How to deal with anxiety: tips that can help
Anxiety is a feeling of tension, worry and unease. Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree, and it’s a natural response to stress. It can help you deal with difficult situations, like taking a test or solving a problem at work. However, for people with an anxiety disorder, anxiety often occurs and can be overwhelming. More than 40 million adults in the United States (19.1%) suffer from an anxiety disorder.
You can deal with anxiety caused by daily stressors with simple strategies on your own if you don’t have this mental disorder. However, an anxiety disorder requires treatment by a mental health professional.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. It is normal for people to feel anxious in response to stress. Anxiety can be beneficial when it helps you prepare to respond to danger. The trick is to release these feelings before they become lingering, overwhelming, or all-consuming.
People with anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder have disproportionate levels of anxiety compared to threats and affect their daily functioning. Negative thoughts and physical symptoms can interfere with academic success, job achievements, and relationships.
Recognize the signs
Paying attention to changes in your body in response to daily stressors and stressful life events can help you recognize the signs of anxiety. In general, if your emotions feel like they’re being overworked and you’re dealing with tension, sleepless nights worrying, or panic attacks, your anxiety level is likely to be a problem.
Signs of anxiety include:
- A churning sensation in the stomach
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Headache, back pain, or other pain
- Faster breathing
- A fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Sweating or hot flashes
- Sleep problems
- Grinding of teeth, especially at night
These symptoms go away once the stressor causing the anxiety resolves, but anxiety disorder does not.
Ways to deal with anxiety
It’s crucial to recognize that what works for someone else’s anxiety may not work for yours. You can start by identifying what (or who) triggers your anxiety and what relieves you.
Strategies for coping with anxiety include:
- Think about what you can change and tackle anxiety head-on so that your feelings of anxiety decrease rather than increase.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat and count to 20 if necessary.
- Keep a mood journal so you can recognize trends. You can also write down your thoughts to figure out what is really bothering you.
- Download one of the many apps that offer relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or visualization, or tips on practicing mindfulness, which can help you stay in the present rather than focusing too much on the future.
- Eat balanced and regular meals.
- Exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes to help relieve your anxiety. It can be cycling, dancing or jogging.
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine like carbonated drinks or coffee, which are known to exacerbate anxiety. Chocolate or energy bars can also contain caffeine, so check ingredient labels before consuming them.
- Limit alcohol, which can increase anxiety and panic attacks.
- Communicate with your friends or family who are helping you cope in a positive way, and consider moving away from the people who trigger your anxiety.
- Breathe intentionally to help bring yourself back to the present.
When to ask for help
When you realize that you are not managing your anxiety well, or that your anxiety is starting to interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you should seek the help of a mental health professional. They will help you determine if your anxiety is caused by an anxiety disorder using the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
Signs of an anxiety disorder can include:
- Anxious thoughts or beliefs that are difficult to control. They make you feel restless and tense and interfere with your daily life. They don’t go away and can get worse over time.
- You experience chronic physical symptoms, such as a pounding or rapid heartbeat, unexplained pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- You have behavior changes, such as avoiding everyday activities that you did before.
What to expect during treatment for anxiety disorder
Treatment for anxiety disorders usually includes medication and psychotherapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can help people with an anxiety disorder. It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to anxiety-provoking and frightening objects and situations.
CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for dealing with social anxiety when a person experiences extreme anxiety about social situations. This can include exposure therapy if the person is suffering from anxiety related to the phobia. Exposure therapy focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder to help people engage in activities they have avoided.
Medication can help relieve symptoms of anxiety. The most common anti-anxiety drugs are called benzodiazepines. Although benzodiazepines are sometimes used as the first-line treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, they have both advantages and disadvantages.
Benzodiazepines are effective in relieving anxiety and work faster than the antidepressants often prescribed for anxiety, but people can develop tolerance to them if taken over a long period of time, and in larger doses. in addition higher may be necessary to achieve the same result. effect. Some people can even become dependent on them.
Your doctor may prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods and the following antidepressants:
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Prozac / Sarafem / Selfemra / Rapiflux (fluoxetine)
- Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine) and Savella (milnacipran)
Side effects of SSRIs can include:
- Stomach problems
- Low libido (libido)
- Initial anxiety
You may need to try several different antidepressants before you find the right one for you. Antidepressants can take a long time to work, so it is important to give the medicine a chance before drawing a conclusion about its effectiveness.
Do not stop taking antidepressants without the help of a doctor. When you and your doctor have decided that it is time to stop the medicine, your doctor will help you reduce your dose slowly and safely. Stopping them suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms.
The most common black box warning (the Food and Drug Administration’s most serious warning) for anxiety and depression medications is an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults. If you start taking any prescribed medication and have thoughts of harming yourself, contact your health care provider or go to the nearest hospital immediately.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry and tension experienced on a daily basis. It is usually a response to a stressful event or trigger. It is normal to feel anxious, and you can deal with this feeling by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and adopting simple strategies such as journaling and doing deep breathing exercises. However, when you feel this all the time or your anxiety is making it difficult for you to complete your daily tasks, it might be time to talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Cope With Anxiety Without Medication?
Yes, but if you have an anxiety disorder, you need treatment from a mental health professional for the best results. Alternatively, you can deal with anxiety by journaling your emotions, moving your body, and practicing mindfulness and meditation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep can also help with anxiety.
How can you help someone who suffers from anxiety?
The best way to help someone struggling with anxiety is to be supportive. Listen and help the person make a plan and validate their feelings even if you don’t understand them. You can also suggest doing a calming activity together, such as a deep breathing exercise. Helping them find a support group or resources can be helpful.
How do you deal with anxiety attacks?
Anxiety attacks can be managed with lifestyle changes, medication, psychotherapy, and support from loved ones. If you are suffering from anxiety attacks, you should see your primary care doctor or mental health professional immediately.
A word from Verywell
Anxiety has become so pervasive that we tend to forget its seriousness. It can be motivating and helpful in some situations, but when you experience anxiety for an extended period of time, you may have an anxiety disorder and should seek help from a mental health professional.
The best approach to dealing with anxiety is to do so when it is still at manageable and healthy levels. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious, it’s time to talk to someone. It does not mean that you have failed to cope. It just means that you need a little extra support to keep your anxiety under control.