Get Yourself Out There
If you suffer from mild to moderate social anxiety, you might just feel like you are in a rut most of the time. What is the best way to get out of a rut? Do something.
Although it can be tempting to avoid social and performance situations if you suffer from social anxiety disorder , it is important to get yourself out there. That means accepting invitations to go places and do things that make you uncomfortable. At the same time, you need to prepare yourself to properly handle being out there.
The Worrying Never Ends With This Common Disorder
by Andrea Barbalich, AARP, May 23, 2019
En español | Nearly everyone is a little anxious or even very anxious sometimes. And that periodic feeling of worry or dread can be protective. Feeling nervous about whether you’ll give a good presentation, for example, can keep you alert and maybe help you ace it.
But when worry begins to interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks, that could be a sign of an anxiety disorder the most common mental illness in the United States. Each year, about 18 percent of American adults age 18 and older suffer from an anxiety disorder, an umbrella term that includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety and phobias, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are closely related.
Among older Americans, the most prevalent anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety, a condition characterized by a pervasive sense of worry about a wide range of things, according to the ADAA.
“This makes sense when you consider that many older adults struggle with loss, isolation, medical and physical limitations, and financial stress, says Stephen Ferrando, M.D., director of psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.
Phobias are also more common among older adults, Ferrando notes, particularly agoraphobia, which is the fear of going out or being in crowds.
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy.
- Heart palpitations or chest pain.
- Feeling like youre going to pass out.
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation.
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
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Managing Anxiety And Depression
A therapist can offer more guidance on treatment options for anxiety and depression, but you can also take steps to cope with symptoms on your own.
The strategies below may not always help, but trying different approaches at different times can help you learn more about what works for you. That insight can guide you toward a personalized toolbox of coping strategies, so you always have options to consider when feeling distressed or overwhelmed.
Your therapist can also offer suggestions for new strategies to try, plus offer tips on putting them into practice.
Introduction To Anxiety Attacks/panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks are not a psychological term, so their definition can vary a bit depending on the speaker. But anxiety attacks are often used either synonymously with the term “panic attacks” .
Panic attacks are short term moments of anxiety so severe, it can feel like you are about to die. During an anxiety attack, you’ll often experience a host of physical and mental symptoms that can leave you severely frightened and incredibly drained once they pass. These include:
It’s not uncommon to experience other unusual symptoms during an anxiety attack that all contribute to further fear. Anxiety attacks tend to peak around 10 minutes in and then slowly fade over the course of a few hours, often leaving the individual drained and anxious, and in some cases wondering what went wrong.
These panic attacks are rarely just feelings of nervousness or worry. They are very physical and mental events. Those that have never had a panic attack before dont always realize that they had an anxiety attack. Some people have first-time anxiety attacks so severe that they call the hospital because they think something is going horribly wrong.
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Differential Diagnosis And Comorbidity
When evaluating a patient for a suspected anxiety disorder, it is important to exclude medical conditions with similar presentations . Other psychiatric disorders use of substances such as caffeine, albuterol, levothyroxine, or decongestants or substance withdrawal may also present with similar symptoms and should be ruled out.5
Complicating the diagnosis of GAD and PD is that many conditions in the differential diagnosis are also common comorbidities. Additionally, many patients with GAD or PD meet criteria for other psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder and social phobia. Evidence suggests that GAD and PD usually occur with at least one other psychiatric disorder, such as mood, anxiety, or substance use disorders.10 When anxiety disorders occur with other conditions, historic, physical, and laboratory findings may be helpful in distinguishing each diagnosis and developing appropriate treatment plans.
How To Do It
To practice 4-7-8 breathing, find a place to sit or lie down comfortably. Be sure you practice good posture, especially when starting out. If youre using the technique to fall asleep, lying down is best.
