My Age of Anxiety Summary – August 2022

Author: Scott Stossel

Short Summary
My Age of Anxiety (2014) is the author’s personal account of battling anxiety and paranoia. In this book, you will find multiple stories, research, and literary accounts that are relevant to this mental condition.
my age of anxiety

Detailed Summary

Getting stressed before a big test is normal. Feeling heartbroken and sad at the end of a relationship or friendship is also normal. But feeling stressed while doing the basic chores and carrying out daily activities is not normal. Those who suffer from anxiety view the world with a broken mirror. They get scared of things that are not dangerous or violent. For example, if you have anxiety it might be nerve-wracking for you to stand in front of a hundred people and deliver a speech, high sounds and light might make you irritated and pending conversations can make you feel severely stressed.

 For those suffering from clinical anxiety, any kind of performance including musical, sporting, and public speaking can be terrifying and nerve-wracking. Anxiety is a very common mental condition and one out of six people is bound to be clinically anxious at least for a year in their lives.

The reactions we feel when we are anxious vary from person to person and the treatments that work for one person may not work for another. It might be hard to live and earn with clinical anxiety but Scott Stossel invites the reader politely to accept it and be kind towards those who suffer from it. In the My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind Key Points, we will explore some of the reasons that cause anxiety, triggers, and solutions.

My Age of Anxiety Key Points

Being Clinically Anxious is much Similar to having Diabetes

Just like a diabetic person has to constantly measure their blood sugar level and take insulin a severely anxious person has to constantly navigate through stress-inducing and triggering situations by taking medications. Sometimes the triggers come without warning making the most basic demands hard to be met.

Due to these unseen triggers, the behavior of an anxious person can vary from one moment to another. This often puts them in embarrassing situations. Imagine rehearsing a welcome note a hundred times. You tell yourself that it will only take a few words. You just have to say a few words and smile but when the moment arrives you get so anxious that your feet freeze to the ground. Now you can’t get up while everyone is eyeing you. This further increases your anxiety and your heartbeat rate starts going up. This is what it is like to live with anxiety. You never know what will happen and how you will act at the very next moment.

Some people also have severe headaches, stomach aches, palpitations, and nausea when they get anxious. Vomiting and fainting are also common.

You Might Have Inherited Anxiety from your Parents

Psychologically anxiety can be transferred from mother to child. This is why to understand why a certain person is clinically anxious, therapists look at the mother-child relationship and find out about childhood. If you are raised by an anxious paranoid mom you are more likely to be anxious yourself. If your mother was not around much when you were growing up you might feel anxious, agitated, and angry as you become an adult.

On the contrary, a healthy relaxed and available mother is much more likely to raise children who can remain calm in stressful situations.

Treating Anxiety with Medication

As we have stated before in My Age of Anxiety detailed summary, anxiety does not look the same for everyone and one treatment cannot be prescribed for all. Medication is however a popular choice of treatment. Anti-anxiety drugs influence the neurotransmitters in our brains. Xanax and Paxil are the most commonly used medicines. These medicines work by inhibiting the functioning of the central nervous system. As a result, after taking these pills the anxious person feels calmer.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Anxiety can also be dealt with through therapy sessions. Therapists try to expose anxious people to what they fear. By facing their fears, people sometimes come to the realization that there is no actual threat present. For example, if you are anxious about public speaking the therapist can recommend you to speak in front of a few people. You can keep doing this again and again. Stuttering, having sweaty hands and increased heartbeat in your first attempt is completely normal.

The other approach that is common in CBT is listing down your fear and then imagining what will happen if the fears become real. In this way, you will come one step forward to identifying your triggers. To find your triggers and try to lessen their intensity as David Richo would put it, “Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.”

My Age of Anxiety Quotes

“It is a fact—I say this from experience—that being severely anxious is depressing. Anxiety can impede your relationships, impair your performance, constrict your life, and limit your possibilities.” –Scott Stossel

“A panic attack is interesting the way a broken leg or a kidney stone is interesting—a pain that you want to end.” –Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety Review

My Age of Anxiety teaches you to be kinder with yourself and others who are suffering from anxiety. Understanding the triggers and causes of anxiety even if you do not suffer from it will help you in becoming a better and more compassionate person and the world needs a lot of such people. The book shares hope for people with anxiety showing them that they can lead a normal life too.

To Whom I Would Recommend My Age of Anxiety

  • To the millennial who is suffering from crippling anxiety which makes it hard for him to function.
  • To the new mother so that she can develop a stronger connection with her children.
  • And to mental health activists and anyone interested in fighting the mental health stigma.