Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders

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Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders
Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders

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Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be manifested in many forms and each has its own causes as well as symptoms. Although there are different types of anxiety and the causes and symptoms are different, one thing remains the same, the actual feelings of anxiety.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a physiological or psychological state that can affect behavior, emotions, and cognitive processes. It is simply defined as a feeling of concern or fear that brings uneasiness, displeasure or stress to a person.

It is considered to be a normal reaction when facing stressors and can be a motivation for a person to learn to cope with problems.

However, when it becomes overwhelming and starts to be uncontrollable verging on paranoia, it is now classified as an anxiety disorder.

What Is An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are a group of psychological illnesses that are characterized by excessive anxiety symptoms such as irrational fear, excessive uneasiness and distress, and panic attacks.

Here are some of the different categories of anxiety disorders:

  1. GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This type is often manifested by excessive worrying about simple events or occurrences in life. This exaggerated worrying can last for days, months or years and starts to affect the day to day routine of the person.

It is very hard to concentrate on daily activities and carry-out work since severe worry occupies the mind all throughout the day.

In severe cases, the person always anticipates worst case scenarios and feels exhausted, overly stressed, tense and can often have migraines and body aches.

  1. Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is manifested when a person feels sudden terror without warning and it occurs repeatedly which results in panic attacks. This kind of anxiety disorder has symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pains, shortness of breath and dizziness.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD

A person with OCD performs rituals and has unwanted thoughts and obsessions. These thoughts and obsessions lead to these rituals being done repeatedly.

Most often, people with OCD recognize that they have this problem but can’t do anything about their compulsions because of the fear that their obsessions might be true.

For example if they don’t repeatedly wash their hands they may get sick, or if they don’t check the power is off again and again the house may burn down.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

This type of disorder is caused by a traumatic event or events that a person witnessed or experienced. Many returned soldiers suffer with PTSD as do victims of torture.

People with this type of disorder experience flashbacks, nightmares and are tense and irritable. Such symptoms make it hard for them to build lasting relationships whether at work or in their personal life.

Recognizing symptoms is the first step in treating any type of anxiety disorder. If you recognize the symptoms and distinguish your disorder, you can then learn different steps or treatments to manage your symptoms.

Anxiety disorders need competent medical attention for management or treatment, which may include medication. Due to the fact that symptoms can sometimes be misleading and persons involved do not recognize these symptoms, anxiety disorders can get worse on some occasions due to lack of treatment.

Left untreated, such a condition can greatly affect the life of a person and all their daily routines, working habits and relationships. In addition, following a healthy diet and getting enough sleep will greatly minimize symptoms and attacks of anxiety.

You can manage your anxiety a number of ways, including deep breathing.

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

For many people, early action to minimize the symptoms of anxiety and panic is not planned or undertaken, leading to an escalation of the symptoms.

It may not be appreciated by sufferers that the earliest signs of panic and anxiety attacks can be averted if they learn some anxiety-relieving breathing techniques.

Performing deep breathing techniques can provide relief before the attack gets worse. The great thing about a breathing technique is that it provides relief without the need to use any other gadgets and devices, or even medication.

As with any remedy or technique to reduce anxiety related symptoms, a plan needs to be formulated while in a calm state, not during an anxiety episode. One needs to become aware of the early signs of attack and take action while still feeling in control of the situation.

When a sufferer is aware of the triggers and feelings that induce anxiety and panic attacks, they can implement the steps of their plan.

Below are some helpful tips when performing breathing techniques for reducing the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks:

Getting Ready To Relax

Make sure that you are in your most comfortable posture before starting to employ any breathing technique. You may sit, stand, or lie down.  If you choose to sit, see to it that you are sitting properly, with an erect spine and your hands resting on your lap. Take steps to minimize interruption as much as possible.  It can be helpful to keep your eyes closed so you can concentrate better on the way you breathe.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

Breathing through your nose is recommended during an anxiety or panic attack.  Your nose has smaller air passages so that you take in less air than if you breathe through your mouth.  This helps keep you from hyperventilating which may worsen the attack.

