Prevention And Coping With Anxiety
All human beings experience anxiety. In many cases, anxiety can have some beneficial and adaptive qualities such as pushing one to study for an upcoming difficult exam or propelling a person to flee from danger. Although experiencing some anxiety with life stressors and worries is normal, sometimes it can be difficult to manage and can feel overwhelming. Below we provide a list of tips and strategies to help individuals prevent anxiety from reaching a diagnosable level. Even though not everyone will struggle with a diagnosable anxiety disorder, learning strategies to aid in relief from anxiety and to manage the “normal” anxiety experienced in everyday life can help you live the life you desire.
Learning Relaxation Strategies
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga
Exercise, Healthy Diet, and Rest
Awareness and Identifying Triggers
- It could be helpful to have a journal that you use to track your stressors, mood, thoughts, and behaviors that are impacted by anxiety. This will further help you identify the cause of your anxiety and notice when you may be engaging in unhelpful thoughts that only increase your anxiety.
Supportive Friendships & Family/ Contact a Therapist
Health Anxiety Treatment And Management
Health anxiety will be treated through a rehabilitation process. Offered through inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab here at Step One Recovery, a range of anxiety treatment services can be completed.
Before treatment can begin, signs and symptoms of health anxiety will need to be assessed, to deliver a full clinical diagnosis. With full insight, effective and niche treatments and therapies can be recommended.
Treating health anxiety will be possible through a range of talking therapies, exposure therapy sessions, mental health treatment and lifestyle management. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most recommended treatment, to understand, digest and reduce the negative associations of threat and health. Positive outlooks will be aimed for, resulting in mindful actions.
Lifestyle management will also be important to increase the quality of choices surrounding exercise, nutrition, sleep, and relaxation. As health anxiety can deplete wellbeing, treatments will focus on improving physical and psychological health.
Prescription medications are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders. Yet based on the risks of side effects, recommendations will be on a per-client basis. For someone who is struggling with physical triggers, side effects may induce a compulsive response, relapsing recovery.
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 Separation Anxiety Disorder
This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.
How To Stop Severe Anxiety Disorders
If you feel your anxiety is out of your control and significantly impacting your ability to function in life, go see your primary care provider immediately. Each additional day you go without treatment reinforces the anxiety, making it stronger. Because anxiety affects so many individuals, there are several options available.
Other anxiety reduction strategies like relaxation exercises and meditation may be less effective for severe anxiety, because the severity often makes spending time on those activities harder to accomplish. They may be useful in combination with other techniques, but should not be used alone.
It is highly recommended to seek therapy to better tackle long term management of severe anxiety.
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Government Of Canada’s Role
The Government of Canada is working to help Canadians improve and maintain their mental health, including coping with anxiety disorders. Within its jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works to:
- Support Canada’s researchers in finding ways to prevent and treat mental illnesses and disorders.
- Strengthen the capacity of the primary health care, home care and acute care sectors to effectively deliver mental health programs and services.
- Work in collaboration with other governments and non-governmental organizations to improve the mental health of Canadians.
- Provide high quality, reliable information to the public.
- Report on health trends in the population.
In 2007, the federal government provided funding to establish and support the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Among other goals, the Commission leads in the development of a national mental health strategy and works to reduce the stigma about mental illness.
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders
Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.
The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.
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Complementary Therapies For Anxiety Disorders
As you explore your anxiety disorder in therapy, you may also want to experiment with complementary therapies designed to bring your overall stress levels down and help you achieve emotional balance.
Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week can provide significant anxiety relief. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least an hour of aerobic exercise on most days.
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, when practiced regularly, can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of emotional well-being.
Biofeedback uses sensors that measure specific physiological functionssuch as heart rate, breathing, and muscle tensionto teach you to recognize your bodys anxiety response and learn how to control it using relaxation techniques.
Hypnosis is sometimes used in combination with CBT for anxiety. While youre in a state of deep relaxation, the hypnotherapist uses different therapeutic techniques to help you face your fears and look at them in new ways.
