Most people seem to ignore the fact that anxiety can be a debilitating and frustrating mental illness. Millions of Americans struggle with chronic anxiety and feel helpless to do anything to ease the discomfort. However, there are pharmaceutical treatments available as well as many things you can do on your own to help ease the pains of anxiety.
There are many symptoms of anxiety. Some may feel all of these, and some may feel only a few. Here is a list of symptoms:
- Excessive worry and anxiety over routine life activities (work school)
- Physiological symptoms (nausea, trembling, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches)
- Difficulty concentrating,
- Sleep disturbance (frequent awakening, wake up tired, difficulty getting to sleep)
- Panic attacks (rapid heart beat, smothering or choking sensation, fear of going crazy, feeling of impending doom)
- Avoiding going out for fear of panic attacks
- Excessive worry over panic in specific situations (speech, exam, interview)
- Excessive worry in social situations (work, school, church, party)
- Anxious, intrusive worries (turn off the stove, lock the door, contaminated objects)
- Nightmares, flashbacks, depression, sleep disturbance, exaggerated startle response after traumatic event.
Many of you are able to identify with many of these symptoms and are starting to realize that you may suffer from minor to severe anxiety. Here are some specific ways to help you treat your anxiety:
1. Benzodiazepines. They are drugs commonly referred to as “downers.” Xanax, Valium, Librium, and Ativan are just a few of the most common benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety. These carry a high risk of addiction and should be used with caution. However, if used properly, they can help you relieve the physical symptoms associated with anxiety.
2. Deep Breathing. Many people might be rolling their eyes saying, “I do that all the time and it does not work.” That means you probably aren’t doing it right. The practice of deep breathing is hard to master. An easy way to do it is turn off all the lights or close your eyes. Picture in your mind a completely empty space with only ten steps in front of you, numbered 1-10. As you breathe in, concentrate on seeing yourself step on each number in your mind. Repeat this for as many times as possible while trying not to think of anything else.
3. Write it down. Write down the things that are smothering you in your daily life. You may find that there are fewer things to get worked up over than you originally thought. Cross off the things in your life that are unnecessary or unhealthy and try to think of ways to properly deal with those life problems that cannot be ignored.
These tips are only helpful if you use them properly. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist if your anxiety is so severe that it is causing health problems or difficulty in your personal life. Realize that this is a medical condition if it is severe enough to interfere with your daily life and activities. Times are hard right now, and we are all stressed. However, there is no reason to live a life clouded in constant worry and frustration.