Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder ten years ago, I’ve mostly been able to cope. I’ve worked hard with therapists in the past, and I don’t take any medication. Yet, ever since this summer when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my anxiety seems to be out of control. Most days, I cope, but anytime anything comes up (scan, doctor appointment, etc.), I experience physiological symptoms of anxiety like I never did before. Probably because I’m anxious, I’m afraid that this won’t go away. My mother has been told she could live two years, and I am afraid that while she’s alive I will be anxious the entire time. I’m also afraid that when she dies, I won’t be able to cope. I’m doing yoga, exercising, journaling, and talking to friends, but these only offer a little relief. How can I cope with this?

A: I am very sorry to hear of your mother’s diagnosis. It sounds as though you are doing all of the right things to cope. I would recommend finding a local cancer support group. There are often support groups not only for those diagnosed, but also for the friends and loved ones of those diagnosed. Discussing these issues with others who are going through similar circumstances can be quite healing and would be an additional source of support for you as you navigate through this difficult time. However, if your physiological symptoms continue to progress and become severe enough that they are impacting your daily functioning, I would recommend scheduling an appointment with a physician for a medication consultation.

Dr. Mimi