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Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life, but it can become problematic when you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

They affect your ability to engage in daily activities. They also interfere with your mental and physical health.

Symptoms can be very strong and last a long time, making it hard to enjoy life and relationships. They may also interfere with work or school.

Most people with an anxiety disorder will need some kind of therapy to get their symptoms under control. Psychotherapy aims to help you understand and change negative thought patterns that lead to your anxiety symptoms.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most common type of psychotherapy for anxiety, and it helps you learn to recognise and change your thoughts and behaviours that are making you feel anxious. It can also include ‘desensitisation’, which is a technique that involves slowly exposing you to situations that make you anxious.

Other therapies that you might be offered are EMDR, which is a talking therapy to help make your brain deal with traumatic events in a different way and can improve your feelings of anxiety. This is particularly used for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Talking therapies and counselling are a short-term way of helping you learn new ways of managing your anxiety and dealing with other issues. These can include coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and education about your symptoms.

Your doctor or a mental healthcare provider can refer you to a specialist team for additional treatments, such as group therapy or medication. The most common types of medicine prescribed to treat anxiety are antidepressants, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and SNRIs.

A combination of medicines and therapy is often recommended to help you manage your anxiety. Medications can include beta-blockers, which can reduce the heart rate, breathing and shaking that some people experience when they are anxious.

Lifestyle changes can also help you feel less anxious. Try to keep a regular schedule of activities, such as exercise. Cut down on smoking, alcohol and other substances that can increase anxiety, such as caffeine.

Quitting smoking can help you manage your anxiety and prevent other health problems. It can be difficult to stop, so you might need support and encouragement from your family or friends.

Exercise regularly to keep your body healthy and boost your mood. Even a 10 minute walk each day can improve your mood and reduce your anxiety levels.

If you do have an anxiety disorder, talk to your GP and mental health provider. Early diagnosis can make it easier to treat the condition.

Some of the most effective treatments for anxiety are cognitive behavioural therapy, applied relaxation and medication. Your GP or mental healthcare provider will recommend the best therapy for you, depending on your needs and preferences.

Treatment options for anxiety include a mix of psychotherapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Having a support network can help you find the right therapy for you and ensure you stay on track with your treatment plan.

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