Anxiety at Work: A Career-Busting Condition

Katrina Gay has always worried about her job performance, but she used anxiety to her advantage by pushing herself to produce quality work. However, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, she felt a little less in control.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night and my heart was racing. I was sweating and felt like I was having a heart attack, ”Gay says. At work, she felt physically and emotionally exhausted and had difficulty speaking and listening in meetings.

Fortunately, as the head of field operations for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Gay immediately recognized his symptoms and visited a psychiatrist. She was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 19 million children and adults in the United States, reports the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA).

ADAA also reports that the disease consumes nearly a third of the country’s total mental health bill of $ 148 billion. This is not surprising, given that people with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely than non-patients to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders.


Although anxiety disorder describes a group of diseases such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias, certain symptoms characterize the disease as a whole.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, when people with anxiety disorders talk about their condition, they often include these descriptions:

  • Unrealistic or excessive worry
  • Exaggerated surprise reactions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nervousness
  • Tired
  • Dry mouth
  • Lump in the throat
  • Trembling
  • Sweat
  • Beating or beating heart

In the workplace, these symptoms can translate into difficulty working with co-workers and clients, difficulty concentrating, worrying about fear instead of focusing on work, and refusing assignments by fear of failure, of flying, of going in the elevator or of speaking in public. .

For people who think they might be suffering from an anxiety disorder, Jeffrey P. Kahn, MD, clinical psychiatrist and author of Mental Health and Productivity in the Workplace, recommends the following first action steps:

  • Talk about the problem with someone you feel comfortable with. Also ask this person what they notice about you.
  • Take a break from your worries by playing sports, listening to music, praying or meditating.
  • Join a support group.
  • If talking about the problem or relaxation techniques don’t work, see a professional.

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Jothi Venkat

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