Anxiety is a normal reaction to danger. It is the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation.
In reality, anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help you to stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems.
But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when worries and fears interfere with your relationships and daily life and you have likely crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of an anxiety disorder.
While having an anxiety disorder can be disabling, and might prevent you from living the life you want, it is important to know that you are not alone.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues and are highly treatable.
Once you understand your anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms and regain control of your life.
If you identify with any of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
- Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
- Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
- Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
- Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner.
- Feelings of apprehension or dread.
- Watching for signs of danger.
- Anticipating the worst.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Feeling tense and jumpy.
- Feeling like your mind’s gone blank.
As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, it also involves a wide range of physical symptoms which include:
- Pounding heart.
- Stomach upset.
- Frequent urination or diarrhea.
- Shortness of breath.
- Muscle tension or twitches.
- Shaking or trembling.
There are many treatments to reduce and manage symptoms of anxiety disorder. Usually, people with anxiety disorder take medicine and go to counseling. Treatments for anxiety disorder include:
Medication: Several types of drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the pros and cons of each medicine to decide which one is best for you.
Psychotherapy: This is a type of counseling that helps you learn how your emotions affect your behaviors. It’s sometimes called talk therapy. A trained mental health specialist listens and talks to you about your thoughts and feelings and suggests ways to understand and manage them and your anxiety disorder.
How To Manage Anxiety Disorders:
Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine
Avoid coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse.
Eat right and exercise
Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that reduce stress and improve your mood.
Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping.
Learn to relax
Stress management is an important part of your anxiety disorder treatment plan. Things like meditation, or mindfulness, can help you unwind after a stressful day and may make your treatment work better.
Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts before the day is down may help you relax so you are not tossing and turning with anxious thoughts all night.
Manage your negative thoughts
Thinking positive thoughts instead of worrisome ones can help reduce anxiety. This can be challenging if you have certain types of anxiety, however. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to redirect your thoughts.
Get together with friends
Whether it’s in person, on the phone, or the computer, social connections help people thrive and stay healthy. People who have a close group of friends that support and chat with them have lower levels of social anxiety.
Some people find it helpful and uplifting to talk to others who are experiencing the same symptoms and emotions. Self-help or support groups allows you share your concerns and achievements with others who are or who have been where you are now.