Feelings of anxiety are a normal part of life. Getting anxious before a big test, or a job interview is all normal. However, anxiety disorders aren’t so temporary. Living with an anxiety disorder can make getting through each day difficult. It can affect your daily life, from work to relationships. In this blog, we will discuss what this disorder is, symptoms, as well as how to cope with anxiety disorders.
What is an Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that cause people to feel anxious or nervous. These disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., according to Mental Health America (MHA). Furthermore, almost one-third of adults will deal with anxiety at some point in their lives.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, which include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Phobias, Specific Phobia
- Social Anxiety Disorder (previously called social phobia)
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
The symptoms for each type of anxiety disorder may vary slightly depending on the specific diagnosis. However, all forms of anxiety disorder include feelings of fear and discomfort. The symptoms of anxiety disorders can be either mild or severe, but they all affect daily life to some degree.
Symptoms may include:
- Feeling tense/ on edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor memory
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Extreme fear
- Panic attacks
The good thing is, anxiety disorders are treatable, and treatment can help you lead a normal and productive life.
How to Cope with Anxiety Disorders
One of the main ways to cope with anxiety disorders is through medication. There are several different types of medications used to help relieve symptoms of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are the most popular medication prescribed by health care providers to help people cope with anxiety disorders. These medications can include:
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
Although these medications are prescribed by your health care provider and can help, it is important to follow the correct dosage. These medications can become addictive and tolerance can be built.
Whether you decide to use medication to help cope with anxiety, there are other ways to help manage symptoms.
Getting Enough Sleep
This one may seem obvious, but it is really important to get enough sleep. Your brain needs time to rest and recover, which means sleep is vital for optimal brain function.
Sleep and anxiety can go two ways; anxiety can cause sleeping problems, and not getting enough can cause anxiety symptoms or worsen preexisting ones. To help with this, creating a schedule and sticking to it can help increase the amount of sleep you get each night. This means going to bed around the same time every night and waking up around the same time each morning.
Exercise can be an extremely effective coping method for anxiety. Getting up and moving your body releases endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good chemicals that help improve mood and decrease stress levels.
There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows physical activity does in fact helps reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders. No need to become a bodybuilder, just adding some sort of exercise to your daily routine can help keep you happy and positive.
Fueling your body with healthy food can help reduce anxiety symptoms. When you eat a diet high in processed foods, your mind and body are unable to function properly. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish are linked to reducing symptoms of anxiety and increasing mindfulness.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to have a significant effect on anxiety symptoms. There are several different types of mindfulness meditations, so it is important to find the one that works best for you. The MBSR program at UPMC is an excellent way to learn more about yourself and manage your symptoms through meditation techniques.
Everyone has different triggers that affect their anxiety, but identifying them can help you learn to cope with the situations. Some common triggers include:
- Stressful or crowded places
- Socializing and interacting with others
- Changes in routine/structure of daily life
- Being left alone for too long
- Lack of sleep
- Alcohol and drug use
- Weather changes/heat or cold exposure
- Physical pain, illness, injury
- Foods high in sugar and fat
When trying to pinpoint what triggers your anxiety symptoms, it is important to be as thorough as possible. It may take some time, but you can eventually learn which situations affect you, and how to avoid or overcome them.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Although drinking alcohol may seem like a way to cope with anxiety, it is not. Alcohol can interfere with the neurotransmitters that manage anxiety and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol to help manage anxiety can worsen symptoms and lead to dependence. Which can ultimately lead to alcoholism.
Caffeine can also restrict blood vessels, which increases blood pressure and contribute to anxiety. It is recommended that you limit caffeine intake if possible because it has been linked with many health problems including anxiety symptoms.
Are You Struggling with Anxiety Disorders?
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, you are not in this alone. At Harm Reduction Center in South Florida, we know how difficult it can be to learn how to cope with anxiety disorders. The world can seem scary and alone, but you are never alone. At Harm Reduction Center we offer individualized treatment options to help you and give you the tools to take back control of your life. Don’t let your disorder define you, get help today!