Anxiety is a normal feeling. We all feel anxious in a situation that we find threatening or difficult. The anxiety goes away when we get used to the situation, when the situation changes, or if we just leave.
But if you feel anxious all the time, or for no obvious reason, it can make life difficult.
What is anxiety ?
Anxiety feels like fear. When it's caused by a problem in our life that can't be solved, like money difficulties, we call it worry. If is a sudden reaction to a threat, like being confronted by an angry dog, we call it fear.
Although worry, fear and anxiety are unpleasant, they can all be helpful as they can help to solve a problem or overcome the stressful situation causing these feelings. However such feelings are abnormal if:
- They are out of proportion to the stressful situation, or
- Persist when a stressful situation has gone,
- They are present even when the stress is minor, or
- They appear for no apparent reason even when there is no stressful situation.
When this happens it can make one uncomfortable, stop one from doing the things one wants to and can generally make life difficult.
What does anxiety feel like ?
It's easy to worry that these feelings are the signs of a serious physical illness - and this can make the symptoms even worse. When anxiety go on for a while, it's easy to start to feel depressed - you start to feel down, lose your appetite and see the future as bleak and hopeless.
Are these problems common ?
About 1 in every 10 people will have troublesome anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives. However, most people with these problems never ask for treatment.
What causes anxiety ?
- In some people it can run in the family
- Some people, start to believe that the physical symptoms of mild anxiety are symptoms of serious physical disease. This makes them worry more, so the symptoms get worse, so they worry more ... and so on.
- Sometimes one goes through certain circumstances that are so upsetting and threatening that the anxiety they cause can go on long after the event. Eg being involved in a road accident
- Some physical problems, like thyroid disease, can present with anxiety like symptoms
- Sometimes it can be a mixture of all of these and other times it may not be clear at all why one feels anxious.
What can be done to reduce or stop anxiety ?
- Sometimes it helps to talk about it with a friend or relative who you trust and respect, and who is a good listener.
- Learning to relax through Yoga or meditation will help to bring a bit more in control to one's anxiety and tension. One can learn these through groups or with professionals. One can also get books, audio tapes, videos, etc, on relaxation and combating stress. They teach simple deep-breathing techniques and other measures to relieve stress, help one to relax, and possibly ease anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise can help cope with anxiety and feelings of tension, and make one sleep better. Exercise uses up some of the chemicals that are produced under stress, allowing muscles to relax. Also, certain brain chemicals are released during exercise, which can enhance your mood.
- Avoid coffee, cigarettes and alcohol, as they can promote anxiety. Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep can also make a big difference to the ability to cope with stress.
If this does not work then seek professional help. The following treatments work best for anxiety:
This is provided by a psychiatrist or a psychologist. It can help to understand how some of our 'habits of thinking' can make anxiety worse - or even cause it - and to come to terms with reasons for your anxieties that one may not have recognised oneself.
A doctor can prescribe medication which can play a part in the treatment of anxiety.
Sometimes well-meaning friends or inexperienced doctors may advise use of medications like ‘Calmpose’ or ‘Restyl’. These medications are very effective in short term for anxiety. However these medications need to be strictly monitored and if taken for longer duration carry a high risk of addiction. A longer term treatment which does not cause addiction is use of antidepressants. These not only reduce anxiety but also elevate the affected person’s mood and improve functioning.
~ Tanushri Sharma, Psychologist Antarman Centre for Psychosocial Wellbeing.
~ by Dr Ravindra Agrawal Not so ethical conversation…the unanswered quest
~ by Dr Saumitra Nemlekar Young people and mental health in a changing world.
~ by Dr Ravindra Agrawal Recently I have taken to filing the slips of paper on which I write down