What is Anxiety?
To keep it simple, anxiety is the body’s response to experiencing too much emotional energy. Diagnostically, anxiety is a collection of symptoms such as panic attacks, running thoughts, sleep pattern disturbance due to worrying, stress about social situations, feeling emotionally out of control, and inability to focus. These symptoms can begin to significantly impair a person’s life if left untreated.
What is a panic attack?
This is a sudden impulse of fear in a situation that is not warranting of such a response. It is a flood of adrenaline due to the body thinking it is in the fight-or-flight mode, and can cause rapid heartbeat, tightness or pain in the chest, sweating, hyperventilation, dizziness, tunnel vision, muffled hearing, and dry mouth. They can last a few minutes to hours. If you have ever tripped over something and thought you would fall, imagine this feeling for at least a few minutes.
How do I know if I have anxiety?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then you may have a form of anxiety:
- Have you ever lost sleep because of worrying?
- Do you worry about a social situation days or months in advance?
- Have you ever avoided a social situation because of fear?
- Do you have panic attacks?
- Have you been unable to concentrate and focus?
- Do you struggle to relax and unwind?
- Do you often feel nauseated or get frequent stomach aches or headaches?
- Have you felt irritable or “on edge”?
- Does worrying keep you from completing daily tasks?
- Do you often analyze if and how other people are judging you?
- Are you unsure why you feel fatigued?
- Do you often feel so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start?
How can anxiety be treated?
This is typically a three step process. First, we need to treat the anxiety symptoms to help you stabilize. Then, we need to learn what was causing it and process through these concerns and thought patterns. Third, we will prevent further anxiety from happening by helping you develop healthy and safe releases for your emotional energy and a more balanced lifestyle.
The proven most effective approach is to utilize both counseling and psychiatric services concurrently. Each of these services will be tailored to fit your individual symptoms and needs. You will work with your clinician to develop what that actually is.
Ok, but I’m anxious right now…what can I do about it?
Try one of these quick techniques, but know that these are just temporary relievers and true anxiety is in need of consistent and thorough treatment for a more sustained solution.
Triangle Breathing: Help your breathing slow down and recalibrate by inhaling for seven seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and slowly exhaling all of your breath for seven seconds. Repeat this at least five times, and make sure your inhale is deep enough to cause your belly to expand.
Body Scan: Start at your toes and work your way up all of the parts of your body to your forehead make sure all of your muscles are relaxed. You can also try tensing each of these muscles and then relaxing them.
Write it Down: Whatever is on your mind, put it on paper. You can make a list or create an entire journal entry, but letting the pen flow with your thoughts will allow you to get it out of your head. If you can’t even think of the words to explain your thoughts, draw it out instead.