Anxiety affects almost 3.5 million people in the US in any given year. that is 1.5 % of the population that is living daily with the struggles that anxiety brings with it. Anxiety is a constant, nagging feeling of unease or fear that hinders normal daily functioning. It is normal to experience short periods of anxiety for most people, such as stress before an exam, or before embarking on a long route journey, but people who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder ( GAD ) have difficulty controlling their anxiety on a daily basis so much so that it interferes with normal functioning. There are many different forms of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and specific phobias. GAD affects approximately 1 in 20 adults. Slightly more women are affected than men, and the disorder is most common in people in their 20s.
Today’s day and age has many factors surrounding us at all times that lead to an increase in stress factors all around us. Office work coupled with minimal exposure to outside environment ( in most cases, especially in city jobs ), unhealthy, 5-minute microwave diets, and constant influx of stressful information over the media at all hours of the day have all contributed significantly to an over all increase in stress that people these days experience. It is normal to feel the burn sometimes, and be anxious or worried about events happening within our circles and around us. However, it is labelled an anxiety disorder when activities of daily life suffer constantly, with the individual not being able to control the stress and fear.
COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
- a sense of dread
- feeling constantly ‘on edge’
- difficulty concentrating
- being easily distracted
The physical symptoms of GAD can include:
- drowsiness and tiredness
- pins and needles
- irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- muscle aches and tension
- dry mouth
- excessive sweating
- shortness of breath
- stomach ache
- excessive thirst
- frequent urinating
- painful or missed periods
- difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
CAUSES OF ANXIETY
Researchers believe that GAD is caused by a combination of factors, including:
- your body’s biological processes
- genetics (the genes you inherit from your parents)
- your environment
- your life experience
DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT OF GAD
Generalized anxiety disorder is a clinical diagnosis which is possible after a detailed history. It may sometimes be confused with depression or other anxiety disorders. Both physical and psychological symptoms should be mentioned to the doctor. The diagnosis is made when symptoms are present for 6 months or more.
TREATMENT OF ANXIETY
Psychological therapy and medication both may be used in the management of anxiety disorders. Benefits of psychological therapy last the longest, but treatment should be tailored to individual patient needs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective type of treatment for anxiety. Applied relaxation is also an effective psychotherapy that involves targeted relaxation of muscle groups in situations that may cause you anxiety.
In medication, SSRIs are the most effective medication group, which is a type of antidepressant.
TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.