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Current Issues

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Ava Atkinson

Coping with Anxiety

by Ava Atkinson

Anxiety in young adults can take several different forms and is at an all-time high. Constant stress or worrying, panic attacks, and difficulty concentrating are some of the most common symptoms. Anxiety can also show itself physically, such as in stomach aches and headaches. Many think that anxiety is only treatable through medication. While medication can be an excellent resource and is important for serious cases, anxiety can also be treated through a variety of emotional- regulation practices. Physical activities like yoga and meditation are proven to activate the body’s relaxation response, as well as traditional exercise practices.


For some, anxiety can be related to physical health. Therapy is also widely recommended by medical professionals, and even specialized therapy practices such as art or music therapy have been explored and are proven helpful. The most important thing to remember is that not every solution will work for everyone. If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety, it’s crucial to find treatment that will work for the individual. For some, increasing physical activity can be all that is needed. For others, overexertion can cause more anxiety. Medication can also have different effects from person to person, and it may take a while to find a medication that is the right fit. Therapy is a great way to not only discover what might work for you, but can be a solution on its own. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is regarded as the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety. CBT often includes exposure therapy, where a subject is exposed to things that trigger their anxiety in order to learn management skills.

For many people, anxiety can be managed through healthy lifestyle practices, and self-reflection. However, it is not always easy to know how to start this process, or what might work for you. Because of this, if you or someone you care about lives with anxiety, a good first step towards conquering it is always to talk about it. Initially, this doesn’t have to be with a medical professional. However, healing methods such as medication, or therapy can be very helpful, and if you have the resources, it’s always a good idea to speak with a physician or a mental health therapist.

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Ava Atkinson is a third year Anthropology major at the University of Virginia. She has always been interested in doing meaningful work, and The Power of the Patient Project gives her the opportunity. Ava loves to travel, try new food, and is a member of the Surfing Club at UVA. She's always excited to use her skills in writing and communications to help in patient care. 

March 2023 page 9

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