of general anxiety. Normal levels of anxiety, like stomach flutters before a speech, are expected, but severe anxiety can include sweating palms, shortness of breath, and feelings of nausea that interfere with the person’s ability to function. Imagine going through normal everyday life with uncontrolled anxiety. Here is how “Kenny” describes what it is like to live with a severe anxiety disorder: Hello. My name is Kenny, and I have been a cancer survivor for four years now, and I think what I’m about to describe about anxiety is very important. For as long as I can remember, I have always had anxiety about needles, injections, and blood draws. Scans, x-rays, and other medical things like that never really phased me, that is, until mid-2015, when I went into the ER for kidney stones and found out I had a large mass on my kidney. The mass turned out to be cancer. I joined some cancer-support groups, and they talked about a thing called “scanxiety” —a cute little name that cancer patients have to describe anxiety from getting medical scans. I kind of laughed it off at first, but then I started my first scans since my cancer diagnosis. Thinking of the scans gave me panic attacks. The anxiety kicked in, and negative thoughts about my disease just wouldn’t stop coming. What if the medicine wasn’t working? What if I end up dying? What would my wife and two-year-old son do without me? I would cry, hyperventilate, and seclude myself in the house. For days, I barely got any sleep. Three months later, I had my kidney and cancer surgically removed, and I thought, “Good! Now I can relax!” but anxiety disorders don’t work that way. When you have cancer, you get scans every couple of months for many years to check the progression of your disease. Every time a scan came up, the anxiety would really kick into high gear again. It would start as a feeling in the back of my mind. I could sometimes ignore it, but soon the anxiety would turn into a crying fit or full blown panic attack. “What if the cancer has come back? What if it


Behavioral Disorders: Anxiety Disorders

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