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Family Medicine

Board Certification

Family Medicine

Education

St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine

Residency

The Christ Hospital / University of Cincinnati

Community Affiliations

Medical volunteer, various homeless shelters in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and in third-world countries, such as Honduras and Ecuador

Take the Worry out of Anxiety Disorders

It’s an average day when out of the blue, your heart starts to pound, you’re short of breath, your vision blurs and your hands begin to tingle. Could this be a heart attack? Not necessarily, says Sheena Boury, M.D. These could be the first signs of an anxiety attack.

Many otherwise healthy adults become stressed by everyday worries such as family finances, work deadlines and their children’s performance in school. According to Dr. Boury, any of these could trigger a panic attack, which could lead to a full-blown anxiety disorder or depression if left unchecked.

“Chronic, day-after-day stress and depression affect one’s physical and emotional wellbeing. If ignored, it can manifest in the body, causing concentration problems, excessive worrying or panic attacks,” says Dr. Boury, a family medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Medical Associates.

When to worry

Although occasional anxiety is normal, long-term anxiousness or anxiety attacks are not. Prolonged anxiety can be accompanied by digestive problems (nausea and diarrhea), infections, intense fear and insomnia. “It can be linked to alcohol and drug use, a hectic environment, traumatic events and stress,” Dr. Boury says. “It can happen to anyone, but most cases appear in teenagers and young adults in their 20s and 30s.”

Average worries vs. Possible signs of an anxiety disorder
Nervousness about meeting a deadline
 
Uncontrollable, excessive thoughts about the upcoming task
Restlessness the night before a presentation
 
Worry that causes problems falling/staying asleep nightly
Increased heart rate before trying something new
 
Heart palpitations that accompany daily situations
Anxious feelings that subside after the event
 
Anxious feelings that cause you to withdrawal socially

Not to worry, you’re in control

Rather than worry about your emotions, Dr. Boury recommends trying a few strategies to keep anxiety at bay.

  • Find an outlet. Exercise has been proven to relieve tension, release feel-good brain chemicals known as endorphins and strengthen the brain by sparking the creation of new brain cells. It can also refocus your mind away from your worries and back to the task at hand. When exercise isn’t an option, try guided meditation or other relaxation techniques such as yoga.
  • Snooze your way to serenity. Skipping on sleep can tax the brain, worsen your mood and make concentration difficult. “Sleep problems and anxiety go hand in hand,” Dr. Boury says. “Get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to restore yourself and regain focus.” Rest easy with tips for good sleep hygiene
  • Deconstruct your diet. Alcohol, excessive caffeine and high-sugar, high-fat foods can sabotage your mood or cause you to feel anxious. Starting your day with foods containing protein and carbohydrates can increase calming brain chemicals called serotonin. Try an egg white and spinach omelet or a whole-wheat bagel with hummus.
  • Get help from the professionals. Many primary care or family medicine doctors, like Dr. Boury, feel comfortable addressing anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Speaking with a professional will help you get to the core of what’s causing your anxiety problems. A physician or psychologist can also offer treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help you better control your emotions and relax.

 Feeling burdened by anxiety? Talk to a physician about your concerns. Find a physician near you by calling 877-904-4YOU or visiting www.TheChristHospital.com.

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