What does not kill you can make you anxious

By: Cory Berlekamp

Email: berlekampc@findlay.edu

Twitter: @Cberlekamp

 

Coming into any new year, you always hope it is better than the last and it was no different leading up to Jan. 1, 2020. The news was stressful prior to Dec. 30 with the whole impeachment thing and the brushfires in Australia. But maybe we could follow our resolutions, get past our differences, and band together to help one another in the new year. Not even a week in, the world was struck with news of General Soleimani’s death at the hand of a U.S. drone strike. Iran then retaliated by attacking U.S. forces in Iraq and again with the eventual news of Iran blowing up a passenger plane that took off from Tehran International Airport.

For me, that feeling of the new year ended as the news of these incidents. Though war is not inevitable, and tensions seemed to have cooled I have become distraught by the idea of war and is just building on the anxieties of the other world problems.

I could not tell which feeling was more pronounced; doom or anxiety. One thing is for sure though, I just do not know what to do about it and starting to wonder what kind of effect that it is having on my mental health. That is when I started researching.

I started with my initial feeling of doom which was included in an article called “9 Types of Hopelessness and How to Overcome Them” on PsychCentral.com. The piece references a book called Hope in the Age of Anxiety by two psychology professors Anthony Scioli and Henry Biller.

It was very informative, but it was advice for people dealing with a serious mental or physical diagnosis. The next step was to research about my anxiety about an impending war.

In a 1986 article published (still in the Cold War) by Canadian Family Physician on the “Psychological Effects of the Threat of Nuclear War” were close to my current feelings 33 years after it went to print. In their conclusion, they say that “children and families are aware of the nuclear threat and the anxiety generated affects their daily lives.” Which, of course, it does, right?

“Adults adapt to the stress of a life threat by avoidance of the issue, denial, make-believe, depersonalization, regression, rationalization or by becoming anxious, demoralized and depressed,” was the next conclusion of the article. It continues to say that it contributes to anxiety disorders, drug abuse, family breakdown, and alcoholism. According to the last conclusion, those that are most vulnerable are children, adolescents, the unemployed and people that are in charge of another person’s welfare.

Their recommendations to deal with this anxiety made sense: “empathetic communication”, “education and counseling to promote reality-testing”, “assistance in working through grief”, and “mobilization of hope and encouragement of meaningful, goal-directed activity.”

I will take the advice of this 30-year-old article and hopefully, it will at least placate the anxiety. Even more than that, I hope that war, nuclear or otherwise, is not inevitable.

 

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