Information provided by: Wellness Resources for the Military Community


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety can be described as motivation, excitement, tension, anticipation, stress, worry, nerves, and phobias. Anxiety can be a normal reaction to new challenges or stressful events. But, anxiety can also be the result of distorted thinking and other controllable causes; if not controlled, anxiety can interfere with your health and wellness.

Anxiety becomes a problem when it is overwhelming and causes significant change to your lifestyle and relationships. An anxiety disorder can keep a person from coping with life’s ups and downs and make a person feel anxious most of the time, sometimes without any identifiable cause.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are often hereditary—if you have a parent with an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to have it. Traumatic events, such as witnessing a death or being in combat, can lead to feelings of anxiety. Overwhelming stress can also result in anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Common Anxiety Disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    GAD is defined as worrying constantly about small or large concerns. GAD is usually accompanied by physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
  • Panic Disorder
    Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent panic attacks which involve sudden feelings of fear and terror for no obvious reason. Panic attacks can happen without warning and are usually accompanied by physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat dizziness or chest pain.
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    PTSD develops following the experience of a trauma in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. Individuals may have persistent frightening thoughts of the trauma (re-experiencing), feel emotionally dampened or number, or easily startled.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    Social Anxiety Disorder or (Social Phobia) is characterized by marked anxiety in social situations in which the individual unusually and excessively fears being criticized or scrutinized by others.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by recurrent, unwanted and intrusive thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors. Intrusive thoughts may be of a specific danger or an unrealistic fear of harming oneself or others.

How Can You Manage Anxiety?

Healthcare professionals can prescribe medication to treat anxiety disorders. Medication may be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Therapists can use a variety of techniques to help treat anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how thoughts and feelings influence behavior. CBT teaches individuals to recognize when their thoughts are unrealistic and contribute to anxiety.

Breathing Retraining Exercise:

  • Purpose of Exercise:
    • Slow down breathing
    • Decrease amount of oxygen in blood
    • With practice, decrease anxiety
  • Breathing Instructions:
    1. Take a normal breath in through your nose with your mouth closed.
    2. Exhale slowly with your mouth closed.
    3. On exhaling, say the word CALM or RELAX very slowly, for example: c-a-a-a-a-a-l-m or r-e-e-e-e-l-a-x.
    4. Count slowly to 4 (or at least 2) and then take the next inhalation.
    5. Practice this exercise several times a day, taking 10 to 15 breaths at each practice.


Resources for Anxiety


San Diego VA Health Care System
Please contact your Primary Care Provider or member of the OEF/OIF Care Team for a referral for anger management services available at the San Diego VA.

Primary Care Line:
(858) 552-7475

OEF/OIF Care Team Contacts:

Mission Valley & Chula Vista:
Bridget Salzman, MSW
(619) 400-5271

La Jolla:
Rikka Bonnette, LCSW
(858) 642-3615

Patrick O’Shea, MSW
(760) 643-2079

La Maestra Community Health Center

Central San Diego Clinic
4060 Fairmount Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105
(619) 280-4213

El Cajon City Clinic
165 South First Street
El Cajon, CA 92019

National City Clinic
217 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950
(619) 434-7308

Lemon Grove Clinic
7967 Broadway Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
(619) 741-7423

The mission of La Maestra Community Health Centers is to: provide quality health care and education; to improve the overall well being of the family; bringing the under-served, ethnically diverse communities into the mainstream of our society, through a caring, effective, culturally and linguistically competent manner, respecting the dignity of all patients.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Comprehensive information on anxiety disorders, multiple resources including help finding a therapist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Give An Hour

A nonprofit organization providing free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and families affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

San Diego Access and Crisis Line
(888) 724-7240

24/7 hotline connects individuals to a trained counselor for support and access to local resources

Breathe2Relax App

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool. Built on the iPhone mobile app platform, Breathe2Relax is a hands-on diaphragmatic breathing exercise. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. For iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).