Prepare for the practice by resting the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your top front teeth. Youll need to keep your tongue in place throughout the practice. It takes practice to keep from moving your tongue when you exhale. Exhaling during 4-7-8 breathing can be easier for some people when they purse their lips.
The following steps should all be carried out in the cycle of one breath:
When you inhale again, you initiate a new cycle of breath. Practice this pattern for four full breaths.
The held breath is the most critical part of this practice. Its also recommended that you only practice 4-7-8 breathing for four breaths when youre first starting out. You can gradually work your way up to eight full breaths.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders
In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms include:
- Feelings of apprehension or dread.
- Watching for signs of danger.
- Anticipating the worst.
- Feeling like your minds gone blank.
But anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the bodys fight-or-flight response, it also involves a wide range of physical symptoms, including:
- Pounding heart.
- Shaking or trembling.
Because of these physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is finally recognized.
Normal Anxiety Vs Anxiety Disorders
Not all anxiety is a bad thing. Normal levels of anxiety can be adaptive because it helps prepare you for situations where you need to respond to stresses in the environment.
The difference between normal anxiety and what would be characterized as extreme anxiety is how it affects your ability to function and the level of distress that it creates.
When anxiety is extreme or severe, it makes it difficult or impossible for you to function normally in different situations. It may make it so you cannot work or socialize like you normally would. It can create such severe distress that you actually begin to avoid situations that are likely to trigger feelings of anxiety.
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Whats The Outlook For People With Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can often go undiagnosed and untreated. Fortunately, treatment can help. The right treatment can help improve your quality of life, relationships and productivity. It can also support your overall well-being.
You dont need to live with constant worry and fear. If you notice symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Its best to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Doing so can limit the problems that anxiety disorders can cause. Often, a combination of medications and counseling for anxiety can help you feel your best.
Types Of Extreme Anxiety
It is also essential to understand that there are many different types of anxiety disorders. Your doctor or therapist can evaluate your symptoms and determine what kind of condition you might have.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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Try An Herbal Supplement
If you really feel like trying something medicinal, but aren’t yet ready to broach the topic of medication with your doctor or psychiatrist, consider trying an herbal supplement from your drug store.
There are many herbal supplements that are used in managing anxiety however, it is important to know that herbal supplements are not regulated by the United States Food & Drug Administration the same way that traditional medications are evaluated. Be sure to read about any cautions, warnings or medication interactions before taking an herbal supplement.
Iii Healthy Lifestyle Habits
1. Breathe. Slow and deep breathing is the cornerstone of calm. Start by breathing in and out slowly. After a few seconds practice the 4-4-4: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Let the breath flow in and out effortlessly. Repeat four times.
2. Drink more water. Dehydration may affect anxiety in a variety of ways.
3. Make sleep a priority. Our culture celebrates those who work hard and play hard, but theres a price. If youre irritable, sluggish, and drained, chances are youre sleep-deprived.
The National Sleep Foundation , along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep duration. Here are the adult recommendations:
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Stop Complaining And Blaming
Perhaps you were dealt a bad hand in life. Maybe you had a controlling mother or a father who put you down. Although these life experiences may have contributed to your social anxiety, you don’t need to let them continue to influence the course of your life. Start taking responsibility for your actions and behavior.
When To Seek Professional Help
While self-help coping strategies can be very effective, if your worries, fears, or anxiety attacks have become so great that theyre causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, its important to seek professional help.
If youre experiencing a lot of physical symptoms, you should start by getting a medical checkup. Your doctor can check to make sure that your anxiety isnt caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, hypoglycemia, or asthma. Since certain drugs and supplements can cause anxiety, your doctor will also want to know about any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and recreational drugs youre taking.
If your physician rules out a medical cause, the next step is to consult with a therapist who has experience treating anxiety disorders. The therapist will work with you to determine the cause and type of your disorder and devise a course of treatment.
