Stressing excessively about your health? Susi Q’s free “Feeling the Blues” program can help

As the years go by, and we witness friends and relatives being diagnosed with a variety of ailments – not to mention dying – there are times when an ache, irregular skin blotch, or upset stomach can send us into a panic.

Health anxiety is a real thing and a serious matter. Kathleen (Kay) Wenger, MA, LMFT, LPCC, clinical supervisor at the Susi Q Senior Center, offers advice about how to deal with these fears.

“To some extent, this is normal as we age,” Wenger said. “Staying active and socializing, practicing meditation, getting enough sleep and minimizing alcohol can be very helpful in reducing this kind of stress.”

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Courtesy of Susi Q

Kathleen (Kay) Wenger, MA, LMFT, LPCC, clinical supervisor at the Susi Q Senior Center

She added, “When your worries focus on possible future illnesses, think about it this way: You may – or may not – contract a disease or lose your ability to process thoughts. Focus on the fact that your anxiety is likely unfounded, and give that thought more power than your fear.”

It’s also important, of course, to keep up with doctor visits and regular check-ups and educate yourself appropriately about relevant health conditions.

But when worrying about your health becomes uncontrollable and dominates your thoughts, Wenger strongly suggests talking to a therapist.

“There’s a condition called nosophobia, when the patient becomes terribly fearful of contracting or strongly believes they have a serious illness,” she explained. “This is a form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be very helpful in cases like these. Just talking to a therapist can make a world of difference as we address the underlying reasons for your anxiety,” she said.

That’s where Susi Q’s “Feeling the Blues” program comes in. Founded almost 10 years ago, the program exists to help Laguna Beach seniors navigate anxiety and depression and other common mental health challenges. Wenger is one of several qualified volunteer therapists who stand ready to help. (The program is free, though donations are always appreciated.)

“We’re here to help,” Wenger said, adding wryly, “Remember, as we age, we see more death…but we can tell ourselves that we’re at least alive ourselves.”

“Feeling the Blues” – Susi Q’s individual counseling program – offers free, confidential counseling with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (donations are appreciated). In-person or by phone/Zoom, therapists help clients develop coping strategies that help them manage issues such as loneliness, a reduced sense of purpose, health issues, relationships with family and friends and financial pressures.

For more information on Kay Wenger, visit www.lagunabeachcounseling.com.

If you would like to chat to one of Susi Q’s therapists, call Care Manager Martha Hernandez, LCSW, at 949.715.8104, or email her at marthah@thesusiq.org for a referral.

Susi Q is located at 380 Third St., Laguna Beach. For more information, visit https://thesusiq.org.


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