Anxiety is a common mental health issue that can affect anyone at any time. In fact, anxiety affects millions of people in the United States every day. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population, every year.
Anxiety is a natural response to stress, and it is normal to experience some anxiety in stressful situations. However, anxiety can become problematic when it interferes with daily activities and quality of life. In fact, chronic anxiety can be debilitating and can have a significant impact on work, home, school, and relationships.
In this blog post, I discuss seven common symptoms of anxiety, and how they can impact individuals. I also discuss seven tools to help tame anxiety.
Seven Common Symptoms of Anxiety
Excessive Worrying. One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is excessive worrying. Individuals with anxiety often have uncontrollable thoughts about future events, which can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as muscle tension and restlessness.
Irritability. Irritability is another symptom of anxiety that can manifest in both physical and emotional ways. It can cause individuals to become easily agitated, impatient, and even angry.
Difficulty Concentrating. Anxiety can also interfere with an individual's ability to concentrate and focus on tasks. This can lead to decreased productivity, poor performance at work or school, and difficulty completing daily activities.
Physical Symptoms. Anxiety can cause a range of physical symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, sweating, and trembling. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and distressing, further exacerbating feelings of anxiety.
Sleep Disturbances. Anxiety can also impact an individual's sleep patterns, causing insomnia, nightmares, and early morning waking. Sleep disturbances can worsen symptoms of anxiety and lead to daytime fatigue and decreased functioning.
Avoidance Behaviors. Individuals with anxiety may avoid situations or activities that trigger their symptoms, leading to social isolation and decreased quality of life. Avoidance behaviors can reinforce feelings of anxiety and make it difficult for individuals to engage in daily activities.
Panic Attacks. Panic attacks are a severe symptom of anxiety and can be extremely distressing for individuals who experience them. Panic attacks can cause physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling of impending doom.
It is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Functional medicine and psychotherapy can be effective in managing symptoms and improving quality of life. According to the ADAA, nearly two-thirds of individuals with anxiety disorder do not receive treatment, despite the availability of effective treatments.
The good news is that there are tools that can be used to manage anxiety effectively. Below are some of strategies to help tame anxiety.
Seven Tools to Tame Anxiety
Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. It can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and help them manage their anxiety better. Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can be effective in reducing anxiety (Hoge et al., 2013).
Psychotherapy. Working with a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety can be instrumental in managing anxiety. Several types of therapy work well for anxiety, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, as it helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts that contribute to their anxiety (Hofmann et al., 2012).
Exercise. Regular exercise can be an effective way to manage anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can help reduce stress and tension in the body (Asmundson et al., 2013).
Breathing. Exercises Breathing exercises can be used to calm the body and mind during times of anxiety. Simple breathing techniques, such as deep breathing or belly breathing, can be used to slow down the heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety (Hofmann et al., 2012).
Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or visualization, can be used to reduce feelings of anxiety. These techniques can help individuals become more aware of their body's responses to stress and learn to relax those muscles intentionally (Kozasa et al., 2012).
Social Support. Social support from friends and family can be an effective way to manage anxiety. Talking to someone about your anxiety can help reduce feelings of isolation and provide a sense of connection (Kawachi et al., 2014).
Self-Care. Self-care activities, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and practicing good hygiene, can help manage anxiety. Taking care of oneself can help reduce stress and promote feelings of well-being (LeMoult et al., 2020).
Managing anxiety can be challenging, but there are many tools available to help individuals cope effectively. Mindfulness, psychotherapy, exercise, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, social support, and self-care are all effective ways to manage anxiety. If you are struggling with anxiety, contact Christine at dots wellness for help today.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2021). Facts & Statistics. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Asmundson, G. J., Fetzner, M. G., Deboer, L. B., Powers, M. B., Otto, M. W., & Smits, J. A. (2013). Let's get physical: A contemporary review of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for anxiety and its disorders. Depression and Anxiety, 30(4), 362-373.
Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 427-440.
Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., ... & Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: Effects on anxiety and stress reactivity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82(6), 984-994.
Kawachi, I., Berkman, L. F., & Breslow, L. (Eds.). (2014). Social epidemiology. Oxford University Press.
Kozasa, E. H., Santos, R. F., Rueda, A. V., Benedito-Silva, A. A., & De Ornellas, F. L. (2012). Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: A preliminary study. Psychological Reports, 111(1), 247-264.
LeMoult, J., Colich, N. L., & Joormann, J. (2020). A daily diary study of sleep, affect, and emotion regulation in young adults with and without a history of anxiety and depression. Emotion, 20(5), 855-865.