What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is an emotional state defined by feelings of unease, nervousness, worry, or fear. In most situations, anxiety manifests as an expected response to stressful or life-threatening occurrences.
Anxiety is not an inherently negative emotion; it can be very helpful acting as internal signals which can protect us from danger and identify problems that require our attention. For example, a person may experience anxiety when handling problems in the workplace, before taking an examination, during a presentation or when meeting new people.
However, it becomes a concern when a person’s anxiety affects them excessively and abnormally. This is known as an anxiety disorder. A person who is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is likely to experience anxious thoughts persistently, frequently and intensely. Severe symptoms can disrupt a person’s quality of life substantially.
It should be noted that an anxiety disorder is a mental health condition and should not be seen as a personal flaw or a sign of weakness. Similar to physical illnesses, it is recommended that you consult a licensed professional – such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist – for a proper evaluation of one’s mental health.
What are the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues globally, affecting about 3.6% of the global population at one point in their lives. It can interfere with many aspects of people’s lives, including the quality of schoolwork, ability to perform at work, and interpersonal relationships.
A common misconception is that anxiety, and by extension anxiety disorders, are limited to one’s emotional and mental state. However, symptoms of anxiety disorders can also present themselves through physiological disruptions as well.
Below is a list of symptoms that are associated with anxiety disorders:
- A persistent feeling of overwhelming worry
- An excessive amount of nervousness
- Difficulty with concentrating on tasks
- Increased heart rate and shortness of breath
- Avoidant behaviour regarding feared situations
- A sense of restlessness
- Upset stomach
- Sleeping difficulties
- Tense muscles, such as shoulders
How are Anxiety Disorders Treated?
Treating an anxiety disorder usually involves a combination of psychotherapy (colloquially known as “talk therapy”) and medication.
How can I manage the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?
While medical treatment is the most effective method of managing an anxiety disorder, healthy lifestyle changes can also bring benefits in improving and mitigating certain anxiety symptoms. Here are a few avenues that help reduce the harmful effects of an anxiety disorder:
Taking care of one’s physical health
Taking measures towards improving physical health is an important first step towards managing anxiety. Consider establishing a good sleep schedule by abiding by a bedtime routine and ensuring you get the necessary amount of sleep. Typically, most adults require an average of seven hours of sleep per night for optimal health.
Performing regular physical exercise is another great way to keep anxiety at bay. This is because exercise helps the body release ‘feel-good’ chemicals known as endorphins that reduce stress levels, relieve pain, and generally improve one’s sense of well-being.
Improving the quality of one’s diet
Symptoms of anxiety often result in a person feeling unwell. While a change in diet is unable to cure an anxiety disorder, eating healthy can help with having more energy to get through the day and maintain a good mood.
Our bodies signal both hunger and dehydration through fatigue, mood irritability and other emotional responses. That is why it is important to eat healthy and balanced meals; this involves adding a well-balanced portion of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates into one’s diet.
In addition, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and reduce the consumption of substances such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as studies have associated these substances with increased symptoms of anxiety and tension.
Participating in relaxing activities
Relaxation techniques and activities offer a convenient and low-cost method of managing anxiety and stress. These techniques include the likes of deep breathing, meditation, positive thinking and self-love.
As for activities, taking up certain hobbies such as cooking or gardening can help with focusing on an enjoyable activity and taking your mind off negative thoughts that you may be experiencing. Finally, talking to trusted friends and family about how you are feeling can help with lightening the emotional load and potentially gain new insights into the nature of your anxiety disorder.
MINDCENTRIC under PMC is home to trained mental health consultants and clinical psychologists, who are dedicated to offering comprehensive treatments for anxiety disorders alongside other mental health concerns.
Schedule an appointment today for guidance on ways you can manage your mental health better for years to come.