No doubt, we all feel anxious at different times in our lives. Feelings of anxiety can be due to a range of factors, including anticipation, stress, and general frustration. It is the natural response of our minds to certain stressful situations. However, it gets worrisome when you seem to be feeling anxious every day. Moreover, it is not normal if your anxiety interferes with your daily life.
Worse still is if you cannot seem to pinpoint the exact cause of your crippling anxiety. It is a telltale sign of a clinical anxiety disorder.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 3% of the American populace have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Panic disorders are also common among adults. Someone with GAD might find themselves experiencing a panic attack in situations they deem frightening. Social anxiety disorder might cause a person to feel excessively anxious in social gatherings.
Even as records of anxiety disorders shoot through the roof in what many describe as an anxiety pandemic, anxiety disorders are by no means a new problem. These mental disorders are a problem as old as time.
However, behavioral scientists and psychologists state that the changes in social climates are responsible for the seeming rise in cases of anxiety disorders.
Psychotherapy and anxiety medications are two popular medical approaches to managing anxiety disorders. Some cases might require both approaches to ease anxiety symptoms effectively.
In recent times, there has been a growing interest in exploring alternative medicine to help treat anxiety disorders. Herbal remedies are also common with some people seeking a healthier approach to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Some physical health problems might present symptoms resembling anxiety symptoms. Thus, before considering treatment options for anxiety, it would be best to have a proper evaluation from a licensed physician if you have an anxiety disorder. You can try several CBD Brands for cbd flower, cbd gummies, cbd drinks and other cbd products as well for anxiety.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety
Feeling anxious is a normal part of life. When our minds see certain situations or activities as stressors, being around such stressors can cause anxiety to peak. However, this feeling usually leaves when the stressful situation ends.
Thus, if you have feelings of anxiety all the time, you may have an anxiety disorder. Even though there are tools claiming to help diagnose anxiety disorders online, it is best to seek medical advice. If you think you have signs of an anxiety disorder, it is best to seek your doctor’s advice.
Anxiety symptoms can differ between persons. Also, different anxiety disorders may present different symptoms. A major symptom of generalized anxiety disorder is uncontrollable worrisome thinking that disrupts your daily life. These thoughts often cause short breaths and rapid heartbeat and might cause you to have trouble focusing.
If you have these symptoms, it is time to get professional help. Your health care provider will take physical tests to rule out any underlying medical condition that may be causing your symptoms.
Some physical health problems like thyroid gland illnesses can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Your primary provider may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist if they rule out physical health conditions.
These mental health professionals help diagnose anxiety disorders and proffer medical solutions. A psychiatrist would first perform a psychiatric evaluation and require your family history to understand your condition better.
Afterward, your doctor will run your symptoms through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- a guide by the American Psychological Association for diagnosing mental health disorders.
Then, the doctor would present you with a treatment plan that could fall into two categories- medication or psychotherapy. Treating anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions may require a combination of both.
Psychotherapy For Anxiety
Therapy remains a highly effective method of treating and managing anxiety disorders. One of the upsides compared to medicine is that it helps you learn to manage anxiety by yourself and overcome it.
Also, unlike medicine, therapy might help you identify the root cause of your fears and anxiety. Different therapeutic methods may help give you a new and less terrifying perspective of things.
Therapy also helps you adopt effective coping mechanisms and methods to manage your anxiety. The type of therapy and the duration will depend on your specific condition and its severity. In some cases, a combination of therapy and medicine is the most effective way to treat anxiety disorders.
Various therapeutic techniques are used to help treat anxiety disorders. Also, your doctor might decide if individual or group therapy will be more effective for your case.
The most common and effective form of therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Other kinds of therapy also fall below this category.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This form of therapy is the most popular form of treatment for anxiety disorders. It is effective to treat anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and other mental health conditions.
This form of therapy uses a process known as cognitive restructuring to help people with anxiety disorders overcome anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aims to help patients identify and deal with their anxiety triggers. The type of therapeutic intervention posits that situations do not determine how a person feels. Instead, their perception of the situation does. It aims to detect and correct negative thought patterns that might be furnishing feelings of anxiety.
As the name implies, CBT is a form of therapy that focuses on your cognition and behavior. That is, it aims to see how your negative thoughts worsen anxiety feelings and teach you how to better react to your triggers. With CBT, your therapist would teach you how to be conscious of how your anxiety develops and how your body reacts to this feeling. You would then go through options of coping mechanisms that are practical.
