Dealing With Anxiety After a Loss

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Dealing With Anxiety After a Loss

Topic Overview

Worry and anxiety can develop after a major loss. Anxiety is a general feeling of tenseness or uneasiness. You may feel generally anxious (called free-floating anxiety). Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as an upset stomach or a headache. Anxiety can also cause you to act in ways that are unusual for you, such as being more demanding, less patient, or more irritable.

Worries and anxiety can sometimes seem to take over your life, making you feel like everything is falling apart at once. You may need to slow down and take things one at a time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help from someone you trust.

You can manage your worry and anxiety by:

  • Talking or writing about the things that are bothering you. Even if you are not sure what is bothering you, finding words for your feelings often helps you figure out what is causing your anxiety.
  • Taking charge of whatever you can. Making plans to deal with your day-to-day activities and concerns helps relieve the worry and anxiety that springs from a sense of insecurity. However, resist the urge to make major life decisions when you are anxious or worried.
  • Allowing other people to do some things for you that you would normally do yourself. This may be difficult. If worries and concerns are interfering with your ability to take care of personal needs and other responsibilities, ask for help from others. Allowing other people to help you also helps them, because it gives them an opportunity to show their care and concern for you.
  • Asking for comfort. You may need companionship and help until you feel less anxious and worried. Ask someone you trust to stay with you. This is not a sign of weakness—it is a sign of your need for comfort.

If intense worries and high anxiety last longer than a few days, talk with your health professional or a mental health professional. Counselling, medication, or a combination of the two may help you manage anxiety that makes it difficult for you to function.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robin L. Fainsinger, MBChB, LMCC, CCFP - Palliative Medicine
Last Revised February 11, 2010

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