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Oct 06, 2012

Bandar Seri Begawan - The Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) held a public talk on 'Eliminating and Understanding Anxiety and Panic Attacks' within the facility as part of their corporate social responsibility programme to increase awareness on health issues. An overwhelming response from various walks of life attended this public talk to gain a better understanding on the topic and to gain further insights from an expert speaker, Todd McPherson, a consulting Psychologist at JPMC. According to a press release, McPherson has over 10 years of experience in delivering psychotherapy and counselling to the general community. McPherson works with children, teens and adults individually, families and couples to help resolve issues that are troubling people. Typical issues include insomnia, stress, anger management, marriage counselling, grief, depression, behavioural difficulties in children, school issues, parenting problems, self-harm, addictions and anxiety.

Anxiety, which affects one in five people, is the most common psychologically-related problem people face. Therefore, increasing awareness of the problem understanding its causes and learning more about overcoming anxiety was the theme of the public talk.

It was highlighted that worry is a natural function we all do. However, when it is excessive; accompanied by physiological symptoms such as muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, difficulty sleeping and trouble breathing; and is interfering in one's life, then it is considered to be problematic anxiety. In many cases, anxiety becomes severe enough to be considered one of the anxiety disorders.

McPherson also noted that a large number of people suffer with an extreme kind of anxiety that can occur suddenly and without warming and is accompanied by intense physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, numbness, hot flushes or coldness and an overwhelming feeling of fear or dread. These panic attacks can be quite debilitating and often result in people going to the hospital believing they're having a heart attack or stroke.

Fortunately, panic attacks, like anxiety, can be effectively treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which research has shown to be the most effective way to treat anxiety issues. McPherson noted that medications can be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms, but do not "cure" it or treat the underlying issues. The most effective way to eliminate anxiety is CBT-based therapy or counselling, sometimes with the assistance of medication.

The issue of childhood anxiety which often goes unrecognised was highlighted. Often, children who are clingy, refuse to go to school won't sleep or won't sleep alone, have frequent stomachaches or headaches are presumed to be "difficult" or sick. In many cases, they are struggling with anxiety. It is important for these symptoms to be recognised so children can receive treatment.

The attendees had many relevant questions for McPherson and seemed eager to learn more about anxiety and other mental health issues. Some corporate attendees expressed interest in having talks in their workplace about stress management, work-life balance and depression.


Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin​

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