Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. Let’s look at two types of anxiety disorders:
Social Anxiety Disorder is the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations. It is not simply shyness. People with this disorder may have few or no social or romantic relationships, making them feel powerless, alone, or even ashamed.
• About 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder
• Typical age of onset: 13 years old
• 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help
• Usually begins in childhood or adolescence
Although they recognize that the fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with this disorder feel powerless against their anxiety. They are terrified they will humiliate or embarrass themselves.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. Sufferers anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
• Affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year
• Women are twice as likely to be affected
• Disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age
• Although the exact cause is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.
If you suffer from anxiety, research suggests that you may run a higher risk of experiencing physical health problems. In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in the relaxation response and how inducing this state may benefit health. Currently, there is some evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan to relieve anxiety.
Women who use yoga to relax during pregnancy reduce their risk of developing anxiety and depression. Stress during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth, low birth weight and increased developmental and behavioral problems in children. A University of Manchester research study shows that women who attend one yoga class a week for eight weeks had decreased anxiety scores compared to those who received normal antenatal treatment. A single session of yoga was found to reduce anxiety by one third and stress hormone levels by 14 per cent.
Coping Strategies for Stress and Anxiety
• Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques.
• Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip meals; keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
• Limit alcohol and caffeine, Aggravates anxiety
• Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
• Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
• Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
• Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
• Do your best. Don’t aim for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of how 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. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
• Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community creating a support network and 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.
• Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed. Let them know how they can help you. Talk to a therapist for professional help.
Most people with anxiety who seek treatment, experience significant improvement and enjoy an improved quality of life.
Sources Available Upon Request
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