You would also learn relaxation techniques that help to ease anxiety. These techniques, such as deep breathing, might help relieve muscle tension and even reduce the physical symptoms.
In CBT, the cognitive restructuring process (also called thought challenging) attempts to identify the thought process leading up to episodes of anxiety. Then your therapist might make use of tools like realistic scenarios to challenge your negative thinking. Afterward, your therapist would teach you how to replace these thoughts with more realistic ones. This process is not a walk in the park, but you can master it through practice over time.
- Exposure Therapy
This therapy bases its methods on the premise that exposing people with anxiety disorders to the object of their anxiety may help ease their fears. Exposure therapy has proven to be effective for treating mental health conditions. These mental issues include anxiety disorders like PTSD and specific phobias.
Since avoidance often appears to worsen anxiety symptoms, this technique uses a systematic approach to expose you to your fears. This kind of behavioral therapy aims to desensitize you to anxiety-causing stimuli. Your therapist may conduct imaginal or virtual reality exposure depending on your circumstances.
It involves reliving traumatic experiences in your mind and learning to navigate them. In some cases of phobias or other anxiety disorders, you might need to undergo in vivo exposure.
In vivo exposure involves confronting the object of anxiety in real life. Yet, this approach is not ideal for many forms of anxiety. Thus, other methods like imaginal and virtual reality exposure will help.
Imaginal exposure is a form of exposure therapy where you create vivid pictures of specific scenarios in your mind. It could involve your therapist guiding your narration or recounting past traumatic experiences. Your therapist would further guide you to practice relaxation techniques. Such techniques as taking a deep breath and learning muscle relaxation can help you cope.
Virtual reality exposure involves using virtual reality technology to simulate anxiety-invoking scenarios. For example, the therapist might expose a person with a fear of heights to a virtual situation in which they are exposed to their fear. Practicing it in a controlled environment might help them deal with fears with a level head.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that involves mastering mindfulness, tolerating distress, and regulating emotions. This kind of therapy used to be a popular treatment plan for borderline personality disorder. However, it now has a broader range of applications, from anxiety disorders to depression.
It involves accepting your present situation while trying to correct your thoughts and responses toward life.
Medication for Anxiety
There are many kinds of anxiety disorders. Moreover, each may present different symptoms and need different treatments. Note also that anxiety disorder may or may not present symptoms of depression. There are also several classes of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, and panic disorder.
There are two primary criteria that your mental health professional will use to judge your anxiety symptoms against. This is to determine if you are just anxious or if your situation is a mental disorder. The first marker is if your feelings of anxiety are out of proportion to the object of your anxiety. For children, it would also be assessed if their feelings of anxiety are age-appropriate. The second criterion determines if your anxiety interferes with your regular everyday routine and functions.
Medicines are not necessarily a cure for anxiety, but they can help manage it and help you live a better life. Drugs can also have different effects on different people. Thus, your psychiatrist might experiment to see how well you respond to some drug combinations. Medications often prescribed to help anxiety include the following:
SSRIs are usually the first-line drugs doctors prescribe to treat symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors) are also prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders. Psychiatrists use them to treat OCD, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. These antidepressants are effective in relieving symptoms of mild to chronic anxiety.
They work by amping up serotonin production in the brain, thereby affecting mood, memory, and sleep. This serotonin increase can hence cause an increase in feelings of happiness. Thus, helping to minimize anxious thoughts and feelings.
Besides this direct effect on your anxiety, it could also help you better engage in psychotherapy. Moreover, it may help you become more comfortable attending support groups. SSRIs may also help reduce resultant physical conditions like headaches and muscle tension.
SSRIs are usually in tablet form, and your doctor often starts you on the smallest dosage available. Over the course of some weeks, they would increase your dosage slowly. For this reason, the robust effects of SSRIs may take some time to kick in.
SSRIs may cause some side effects such as nausea, insomnia, and libido changes, in some individuals. However, these effects die out after a few weeks. SSRIs are not addictive, but stopping them cold turkey can lead to severe reactions worse than your initial anxiety symptoms. Some examples of SSRIs include Prozac and Zoloft.
These are also antidepressants effective for treating some anxiety disorders. SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are often used as an alternative to SSRIs.
