Can We Control Our Anxiety and Keep It From Controlling Us?

Available with English captions and subtitles in Chinese, Hindi, and Spanish.

For some, anxiety is brief and manageable. For others, it’s a chronic, 24/7 issue. For everyone who struggles with anxiety, it’s a mental health issue that has its own individual qualities and can affect even the smallest of daily tasks. So how can we control our anxiety and keep it from controlling us?

This content is also available in Spanish.

Audience Questions

Dr. Lisa Coyne talks about anxiety and answers audience questions including:

  • How do I know if I have anxiety?
  • How would you define anxiety to a layperson (child, elder, etc.)?
  • How might anxiety treatment differ from person-to-person?
  • When looking for a therapist to help with my anxiety, what questions or certifications should I look for?
  • My spouse has severe anxiety and makes me feel anxious—because they are anxious—in certain situations (driving, being in unsafe neighborhoods, meeting new people). How can I detach my own reaction to their anxiety?
  • How do I know if my anxiety is genetic versus environmentally induced? Does it matter as it relates to treatment?
  • Do you have any suggestions for facing fears regarding things out of our control (i.e., COVID-19)?
  • What are your favorite de-escalation techniques to teach patients?
  • Any tips for when your anxiety makes you turn what is likely a minor health symptom/feeling into something much more catastrophic?
  • Is it common to have a more heightened level of anxiety with family and friends? Why is that?
  • Our daughter has a mental health diagnosis and is often afraid to leave the house for fear of running into classmates. Is this normal anxiety? Could this turn into agoraphobia?
  • Is there a relationship between ADHD and anxiety?
  • How do you deal with fear? For instance, if someone is afraid to even start a task because of fear of failure, would you classify this as anxiety?
  • How common is postpartum anxiety and how do I know what’s normal vs. when I need to speak with someone?
  • Is there a role for meditation and mindfulness in treating anxiety?
  • My spouse’s anxiety displays as extreme anger and bullying. My anxiety level stays high, fearing what’s coming next. Any suggestions? I’m unsure they would be willing to explore treatment.
  • What is your opinion on acupuncture for anxiety? Do you think it is or could be beneficial?
  • Should I worry about my daughter who has always had social trouble making friends? While I see it as unfortunate that she has no friends, she seems fine just being home and doing her own thing.
  • I had a lot of childhood trauma and now, as an adult, I have severe anxiety. I feel like I must protect my grown children and grandchildren. My grown children get aggravated with me because what they see as fun, I see as danger. I don’t know how to relax and enjoy. While I try to put on my happy face on for the outside viewers, on the inside, I am a wreck. Any advice?
  • How can we encourage ourselves, patients, and community to tap into and trust intuition amidst dealing with anxiety when making decisions and in thought processes?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.

Additional Resources

You may find these links helpful to learn more about anxiety:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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