Each time you breathe, do not just breathe from your upper rib cage area but rather focus on diaphragmatic breathing in order to be assured of more efficient breathing cycles. Expand your stomach region before filling the upper chest area during each intake of air.

Inhaling and Exhaling

For the technique to work well, you need to fully concentrate on your own breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply while you aim to fill all parts of your lungs with air.  Hold your breath for up to 7 seconds, but not beyond what is comfortable.

Then, slowly release air by exhaling slowly for about eight seconds. When you exhale you are also releasing your stress, anxiety and feelings of panic.

To know your breathing cycle, you need to use a timepiece or count “one, one thousand, two, one thousand…” in your mind.

Counting your breaths is another method of distracting yourself and of keeping your thoughts away from what is causing your anxiety or panic attack episode.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you have learned how to perform this breathing technique, make it a habit. Practice this breathing exercise at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

You may also practice more during the day as this technique can be employed practically anywhere for as long as you can maintain a comfortable posture.

Part of your goal should be to slow down your breathing rate.  Fast and shallow breathing is one indication that you are in a state of anxiety or panic.

Once you have mastered the skill of breathing for prevention of anxiety and panic attacks, deep, slow and relaxing breathing will eventually become second nature to you.

This breathing technique is just one of the many simple and natural ways to avert anxiety or panic attack.

Once you have mastered this technique you will feel more in control of the situation and your symptoms. This means you will become less prone to the stressful buildup which often preludes the emergence of anxiety and panic attack.

Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Diet Tips

Many people with anxiety have problems with IBS and managing anxiety and IBS symptoms can be addressed through diet.

Irritable bowel syndrome develops when the muscles and nerves in a person’s intestines have become extra sensitive.  One of the most common causes of IBS is stress and anxiety.   Statistically, women are more prone to develop IBS than men.

IBS is divided into three main types, each highlighting the most dominant symptom.  These categories are as follows:

  1. IBS-C : Constipation
  2. IBS-D : Diarrhea
  3. IBS-A : Diarrhea and Constipation

People with IBS can change types over time, so a person may start out with one kind of IBS and end up with another. If left untreated, irritable bowel syndrome can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life and may lead to such complications as hemorrhoids or anxiety and depression.

Following a treatment plan can help prevent these problems, and one of the most important parts of any IBS treatment plan is sticking to the right kind of diet plan.

The same applies to anxiety. Diet is so important, so here are some diet tips for treating IBS and anxiety symptoms.

Adhere To Your Regular Mealtime

Skipping meals is a big no-no for people with IBS.  Skipping meals can allow time for more air to enter the digestive system and make a person with IBS more vulnerable to bloating and cramping.

Therefore, it’s important to eat breakfast every morning, and also helps to have snacks in between regular meals.

However, noshing on junk foods during snack time can only worsen your IBS and anxiety symptoms.  Eat healthy foods and beverages at all times.

Eat Modest Portions

Avoid the urge to eat oversized portions at every meal time.  Otherwise, you will only be inviting more symptoms of IBS such as stomach cramps and diarrhea. Taking smaller portions can prove to be helpful for reducing the symptoms of IBS.

Eat Slowly and Relax

Those who have the ‘eat-and-run’ habit are more likely to experience IBS symptoms.  Mindful eating is a must for people with IBS and anxiety.  Never eat in a hurry.  Take your time and relax so your body can digest the food properly.

Eat Fiber-Rich Foods

Your body needs more fiber in order to regulate the workings of your digestive system.

However, avoid fiber supplements and opt for fresh, natural produce instead.  Strawberries, pears, carrots, flaxseeds and lentils are few examples of foods that are rich with soluble fiber.

Another good thing about loading up on fiber is that it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time thus helping prevent any cravings and binge eating.

Many people with anxiety crave ‘comfort foods’ so by eating fiber-rich foods, you lessen the chances of feeling hungry.

