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How to get rid of anxiety

14 August, 2018

Even though it may not seem like it, anxiety is actually a very common health condition. According to Anxiety UK, an estimated three million people in Britain are affected by an anxiety disorder. However it is thought that only a quarter of people with a ‘common mental health disorder’ such as anxiety disorder are receiving treatment for it.

man-looking-anxious

Whether you’re ready to speak to someone, you feel like you don’t need treatment, or you just aren’t ready, we’ve explored all of the options for coping with anxiety, to help you manage your thoughts and feelings when they start taking over.

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What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety medication

Anxiety treatment - CBT and talking therapies

Natural remedies for anxiety

 

What does anxiety feel like?

 

Whilst it’s natural for us to feel anxious in response to a stressful or dangerous situation - its natural occurrence is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response which occurs due to the release of a hormone called adrenaline - sometimes the feelings and thoughts we have don’t match up with the situation at hand.

If these thoughts and feelings are starting to interfere with a person’s normal day to day functioning, this is when they develop an anxiety disorder. There are various types of anxiety disorder, the main ones being:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder and panic attacks
  • Social anxiety disorder

People with an anxiety disorder experience anxiety symptoms without the presence of danger, or at a level that is disproportionate to the situation they are in.

Anxiety symptoms include:


Mental symptoms:


●     Feeling worried, tense or fearful for no obvious reason

●     Trouble concentrating

●     Bad mood

●     A sense of dread

















Physical symptoms:

●     Loss of appetite

●     Low sex drive

●     Muscle tension or tightness

●     Headaches

●     Sweating

●     Trembling or shaking

●     Irregular, fast or thumping heartbeat

●     Chest pain or a tight throat

●     Stomach or digestive problems

●     Dizziness

●     Tiredness

●     Nausea

●     Insomnia

●     Rapid breathing

Worried about your symptoms? See a doctor today
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Techniques for coping with anxiety

 

If you’re looking for ways to deal with your anxiety, there are a number of techniques and treatment options available that can definitely help you manage your symptoms so that they have much less impact on your day to day life.

There are two main options a doctor can offer you for helping to reduce anxiety, both in the present moment and the long-term. It is definitely worth visting your GP to discuss your symptoms further and come up with a plan that suits you.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the best long-term strategies you can use to manage your anxiety symptoms yourself. It is based on the concept of looking at your current thought processes and behaviours, and looking for ways to change them, to help manage your anxiety.

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This form of therapy - which can be done in person, online or over the phone - takes place over six to eight sessions. A therapist (or online-taught techniques) will help you learn different coping skills for different situations, to help you respond in a healthy, more constructive manner to potentially stressful situations or triggers.

Talking therapies

Some activities, like self-help groups, have been found to benefit people experiencing anxiety. Groups like this can also help you to feel less alone in experiencing this condition.

group-talking

Talking through the causes and triggers of your anxiety with others may help you find new ways of managing your feelings and symptoms.

Counselling is another form of talking therapy available if you would prefer to talk to somebody on a one to one basis.

Anxiety medication

Some antidepressant medications, mainly those in the selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) group, can be used to help treat anxiety.

They work by affecting the levels of certain chemicals in your brain which are thought to be involved in causing anxiety. A doctor will talk you through your symptoms, triggers and causes of your anxiety to see if medication is the right treatment for you.

Find out more about anxiety treatments
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Before you’re prescribed anything, a doctor will talk you through the potential side effects of anxiety medication, what to expect and how long you’ll need to take it for.

There are other medications that can be used on a short term and ‘as required’ basis, such as beta blockers which can help to ease some of the physical symptoms of anxiety.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking medication - even if a doctor suggests you do - you don’t have to. It’s entirely up to you.

 

Dealing with panic attacks

 

A panic attack is an overwhelming - and often frightening - experience of both mental and physical anxiety-related symptoms. Although they are usually harmless, panic attacks are extremely unpleasant and some people describe them as feeling as though they are about to die.

stressed-man-1

Different to anxiety attacks - these come on gradually, with less physically intense symptoms - panic attacks start often without warning. You can be absolutely fine one minute, then feel overwhelmed by panic and anxiety the next. There are a few techniques you can use to help you stop your attack as quickly as possible.

  • It’s important to accept that it’s happening when it does, and try and tell yourself that it’s nothing to worry about and that it will end.
  • Having someone with you can help, to reassure you nothing bad is going to happen.
  • Breathing exercises can be really helpful when it comes to panic attacks - and anxiety in general. Closing your eyes and breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose, and out slowly through your mouth should ease your symptoms and help to control your own breathing again.
  • Learning relaxation techniques can also help.
 

Natural remedies for anxiety

 

Practice mindfulness and meditation

Being able to relax is one of the biggest battles faced by people with anxiety.

Whether you use this technique to calm your mind before bed, or to start the day off on the right foot, many doctors recommend meditation as a way of coping with anxious thoughts.

Try to avoid sugary foods

Studies have shown that whilst sugar doesn’t trigger anxiety, it can make the symptoms you’re already experiencing feel worse. Your anxiety may make you confuse the fatigue and sickness that sugar consumption can cause with feelings of panic, too. Try some of these healthy recipes instead!

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Whilst alcohol doesn’t cause anxiety, it is often - wrongly - used to mask the symptoms. This is particularly the cause in people with social anxiety, where people may drink to feel more confident in social situations. This can lead to a vicious cycle, with your anxiety triggers feeling even more daunting when you’re unable to consume alcohol.

If this sounds familiar, try to cut back on (or cut out!) alcohol and use some of the other methods we’ve discussed in this blog to help you manage your symptoms.

Cut out caffeine

For caffeine to do its job of keeping us awake, part of its interaction with our body is to release adrenaline, which as we discussed above can trigger the fight or flight response, leading to symptoms of anxiety.

In a 2015 study, the effect moderate caffeine intake had on high anxiety-sensitive individuals was monitored, compared to low anxiety individuals.  It found that caffeine intake caused more rapid breathing - a symptom linked to the onset of panic attacks and general anxiety.

Another study found a link between stress levels, raised blood pressure and caffeine intake. This study also highlighted that people who regularly drank caffeinated drinks didn’t become resistant to these effects, either.

Use herbal remedies for anxiety

There are some natural ingredients that have been found to benefit people suffering from anxiety.

Valerian is a plant that produces an extract found to be helpful in treating stress and anxiety. The plant is effective in calming the body and the brain, easing anxious thoughts and physical experiences.

St. John’s Wort has been used as a healing remedy for nervous system-related pain for centuries. However, the plant has also been found to have antidepressant properties, leading it to being used to treat the symptoms of mental health conditions, too.

Speak to a doctor if you’re already on medication and you’re thinking of trying out a herbal remedy. Some medications can be affected by also taking St. John’s Wort, particularly contraceptive pills.

See a doctor today about the right treatment for you
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Topics: Mental Health, anxiety