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Dealing With and Overcoming Anxiety

Updated on July 1, 2013

Definition of Anxiety

Knowing your enemy is the best way to conquer it. In basic terms, we just casually define anxiety as a discomfort of the mind regarding a looming incident.

Anxiety may announce itself as nervousness for a forthcoming event, fear of receiving a negative result or outcome, or a feeling of tension in a situation filled with uncertainty. Everybody has anxiety -- it's a basic survival trait to help us escape dangerous situations.

However, depending on the gravity of circumstances and the person’s capacity to handle it, anxiety may escalate to constant distress or dread, even over the simplest actions. It can officially lead to a disorder that needs medical treatment for the good of his or her mental health.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety can be experienced differently by each person. It may be in the form of panic when attempting to do something, a struggle in a tense or frightening environment, or an encounter with uncontainable intrusive thoughts.

In general, the primary symptom of anxiety is a constant or serious apprehension or worry beyond that of a normal person in any particular situation. Additionally, some other emotional symptoms of anxiety include concentration problems, irritability, restlessness, paranoia, anticipation of worst case scenarios, and blanking of the mind.

It is important to note that anxiety is also commonly experienced by those dealing with depression.

Besides the mentioned symptoms, there are also those of physical nature. These consist of heart pounding, sweating, upset stomach, dizziness, frequency of urination, diarrhea, breath shortage, tremors, twitches, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.

In combination with the emotional symptoms listed earlier, if this becomes such a problem that you can no longer function in your day to day life, you are most likely experiencing a clinical disorder of anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety

A lot of people face anxiety due to recurring fears regarding their health and/or financial situations – a common reason because of the fact that it fills one’s future with insecurity. Let's face it, the modern world today is a lot more frightening than it was a decade ago.

Panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias are also considered as causes of anxiety because sudden or persistent attacks involving these conditions leave great distress to the person.

Most of all, the gravest of anxiety disorders may originate from physical and emotional traumatic experiences such as disasters and accidents. Trauma leaves the victim permanently and anxiously anticipating an undesirable event to happen again because it was proven to him or her that it is actually possible for such an incident to happen again.

Anxiety Treatment Options

Importance of treating Anxiety

Anxiety should be treated as early as possible. If neglected, it may elevate to severe levels. At this point, not only could the person be experiencing physical and mental discomfort, but also each day of his/her life becomes harder to get by.

It could affect certain decisions he needs to make and pass up good opportunities because of existing fears. The disorder could also create conflicts with job requirements, family obligations and other necessities for his/her daily living.

As mentioned earlier, anxiety may be experienced in complement with depression. People who are greatly depressed have the tendency to resort to drug and alcohol abuse. Should this happen, the person’s health and his/her relationship with friends and family will be significantly at risk.

Dealing With and Overcoming Anxiety

There are many ways you can recover from anxiety. These ranges from herbal remedies and natural therapies to medically prescribed drugs and psychological treatment.

But it would be best to start first with yourself as early as possible.There are numerous tactics to accomplish this. Some work with some people, different ones work with others. Pick and chose and try some strategies yourself, until you find a couple that work (if they don't, proceed to the next section):

Confront negative thoughts - One good way is to challenge negative thoughts. This can be done by writing down worries and accepting uncertainties. By writing things down, you can stare these demons in the face, and it may turn them into just that -- words.

Force yourself to worry at one set time per day - It may also be helpful to dedicate a time of the day specifically for worrying such that all worries would be left during that period only. Spending time alone may be useful but do not mope.

Take a look at your diet - Taking care of your health is also necessary. Some studies suggest that anxiety could be caused by a lack of certain minerals in your diet -- specifically vitamin B and magnesium, found in green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and swiss chard. Fish oil (both for omega-3 fatty oil and vitamin D) are also seen to help anxiety suffers.

Relax the proper way - Of course, everybody says "relax", but hat's the most unhelpful tip anybody can give an anxiety sufferer. What we mean is to set a time (morning and evening) to practice breathing exercises, meditation and avoid muscle tension. Taking up a yoga class or practicing meditation could also help. It's amazing how incredibly difficult it is to truly "relax" in our go-go society. Learning proper mediation could do wonders.

Avoid certain foods - Avoid nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, fatty and fried foods, and refined sugars – these all increase anxiety due to interference with hormones and mood swings. Switch to lean meats, and whole grains.

Photo credits:

“Tapping a Pencil” by RennetteStowe/Flickr

“My Shadow” by Scarlethwhite/Flickr

Dealing with Clinical Anxiety

Unfortunately, anxiety can sometimes consume your life -- progressing from feelings of unease to panic attacks and depression. People who suffer often remove themselves from their social obligations, losing friends, family and their careers. They often turn to drugs and alcohol to try and deal with their problems.

Fortunately, help is definitely available. From licensed psychologists to medication, people can and do receive the help they need to get on with their lives. The main option is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT):

This is the most used and effective treatment for those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. There are several methods and forms this can take, tailored to the suffer's needs.

In it's most basic form, a psychologist helps a patient retrain their mind to reduce and eliminate their fears. There are several techniques to do this, such as:

  • special calming and breathing exercises;
  • practices to expose and face the fears with confidence;
  • scheduling activities they don't normally be and deemed "pleasant" for the sufferer, and;
  • imagery exercises, where a negative experience is visualized, broken down and analyzed by the patient and psychologist until the level of fear and stress is reduced

This type of therapy is very effective, and lasts only a few months, consisting of a dozen or two dozen sessions. Anxiety medications could be prescribed to help out with the worst symptoms, but are not used (or should not be used) for long periods.

How Did you treat your anxiety?

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    • Christian Oberry profile image

      Christian Oberry 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I found writing in a journal to really helps, too. A lot of times when I get anxious and thoughts are all scrambling around, I begin writing and cataloging everything in my my head ... I find it really calms me down. Thanks for your comments!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I have used both professional help and self-help techniques. I see a therapist regularly, usually once a month, and use cognitive behavior strategies such as thought stopping, change of focus, relaxation, deep breathing, and journaling. I find that the most helpful thing is recognizing the triggers, and either avoiding them or confronting them. Most often, it is the assumption I make that someone has rejected me as a person when they are angry or not pleased with me because of something that I have done that attributes to my anxiety. Once I work through that assumption and realize what is actually happening, the anxiety dissipates.

    • OMGirdle profile image

      OMGirdle 4 years ago from United States

      I was hub hopping when I came across this topic. Strange how things come your way when you need answers. Your hub was informative with accurate descriptions and doable suggestions. Nice hub! Voted up! Welcome to Hubpages!