Unlike SSRIs, which only affect serotonin production, SNRIs affect both serotonin and norepinephrine production in the brain. As the name suggests, these drugs stop the reuptake of these two hormones, thereby increasing their availability in the brain.
Norepinephrine affects mood, alertness, and concentration. Thus, SNRIs are effective for treating depression and anxiety. They might also help to reduce incidents of panic attacks in people diagnosed with a panic disorder.
No studies show which is a better anti-anxiety drug between SNRIs and SSRIs. People react to drugs differently; thus, either of these drugs has the same chance of being a good fit for any individual.
These medicines are a class of drugs sometimes called tranquilizers. They have sedative properties that help quiet the mind and relax tense muscles. Thus they can also be effective as an anti-anxiety medication. Unlike SSRIs, benzodiazepines require short-term uses and low dosages. It is because, unlike SSRIs, they can be addictive and prone to abuse.
Their exact complete mechanism in the body is not known. But, these drugs appear to regulate certain neurotransmitters in the brain to help manage stress and produce calming effects.
These drugs are often used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), and panic disorder. Valium and Xanax are popular types of this drug.
While these drugs might be enough to manage panic attacks and other anxiety disorder symptoms, they also come with several side effects. Besides its high abuse potential, it also causes drowsiness that can cause users to be accident-prone. It also counteracts badly with alcohol, and the combination can lead to death in severe cases.
Thus, patients must take benzodiazepines according to prescription. Moreover, they should inform their doctor if they are on other medicines. Due to its possible side effects of poor coordination, it may affect a person’s ability to drive safely or operate heavy machinery.
If you find that a drug is affecting you adversely or not improving your symptoms of anxiety and depression, inform your doctor.
Buspirone is a much milder and slower-acting version of benzodiazepines. They also have a tranquilizing effect and boost serotonin levels in the brain while tanking dopamine.
Buspirone is less likely to cause dependency. Its withdrawal effects are also not as severe as benzodiazepines. It is also not sedating and thus does not affect memory, balance, or coordination. Also, it appears only to be beneficial in helping generalized anxiety disorder. The drug has shown no significant effects on other anxiety disorders.
Thus, it is an ideal choice for seniors and those with a history of substance abuse.
Some side effects of this drug include diarrhea, stomach issues, nausea, and weight gain.
- Beta Blockers
These drugs work by blocking the effects of a stress hormone called norepinephrine. Atenolol is a popular beta blocker initially used to treat high blood pressure. However, they are now often prescribed as an effective treatment for some anxiety disorders.
Unlike some other anti-anxiety drugs, these drugs affect the physical symptoms of the anxiety disorder- like shaky hands and rapid heartbeat. There is no evidence to show that it affects the emotional and mental symptoms of anxiety disorders. Thus, beta blockers are only ideal for specific types of anxiety disorders like phobias and performance anxiety.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Anxiety
Specific lifestyle changes are required to treat anxiety disorders in the long term. Also, the treatment methods listed above tend to work better when accompanied by lifestyle changes.
- Eat a Balanced Diet
When dealing with anxiety disorders, you must consider making your diet optimized for easing anxiety. A poor diet can be detrimental to your mental health. Thus, you must ensure that your diet contains the vital nutrients for optimal physical and mental health.
Consider adding fresh whole foods to your diet. Foods such as oatmeal and quinoa are full of complex carbs and are great for you. On the other hand, lessen your intake of trans fat and processed foods in general.
Also, mind your gut. Include fiber-rich foods in your diet to promote digestive health. Yogurt and other fermented foods are also great for your gut health.
Also, drinking lots of water before and after meals is essential. Proper hydration can enhance your mood and keep anxiety symptoms at bay.
- Stay Active
The benefits of exercise and physical activity are enormous. Not only are they crucial for optimal mental health, but they also are important for physical health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown links between physical activity and reduced anxiety. They also show that an active lifestyle can help prevent anxiety and depression in the first place.
Some statistics show that exercise may be as effective as medication and therapy in managing anxiety. Aerobic exercises involving strength training and cardio have great benefits for people with chronic anxiety. Taking part in half-hour aerobic exercises like swimming or jogging every other day could reduce anxiety.
These exercises help stabilize your heart rate and ease anxiety symptoms like a rapid heartbeat. These kinds of exercises help to optimize heart and lung function, thereby improving your wellbeing.
