What is anxiety and what can you do about it?
Anxiety is common across the world, I have yet to meet anyone who says they have never experienced it. It is normal and sometimes positive because it can act as a great means of motivation for solving problems. It is also useful in helping a person avoid dangerous situations.
Commonly, it is caused by perceived or imagined threats in the environment set to happen in the future. Some people are more likely than others to experience anxiety and it can vary in severity, from mild uneasiness through to terrifying panic attacks.
It can last only a few moments or it can be many years in the more severe case. It can affect someone’s thinking, feeling, behavior and physical well-being.
Signs And Symptoms:
• Thinking Racing thoughts or mental blanks, decreased focus and memory, indecisiveness, confusion and vivid dreams
• Feeling Unrealistic or excessive fear and worry about past and future events, irritability, impatience, anger, feeling on edge and nervousness
• Behaviour Avoidance of situations, obsessive or compulsive behaviour, distress in social situations, sleep disturbances and potential of increased use of alcohol or other substances
- Pounding or rapid heartbeat, chest pain, blushing
- Rapid, shallow breathing and shortness of breath
- Dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling and numbness
- Choking, dry mouth, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Muscle aches and pains (especially neck, shoulders and back) restlessness, tremors and shaking
People with anxiety problems may be diagnosed with different types of disorders which differ from each other by the types of events or experiences the person feels anxious about and by the sorts of beliefs they hold that exacerbate their anxiety.
The main disorders where anxiety plays a major factor are: PTSD, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and it’s not unusual for a person to have more than one of these disorders.
Many people with the problems do not fit neatly into a particular type of anxiety disorder, it’s common for them to have features of several anxiety disorders. A high level of anxiety over a long period will often lead to depression, so many people will have a mixture of anxiety and depression.
People most at risk are those who:
• Have perceptions of a threatening world
• Have history of anxiety in childhood or adolescence, including being labelled shy
• Are female
• Engage in substance abuse
• Have experienced trauma
• Experienced a difficult childhood (neglect, abuse, over-strictness)
• Have a family background involving poverty or lack of job skills
• Have genealogical history
Anxiety can also result from:
• Withdrawal from substances
• Intoxication with alcohol, caffeine, amphetamines, cannabis, etc
• Side effects of certain prescription medication
• Some medical conditions such as – hyperthyroidism, arrhythmias, respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and metabolic conditions such as vitamin b12 deficiency.
Activities and Treatments for Anxiety
There are a wide range of exercises and treatments that can help with anxiety, the following have the strongest evidence for effectiveness.
If you’re feeling anxious and your brain is tormenting you with your worst-case, believable scenario, professionals say that it’s helpful to ‘talk back’ to your anxiety and come up with extravagant scenarios that could happen instead – like a unicorn falling from the sky or a spaceship landing in front of you. Humour is one of the best tools against the fear that takes place in anxiety, alongside connecting with others, feeling safe and:
• Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
• Behaviour Therapy or Exposure Therapy
• Self-help books based on CBT
• Time Line Therapy ®
• Exercise – yoga, HIIT, sport, Pilates
• Ecstatic dance or dance classes
• Cold showers and regular ice baths
If you feel that you are experiencing anxiety it is important to begin doing something about it now. It can have a major impact on a person’s life and seeking professional help that feels right for you is the best self-care you can give to yourself. A professional will be able to work with you to design helpful strategies for triggers so that you can develop new, positive behavior so you can remain safe and healthy.