How to Know if You Have Anxiety
Anxiety is diagnosed by a trained professional, a psychologist or psychiatrist, but there are specific symptoms shared by most people with anxiety. Anxiety causes symptoms that are both mental and physical. These symptoms vary from person to person and it is best to see a professional for diagnosis, but it never hurts to learn all you can in the meantime.
Mental symptoms include: excessive worry, apprehensive thoughts that disrupt your daily life, feelings of dread and fear that do not have a logical explanation, and exaggerated thoughts that make it difficult to focus and be productive.
Physical symptoms include: excessive sweating, blotchy skin, hives or rashes, racing heart, vomiting, headache, hyperventilation, numbness in the extremities, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness and in some cases chest pain and heart palpitations.
For people with anxiety, the apprehension of "what if" leads to behaviors that are disruptive to their life. The distraction caused by anxious thoughts is only one piece of the puzzle. When anxiety goes unchecked, the anxious thoughts and behaviors begin to take their toll physically.
Dealing with anxiety can seem overwhelming and for some, dealing means avoiding situations that trigger anxious feelings and behaviors. There are many ways people try to deal with anxiety, and most of them hurt rather than help. It is important to understand that anxiety cannot be "cured", but it does not have to take over your life. You can learn to deal with anxiety in a constructive way that will help you control your reactions and behavior, when you are faced with anxiety.
Anxiety begins with anxious thoughts; these thoughts can take on a life of their own. Social anxiety and panic attacks can accompany general anxiety or GAD. The techniques below will also help you deal with GAD and social anxiety too. When you notice anxiety beginning to take hold, use these proven techniques to learn how to deal with it in a constructive way:
Dealing with anxiety requires some understanding and a few proven tools to help you deal with it. Learning to control anxiety isn't about stopping anxiety or fighting anxiety, it is all about regulating your reactions and modifying your behaviors. You can learn to control your reactions to anxiety and modify your behaviors if you learn to identify the situations that trigger anxiety and learn to recognize anxious thoughts when they arise.
Once you know your anxiety triggers, you can actively modify your behavior. The following proven techniques will help you identify your triggers, modify your behavior, and work to control your anxiety before it controls you.
Sometimes these techniques are not enough to help you control your anxiety and admitting that is ok; as a matter of fact, admitting you cannot control everything is another technique for controlling anxiety! Everyone is different, so don't be harsh or judgmental with yourself. A professional therapist can help you use these techniques and others to help you control your anxiety.
Overcoming Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear of social situations. For some, it may only surface during certain situations such as public speaking or attending a party; for others, it disrupts everyday living. Social anxiety has many facets and only a professional can diagnose this condition, but if you have symptoms of social anxiety, working on what you can is a step in the right direction.
The most important thing to remember about social anxiety is that you are not alone, many people experience social anxiety and many of them have very public careers. Do not judge yourself for feeling the way you do, just accept that you cannot change everything and work on what you can change. The best way to change what you can is diffuse your negative thoughts and feelings.
Examples of how to diffuse negative thoughts:
When you think, others are thinking bad things about you, diffuse this thought by asking yourself "Why would this person or people think bad about me?" and/or "They don't even know me, they can't possibly be thinking bad things about me," or "They have enough going on in their lives, too much to be overly concerned with thinking critically about me."
If you are thinking, "I know I am going to embarrass myself if I go to that party, I always embarrass myself." Diffuse this thought by asking yourself why you believe you will embarrass yourself, "always" is a strong word, are you sure you "always" embarrass yourself?
Diffusing negative thoughts by questioning the reasoning behind the thought works quite well for easing social anxiety. Once you begin to question yourself and ask why you think or feel the way you do, you are forced to rationalize your thoughts and feelings. Rationalizing and anxiety don't mix, and in time as you practice, you will be able to classify your thoughts as rational or not and then decide about action based on that rather than the thoughts themselves.
Mindfulness and meditation are both calming techniques that work by relaxing the mind and allowing it to release stress. Anxiety will not disappear because you practice mindfulness and meditation, but it will lessen, and you will gain a sense of calm that is hard to achieve without these techniques. Mindfulness and regular meditation can provide stability when anxiety threatens to take over.