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Tips For Coping With An Anxiety Disorder
Having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life, but people with anxiety disorders experience frequent and excessive anxiety, fear, terror and panic in everyday situations. These feelings are unhealthy if they affect your quality of life and prevent you from functioning normally.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Feeling nervous
- A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger
These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control. They are out of proportion to the actual danger and can cause you to avoid places or situations.
You should see your health care provider if your anxiety is affecting your life and relationships. Your provider can help rule out any underlying physical health issue before seeing a mental health professional.
While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes and coping strategies also can make a difference.
Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
How Do I Access Treatment
To get treatment on the NHS, the first step is normally to visit your GP. They will do an assessment, which might include asking you to fill in a questionnaire about how often you feel worried, anxious and nervous.
They should then explain your treatment options to you, and you can decide together what might suit you best.
See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for more information on how to prepare for an appointment and have your say in treatment.
Unfortunately NHS waiting lists for talking treatments can be very long. If you’re finding it hard to access talking therapies you could consider:
- Charities and specialist organisations. See useful contacts for a list of organisations that may offer therapy or be able to put you in touch with local services. Mind’s Infoline could also help you find services near you.
- Private therapy. Finding a private therapist is another option some people choose to explore, but it’s not suitable for everyone because it can be expensive. See our page on private therapy for more information.
What if my anxiety stops me from seeking help?
It can be especially hard to get treatment if making or attending an appointment with your doctor involves doing something that causes lots of anxiety for you. For example, you might not feel able to talk on the phone or leave the house.
Here are some things you could try:
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Buy Yourself A New Outfit
Retail therapy is obviously no cure for social anxiety, but sometimes clothing really can make you feel like a new person with a new attitude. Try to get yourself out of a rut by purchasing something outside your comfort zone. Choose a unique accent piece both to try something new and to give others a conversation starter when they first meet you.
How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:
- Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
- Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
- Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
- Is treatable.
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What Happens If I Dont Get Treatment For My Child With An Anxiety Disorder
Getting your child help for an anxiety disorder can improve their development and self-esteem. But untreated anxiety disorders can harm:
- Family relationships.
- School performance.
- Social functioning.
Your child may also end up with more serious mental and physical health problems. Fortunately, there are several treatments for anxiety disorders. The right treatment can help your child manage their symptoms and feel their best.
Dos And Donts Of Helping Someone With Anxiety
- It is challenging to love someone that lives with anxiety
- Some of the ways that friends/family try to help can make anxiety worse
- There are many dos and donts for those who have loved ones with anxiety
- Your support is going to be a big part of their recovery
- If you personally have never experienced an anxiety disorder, it is helpful to remember that the experience of living with anxiety is typically not what most people imagine
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Every Time I Think My Anxiety Is Gone For Good It Comes Back Worse Than Before Can You Help Me
From time to time I get an email asking for advice on how to make anxiety go away. For some reason, Im reminded of a rude houseguest or a family member that lingers and looms. Perhaps the connection isnt completely off base.
For the most part, anxiety is a condition that comes and goes. But for some, anxiety never goes away completely. Thats the bad news. The good news is you can manage the symptoms so they dont manage you. If it’s helpful, consider your anxiety as a chronic condition that needs constant monitoring. Miss a day of treatment and you may throw your system off. Having a plan means your daily to-do list includes anti-anxiety strategies.
Because anxiety can occur at three levelsbrain, behavior and subjective experienceit makes sense to tackle numerous fronts.
Here are nine things you can do on any given day to get on the right side of calm.
Coping With Anxiety To Live A Better Life
You dont have to live with constant, crippling anxiety. Yes, this is a chronic condition that may resolve only to return years later, but anxiety disorder is manageable. It responds well to professional residential treatment for anxiety disorders and good coping mechanisms.
Life can be betterit can even be great againif you seek the help you need and learn to manage anxiety. You learn to stop anxiety attacks before they get out of control, to change your life to minimize stress and anxiety, and to make healthy lifestyle choices that promote good mental health.
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