Living with constant anxiety is exhausting. There are continuous intrusive thoughts, which take away your inner peace. Not only that, but the physical symptoms are unbearable. Anxiety disorders make you avoid situations, taking away your freedom. Beating anxiety is difficult, but not impossible. With the right tools you can overcome this disorder, regaining the power over your life. Before setting yourself free, you need to understand anxiety. According of the American Psychology Association (APA), anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes”.
APA categorizes the major types of anxiety disorders as the following:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Constant fears or worries, accompanied by a persistent sensation that something terrible will occur soon. The reason for this disorder is difficult to pinpoint and interrupts concentration on daily tasks.
- Panic Disorder: Immediate feelings of terror. This disorder provokes extreme fears about when and where the next panic attack will happen, restricting activities as a result.
- Specific Phobias: The intense fear of specific objects or situations; such as, flying in a plane or an animal.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Reoccurring uncontrollable thoughts or feelings that make individuals engage in routines or rituals to rid themselves of agonizing thoughts. For example, checking multiple times if the stove is off.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Occurs after a traumatizing event; such as, a serious accident. Thoughts, feelings and behaviors become affected by reminders.
The common symptoms among these disorders are: intense fear, nervousness, increased heartbeat, insomnia, nausea, sweating, trembling and trouble concentrating or thinking. Anxiety disorders may cause attacks, but anxiety and panic attacks differ by the intensity and length of the symptoms. An anxiety attack occurs gradually, intensifying over a period of time, usually after excessive worry or a stressor. While a panic attack happens suddenly with acute symptoms; such as the sensation of choking or dying. This generally occurs within a period of approximately 10 minutes and then subsides. It’s important to understand that you cannot die from an anxiety or panic attack. During an attack you will feel like your surrounding are out of control. Here is a small technique you can do to regain control. Think of: 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Try this technique while slowly breathing.
Controlling these disorders are difficult, but it can be managed. Here are some tips suggested by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) to help control anxiety:
- Take a time-out: Engage in activities such as: meditating, listening to music or watching a movie.
- Sleeping enough: Allow your body to recharge and lower stress.
- Exercising daily: This will enhance your endorphins and reduce stress. (30 minutes of exercise per day)
- Eating healthy meals: Meals that contain proteins, fruits and vegetables will help tremendously. Do not skip meals and avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine and sugars because this may trigger anxiety and panic attacks.
- Communicate: Talk about your feelings with friends and family, let them know when you are feeling overwhelmed and how they can help you.
- Stay calm: Take deep breaths slowly, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Counting to 10 will also help, this may be repeated.
- Accept you cannot control everything: Maintaining a positive attitude and putting your stress in perspective will reduce anxiety. Ask yourself, is it as bad as you think?
- Learn what triggers your anxiety: Identify the circumstances or fears that triggers it. Keeping a journal may help because this way you can find a pattern.
If your anxiety disorder is creating problems at work, with family and friends, or daily activities then it is necessary to seek professional help. After trying the tips mentioned above for a while if you feel you have not improved or have gotten worse, then therapy should be considered. APA suggest psychotherapy, also known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Psychotherapy helps individuals identify and manage the factors that provoke their anxiety disorders. CBT uses behavioral techniques to help the patient confront scary situations in a controlled and safe environment.
Anxiety disorders are difficult to understand, especially if you cannot pinpoint the origin of the problem. Remember that you are not alone and that there are many out there suffering from anxiety. Do not be afraid to ask for help and keep in mind this does not make you weak. Take each situation one step at a time, the process to recovery will depend on your determination to overcome the disorder. The key is to constantly practice and if you feel it is taking long to recover, don’t worry! Each person recovers differently, some quicker than others. What are your thoughts? Have you suffered from anxiety? If so have you successfully recovered? Are there any additional suggestions you would like to share? If so comment on the bottom of this page.
American Psychology Association. (2015). Anxiety. http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/
American Psychology Association. (2015). Anxiety Disorders and Effective treatments. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/anxiety-treatment.aspx
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2015). Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress. http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
Sheryl Ankrom. (2014). Anxiety Attacks Versus Panic Attacks: What’s the Difference? http://panicdisorder.about.com/od/understandingpanic/a/anxvspanic.htm