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(Sertraline is an anti-anxiety medication. Photo by: Nicole Damico)

Lauren Gil, 20, had finished her first semester as a freshman at Towson University. She survived finals week and the stress of being a first semester freshman on a D1 dance team. She was now able to sit back and enjoy the holiday season. Lauren had no school work to worry about and tough dance practices were the last thing on her mind. She was finally able to say she survived a few months on her own for the first time.

As Lauren sat in bed watching Netflix on one of the first nights of winter break, all of the sudden she felt her throat closing up. She began to hyperventilate and rushed to the bathroom. The sudden wave of fear rushed over her and she had no idea what to do. When she was finally able to catch her breath and calm down, Lauren had no idea what to do or what had just happened. Later on Lauren realized that she had suffered from her first anxiety attack, something she now deals with all the time.

Megan Beloff, 20, began experiencing anxiety attacks at the age of seven. Around that time in her life she suffered from multiple traumatic experiences including the death of her best friends parents and the suicide of her uncle. At age 10 Megan was put on medication to help with her anxiety, but realized she did not like relying on medication to help her through. In middle school her doctors felt she may need to go to therapy to deal with her anxiety while in school. After a year of therapy session with little to no results, Megan turned to dancing to help. The exercise was a way for her to release her stress and not worry about her anxiety.

Anxiety Disorder can be categorized in two different ways, generalized anxiety and panic disorder. Generalized anxiety is caused by a stressor in life, just like Megan’s experiences. Panic disorder differs from generalized anxiety in that there is no stressor. Panic disorders have no reason as to what triggered them to begin and there is no way to know when they will end. Just like Lauren had experienced, she did not have a stressor that caused her panic attack. Dr. C. Robert Damico, D.O. has said that doctors believe panic disorders are genetic and that is why there is no known reason as to what causes them. Although there are treatments to help anxiety disorders, like medication or counseling, it is hard to known what will work for each individual, especially in the case of panic disorders since everyone’s genetics are different.

Anxiety disorder is an unwarranted or exaggeration of a light situation. 18 percent of the population suffer from anxiety disorder and it is more common in women than it is in men. Treatments for anxiety can range from counseling to medication. Some types of medication are Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro. Doctors will also recommend counseling or biofeedback which is described as a mind-over-matter approach. A practitioner will hook you up to monitors to measure your body, muscle and heart activity. The patient will then go through exercises for 30 minutes and monitor their progress each session.

Each person who suffers from anxiety disorder goes through different things. Some people will feel as though they need to escape the place they are at and get to a place of comfort. Some people will begin to hyperventilate or feel as if their throat is closing. People have also felt like they may pass out or throw up. There are no telltale signs of how people will be affected by their anxiety. People who have panic attacks all do not go through the same symptoms, and people who have generalized anxiety do not all share the same symptoms. Many people also will not realize they suffer from anxiety until they go through a severe attack.

Dr. Damico has also recommended for those who suffer from anxiety disorder that do not want to rely on medication to try things like mediation, yoga or exercise. Some people do not like to feel as though they rely on medication to get them through each day and each anxiety attack. Through meditation, yoga and exercise people who suffer from anxiety are able to feel as though they are learning to take control of their anxiety and not allowing it to control their lives.

Both Lauren and Megan have chosen to not use medication to help them get through their anxiety. They use exercise as a way to get through it. While both of them have very different cases of anxiety, Lauren’s being genetic and Megan suffering from both genetics and everyday stressors, they have found a way to try to manage their anxiety as best as possible. “I don’t want to rely on medication, and that’s why I went off of it,” Megan said “I use dance as a way to try to control and overcome what I am going through.”

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