your support system is limited. 

A professional can also be helpful if you have lost your job to assist in reinventing yourself. It is extremely helpful as it is an objective outside viewpoint from those who know you well and may have their own biases regarding your ideas for a new career path. 

Q. What if I need more help? Is medication an option for anxiety?

A.Medication is not the answer for everyone. Medication however can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from anxiety disorders. As psychotherapists cannot prescribe medication, I recommend contacting your primary care physician or seeking out psychiatric care. Ask your physician about medication for anxiety, as some have an addictive quality.

Marla Ruhana, LMSW is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in private practice. For more information, contact her at 586-801-4701 or visit marlaruhana.com.