Don't Let Stress Ruin and a Good Friendship

I read an interesting article the other day about how virtually every person experiences anxiety as a natural response to stress. I thought how appropriate this might be given what is currently happening in our country. Wars are breaking out, oil prices are rising, groceries prices are rising and at the same time becoming harder to find. Our government does not appear to have a timeline for when we should except an end to all of this any time soon.

All of this stress we carry as humans also affects our pets as well. Just as when we are sad our pets provide comfort and console us and/or when we need medical aid our trained pet provides that necessary medical attention.

Stress does the same thing to our pets. When you are stressed or feeling anxious, they are stressed and/or anxious. If you ever wonder why some people have such calm and mellow animals, look at their home environment. Is it chaotic, filled with hustle and bustle, people rushing around all the time. Or perhaps an abusive environment, verbally or physically within the home. These environments would definitely be considered stressful and cause a great amount of anxiety for both the humans and the pets.

Or is the home environment loving, caring and nurturing and without all of the hustle and bustle. A much more laid back or calming environment. In this situation you would probably be safe to say the humans and pets are less stressed and anxious but not always.

Signs and symptoms of a stressed dog can include:

  • aggression

  • panting

  • excessive barking

  • pacing

  • going to the bathroom in the house

Dogs are man's best friend, so try not to let your anxiety and/or stress ruin a good friendship!

If you feel your pet is stressed please contact your local veterinarian for medical assistance.

For pet owners who feel they or may know someone who is dealing with anxiety:

What Is Anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety and stress at some point. Anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation and is part of the biological fight-or-flight instinct. A certain level of stress and anxiety can help people avoid harm and otherwise perform to the best of their abilities. But people with anxiety disorders experience a constant feeling of being worried, feel like they need to be geared up for action, or feel like they need to flee, even without the presence of an obvious stressor.

Anxiety can be an incredibly debilitating mental health disorder because it causes chronic worry and tension, which can interfere with your ability to function, affect your ability to perform even basic tasks like going to the grocery store or taking public transportation, negatively impact your work, social, and school life, and cause a range of physical symptoms like insomnia and muscular tension.

Some of the symptoms that might indicate that you or your loved one has an anxiety disorder, as opposed to normal levels of day-to-day stress, include: 4,5

  1. Heightened levels of worry about future events or possibilities, to the extent that the worries significantly affect your life.

  2. Feeling unable to control your worrying. You might consciously try to stop worrying but be unable to do so. Worrisome thoughts may seem intrusive and preoccupying.

  3. Anxiety attacks that seem to come out of nowhere with no obvious cause, as opposed to feeling nervous about an actual event such as an exam.

  4. Irrational fear about people, places, or things that pose no real danger (such as a fear of social settings).

  5. Flashbacks or numbness about a traumatic event that occurred a long time ago.

Free Crisis Hotline Numbers If you or someone you love is experiencing a debilitating anxiety attack, help is just a phone call (or click) away. Free anxiety attack helplines and resources that are available include:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

The staff at NAMI are well-trained to answer questions on a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety. Available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, this organization provides free information and referrals to treatment programs, support groups, and educational programs. NAMI also offers help for family members, information about jobs programs, and connections to legal representation in your area.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If severe anxiety is causing you to experience suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to call this free, 24-hour crisis intervention hotline. Counselors can help you ease your anxiety and get to the clear headspace you need to seek help. There are separate hotline numbers for Spanish speakers: 1-888-628-9454; the hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889; and veterans: 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with a crisis volunteer live on their website.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

If you’re not in danger of harming yourself or others, but are ready to seek medical care for your anxiety, SAMHSA’s treatment locator service can help you find a mental health facility near your that specializes in anxiety. The service is available in both English and Spanish 24 hours a day and can also point you to support groups, substance abuse treatment programs, and community-based organizations.

  • Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000

Anxiety in teenagers is becoming more common as they face the mounting pressures of schoolwork, college preparation, first jobs, social activities, and becoming an adult, on top of any issues they may face with their families at home. Both children and parents can call this hotline 24/7 for free crisis intervention services, plus information and referrals to valuable mental health resources. Email, text, and online chat-based services are also available.

  • Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)

Another valuable resource for young adults facing anxiety, Teen Line offers teen-to-teen counseling services available between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. PST. Callers can talk to one of their peers about what they’re going through and learn strategies that have helped other young people just like them. The service is also available by texting “TEEN” to 839863, as well as via email and message boards.

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