Text by Corina Tan
To feel a little anxious and panicked every now and again is a normal reaction. But when worry becomes excessive and starts to affect everyday life, it could be an anxiety disorder. It’s essential to learn how to manage your anxiety. There is a range of mood, cognitive and physical symptoms that may seem normal at first.
They consist of restlessness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, fatigue and sleep problems. Most people end up visiting the doctor for the above reasons. Only to learn later that their issues are deeper and that they actually have anxiety.
If you are suffering from anxiety disorder, here are some ways to anxiety:
Rule Out Medication
Some conditions like low blood sugar, an overactive thyroid gland, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, inner ear disorders, and dysfunction of the mitral valve can mimic anxiety. Blood pressure medication like calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors, statins which control cholesterol, and benzodiazepines can cause anxiety-like symptoms such as agitation, dizziness, flushing, tremors, restlessness, palpitations and fatigue. Some people even feel like they are having a heart attack. If you are on any of these medications, check with your doctor if they are contributing to your symptoms.
Managing Anxiety is knowing how to deal with the situation
Recognise That There Is No Danger
Anxiety can manifest in many ways. You may have general anxiety, social anxiety, separation anxiety, phobias and panic attacks. These normal biological reactions are the body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right and prepares us to act quickly so we are not harmed. However, when feelings of anxiety become overwhelming and interferes with daily life, it becomes a disorder that needs to be managed. The most important thing to realise when you are having an attack is that you are not in danger. Even though the moment can seem very traumatic and even feels like you are going insane, most attacks peter out within a few minutes.
Breathe Quietly and Slowly
During an attack, sufferers hyperventilate and muscles in the chest tighten causing chest pains. They often go to the hospital emergency room holding their chest and hyperventilating that they forget to breathe. The best thing to do in this situation is to stop and breathe calmly by closing your mouth and breathing slowly through your nose. This will restore carbon dioxide levels and make you feel better. Breathing fast during an anxiety attack causes dizziness and light-headedness which only makes the anxiety worse. Stopping to take slow deep breaths lets your body know that everything is ok.
Know Your Triggers
Interestingly genetics and upbringing can actually increase risk for developing anxiety and certain triggers can make them recur or worsen. For those with anxiety disorder, sudden changes in life cause elevated stress which overwhelms and trips the alarm system in the brain. It can be imaginary, or it can be real, but either way it still sets off the same stressors. Triggers can be any situation where a person feels like they are not in control. Crowds, pressure at work, flying for example, can all be triggers for symptoms to appear.
Getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising are self-care rituals that can contribute towards managing an anxiety disorder. Sleep deprivation is directly associated with increased anxiety. As it creates imbalances in the body. Dehydration, skipping meals, consuming alcohol or caffeine are major contributors to making you feel jittery and worsen anxiety. Both aerobic and non-aerobic exercises have been linked to better management of anxiety. As they release certain brain chemicals that help.
Cognitive-Behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy based on the notion that thought patterns lead to problems with feelings and behaviours. We can manage these problems by changing the way we think and behave. With all fears, regardless of the disorder, learning is critical for recovery and CBT can help people accept that they will get anxious and help them recognise anxiety-generating thought patterns. The therapist develops a plan that guides a patient through exposure to a given situation where they learn that if they face it enough, things will get better.
If you suspect that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, please talk to a healthcare provider to rule out all other health related issues, and to be correctly diagnosed. If you do indeed have an anxiety disorder. You can then start to learn how to manage this condition and seek a treatment plan that is right for you.
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