Mental health issues are not something that can be dealt with lightly, nor can they be dealt with with quick, simple suggestions. Pat Robertson makes coping sound easy enough in the minute he gives the topic on The 700 Club, but he’s not a mental health professional, and when it comes to anxiety and depression, we can sometimes end up in a spiral which we find difficult to simply set aside. Click here if you want to hear his quick minute of advice, or read on for actual advice.
Hello, Pat. I’d like to know what you do when a situation occurs that makes you worried and anxious. I tend to be a chronic worrier and have anxiety over recent health issues. I have taken this to the extreme. How do you handle this when faced with it? -Angela
First off, full stop: No one who offers you advice in just a minute and doesn’t mention talking to a professional about your anxiety is doing you much good. Robertson is not a trained therapist, and neither am I. But saying you’ll lay your worries on Jesus’ shoulders (the passage Robertson is talking about is Isaiah 9:6) is great and all, but if you don’t know how, simply saying ‘this is what you should do’ likely won’t give you the help that you need.
Few things are as stressful as health issues. If you’re now worry free after Robertson’s words, great. But I would guess that you’ve tried simply telling yourself to let go of your burdens, and when that didn’t just happen, it likely made you more anxious, feeling like you’re trapped in a spiral of negative thoughts and a constant state of fight-or-flight.
Worrying is, for better or worse, a part of being human, but the question is what does taking it to the extreme mean? Does it mean panic attack extreme? Is it crippling to your life? To your well-being? Is it affecting your relationships or doing further harm to you? Does it effect your day-to-day functioning? Do you feel like your fears are obsessive and trapping you?
Neither Pat nor I can answer these questions, and it may even be difficult for you to answer some of them on your own. This is where it can help to talk to a health professional. If you’re a chronic worrier, she can help determine if this is a matter of generalized anxiety disorder and, if so, how to deal with it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is awesome at giving you the mental tools to navigate life’s worries, no matter how extreme they may become. A therapist can help you learn how to handle your feelings of distress and get out of that spiral of fear and anxiety.
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America is a great starting resource. You can visit them at https://adaa.org, and find resources online and in person to seek help. They can even help you find help in any form you’d like, whether in person, online, by video, phone or even text.
In the meantime, try to find activities that are calming and keep you occupied. Hobbies, art, meditation — these can all be therapeutic, especially when combined. And try to get enough sleep. That alone is a great mood booster. You’d be surprised how much sleep deprivation can affect, not just your mental functions, but your emotional ones as well. This can be magnified even more in worriers, like yourself. Though, yeah, this can be a catch-22 if your anxiety keeps you up at night and staying up at night makes your anxiety worse.
But ultimately, there’s no shame and there’s no harm in talking to a professional and asking for help, and not just advice, on how to lay down your burdens and let go of your worry. You don’t have to suffer, and if your attempts to simply lay your burdens on Jesus’ shoulders aren’t helping, know that there are plenty of people out there who want to help you to cope with this extreme anxiety.