TSC Alert

Anxiety Issues in Young Adults with TSC

Up to 50% of young adults with TSC have or will develop anxiety. (Vries PJ (2010) Neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and cognitive aspects of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.)  As a young adult with TSC, it is common to feel anxiety over issues such as; success in college, job worries, finances, and every day stresses and worries. Individuals with TSC experience a higher rate of anxiety disorders than the rest of the population. This anxiety can manifest itself as excessive worrying, sporadic behavior, and unexplained panic attacks. Unfortunately, many young adults keep their worries to themselves and often feel very alone.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. Many people feel anxious or nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or when making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. For many young adults with TSC suffering from anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant, overwhelming, and can be crippling.

What are some symptoms of anxiety?

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension

How do you cope with anxiety?

The first step in coping with anxiety is to know what situations trigger your anxiety.  Everyone is different and people have anxiety for different reasons. Identify what situations cause your anxiety and try some of these coping strategies:

  • Exercise – This can be anything from walking your dog to gardening. Exercise burns fat, builds muscle, and most importantly eases stress.  It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are moving.
  • Relaxation exercise – This can be done by taking a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you. Focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Continue reading below…“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” says Psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, a certified life coach in Rome, GA.
  • Know what you are feeling – Think about where you are feeling stress in your body. Either lie on your back or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to the top of your head.  Think about how your body feels and the areas that feel tight; mentally loosen each part until you are completely relaxed.
  • Connect with others – Reach out to others who understand what you are going through.  Join the TS Alliance/Inspire Online Support Community or the TS Alliance Facebook page (links below). Talking to someone who understands is a great way to relieve anxiety.