May 16, 2023

Arrow’s D&I Speaker Series: A Mental Health Awareness Conversation on Anxiety with Sandy McGatha and Debbie Dewey

Category: D&I Series

Author: Charlie Johnson

Sandy McGatha, Licensed Clinical Social Worker working for Arrow Senior Living, spoke with Debbie Dewey, resident of an Arrow senior living community, about anxiety. McGatha comes into the conversation with a background in community therapy and mental health, with experience working as an administrator at an inpatient acute care psychiatric unit for adults and geriatric patients. Her current role with Arrow finds her working in mental health as an advocate for clients, residents, and families. 

McGatha defines anxiety as having a sense of dread or overwhelming feeling that is always with you, and it starts to interfere with the way you function. An individual’s anxiety has to do with their genetic background, things that happened during their life, their personality, and if a person had a lot of things happen, like a death, a baby, change of job, or change of housing. There are many things that can trigger anxiety, including multiple small events, one large event, or abuse. 

According to McGatha, how we handle anxiety has to do with our resilience, our ability to bounce back from a situation. Resilience can be based on the amount of support a person has in their life. That can make a difference in how people handle anxiety. 

“A lot of people get ‘anxiety’ and ‘nervous’ confused. When you are nervous, you can still function and do the things you need to do. You usually know why you are nervous. Anxiety isn’t always clear at first, we just know it is there and it follows us around,” said McGatha. 

The top anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety. Also, depression and anxiety tend to go together. If you have one, you may be prone to have the other. If you have anxiety, you are more likely to have health problems as well, including high blood pressure and cardiac issues.  

In the United States, 19% of adults or 40 million people, have anxiety disorders. Also 7.2% of children are showing signs of anxiety. Women tend to be more likely to have anxiety issues than men. 

Individuals working to control their anxiety are encouraged to start or continue hobbies, work with their hands, sit and relax in the sun, meditate, utilize mindfulness, practice correct breathing, listen to calming music, and read. 

McGatha is not surprised by the fact more people have anxiety now, acknowledging the uncertainty and anxiousness in the world. “If anxiety starts to interfere with your ability to function, you should seek professional counseling or talk to your primary care provider, because no one wants to live like that,” she commented. 

As a professional working in mental health for over 20 years, she is a big proponent of seeking professional help. There are many different modalities of therapy that will be helpful, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and other options. McGatha says the golden ticket is often a combination of medication and therapy. “Because they work hand in hand, you have the best results.” 

McGatha’s final thought on anxiety, “There is no shame in asking for additional help, to find some additional support, to live a better quality of life.” 

To watch the full D&I interview: 

Saint Charles, Missouri-based Arrow Senior Living manages a portfolio of communities that offer varying levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Each and every senior living community supports residents by focusing on dignity, respect, and quality of life. The programs and amenities offered are selected to provide only the highest standard of quality and comfort.

Find an Arrow community near you
Work at Arrow Senior Living

Follow Us

Copyright © 2024 Arrow Senior Living. All rights reserved.