Besides the direct benefits of exercise on mental health, it also improves your social skills. Getting a gym membership or joining a walking group can help you better navigate social situations. It may also help build your self-esteem.
Since exercise causes the body’s serotonin levels to increase, it can also relieve feelings of anxiety and its physical symptoms.
- Improve Sleep Habits
Your sleeping habits go a long way in affecting your mental health and general wellbeing. Thus, it is best to have a good night’s sleep every night. Scientists recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
You might find that your anxiety worsens when you do not get enough sleep. A consistent sleep schedule can help keep anxiety and other illnesses at bay. Thus, you must ensure that you have a consistent sleep schedule.
You can find ways to improve your sleep environment to make it easier to fall asleep. You must also ensure to avoid habits that disrupt your natural sleep cycle. Avoid taking naps, caffeine, or alcohol late in the afternoon. All in all, adequate sleep can help you manage stress and curb anxiety.
- Active Stress Management
We have all experienced stress at different times in our lives. Several things in our day-to-day lives can increase our stress levels. An accumulation of stress can also lead to anxiety disorders like panic attacks. Thus, we must seek ways to manage stress to avoid developing anxiety disorders.
Stress affects mental health and can lead to mental fatigue and other mental issues. They can sometimes cause physical health problems also. Practice positive self-talk and relaxation exercises to manage stress and reduce anxiety symptoms. Relaxation exercises include yoga, meditation, and focused breathing.
Alternative Treatments for Anxiety
As stated earlier, the field of alternative medicine is expanding. People are exploring less traditional ways to treat anxiety disorders and other mental health problems.
- Herbal Remedies
There are naturally existing herbs that are considered home remedies for anxiety. These natural herbs can be taken in their unprocessed or processed form and might affect mental and physical health.
Chamomile, for example, is a natural flower known to soothe stress and have mild calming effects. Its extract is also shown to ease anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder when used long-term.
Ashwagandha is another stress buster effective in reducing stress and anxiety. This herb is a prime ingredient in ayurvedic medicine and has many health benefits. A small study showed how ashwagandha aided the reduction of cortisol (stress) levels in the body.
Lavender and passionflower also have several benefits to mental health. Also, consider including vitamin B12 supplements and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Both promote a healthy nervous system.
CBD products are becoming a popular alternative medicine for managing and treating several ailments. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a substance found in the hemp plant. Research has shown that CBD has various benefits to mental health, besides other health benefits.
A study showed that it could reduce symptoms of various anxiety disorders. Although CBD might need more systematic reviewed studies, it already shows so much promise.
Some studies also show a link between CBD consumption and increased serotonin production. Thus, CBD could likely affect mood and behavior. The effects of CBD on mental health have also been shown to be similar to the effects of antidepressants.
CBD can aid sleep, ease anxiety, and help relieve pain. Although there is no established effective dosage, a dosage of 300 mg to 600 mg can help reduce symptoms of some anxiety disorders.
CBD products are available in many forms, including oils and gummies, and are legal. Thus you can get them over the counter in states where they are legal. It might cause side effects of diarrhea, dry mouth, and diarrhea, although these effects are short-lived. You can also research about full spectrum vs broad spectrum cbd oil to know more. Consuming CBD Oil is one of the best proven ways to calm the mind when anxious.
Conclusion: How To Cure Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that we all have to deal with at different times in our lives. Severe cases may need a dedicated approach and professional treatment to reduce anxiety. It is essential to seek medical care when your anxiety seems to be affecting everything.
Thanks to research-backed medicine and therapy, even severe anxiety disorders are manageable. Managing and treating anxiety is by no means a day’s job. But, it is attainable with the methods listed above.
Besides the traditional approach, herbal remedies and hemp-derived products such as CBD have also been shown to combat anxiety and other anxiety-related issues in some studies. However, it would be best if you cleared a supplement with your doctor before you begin taking it.
Practicing lifestyle changes, including active stress management, eating a balanced diet, and frequent exercise can work wonders for anxiety levels. Thus, it would be best to get advice from your doctor about all you need to do to facilitate your treatment process.
Also, if you must use any supplements, get your doctor’s advice before proceeding. Several herbs and OTC drugs may have serious interactions with prescription medication. Thus, it is wise to ensure that all your treatment considerations get approval from your health care provider.