Anxiety is a condition of apprehension, uncertainty and dread of some anticipated threat. It is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear.
Anxiety disorders can also be described as anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behaviour such as frequent peeping through the windows and hand washing. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in live. Anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available and these treatments can help most people to live productive lives.
Generally, for a person to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the individual’s level of fear or anxiety must be out of proportion to a situation or age and the anxiety must hinder an individual’s ability to function normally.
Just like stress, there are different types of anxiety disorders which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and separation anxiety disorders. All these anxiety disorders have their specific symptoms.
There are some risk factors associated with anxiety disorders and these include genetics, environment, psychological and developmental. Anxiety disorders can run in families suggesting that a combination of genes and environmental stresses can produce the disorders.
For you to know that you have anxiety disorder you must be experiencing such symptoms as excessive worry for no reason, and may have no control of it. You may be afraid to go out in public for fear of having an anxiety attack and may constantly worry about your health, your loved ones or your finances.
You may have trouble sleeping and may wake up often through the night. You may also wake up early and be unable to go back to sleep. On the opposite of the spectrum, you may sleep too much and find it necessary to take multiple naps throughout the day, feeling as if you cannot stay awake due to fatigue or stress.
You may experience hot flashes accompanied with feeling very hot and very cold and sweating. You may also experience nausea or nausea with vomiting and diarrhea.
You may experience tension for longer periods coupled with headaches that may require over the counter medications.
Some other physical symptoms may include a feeling of restlessness, feeling “keyed up” or “on edge,” shortness of breath or a feeling of choking, a racing heart, chest pain , dizziness and butterflies in the stomach.
Here are suggested ways to cope with anxiety:
- Take a time out- meditate, listen to music, step back from the problem.
- Eat healthy. Do not skip meals. Always snacks.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine which can aggravate and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and healthy.
- Take deep breaths – inhale and exhale slowly.
- Do your best and learn to be content with what you have and where you are.
- Welcome humour – a good laugh is necessary.
- Accept that you cannot do everything.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make efforts to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved in volunteer or find a way to be active in your community which creates networking and gives a break from everyday stress.
- Identify what triggers your anxiety- is it work, school, family or something else. You can practise exposure therapy.
For instance if you are afraid of heights,
try to climb a storey building. Several trials will reduce the anxiety.
- Talk to someone. Tell your family and friends and let them know how they will help you.
You can also talk to your therapist.
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