What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. But what exactly is an anxiety disorder?

While many experience anxiety from time to time, like before a big speech or exam, anxiety disorders are more than a temporary feeling. They are more long-lasting, can get worse over time and can interfere with a person’s school, work, relationships, and personal life.

Anxiety disorders can vary widely, being induced by many different factors, so it’s important to learn about anxiety if you wish to overcome it. We’ve gathered some resources below to help you learn more about this disorder and cope with anxiety.


Signs of Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry most days for at least 6 months. This can focus on a variety of things like health, work, relationships, and more. This anxiety can cause significant problems in many aspects of life.

Some signs of this can include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up or on-edge
  • Fatigue
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Problems sleeping, like falling asleep and restlessness

These are general signs of anxiety, but there are specific signs for specialized types of anxiety. You can learn more about these types from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Treatment and Therapies

Generally, anxiety disorders can be treated through psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety and people should work with their doctor to choose the treatment that works best for them.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy”, can help people with anxiety disorders. To be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties and tailored to his or her needs. One method is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a common method that teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing objects and situations. It can also teach people social skills that are vital in overcoming social anxiety disorder. This method focuses on identifying, challenging, and then neutralizing unhelpful or distorted thoughts.

Medication

There are many different types of medications that can be described for anxiety disorders. Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms. Anxiety disorder medication is Medication for anxiety is prescribed by doctors, such as a psychiatrist or primary care provider. Some states also allow psychologists who have received specialized training to prescribe psychiatric medications. The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), antidepressants, and beta-blockers.


Things You Can Do To Manage Anxiety

There are many ways we can do to manage our anxieties outside of therapy and medications. Try any or all of these to see what works best for you.

Question Your Thought Pattern

Negative thoughts can get rooted in your head and grow into large anxiety-inducing issues. Take a moment to question that thought. Is it really true? You may find a way to gain back control.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Try breathing in for a count of 4 and then breathing out for a count of 4. Set a timer and do this for 3 minutes. That may not seem like a lot, but by taking deep breaths, you’ll slow your heart rate which should help you calm down.

Set Up Daily Goals

Some of us are very goal-oriented, and as one task is completed, we can start to feel anxious about the next one. Set up a system, a to-do list or planner, to help you set and track daily goals. Knowing what’s next on your list could ease some of the anxiety.

Write Down Your Thoughts

Write down whatever is making you anxious. Getting it out of your head can make it feel less daunting. You can also use this to keep track of when you worry most and be able to proactively manage your anxiety by planning around “peak” times.

Put Your Trust In God

Connecting with God can give you a way of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. Faith is a great way to cope with everyday stress, and faith can connect you to valuable groups that can quickly turn into a valuable support network.


Learn More About Anxiety

One way to overcome anxiety is to learn more about it in order to cope with it. Here are some excellent resources to help you.

Helpful Organizations:

Fact Sheets


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