Coping Strategies That Can Help You Manage Normal Anxiety Or A Disorder
Whether your anxiety is situational or stems from a disorder, a few healthy coping strategies may help restore your sense of calm, says Bourne.
One oft-recommended technique is deep breathing, in which you slowly inhale through your nose so that your chest and belly expand and then slowly exhale through your mouth, according to Harvard Health. Repeat for a period of two to three minutes or longer.
Deep breathing helps relieve anxiety by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces the overall stress and anxiety you may be experiencing, explain Mayo Clinic experts. This, in turn, typically slows your heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure. A focus on your breathing can help you let go of distracting thoughts or feelings, Harvard Health says.
Another common technique for reducing anxiety, notes Bourne, is to identify and replace fearful self-talk.
First, Bourne says, identify any fearful thoughts going through your head. Many of these thoughts are What if? statements, with examples including, What if I stutter? or What if they see me sweating?
Try replacing the fearful self-talk with calming and constructive statements, such as, Ive handled this before and can handle it again, or I can be anxious and still deal with this situation, he suggests.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, other ways to manage anxiety are:
- Identify your personal triggers.
Why Do I Have Anxiety
What causes anxiety and anxiety disorders is complex. It is likely that a combination of both genetics and environmental factors play a role in why some individuals are more prone to anxiety than others. Some events, emotions, or experiences may make it more likely for the symptoms of anxiety to begin or worsenthese are known as triggers. Anxiety triggers can cause panic attacks in some people and differ from person to person and so working with a mental health professional to identify what your triggers are and how you can react when faced with them can be incredibly helpful.
What Can You Expect From Anxiety Treatment
Weve covered a lot of heavy stuff, so now for the bright side: Its totally possible to treat anxiety and panic attacks. When you address whats going on psychologically, youll usually find that you end up feeling better physically too.
There are many lifestyle changes you can take on at home that can make a big difference in the way that you feel. But a diagnosed anxiety disorder calls for some professional help too. Ultimately, the best course of anxiety treatment is different for everyone and will depend on your specific symptoms. If you have access to them, a blend of therapy and medication helps the most. Some of the most common anxiety treatments include:
Seeing a mental health professional is a big move, but working with a therapist can be a crucial tool in your anxiety-fighting arsenal. Talk therapy is generally recommended for treating most types of anxiety disorders, per the NIMH. But the type of therapy youll benefit from will depend on the type of anxiety youre dealing with, your symptoms, your personal health history, and your overall lifestyle.
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Do I Have Anxiety Or Worry: Whats The Difference
- By Luana Marques, PhD, Contributor
Have you ever thought about starting a new job or school, and found your heart pounding and your mind racing with a series of what ifs? If so, you may wonder do I have anxiety?
Anxiety is your bodys natural threat response system. When your brain believes you are in danger, it sends out a series of signals to your body, resulting in the fight-or-flight response.
Your Heart Is Racing Or Youre Breathing Heavy
Another consequence of the fight-or-flight physical reaction: Blood flows to areas that need it morespecifically, your heart, which then works in over time, pumping harder and faster, Zakarin explains. Youll also try to take in more oxygen, which leaves you breathing heavy. Its like youre exercising, even if youre hardly moving.
The bodily changes that occur are built in for our survival. Therefore, most of the symptoms are normal…and predictable, like a rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, smothering sensations, increased blood pressure, feeling sick, hot, dizzy, faint or sweating, Nezu says. The irony here is that people rarely brush off intense symptoms of anxiety as normal. They tend to worry even more, making an interpretation that their rapid breathing is due to a heart attack, or feeling faint may mean they have a brain tumor. You can imagine how this triggers more fear of harm, creating a vicious cycle.
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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
How Do You Treat A Silent Heart Attack
Some people whose heart attacks go unrecognized learn about them weeks or months later when they visit their doctor, often for a yearly physical.
We can tell the size of the heart attack by how much heart muscle has been damaged, often on an electrocardiogram , or even more precisely on a cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiogram, says Dr. Rimmerman.