Mindfulness is the act of being present, in the moment, and aware of what is around you. Mindfulness is awesome in its simplicity, and with practice you will be able to calm your racing thoughts by tuning out and tuning in to something grounding in the moment. There are many free and helpful apps available to help you begin a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness should be cultivated daily to strengthen it as a skill, not just when anxiety is present. Note the things in your environment and really let them absorb you as you describe each one to yourself mentally.
Meditation takes many forms and it does not matter which one you choose. Meditation teaches us to be in control of our breathing and to clear our thoughts. Meditation helps put us in touch with our autonomic nervous system, and this has the potential to put us in control of lowering anxiety.
Treating Panic Attacks with Exercise
Panic attacks are sudden intense episodes of anxiety and fear that trigger physical reactions when there is no obvious danger or cause. Panic attacks can be disabling and completely disruptive to daily activity. Those who suffer from panic attacks know that the stress experienced earlier in the week can trigger a panic attack days later. If you think you suffer from panic attacks, it is important that you seek professional help for them, but it never hurts to do what you can to ease your symptoms.
Exercise and breathing exercises can and do help those who suffer from panic attacks. Regular exercise can reduce the amount of adrenaline in your system because the body will work to regulate the adrenaline during and after exercise. Exercise changes the body's chemistry and these chemical changes can lessen the occurrence and severity of panic attacks.
Breathing exercises during a panic attack can lessen the duration of the attack itself. Breathing exercises can be as simple as counting the number of breaths you are taking, to focusing on regulating your breathing. Many times, panic attacks include hyperventilation or shortness of breath, so practicing breathing exercises will make it easier for you to focus on these exercises during an attack. Practice inhaling deeply for several seconds, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then taking several seconds longer than you inhaled to release that breath. This helps signal your body that your sympathetic nervous system can relax and that you aren't in danger.
Although breathing exercises and physical exercise can and do help to treat panic attacks, you should still seek a professional diagnosis. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can provide more diverse forms of treatment for panic attacks including support during or after an episode.
Reducing Anxiety with Diet and Exercise
If you suffer from anxiety, your diet and exercise patterns can affect the severity of your anxiety. What we eat has a huge impact on how our body and mind reacts to stress. Without the proper nutrition, we are vulnerable to the effects of anxiety in ways we don't even realize. The chemistry of our body changes depending on the food we eat, and this chemistry has a lot to do with anxiety.
Sugar and caffeine should be avoided as both are stimulants. Stimulants can irritate the nervous system and place it on alert, making you more likely to experience anxiety or panic. Alcohol is a commonly used self-medication for anxiety, but with poor results. Alcohol should be avoided.
Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make everything seem brighter and better. The chemical changes that take place during and immediately after exercise work wonders for stress and anxiety. Stress levels lower the more you exercise and regular exercise eases and reduces anxiety because the mind and body are focused on the activity and the endorphins will make sure you feel good about yourself.
Talk to Someone
These tips and techniques are meant to help you deal with anxiety, but nothing beats the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. Talking to someone who is a knowledgeable, trained professional, is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety. A therapist can provide insight, and help you develop a strategy for dealing with your anxiety. Talking to someone can ease your fears, keep you positive, and provide the support you need to continue moving forward.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do I overcome anxiety?
Living with anxiety is difficult and overcoming the physical symptoms, as well as overall gad symptoms, is a long journey. With that said, it’s important to learn how to regain control when you are feeling anxious. Visiting a health care professional can result in advice diagnosis or treatment that will help start to calm your anxiety. Therapy and medication have also proved to be effective in managing a panic disorder. Natural home remedies such as sleeping more, eating healthier, and getting more exercise are also great ways to start to overcome anxiety.
How do you calm down anxiety naturally?
Not everybody wants to take medication for their anxiety which is quite normal. A licensed therapist can give you medical advice to manage stress naturally. A few key strategies to reduce anxiety that they may recommend are as follows: practice deep breathing, meditation, eliminate soda and caffeine, get more sleep, exercise more consistently, challenge any negative core beliefs you have. There are many more natural strategies that can help a person cope with anxiety when medication isn’t warranted or desired.
What triggers anxiety?
