Please enter banners and links.
Anxiety is a natural human feature of behavior and is an inherent part of our species. The word “anxiety” is derived from the word “anxious”, which came from a meaning of being tormented. Anxiety in itself is then known to be a type of self-torment which is brought up as a defensive response to a given situation.
Anxiety is so common that almost everyone experiences it in some form every single day. This anxiety is not a problem, it is only when anxiety begins to creep into places where it actually has no real justification that it becomes a problem and is termed to be a ‘disorder’.
There are a range of different types of anxiety disorders which may be treated differently. The most common anxiety disorders include:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Phobia
- Panic Attacks
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
- Specific Phobias
Common Anxiety Causes
Causes of anxiety disorders are rarely ever set in stone and can be due to a range of different things such as:
- Genetic Predisposition – Some types of anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have been found to run in families and are thought to perhaps be inherited through a gene which makes people more prone to become anxious.
- Stress – High levels of stress or seemingly endless stressful situations have been proven as a cause of anxiety disorders. Disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are specifically found to have been caused by stressful and traumatizing events.
- Sudden life changes – Death of loved ones and other sudden, shocking changes in everyday life can play a large role in the development of an anxiety disorder.
There may also be a range of internal and external factors which are involved in the development of each specific case of anxiety disorders. It is important to talk about the things you think might be causing your anxiety problems with someone who will listen and understand where you are coming from. This can help you to resolve your own feelings and to better understand why you are going through a tough time.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety disorders may range vastly depending on the type of anxiety. Some very common anxiety symptoms include:
- Worry & fear
- Anxiety feelings when riding or driving in a car
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Difficulty sleeping
- Strange muscle aches and pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Frequent yawning
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Being easily fatigued
- Feeling on edge
Natural Anxiety Treatments
Learning how to relax your body and release pent up tension which contributes to anxiety can be incredibly helpful in treating the root cause of anxiety disorders. Some good relaxation techniques for anxiety include:
* Progressive muscle relaxation
* Relaxing music
* Abdominal breathing
* Relaxation exercises
The use of cognitive therapy is primarily focused on changing patterns of thinking and subconscious beliefs which are triggering or may be associated with the experienced anxiety. For example, a person suffering from social phobia anxiety may benefit from changing beliefs about the way people see him/her. If the person says to themselves, “I am boring” it is dis-empowering and may worsen the condition. If the person can begin to change their beliefs and surrounding thought patterns, it becomes much easier to change for the good.
Cognitive therapy includes rational ‘self-talk’, reality testing, cognitive challenging, attention training and cognitive restructuring. This includes monitoring your self-talk, challenging unhelpful fears and beliefs, and testing out the reality of negative thoughts.
Correct breathing techniques
Something as simple as learning how to change your patterns of breathing can be of great benefit to reducing the effects of your anxiety. Hyperventilation is a key physiological problem which results in the body becoming over-saturated with oxygen and thus panic-stricken. Learning to breathe through the diaphragm instead of the chest is greatly helpful here, simply allowing the stomach to expand with each breath.
You can make sure you are breathing correctly by placing one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest. Correct breathing means your abdomen moves, rather than your chest. It also helps to slow your breathing while feeling anxious. You can also try to hold your breath for a few seconds. This helps to boost carbon dioxide levels in the blood and counteracts the effects of hyperventilation.
A major component of behavior therapy is exposure. Exposure here simply means, removing all obstacles which are standing between you and your fear and confronting it at its most basic level. This may help to re-assess and redefine fears which might then cause a breakthrough.
The steps of exposure therapy may include:
* Rank your fears in order, from most to least threatening.
* Decide to start on one of your least threatening fears.
* Perform an imaginary role-play of confronting the fears and analyze what it is exactly that is causing fear.
* Slowly increase your tolerance to confronting your fear by taking small steps towards being more and more afraid or uncomfortable.
* Resist the urge to leave. Use relaxation, breathing techniques and coping statements to manage your anxiety.
* Reflect on your result from the situation and realize that nothing bad happened.
* Repeat the exposure as often as you can to build confidence that you can cope.
* Perform the same cycle of exposure with other fears when you are ready.
Changes made to regular dietary consumption can also make a big difference to the severity of your anxiety problems. Reducing the intake of caffeine is one of the most basic starting points, remembering that caffeine can be found in moderate to high doses in coffee, tea, chocolate, green tea and energy drinks. Taking more health-promoting, calming substitutes for these foods can make a huge difference in itself. Other things you can do are simple things such as eating more fruits and vegetables and eating foods which have not been highly processed. Try to avoid white breads, margarine, deep fried foods and chocolate bars.
Exercise helps to promote the production of happy-hormone endorphins which make you feel good. On top of this, exercise will help to destroy stress hormones which are responsible for the “fight-or-flight” reactions our bodies have to stressful situations (also a key cause of anxiety). Aim to do a varied exercise program each week at least 3 days per week and keep it up!
Learn to be more assertive
Letting people know how you feel about certain things may help to avoid loads of unnecessary stress which would otherwise be placed on you! You need to become more assertive in your communication with other people which means communicating your opinions, needs and wants more directly. This will help to build your own self esteem and also just avoids lowering your self esteem by not speaking up!
Creating an environment of people and things that make you feel good about yourself will help to build your self-worth and feelings of confidence will arise as a result. With anxiety, many people typically find that low self esteem is inherent. This low self esteem can then create a compounding effect which can enhance feelings such as:
* Depressed mood
* Difficulties in functioning at school, work or in social situations.
Structured problem solving
Learning how to actively seek out solutions to your problems really can be half the battle in dealing with your anxiety. Many people who suffer from anxiety remain so passive and un-motivated to solve their problems that they become drowned in worry and do nothing about their problems.
Drugs have been shown to be effective in treating anxiety while they are being taken. It is vitally important, however, to view medications as a short-term solution to the problem only. It has been clearly proven in medical publications that behavior therapies and regular counseling sessions when coupled with natural anxiety treatments are far more effective in defeating anxiety in a long-term way.
Where to get help
* Your GP
* A psychologist
* Local community centers and telephone lines will almost always have free services available to you should you seek them out.