Other people visit their doctors soon after a silent heart attack because they experience persistent symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.
Sometimes these symptoms are caused by a leaky mitral valve, caused by scarring of your heart muscle and associated valve dysfunction after a heart attack. Serious complications can follow, including decompensated heart failure, heart rhythm disorders and loss of consciousness.
While atypical heart attack symptoms are most common among women and people with diabetes, they can happen to anyone, says Dr. Rimmerman.
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How Will A Diagnosis Of Social Anxiety Impact A Child Or Family
The first step to overcoming social anxiety disorder is a formal diagnosis. Once a child is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, the family may feel relieved that a specific treatment plan can now be put into place to ease the childs symptoms. Children with social anxiety disorder are typically treated with either behavioral therapy or a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.
Are The Treatments Different
After diagnosis, you can get a treatment plan specific to your needs. Treatments for OCD and anxiety disorders can include one or a mix of the following:
- Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy .
- Medication to help reduce the symptoms. This might include anti-anxiety medications, such as beta-blockers and antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can also help treat OCD, often in higher doses than used for depression.
- Complementary health approaches, including relaxation techniques.
People with OCD and some types of anxiety disorder, such as specific phobias, can benefit from exposure and response prevention, a type of treatment for OCD.
OCD has similar traits to other conditions, which the DSM-5 has compiled within its OCD chapter. Other conditions OCD could be confused with are:
- hoarding disorder
- body focused repetitive disorder
- olfactory reference syndrome
Though there are similarities such as repetitive behaviors and obsessions, there are some critical differences like body-only focuses or positive feelings from the repetitive behavior, which arent present in OCD.
Anxiety disorders such as and agoraphobia can also be confused with OCD. Symptoms such as avoiding particular places or situations because of fear is common in all three conditions.
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Who Is This Anxiety Quiz For
Below is a list of questions designed for people who are experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder .
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
You Consistently Ask For A Second Opinion
This might seem easier to spot in a loved one with anxiety, but pay attention to it for yourself, too. Probably the most common observation from people close to individuals trying to manage intense anxiety is that they appear aroused, hyped up, continually doubt themselves, and seek reassurance, says Christine Maguth Nezu, PhD, professor of psychology at Drexel University. In making a decision, someone might ask friends or co-workers if they are making the right decision, or theyll continually search the internet, never satisfied that they have enough information, and worrying they may make the wrong decision.
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When Should I Go To The Emergency Room For An Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can resemble symptoms of a heart attack or another health emergency. If youre experiencing an anxiety attack for the first time, or youre concerned in any way about your health, call 911 or head to the nearest ER. A healthcare provider will check you for serious or life-threatening conditions.
If youre having an anxiety attack and unsure whether you should head to an ER or not, its better to go. Healthcare professionals can make sure youre OK and give you any necessary treatment.
You Avoid Social Situations
Not everyone who has anxiety fears social situations. Still, for those with social anxiety disorder, the fear of being judged negatively or humiliated in front of others can be so debilitating that social situations are avoided altogether.
If you have social anxiety, you may feel extremely fearful in large groups of people or when meeting someone new for the first time. You are likely to appear extremely shy, and you may talk in a hushed voice or find that you are excessively self-conscious.
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How Do You Treat Depression And Anxiety
It can be harder for doctors to diagnose and treat depression and anxiety when they happen together. That’s why it’s important to tell your doctor about all of your symptoms.
The treatment for both anxiety and depression involves talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the main talk therapies. It teaches you how to think and behave differently to stop triggering your anxiety or depression.
Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. They change the balance of chemicals in your brain to improve your mood. Anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers are treatments for anxiety.
The sooner you start treatment, the more likely it will help you. Let your doctor know if the treatment you’re on doesn’t relieve your symptoms or if it causes side effects. It may take a few tries to find the treatment that works best for you.
Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders
A mix of genetic and environmental factors can raise a persons risk for developing anxiety disorders. You may be at higher risk if you have or had:
- Certain personality traits, such as shyness or behavioral inhibition feeling uncomfortable with, and avoiding, unfamiliar people, situations or environments.
