Stress and Anxiety Blog

WHAT IS ANXIETY ?

Everyone feels anxious now and then. It is a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally.

For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life. (https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-disorders#1)

6 TYPES OF ANXIETY

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more. Most people feel anxious and worried from time to time, especially when faced with stressful situations like taking an exam, speaking in public, playing competitive sport or going for a job interview. This sort of anxiety can make you feel alert and focused, helping you get things done faster or perform at your best.

Social Anxiety: A person has an intense fear of being criticized, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.

Specific Phobias: A person feels very fearful about a object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.

Panic Disorder: A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviors or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month. (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety)

RISK FACTORS OF ANXIETY

  • Trauma. Children who endured abuse or trauma or witnessed traumatic events are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Adults who experience a traumatic event also can develop anxiety disorders.
  • Stress due to an illness. Having a health condition or serious illness can cause significant worry about issues such as your treatment and your future.
  • Stress buildup. A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances.
  • Personality. People with certain personal

What is Stress, Common Effects (body, mood behavior)

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”

There are several types of stress, including:

  • acute stress
  • episodic acute stress
  • chronic stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Common effects of stress:

  • Headache, Anxiety, Overeating or undereating
  • Muscle tension or pain, Restlessness, Angry outbursts
  • Chest pain, Lack of motivation or focus
  • Drug or alcohol misuse, Fatigue, Feeling overwhelmed
  • Tobacco use, Change in sex drive, Irritability or anger, Social withdrawal
  • Stomach upset, Sadness or depression, Exercising less often, Sleep problems

The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors.

Common external causes of stress include:

  • Major life changes
  • Work or school
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Being too busy
  • Children and family

Common internal causes of stress include:

  • Pessimism
  • Inability to accept uncertainty
  • Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
  • Negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations / perfectionism
  • All-or-nothing attitude

Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987#:~:text=Indeed%2C%20stress%20symptoms%20can%20affect,heart%20disease%2C%20obesity%20and%20diabetes https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm#:~:text=Stress%20is%20your%20body’s%20way,body’s%20way%20of%20protecting%20you https://www.healthline.com/health/stress#hormones https://www.healthline.com/health/stress#causes

Treatment for Anxiety

The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for you.

Psychotherapy

Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills to improve your symptoms and gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety.

CBT includes exposure therapy, in which you gradually encounter the object or situation that triggers your anxiety so you build confidence that you can manage the situation and anxiety symptoms.

Medications for Anxiety

Several types of medications are used to help relieve symptoms, depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have and whether you also have other mental or physical health issues. For example:

  • Certain antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety disorders.
  • An anti-anxiety medication called buspirone may be prescribed.
  • In limited circumstances, your doctor may prescribe other types of medications, such as sedatives, also called benzodiazepines, or beta blockers. These medications are for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms and are not intended to be used long term.

Talk with your doctor about benefits, risks and possible side effects of medications.

Treatment for Stress

Treatment includes self-help and, when an underlying condition is causing stress, certain medications.

Therapies that may help a person relax include aromatherapy and reflexology.

Some insurance providers cover this type of treatment. However, it is important for people to check coverage with their provider before pursuing this treatment. Knowing the details about a potential treatment can help prevent it from adding to any ongoing stress.

Medications for Stress

Doctors will not usually prescribe medications for coping with stress, unless they are treating an underlying illness, such as depression or an anxiety disorder. In such cases, they may prescribe an antidepressant. However, there is a risk that the medication will only mask the stress, rather than help the person deal with it. Antidepressants can also have adverse effects, and they may worsen some complications of stress, such as low libido.

Developing coping strategies before stress becomes chronic or severe can help an individual manage new situations and maintain their physical and mental health.

People who are already experiencing overwhelming stress should seek medical assistance.

Prevention for Anxiety

There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:

Prevention for Stress

  1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. …
  2. Eat a healthy diet. …
  3. Reduce caffeine and sugar. …
  4. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. …
  5. Get enough sleep!
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