Anxiety is synonymous with having a human brain, regardless of whether you worry endlessly about certain aspects of your life such as work, relationships, finances, or the more essential things like your health.
Most of us experience worry and stress from time to time.
A significant part of being human is our ability to deal with stress and the bottomless worries of daily life.
Anxiety is a normal part of life
Anxiety can range in intensity and affect people differently.
For example, you may get anxious about who will take the humongous pile of dirty washing to the launderette, you or your partner?
You may even lay awake at night worrying about your finances.
On the other hand, you may be anxious about which school your children should attend.
As unpleasant as it can sometimes be, such anxiety is often manageable and usually subsides once a specific problem gets resolved.
Some would argue that a healthy amount of stress can be good for our health. But what about people with an anxiety disorder?
Types of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are different from the kind of anxiety you experience in your ordinary life.
Unlike typical anxiety, anxiety disorders are a mental health condition that causes debilitating symptoms and can affect your daily functioning.
People with anxiety disorders tend to experience difficulty getting through the day because of the severe anxiety symptoms experienced.
Anxiety disorder types
There are several types of anxiety disorder, including:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Social phobia
- Panic attacks
The best way to treat anxiety disorder
With appropriate treatment and support, it is possible to recover from an anxiety disorder.
Treatment interventions for anxiety disorders can include exposure therapy and various anxiety management techniques, such as attention training, reading books or taking courses, and speaking with a therapist.
Anxiety disorder symptoms
Anxiety disorder symptoms can range in severity and are dependent on other factors such as age, gender, family history, and other physical and mental health conditions known as concurrent disorders.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can include:
- Palpitations (a sensation that feels like your heart is pounding)
- Chest pain
- A tight throat or choking sensation, which can make you feel as though you are going crazy or having a heart attack
- Racing thoughts
- Muscle tension
The difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders
It is common to experience nervousness and anxiety occasionally.
For example, you may experience anxiety when preparing for an important meeting or job interview.
It is also possible to experience anxiety when undergoing medical tests or when you happen to be interacting with a tricky relative or loved one.
However, anxiety disorder supersedes common apprehension and nervousness and may affect:
- How do you respond when something triggers your emotions
- How do you control or regulate your responses to external stressors or situations
- Your ability to function
A combination of risk factors can put you at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
- Traumatic or stressful experiences in early childhood or adulthood
- A family history of anxiety disorder or other mental health conditions
- Being diagnosed with specific physical conditions such as a heart condition and thyroid issues
- Having specific personality traits such as behavioral inhibition, shyness, feeling uncomfortable, or avoiding unfamiliar situations, places, or people.
According to research, anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women than men, although the exact reason for this is unknown.
Some researchers suggest that the above could be because of hormonal changes in women, especially monthly hormonal fluctuations.
Hormones and mental illness
Other studies say that testosterone may have a positive influence on anxiety disorders. Men tend to have more of the hormone than women.
The above research could suggest why women tend to experience intense episodes of anxiety compared to men.
Managing anxiety disorders
Fortunately, there are ways you can manage your anxiety disorder and enjoy a better quality of life.
Being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may seem frightening at first, and such a diagnosis may add to the anxiety you are already experiencing.
Getting help for anxiety and depression
However, there are many different ways that you can manage your anxiety.
Such interventions include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Trauma therapy
- Physical exercise
- Learning more about anxiety
- Positive changes to your diet
- Exposure therapy – is beneficial for those with phobias.
- Engaging in support groups
- Stress management programs
Learning all about anxiety is critical to your recovery and can empower you with the skills to cope, especially during challenging moments.
For instance, understanding the physiology behind the fight and flight response and how the body manages impending danger is crucial to anxiety management.
Fight or flight response
Broadly, people with anxiety disorders get easily triggered by harmless situations.
Sometimes a person’s fight or flight response can become imbalanced in times of real danger, particularly in cases where a person hasn’t fully processed their shock and trauma.
In the above scenario, it can be challenging for the nervous system to know the difference between actual and non – life-threatening events.
Thus, the person continues to experience anxiety despite a lack of threat or danger. Self-education is a critical tool for managing your anxiety symptoms and negative thoughts and feelings.
People with anxiety disorders often feel anxious most of the time.
However, understanding how your anxiety affects your mind and body and learning techniques to help you cope can be advantageous.
Relaxation techniques include:
- Abdominal breathing
- Isometric relaxation techniques
- Progressive muscle relaxation
One of the most widely used treatments for anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT focuses on modifying specific behavioral and thought patterns associated with, and might even be triggering, an anxiety disorder.
All this is dependent on the type of anxiety disorder.
For example, someone with a social anxiety disorder may believe that others are judging them and can develop a social phobia based on incorrect beliefs.
CBT aims to challenge your perceptions and beliefs by exploring how such ideas unfold over time.
The CBT paradigm is that beliefs trigger thoughts, which, in turn, trigger feelings and, thus, produce specific behaviors.
CBT treatment plan
Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves several strategies to help you manage an anxiety disorder, including:
- Reality – testing
- Logical ”self – talk.”
- Cognitive challenging and cognitive restructuring
- Attention training
The benefits of challenging your emotions and perceptions, examining unhelpful beliefs and fears, and monitoring your inner dialogue can be profoundly valuable when testing out the reality of your thoughts.
Such a process can be invaluable in reducing your worries and alleviating your anxiety disorder symptoms.
The benefits of physical exercise are endless.
Exercise promotes relaxation and burns up the body’s stress chemicals, making us feel more relaxed and at ease.
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety get caused by the fight or flight response, which consumes the body with other stress chemicals and adrenaline.
Physical activity can help balance these chemicals, thus alleviating any anxiety symptoms. Studies show that people must exercise at least three or four times a week to get the desired result.
Support groups allow you to meet other people with anxiety disorders. Such groups also allow you to learn more about your anxiety, learn ways to manage the condition, and develop your social network.
Engaging in trauma therapy can help you uncover the root cause of your anxiety.
Trauma-based therapies such as EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing), talk therapy, and individual counseling are helpful treatment options to help combat anxiety disorder symptoms.
Other mental illnesses
For those with substance use disorders, trauma therapy can be beneficial and allow you to explore why you might be turning to alcohol or drugs to cope.
Further treatment options
Other effective treatments for anxiety disorder include mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and certain medications to treat anxiety.
It may be helpful for those seeking help with anxiety to speak with their doctor or health care provider, who can refer them to a mental health professional or counselor.
Once an initial assessment has been carried out, your health provider may suggest that you engage in psychotherapy (such as CBT) to help manage your worries.
Help and support are available
No matter what type of anxiety disorder you have, help and support are always available.
Anxiety doesn’t have to be a way of life- there are plenty of ways to manage your condition with proper diagnosis and treatment. Contact the team at Tikvah Lake Recovery to find out more.