Anxiety (notes for Wed. 9/28/2011)

Sermon Series: One
Sermon Title: Anxiety
Date: 9/28/11

Sources Used:

Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.
Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselors Manual, The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling

Definition: Anxiety is an inner feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, worry, and or dread that is accompanies by a heightened physical arousal (Collins).

· May cause physical changes such as rapid heart beat, feeling jumpy, or faint.

· May be due to a specific impending danger, or a feeling of impending danger whether founded or unfounded. Whether or not the danger is real, the feeling of anxiety is real.

· Anxiety appears in all age groups from the elderly to small children.

Types of Anxiety:

1. Normal – comes to everyone at times, especially when there is a threat of danger. In this case anxiety is proportional to the danger.

2. Neurotic – involves intense exaggerated feelings of helplessness and dread even when the danger is mild or nonexistent. “Many counselors believe this anxiety cannot be faced directly or dealt with rationally because it may arise from inner conflicts that are not conscious.” – Collins

3. Moderate – can be healthy and motivating as it may help people avoid danger, increase efficiency, or make beneficial changes.

4. Intense – very stressful, can shorten attention span, make concentration difficult or cause forgetfulness, hinder performance, interfere with problem solving, block effective communication, arouse panic, and may cause paralysis, rapid heartbeat, or headaches.

5. State anxiety – Comes quickly and has a short duration. May be adrenaline prior to a speech or while facing danger. Anxiety and excitement release the same hormones into the bloodstream.

6. Trait anxiety – A persistent, ingrained emotional tension that seems to be present in people who worry all the time. The body has difficulty functioning normally when it is in a constant state of arousal.

7. Panic attack – Sudden, often unexpected, rushes of intense fear accompanied by rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or feelings of losing control. They reach peak and fade quickly. They often become associated with places or situations. Panic attacks are usually the causes of “phobias.” Victims often avoid situations or places that trigger anxiety lest it occurs again. In extreme cases the person may be afraid to leave home or go to certain places within the house. Panic attacks often result in a trip to the emergency room but result in a failure to diagnose any physical problem.

a. Did you know that loss of deep sleep for two consecutive days can produce many of the same reactions as LSD upon the human mind and body?

b. $23 billion per year is spent on medical treatment of people seeking physical relief from symptoms of anxiety that mimic physical illness, yet are not actually present.

c. People with anxiety are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized than people suffering from other mental issues who do not also have anxiety.[i]

8. Post traumatic stress disorder – Has been recorded for many years but was only named in 1980. Ongoing violence and terrorism is making PTSD more common. PTSD arises following intense stress, such as observing or experiencing events that involve death or great danger. People who suffer with PTSD may have nightmares or depression.

Anxiety in the Bible

The Bible views anxiety as both a healthy concern and a negative, even sinful worry.

· 2 Corinthians 11:27-28 – Paul showed little anxiety over suffering for the gospel but he did express anxiety over the welfare of the churches.

· Matthew 6:25-34 – Jesus dealt with anxiety in the Sermon on the Mount. His followers are to trust God and apply the gospel to anxiety. Anxiety may be a symptom that the believer has lost focus, exchanging Kingdom trust for worldly concerns.

· Philippians 4:6-7 – Paul implores us to replace anxiety with prayer and promises a peace from God that surpasses all understanding. This verse gives us a great promise, but it does not deny that there may be a physiological cause of anxiety that could hinder the full experience of this promise. Even still, God is able to overcome any cause of anxiety and grant a cure that “surpasses all understanding.”

· The Bible does not acknowledge a separate category of phobias. The message here is that all anxiety and fear is to be treated the same.

· The Bible does not teach that it is sinful to be anxious, yet the believer is not to allow anxiety to be crippling. Though the Bible tells us to cease worry and anxiety this does not mean the task is a simple one. Learning to trust God with anxiety may be a personal matter or a community one. We may find ways to fully embrace the promises of God as we discuss our anxieties with others, pray together, and make concerted efforts to deal with the causes.

Helping People with Anxiety

· Be honest about your own anxieties.

· Help calm tension.

· Show love and concern – 1 John 4:18

o Love

· Identify and deal with the sources rather than simply saying, “cheer up” or “don’t worry.”

o In the case of “phobias” it is important to help a person realize they may not be afraid of “x” but rather they are associating fear with “x.” As such you help a person realize they are not afraid of “x” but rather they literally fear, fear.

· Encourage action – it is often not our duty nor within our ability to cure the anxiety of another. Instead we can be the body of Christ to one another in providing support and simply encouraging action rather than allowing fear to paralyze a brother or sister in Christ.

· Realize courage often grows as we learn to trust God. We see this in Paul as he demonstrates extreme courage in the face of difficult circumstances.

Preventing Anxiety

· Foster faith and trust in God. Oftentimes we say we believe promises we don’t know how to practice.

· Learn to cope. Situations may not change, but we can change in any situation.

· Learn perspective. Instead of resorting to panic, create milestone memories that assure us of God’s faithfulness and that similar circumstances in the past did not destroy us.

· Reach out to others. One of the greatest preventative measures for anxiety is being connecting to a caring community of faith.


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