Anxiety can be caused by a number of different factors, from physical and mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder to a variety of psychiatric medications and recreational drugs. Even experiences from your childhood such as emotional abuse and neglect can leave you with anxiety in later life.
Anxiety also comes in a number of forms from social anxiety disorder characterised by an extreme fear of social situations to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) causing the sufferer to have flashbacks and nightmares. Whatever form the anxiety takes it can have devastating effects not just on your mind but also on your body.
Increased heart rate, intense headaches and panic attacks are just some of the physical symptoms of this disorder and there are a number of medications that your doctor can prescribe such as beta-blockers and even tranquilizers for extreme anxiety. Talk treatments are also incredibly useful for getting to the root cause of the issue with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) being particularly useful for altering negative patterns of behaviour.
Anxiety can take hold at any time, but there are things that we can do to help cope with the effects.
- Alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and in high enough levels can trigger a negative physical response. Drinking at least two litres of water per day can help limit these attacks and regulate your mood.
- Getting your recommended eight hours of sleep per night allows time for your body to recover and repair itself. Cognitive function can be significantly impaired leading you to get stressed out more easily so make getting more sleep a top priority to help control panic attacks.
- Improving your level of fitness not only improves your cardiovascular health but it also releases endorphins, improving your mood and helping you to regulate your emotions- vital for managing anxiety.
- Mindfulness training is an invaluable tool that incorporates deep breathing exercises with relaxation techniques allowing you to be aware of how your body is feeling at that moment. If done regularly, you can train yourself to notice the triggers for your anxiety, helping you to manage the condition more effectively.
- Talking to friends and family about how you feel is an important step in overcoming anxiety. An informal chat in a non-judgemental environment with someone you feel comfortable with can help you to understand your feelings better. If you don't feel ready to talk to someone directly yet, there are a number of websites you can access such as AskACoach who can get you in touch with an online anxiety therapist so you can talk to a professional from a familiar environment.
Finally, it's important to understand that anxiety is a disorder that affects many people throughout their lives. If you have had the benefit of being able to talk your issues through with another caring individual and have learnt to manage your attacks, then why not help someone else do the same. Volunteer as a listener for someone who is still struggling with the disorder.