Dealing With Anxiety
Anxiety is an often debilitating condition that can impact every aspect of life. It can cause stress, depression, and a host of physical symptoms, from headaches to muscle tension and even insomnia.
There are many types of anxiety disorders, but all have one thing in common: excessive fear and worry about a specific situation or event. Experts aren’t sure what causes anxiety, but they believe it’s a mix of biological and environmental factors.
A person who has a high level of anxiety may also be more likely to develop health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. If you have anxiety and are worried about your health, talk to your GP about seeing a mental health specialist (psychologist) or doctor.
Medication and psychotherapy are common ways to treat anxiety disorders. The best treatment for you will depend on your symptoms, the type of disorder you have, and your health care provider’s preferences.
Medications are generally used to control a particular kind of anxiety, such as panic attacks or social phobias. They work by reducing the release of adrenaline, a hormone and chemical messenger that triggers a fight-or-flight response in the brain when a person is feeling threatened.
Anxiety medications include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta blockers. They can be helpful for short-term use, but they should not be taken regularly since you can become dependent on them and build up resistance to the medication.
Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine and refined sugars, are also helpful for people with anxiety. These can reduce your stress and increase your energy levels, which can help you cope better with anxiety.
You can also do things that make you feel calm, such as taking deep breaths and focusing on something positive. This can give you a new perspective on your fears and encourage you to face them head-on.
Exercise is also a good way to deal with anxiety. Try to do some exercise at least three times a week, and vary the activity so it doesn’t become boring.
Keeping a diary of your thoughts and worries can also help you to work through them more easily. This can lead to improved sleep and a more calm mind.
A therapist can teach you strategies that are tailored to your specific concerns, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches you new skills and ways to think and behave in situations.
It can also involve slowly exposing you to your feared situations and objects in a step-by-step way, so you can gradually build up your confidence that you can cope with these. This is called ‘desensitisation’.
Your therapist can also help you with breathing techniques, relaxation and coping statements to make you more aware of your feelings, so you can better manage them when they arise.
If you don’t have access to a therapist, your GP might be able to recommend an online resource that can help you manage your anxiety. They can also ask you to fill out a questionnaire that will let them know how anxious you are in certain situations.