- Stressful or traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood.
- Family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Certain physical conditions, including thyroid problems and heart arrhythmias .
Anxiety disorders occur more often in women. Researchers are still studying why that happens. It may come from womens hormones, especially those that fluctuate throughout the month. The hormone testosterone may play a role, too men have more, and it may ease anxiety. Its also possible that women are less likely to seek treatment, so the anxiety worsens.
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What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are a combination of physical and mental symptoms that are intense and overwhelming. The anxiety is more than just regular nervousness. The anxiety is often a feeling of immense, impending doom that makes many people feel they’re about to die, or that everything around them is breaking down.
It creates physical symptoms that are so severe they actually mimic legitimate, serious health problems.
Those that haven’t had an anxiety attack before often have no idea that what they’re experiencing is anxiety. That’s because the symptoms of anxiety attacks and panic attacks mimic extremely serious issues, such as:
- Heart attacks and heart failure.
- Brain tumors.
Yet despite how intense these things can feel, anxiety attacks are not even remotely dangerous.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
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How To Tell If You Have Anxiety Depression Or Both
As you can see from the symptom descriptions, there is some cross-over between the two. In mental health, one of the more common comorbidities is that of depression and anxiety. This means that more than one disease or condition can be present in the same person at the same time. In fact, some studies show that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression and the numbers are similar for those with depression.
Anxiety and depression can occur sequentially, one after another, or they can co-occur, said Jerimya Fox, a licensed professional counselor and a doctor of behavioral health at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital. This is because the same neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine, are involved in both.
To meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder or depression, however, symptoms must be persistent and impairing.
For anxiety, these must persist for several months, and for depression a couple weeks, Dr. Fox said.
To assess the severity of your symptoms, Dr. Fox suggests the following:
- Ask a trusted family member or friend if they have noticed changes in your behavior.
- Recognize the severity of your symptoms: mild, moderate or severe.
- Track your thoughts and symptoms. How often are you getting sick? How often are you having racing thoughts? How often are you having difficulty getting out of bed?
Famous People With High Functioning Anxiety
When trying to raise awareness of a social issue like mental illness, it can be helpful to identify well-known or famous people as examples.
Stars such as Barbra Streisand and Donny Osmond, and athletes like Zack Greinke and Ricky Williams, have all been forthcoming about their experiences with high functioning anxiety.
Scott Stossel, the national editor of The Atlantic,has written extensively about his experiences with anxiety in the context of his achievements.
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What Does It Mean To Be Anxious
Although anxiety is often an unpleasant feeling, its actually a healthy response to certain triggers.
There are many situations that come up in everyday life when it is appropriate and reasonable to react with some anxiety, says Edmund Bourne, PhD, a former director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in San Jose and Santa Rosa, California, and the author of The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook.
Thats because anxiety as in day-to-day worrying about say, crossing a busy street or about a persistent toothache helps keep us safe. Its also a natural response to stressors. As Dr. Bourne explains, If you didnt feel anxiety in response to everyday challenges involving personal loss or failure, something would be wrong.
Normal anxiety is proportionally related to a specific situation or problem and lasts only as long as the situation or problem does, says Sarah Gundle, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City and a teacher at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. For example, its completely normal to feel anxious about speaking in front of a large group of people or meeting an important deadline at work.
You Answered Yes To Question
If you answered yes to one or more of the questions, you might have an anxiety disorder. Most people deal with stress in their lives, but when stress begins to significantly interfere with our functioning and/or causes impairment, it might be more problematic than âeveryday stressâ. The good news is that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, and think that they are negatively interfering with your life, it might be time to seek treatment!
It will be important to begin with a structured clinical evaluation by a professional to see if you meet criteria for an anxiety disorder, which will inform your treatment plan. Our mental health impacts many aspects of our lives, such as our physical health and our quality of life, which is why it is so important to address any mental health problems with effective treatments!
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed professional. To begin your search for a mental health professional, go to the ADAA’s Therapist Directory.
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