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Anxiety: The Alarm that Keeps Going Off



Priyanka Upadhyaya, Psy.D.
Many of us use the terms stress and anxiety interchangeably. They are actually two distinct conditions. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain that can occur when feeling overwhelmed by a particular situation. We all experience stress in our daily lives. Anxiety, however, is a state of excessive and ongoing uneasiness and apprehension, a feeling of worry, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain or unpredictable outcome. Anxiety can manifest in bodily symptoms such as tension and muscle aches as well.
While a certain amount of anxiety is good for you- it helps you stay focused, motivates you to work harder and keeps you alert, excessive and chronic anxiety is harmful to the mind and body; it interferes with daily functioning, work, relationships, and health.
What can anxiety feel like?
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and stomach upset
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Tight or painful chest
  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty catching breath
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Over-thinking situations, problems, worries
  • Difficulty sustaining concentration on various tasks
  • Difficulty learning, remembering, and recalling new information
Anxiety manifests differently across individuals. For instance, some people are anxious when it comes to social situations, others have very specific phobias, such as a fear of flying, some suffer severe panic attacks, and some are perpetually anxious most of the time.
The most common forms of anxiety disorders include the following conditions:
  • Panic disorder - consists of severe, sudden episodes of arousal that can include heart palpitations, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, fear of fainting or having a heart attack, amongst other symptoms
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - anxiety symptoms occur in multiple environments and due to multiple objects or situations. The anxiety may not have a known, specific cause.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - is a more chronic anxiety disorder with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors (or mental acts).
  • Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder - anxiety symptoms occur in social or performance situations and stem from the fear of being humiliated or embarrassed.
  • Specific phobia (also known as a simple phobia) - anxiety symptoms occur around a specific object or situation which results in avoidance, for instance, flying, driving over bridges.
If you are interested in getting help for an Anxiety based condition as related to your experience of 9/11, you can call Voices of September 11th at 203-966-3911 for more information on how an experienced mental health professional can help you. If you lived in the area or worked in the area, you can also call the WTC Health Program to see if you qualify for both medical and mental health services through the program.
Priyanka Upadhyaya, PH.D.


Psychologist/Clinical Instructor
World Trade Center - Environmental Health Center NYU
Langone Medical Center-Bellevue Hospital
Dr. Priyanka Upadhyaya is a clinical psychologist at the World trade center environmental health center at Bellevue hospital which is one of three clinical centers of excellence dedicated to the integrated assessment and treatment of individuals who were present in the New York city disaster area.
Dr. Upadhyaya provides individual, group psychotherapy, mentors and supervises social workers and doctoral psychology students. She presents on various aspects of trauma informed care at case conferences and seminars, conducts community outreach workshops and in house staff training and education workshops. Dr. Upadhyaya is also part of initiatives to transmit health messages across the survivor and responder population through social media and online newsletters and participates in department wide research initiatives. Her interests and areas of expertise include evidenced based treatment of trauma, mindfulness and meditation, reducing barriers to mental healthcare, post traumatic growth and resilience.

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