Thriving with Anxiety?

Hugh Winig

The newly published book, Thriving with Anxiety: 9 Tools to Make Anxiety Work for You, by David Rosmarin, Ph.D., is one of the most counter-intuitive books on human psychology that I have ever read. And I’m a retired psychiatrist! It provides an enormous contribution to anyone struggling with anxiety by articulating in detail how to turn a liability into an asset by managing one’s excessive anxiety while avoiding the use of any medications or drugs for its treatment.

Learning to calm oneself from this normal human emotion when it runs amok is the central theme of the book. Our world is rapidly changing.  It is becoming increasingly hostile, our environment is deteriorating, and our health concerns have risen from the pandemic, all of which has led to more anxiety afflicting more people today. And for seniors, taking medications for anxiety can be complicated due to their side effects and potential problematic interactions with other medications one may require.

Anxiety problems are not limited to those in certain social or educational categories: they are universal. Anxiety is a normal emotion until it becomes excessive at which point the quality of one’s life can diminish. In addition to the impact on adults, adolescents today are facing generational challenges related to the internet that did not previously exist. And working- and middle-class adults are facing increasing financial issues because of rapid inflation and job insecurity, not to mention the ongoing perils and challenges of those who are impoverished. And we seniors need to deal with declining stamina, sudden or chronic health matters, and eventual end-of-life concerns that can each activate more than just a little anxiety.

Professional help in the form of psychotherapy from a range of professionals is always appropriate but being able to manage some of the skills required without having psychotherapy sessions is what this book has to offer.

Sometimes it seems that it is even best not to watch too much news because of its unsettling nature. Equally important to being well informed of worldwide events is to have hobbies, interests, friendships, and cultural outlets that activate your pleasure centers. This can counter feeling increasingly helpless as the uncertain future unfurls right before your eyes.

There are people who chronically abuse alcohol or illicit drugs to deal with their anxiety, but that form of behavior is something most people do not care to resort to, so having the strategies that this book reveals are available to anyone if they are so inclined.

Dr. Hugh Winig is a retired psychiatrist and a longtime OLLI @Berkeley member and volunteer.