All Anxiety Is Serious Anxiety
Although it is possible for some anxiety to be more severe for some than for others, in many ways all anxiety is considered severe because of its impact on various aspects of your life now and later on:
- Quality of Life – Your quality of life is always important. Going through life with anxiety may mean experiencing less happiness because of its ability to interfere with your focus, sense of adventure, peace of mind, self-esteem, your projection of yourself in the world, etc.
- Stress – Stress is different from anxiety in that it does not cause impairment of your ability to function in life. Nevertheless, long term stress can still result in deleterious effects on your organs, weakening your immune system, impairing memory, accelerating aging, etc.
Also, if left untreated, anxiety may only worsen. Whether you already suffer from severe anxiety or you experience daily anxiety that simply makes it more difficult to manage life, all anxiety is relevant and damaging.
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Prioritize Getting A Good Nights Rest
Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health.
Even though a 2012 survey found that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
You can make sleep a priority by:
- only sleeping at night when youre tired
- not reading or watching television in bed
- not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- not tossing and turning in your bed or going to another room if you cant sleep
- avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
- keeping your room dark and cool
- writing down your worries before going to bed
- going to sleep at the same time each night
Can Foods Treat Anxiety
Medication and talk therapy are commonly used to treat anxiety. Lifestyle changes, like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, can also help. In addition, some research suggests the foods you eat may have a beneficial impact on your brain if you frequently experience anxiety.
These foods include:
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Suffering From Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is an incredibly stressful, but arguably manageable disorder. Many people still work, spend time with friends, and hold onto relationships while living with anxiety. But others are more affected by it, and some even struggle to complete the tasks of everyday life.
The best way to characterize a severe anxiety disorder is one that is disabling or significantly impairs someone from managing their activities or responsibilities. For example:
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors or in unfamiliar places. Panic disorder is generally characterized as with or without agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be disabling on their own, and so severe that hospitalization is required. However, the addition of agoraphobia worsens their symptoms and experiences, because it makes it difficult to go outside or enjoy any type of social life – and the anxiety a person does experience while outdoors is significant.
- Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Some individuals suffer from severe OCD, which consists of being so engrossed in repetitive thoughts and the need to perform acts/compulsions in order to ease the anxiety caused by the thoughts. The degree of compulsions can make people unable to actually live their lives because they are forced to spend so much time acting out their compulsions.
Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorder
Some things also make you more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors you canât change, but others you can.
Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of mental health disorder. Having another mental health disorder, like depression, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Childhood sexual abuse. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.
- Trauma. Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder , which can cause panic attacks.
- Negative life events. Stressful or negative life events, like losing a parent in early childhood, increase your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Severe illness or chronic health condition. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
- Substance abuse. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs makes you more likely to get an anxiety disorder. Some people also use these substances to hide or ease anxiety symptoms.
- Being shy as a child. Shyness and withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places during childhood is linked to social anxiety in teens and adults.
- Low self-esteem. Negative perceptions about yourself may lead to social anxiety disorder.
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Diagnostic Factors Participating In Treatment Resistance
Table 4 Outline of reasons for poor response to the treatment of anxiety
Additional diagnostic factors of treatment resistance include the presence of personality disorders. This could include the personality disorders that could be confused with anxiety disorders. The examples are OCD personality disorder that could be confused with OCD and borderline personality that is frequently present with panic attacks. Those disorders need to be recognized early in the treatment so that appropriate psychotherapeutic treatments could be administered.
Biopsychosocial Models Of Anxiety And Treatment Resistance
The exact biological mechanisms of anxiety disorders are unknown. Multiple theories exist on different levels of science ranging from molecular all the way to the psychosocial. None of the theories can fully explain the complexity of the anxiety disorders. Biological theories attempt to postulate anxiety as an alarm reaction mediated by specific brain circuits. These circuits include amygdale and other limbic structures. Activation of these circuits are most often found in animal models and human neuroimaging studies of Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. Some other anxiety disorders, such as OCD, have a disturbance of circuits responsible for emotional information processing and integration. These circuits include striatum, cingulum and prefrontal and orbito-frontal connection. These circuits are responsible for gating, ordering and integration information about the threat.
