How to Manage Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural feeling of fear or panic that people experience during times of stress and danger. The feelings usually go away after we have a chance to calm down and think things through.
Anxiety can affect a person’s daily life and is a common mental health problem. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and specific phobias, are a type of psychological disorder characterized by excessive, inappropriate fear or worry.
Risk factors for developing anxiety include genetics, biology and environmental experiences such as a history of trauma or childhood abuse. Anxiety can also be triggered by medical conditions or substance use disorders.
Some medications help to manage symptoms of anxiety. These include antidepressants, benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs can be used alone or in combination with other treatment methods.
Behavioral treatments are often the most effective way to treat an anxiety disorder. Talk therapy aims to identify negative thinking patterns that fuel anxiety and address them. Other techniques, such as exposure therapy, can be incorporated into a treatment plan.
Lifestyle changes are important in managing the condition. These may involve dietary and exercise adjustments, a focus on sleep and relaxation, and stress management techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
Sometimes medication is prescribed for a short period, such as during an acute attack. Medications can be addictive and should be stopped at the first sign of withdrawal. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, can be very helpful in treating anxiety, but should not be used for long periods of time.
Symptoms vary by individual and can range from mild to severe. They include feeling anxious or worried, irritable or upset, having difficulty sleeping, having trouble concentrating, and feeling tense or restless. Physical signs can also be present, such as hot or cold flashes, sweating or trembling.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but it can become a problem if you don’t manage it properly. If you find your anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life and doesn’t subside, talk to your doctor.
The most common symptoms of anxiety are feeling anxious or nervous, a racing heartbeat, pounding in the ears and chest pains. Other symptoms can be more serious and include shortness of breath, dizziness, or a change in the color of your skin.
You can learn how to control your anxiety without medication by practicing stress management and mindfulness. You can also try to limit caffeine to help relieve symptoms.
Your healthcare provider can tailor a treatment plan to your needs and goals. Your healthcare provider may recommend medication or a combination of medication and psychotherapy, which involves talking to a trained professional about how to cope with anxiety symptoms.
Some people who have an anxiety disorder may also be more vulnerable to depression, another common psychiatric condition that is often treated with antidepressants. The causes of depression aren’t fully understood, but researchers believe they relate to genetics and brain structure, as well as lifetime adversity such as trauma or abuse.