There can be a number of different triggers for anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder, or other similar disorders, often have specific triggers. For perspective, a panic attack may be caused by a specific object or situation that has meaning to the person being affected. A phobia-related anxiety disorder may cause anxiety when a person is confronted with their specific phobias. Anxiety and stress within someone living with gad symptoms are typically caused by significant problems in key areas of their life, such as school or work.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
Anxiety itself is not a mental illness as everybody in the world experiencing anxiety during stressful situations. However, anxiety disorders are qualified as a mental illness, and are distinguished from clinically normal levels of anxiety by the intensity and duration of the symptoms.
What are the 6 types of anxiety disorders?
The main six types of anxiety disorders are: separation anxiety disorder, specific phobia disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder.
How are you diagnosed with anxiety?
To receive advice diagnosis or treatment, a person must visit a licensed therapist of health care professional. Psychologists, psychiatrists, or other similar medical workers are trained in diagnosing and treating the major types of anxiety disorders.
Can anxiety be cured completely?
Anxiety cannot be completely cured, but it can be brought down to manageable levels. As mentioned, everybody experiences some level of anxiety and stress. These feelings are a natural part of life and not detrimental to mental health when controlled. Through medical advice, relaxation techniques, and support groups, anybody can learn to take control of their anxiety disorder.
Does anxiety worsen with age?
Anxiety doesn’t necessarily become worse with age, but more people tend to find themselves dealing with anxiety and stress as they become older. This is likely due to the fact that as people age, the potential stressful experiences and major choices that need to be made increase. If you already have a preexisting anxiety disorder, age may only exacerbate the disorder if left untreated. Assuming you’re feeling high levels of anxiety and depression at a young age, it makes sense that it would compound as you are faced with more difficult decisions. Getting anxiety treated quickly at a young age and developing a response to stress can stop a future anxiety or panic attack.
At what age does anxiety peak?
Mental health is prone to change over the years as people grow and are faced with difficult situations. While anxiety is common across the board, 23% of adults between 30 and 44 reported having an anxiety disorder in the previous year, with 32% in total stating they had an anxiety disorder at some stage of their lives.
Does anxiety shorten your life?
Anxiety is not just a mental disorder. Physical effects can take their toll on the body when left unchecked. Chest pains, an abnormal heart rate, and heart disease have all been associate with anxiety and stress. In the long run, these symptoms can shorten the lifespan of people with anxiety disorders that have gone untreated. Learning how to cope with anxiety can help reduce these physical effects by keeping a person from feeling overwhelmed.
What anxiety can do to your body?
Anxiety disorders can have both a physical and mental effect on the body. Besides increased feelings of anxiety and depression, these disorders can cause an erratic heart rate, breathing problems, irritability, headaches, and panic attacks. Additionally, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, and an increase in blood pressure have all been linked to these disorders. In the long run, consistently experiencing these symptoms can seriously damage the human body.
How does anxiety physically feel?
When you’re feeling anxiety physically, there are a number of symptoms you may experience. The most common is a tightness of the chest, following by sweating trembling and an erratic heartbeat. For some, anxiety results in sleep disorders where one of the side effects is being constantly fatigued during the day. Overall, anxiety is an overwhelming sensation that causes the body to enter a fight or flight mentality far more often than it usually does.
How long can anxiety last?
Anxiety itself will never fully go away as it is an emotion everyone has, but a disorder could take years to subdue to a clinically normal and manageable level. As for specific moments of anxiety and stress, the average anxiety attack peaks at around 10 minutes, but could be as long as 30 minutes.
Can anxiety go away by itself?
Anxiety disorders will not go away by themselves and those living with them cannot simply turn the disorder off as many people believe. Promoting beneficial mental health in a person living with an anxiety disorder requires treatment and time. Unfortunately, some with anxiety disorders never get treated and this leads to dangerous paths such as substance abuse. Take advantage of health care and seek treatment options whenever possible.
Is anxiety all in your head?
Technically, the chemical reactions sparking intense anxiety due to an anxiety disorder are in your brain, which means they are in your head. However, many people use this to write off anxiety as something that is not serious. Despite the fact it begins in your brain, the effects of anxiety disorders extend throughout the body and can have damaging, even permanent, effects on a person’s mental health and physical wellbeing. Anxiety can have serious and very real consequences.