Cognitive scientists base their theories of anxiety on a specific way of thinking that is excessive, dichotomized and anxiety provoking. Behaviorists explain anxiety disorders as a set of maladaptive coping safety strategies that lead to not testing the validity of the threat and as a result increase anxiety and apprehension. While the theories do not contradict each other, we are yet to see the integration of biological and psychological mechanisms within the framework of united theory of anxiety disorders.
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Ways To Cope With Anxiety
Whether its day-to-day symptoms or episodic mental health crises, there are some self-help tips for dealing with anxiety. They include:
Mindfulness: Very helpful to ground oneself and to be fully aware of the present momentDeep breathing techniques: Used to slow the body and mind down, and control symptomsPhysical exercise: Acting as a distraction, whilst helping to produce happy and motivating chemicalsSelf-care: Any form of care which helps to alleviate symptoms will be recommendedYoga/meditation: Recommended as relaxation therapy, to focus on feelings, balancing the mind and experiencing clearer thoughtsHealthy and balanced lifestyle choices: Balance can help to stabilise the body and mind, whilst offering a structure to followAwareness of personal triggers: Triggers can be avoided, prevented, or worked around with awareness
In the event of health anxiety, as it is a rebound condition, which depletes wellbeing, professional support is an important consideration. Although difficult to face up to, if symptoms are unmanageable through the above techniques, treatment and medication may be required.
Pharmacotherapy For Anxiety And Panic Disorders
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are generally used as first-line agents, followed remotely by tricyclic antidepressants .
Fluoxetine can be used however, patients may poorly tolerate it initially because it may initially increase anxiety, except at very low starting doses. Fluoxetine has a long half-life, making it a good choice in marginally compliant patients. It alters metabolism of cytochrome P-450 2D6-cleared agents this fact should be considered.
Paroxetine represents a partially sedating SSRI option that is also available in a controlled-release preparation , which may improve tolerability, but paroxetine still inhibits P450 2D6. Paroxetine has a short half-life, which may be a limitation in marginally compliant patients.
Citalopram carries a risk of dose-dependent QT prolongation. Because of the risk for QT prolongation, citalopram is contraindicated in individuals with congenital long QT syndrome and the dose should not exceed 40 mg/day. Do not exceed a dose of 20 mg/day when coadministered with CYP2C19 inhibitors .
Sertraline represents a similar SSRI option with a slightly different pharmacodynamic profile, including sigma receptor effects, although it has some P450 3A4 interactions.
Sedating antidepressants such as paroxetine, mirtazapine, and other TCAs/TeCAs are usually prescribed only at night before bed to help improve sleep but should include a warning not to operate a motor vehicle or machinery if feeling sedated or directly after the dose.
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Causes And Risk Factors
- Behavioral Choices
It’s important to note that everyone feels anxiety to some degree regularly throughout their life. Fear and anxiety are helpful emotions that can function to help us notice danger or threats that keep us safe and help us adapt to our environment. Anxiety disorders occur when significant distress impairs your ability to function in important facets of life, such as work, school, or relationships. There are many potential risk factors for anxiety disorders, and most people likely experience multiple different combinations of risk factors, such as neurobiological factors, genetic markers, environmental factors, and life experiences. However, we do not yet fully understand what causes some people to have anxiety disorders.
Genetic risk factors have been documented for all anxiety disorders. Clinical genetic studies indicate that heritability estimates for anxiety disorders range from 30-67%. Many studies, past and present, have focused on identifying specific genetic factors that increase one’s risk for an anxiety disorder. To date, an array of single nucleotide polymorphisms or small variations in genetic code, that confer heightened risk for anxiety have been discovered. For the most part, the variants that have been associated with risk for anxiety are located within genes that are critical for the expression and regulation of neurotransmitter systems or stress hormones.
Types Of Therapy For Anxiety
The goal of all therapeutic approaches is to help you understand why you feel the way you feel, what your triggers are, and how you might change your reaction to them. Some types of therapy even teach practical techniques to help reframe your negative thinking and change your behaviors.
Anxiety disorders differ considerably, so therapy is tailored to your specific symptoms and diagnosis. It can be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting. How often you meet with your therapist and for how long will depend on your specific symptoms and diagnosis.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals use several types of anxiety therapy. The choice of therapy also depends on your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms.
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