Anxiety and the Fight Toward Mental Health Awareness


Take this quiz to see what is myth and what is reality in terms of anxiety disorders!




Background on Anxiety

  • Anxiety is a disorder in which worry and fear interfere with normal functioning.
  • There are 4 types of anxiety: panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Anxiety is very prevalent in the US.
  • There are many symptoms of anxiety. Some include problems sleeping, cold or sweaty hands, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and nausea. Many people who suffer with anxiety often feel panic and uneasiness and are often not able to stay still and calm.
  • Many times there is nothing that provokes the anxiety, and patients often feel unrealistic and excessive worry. 
  • Although the exact cause of anxiety disorders are not known, genetics, environment and personal history all play a role. Some of the most common causes of anxiety include stress at work, stress at school, stress in a personal relationship, financial stress, side effect of a medication, or stress from an emotional trauma. In addition, although less common, anxiety can also be caused by substance use and abuse such as intoxication from an illicit drug or a withdrawal from an illicit drawl. Anxiety can also be caused by genetics. A family history of anxiety can increase the likelihood that a person will develop it.
  • There are many different types of treatment available for anxiety. For more mild symptoms, regular exercise, healthy eating, relaxation and meditation, and some herbal supplements, such as ginger tea, can be helpful. For more moderate or severe symptoms, psychological and/or medical treatment may be necessary. Talking with someone such as a therapist or psychiatrist about your anxiety is often helpful. There are many medications used in order to help relieve symptoms of anxiety including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors including citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline, Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors including venlafaxine and duloxetine, Benzodiazepines including alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam, and Tricyclic Antidepressants including amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline.






Interview with Maren Hersam

A few days ago, I interviewed my friend Maren Hersam who has anxiety and depression. I had talked to her in the fall, and followed up with her this spring. We have been meditating once a week for about a month in order to help her combat her anxiety and depression. Here is our interview about how she was diagnosed with her diseases, and how meditation and other treatments have helped her. 

Minute highlights:

0:10 – 0:50 Did you know you had anxiety and depression, or were you confused by your symptoms?

“I used to think it was normal to get really nervous.”


0:50-1:52 What specific symptoms did you have that made you believe you had anxiety and depression?

I felt like I wasn’t in my body.”

“I started to realize that I can’t live like this.”


1:52-3:30 Who is your support system? Does our school help in any way? What is it like talking to your family and friends about your symptoms?


“My support system is my family.”

“It’s a really foreign feeling to people who don’t have it. It’s really hard to explain it. If you don’t have it you will never feel that way. My family knows how it feels.”

“I’ve been to Charlanne, our school psychologist. But I feel like it’s my friends more who help me.”


3:30 – 4:28 How does your anxiety impact your day-to-day life?

“I have to stay in my comfort zone.”


4:28 – 5:13 What medications or other treatments have helped you deal with your anxiety?

“I am on Prozac. I have switched to 20 milligrams recently.”

“I have been meditating with you recently and that has helped me get through it without freaking out. It helps me get past it.”


5:13 – 6:36 Have there ever been any physicians who have not believed your symptoms or who have negatively impacted your process toward a successful treatment?

“I would tell my physicians that my parents will fight sometimes, because my parents are divorced, and she would tell me that that is good for me and that I should get over it. So I said, bye!”

“I didn’t like that she told me that what I felt was wrong.”

“I was afraid to take medication because I didn’t want it to change my personality.”


6:36 – 7:18 After we have been meditating once a week for a month, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your experience with that. What has meditation been like for you?”

“It has taught me how to get through a stressful moment. Sometimes you have to clear your head and get everything out of it. In the moment there are so many things that can get to you. Learning how to calm down, clear your head,and breathe, you learn that you will be ok.”


7:18 – 7:52 Have you noticed a difference since meditating?

“In a situation when I’m nervous, I feel prepared.”

“I know now how to breathe deeply and ground myself. And whatever I was so  nervous about just isn’t a big deal.”


7:52 What other recommendations do you have to help our community battle anxiety and depression?

“I feel like it should be talked about more.”

“People should know that if they are having this problem, it’s not normal and you can get help.”

“I feel like it’s taboo to talk about it, but it shouldn’t be.”

“Get those symptoms known so someone can tell if they have it.”


One way that really has helped Maren combat her anxiety and depression is yoga and meditation. Here is a short 12 minute video for stress relief yoga. Try it out!



After our interview, we realized that although it was great that we found a way to help Maren deal with her anxiety and depression, we wanted to make a greater change in our community. Maren and I are now holding open mediation sessions on weekends for anyone to join us. By doing this I hope that our meditation can go beyond just helping Maren, but can help many people in a larger community.


Anxiety (and Depression) Awareness Video

This was a part of my community service project from last semester. This video’s goal is to help raise awareness about anxiety and depression and the impact it can have on a person’s life.



If you would like to leave warm wishes for Maren, please do so here!





What did you learn about anxiety disorders? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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