Everyone feels nervous or anxious from time to time. Many times, these emotions stem from past experiences. For example, if you nearly slip in the tub one morning, you may understandably be somewhat nervous about the first step in the next morning.
When these feelings are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities and/or they have absolutely no rational basis, that is evidence of an anxiety disorder. These disorders are extremely common, and occasionally, simply talking about the issue with a compassionate friend or loved one provides relief. But most cases are far more complicated than that. Most anxiety disorders do not simply dissipate on their own. Instead, some lifestyle adjustments may be appropriate.
Like many other forms of mental illness, anxiety disorders have no discernable causes. Researchers speculate that a combination of environmental factors, brain patterns, and family history are probably responsible for most cases.
It’s important to remember that even though anxiety does not come from a singular or identifiable source, it is very real. Dismissing the symptoms only makes them worse.
Although there is no identifiable cause for anxiety disorders, there are a number of treatments that have been successful with many patients in the past. Two of the most common ones are:
Medication: Many general antidepressants, such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, and other Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are quite effective. Reinforcing the idea that irregular brain waves may be responsible for some anxiety disorders, some anticonvulsant and antipsychotic drugs often work well too, either as a standalone treatment or in very low doses when combined with a SSRI.
Psychotherapy: These treatments involve more than just “talking it out.” Psychotherapists are trained professionals who know what questions to ask and how to listen.
Cognitive behavior, a psychotherapy subset, also has a proven track record against anxiety disorders.
The best treatments in the world are only part of the solution. In addition to taking your medicine or attending therapy sessions, there are some other things that can help ease anxiety disorders.
No one knows the root of anxiety better than the person who experiences the symptoms, which can range from a general unease to a debilitating panic attack. To return to the slipping-in-the-shower example, consider installing a good set of shower safety bars in the tub or stall. For the first few days, use them every time you step in and out. Then, use them only as needed if you start slipping. In this way, you may be able to get a handle on the anxiety and thus reduce your dependence on pills and/or therapy.
Here are a few other tips:
Reduce caffeine intake, as this mood-altering drug sometimes worsens anxiety symptoms.
Exercise more to generate endorphins, which are proven to improve mood and reduce stress.
Prioritize sleep. Many people do well with a consistent bedtime routine. Some people also try herbal or chemical relaxers or sleep aids, but be sure and speak with your doctor first.
A good, well-balanced diet may help ease anxiety symptoms as well.
Anxiety disorder is a very real condition with very real effects on both the patient and the people in that patient’s circle of influence, so managing and overcoming these symptoms improves the quality of life for everyone concerned.