Brief chat with Mao Beckett, therapist: Understanding anxiety

Mao Beckett

By Jasmine Stole Weiss

Last year, as the pandemic’s grip on the globe tightened, more Guam residents sought out the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center’s crisis hotline.

The government of Guam regularly promoted the hotline, reaching out to “those feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed” and needing to talk to someone.

GBHWC estimated it fielded an average of 15 calls a month before the pandemic. During March 2020 and September 2020, the crisis hotline received an average of 15 to 25 calls per day.

Nationwide, anxiety and symptoms of depression spiked during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control in April published its study which found adults with recent symptoms increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent.

Symptoms of anxiety include having a sense of impending danger or doom, feeling nervous, restless or tense, rapid breathing, having trouble sleeping and difficulty controlling worrying.

Anxiety that persists for at least six months can be diagnosed as general anxiety disorder, according to Mao Beckett, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist currently on Guam.

Gastrointestinal issues can also be a symptom of anxiety, Beckett said.

“Anxiety kind of gets a bad rap. And we're like, oh, my gosh, we don't want to have these feelings. We don't want to feel nervous. But anxiety is actually a very natural response that keeps us alive,” said Beckett, who owns Reset and Resilient Wellness.

Beckett said she works with people to manage those feelings, and recognize and examine them.