Drink More Water and Forget the Soft Drinks

This may sound too elementary but some people just don’t realize the importance of sufficient water intake. Whether you are experiencing constipation or diarrhea, water can greatly relieve those symptoms.

However, steer clear of sweetened and fizzy beverages because these will only add gas to your digestive system.

Knowing what foods are triggering your symptoms of IBS and anxiety will certainly help you manage your condition.

A good start is to just stay away from those foods!

Sticking to these diet tips can help relieve your IBS and anxiety symptoms. One may certainly be causing the other.

Anxiety Causes Lack of Sleep

As we know an anxiety disorder is a neurological condition manifested by over reaction, worry, or stress about an event or situation. This causes another problem with regards to a lack of sleep.

Anxiety disorders can be caused by many things, but usually occur due to a specific event, or series of events, to the person, which generates a trauma resulting in the anxious behaviors.

Stress, fear, diet and physiological factors like lack of sleep can worsen anxiety behaviors.

It is often unclear if anxiety itself causes lack of sleep or if it is the lack of sleep that increases anxiety.

The discovery of a close relationship between anxiety and sleeplessness has become a topic for studies to find a solution for these two related problems.

As it can’t be clearly discerned which of these problems is the cause and which is the symptom, it is important to discuss both issues that affect so many people today.

The Effect of Sleep on Anxiety

Sleep is very important as it serves as the recuperative mechanism of the body physically, mentally and emotionally.

Only during sleep do we feel the total relaxation and rest that our body needs for it to recharge for the next day’s agenda.

Relaxation is important as it is the only way that a person’s mind and body can release the stresses incurred in daily living. It keeps us sane and balanced and helps us bounce back so we are able to face the next day.

The lack of sleep can cause major problems for a person. It will start to affect the way the mind functions. Without rest, a person loses focus, can’t think properly, and this can result in poor judgment and improper actions.

It can also affect a person’s emotional behavior, making them more moody, grouchy and unpredictable. It also affects the way we interact with others, and contributes to anxiety behaviors and stress-related symptoms.

Anxiety Disrupts Sleep

Anxiety disorders can often cause sleeplessness. This is because the brain of an anxious person is very hyperactive and seemingly can’t be stopped no matter what the person tries to do. Since the brain won’t shut down, it starts to affect the person’s normal functioning including sleep patterns.

The mind keeps thinking and worrying about what might otherwise be minor issues, as well conjuring up possibilities of problems with work, school, finances and diseases. Individuals with anxiety disorders are troubled with these anxious thoughts which causes sleep to elude them.

The lack of sleep will, in return, worsen their anxiety and the cycle keeps repeating.

Suggested Actions

As lack of sleep can only worsen anxiety disorders and panic attacks, here are some useful tips that you can try to improve sleep patterns:

  1. A relaxing environment greatly affects the mood and creates an environment conducive for sleep and relaxation. Relaxing music can help create conditions for sleep.
  2. Sleep in a cool room. The cold tends to have the effect of making a person sleepy. Have a good ventilation system in your room.
  3. Drink chamomile tea or a glass of milk before bed and avoid food or beverages that will awaken the mind. Coffee is an obvious no-no.
  4. Take a bath before sleeping. Cleaning yourself can give you a relaxed disposition and makes you sleepy.

Invite relaxation by avoiding thinking deeply about things that might trigger your anxiety or panic attacks. Replace these problematic thoughts with relaxing and happy thoughts as these things can put you in a better mood that promotes sleeping.

As the mind wanders to unwanted thoughts, keep returning to the wanted, peaceful subjects. This mind training will be hugely beneficial, not only in the short term, but whenever stressful situations need to be overcome to achieve sleep.

Conclusion

To better manage anxiety follow a healthy diet and make sure you get good quality sleep.

To relieve your anxiety throughout the day, practice deep breathing techniques and make sure you take a walk in the fresh air and sunshine.

You will boost the necessary hormones to make you feel good and get the all-important vitamin D to help ease your anxiety and stress.

 

Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders
Understanding and Managing Anxiety Disorders

 

 

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