At one point or another, everyone has felt worried or afraid — and that’s normal. Anxiety in itself is normal. People experience anxiety when they are faced with unknown or dangerous situations, and in many cases, anxiety is necessary for survival.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it is frequent and excessive compared to its trigger, or when it occurs for extended periods of time and starts to interfere with regular activities. The medical term for when this happens is called an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is the most common form of mental disorders that affects about 30 percent of adults. It could, however, become severe if left untreated. There are several ways to treat anxiety disorders ranging from medication to psychotherapy and lifestyle changes, but this article will focus only on lifestyle changes and self-treatment of some of the milder types of anxiety disorder.
Causes of anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorder can be caused by a range of factors, from environmental stressors to brain chemistry to emotional and psychological traumas and issues. Anyone or a combination of these factors can lead to excessive fear and anxiety attacks.
Types of anxiety disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is a feeling of excessive worry or fear over regular responsibilities and tasks that interfere with daily activities. This could come with physical symptoms of restlessness, inability to sleep, difficulty concentrating, feeling fatigued or muscle tension.
Phobias are fear of a specific thing, event, or situation, and they made be rational or irrational. Severe cases may result in sweaty palms, increased blood pressure and unnecessary avoidance of such at the expense of better judgment.
Panic attacks occur when one goes through intense episodes of psychological stress usually brought on by fear. Panic attacks usually come with extreme physical symptoms which include but are not limited to palpitations, rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, feeling lightheaded, or even fainting.
Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where help might not be readily available in cases of anxiety attacks. Some examples include the fear of using public transport or being outside the house. Extreme cases involve people being too afraid to leave the house.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder is brought about by fear of being rejected, looked down on, or embarrassed in a social setting. According to psychologists today, low self-esteem could be a cause of mental anxiety disorders. People suffering from this type of disorder avoid social situations and interactions with extreme cases involving reclusion.
Separation anxiety disorder
Separation anxiety disorder is brought about by an exaggerated fear of losing a loved one or close relative. This disorder is usually accompanied by persistent worrying and even over-attachment on the part of the afflicted.
Treatment and Self-Help
Some anxiety disorders are mild and can be treated with adequate rest or certain lifestyle changes, while some others may need medication. Treatment also depends on the severity of the disorder, but before any disorder can be treated, it has to first be understood. After all, the underlying cause and any possible habits or lifestyle choices that may be aiding the condition. The first step to take on the path to treatment is to consult a doctor. After evaluation, your doctor will be able to outline the best form of treatment. That being said, some self-help techniques for coping with and overcoming anxiety disorders may include to:
Talk to someone
Sometimes all someone needs are to get stuff off their chest. Talking has proved to be an effective way of relieving anxiety, so much so that talk therapy is one of the most popular methods of clinical intervention.
Join a support group
Being amongst people who understand and can relate to what you go through provides a support system that enables individuals to overcome and heal. That is why support groups like AA are important. There are support groups for anxiety disorders and a good number of them provide anxiety therapy for its members.
Take things one step at a time
Anxiety attacks may occur due to feelings of being overwhelmed. Making lists and breaking tasks into smaller bits helps people manage the tasks or responsibilities that may be overwhelming otherwise.
Spend time with your pet
ESA’s or emotional support animals are great sources to keep your anxiety at levels. If you ever get a fuzzy feeling after petting your fur baby after a long, stressful day you could be flooding your system with oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that has a calming effect. It leaves you feeling tranquil and loving, and certainly, that helps our path to sleep. For this reason, emotional support animals play a big role in mental health, especially on anxiety disorders.
Get enough rest
Meditation calms the mind and allows individuals to focus on what is important— getting better.
Anxiety disorders can be caused by certain lifestyle choices or bad habits. Identifying and rooting out these habits helps one’s mind to recover and heal. Keep these facts in mind as you move forward, and always know that you can — and should — reach out to an expert whenever things get too much to handle alone.