Anxiety is on a rampage. In fact, anxiety disorders top the list of mental health disorders and impacts over 40 million Americans, or about 18.1% of adults each year. A poll, conducted by the American Psychiatric Association in 2017, found that almost 2/3 of the participants felt “extremely or somewhat anxious about health and safety for themselves and their families,” and more than a third are more anxious overall than the previous year. The results also revealed that millennials, adults ages 23-28, are the most anxiety-ridden age group.
So what are we doing about the rising tide of anxiety in our country? Unfortunately, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, only about one-third of individuals struggling with anxiety ever seek out treatment. Barriers to treatment might include a lack of health insurance, financial challenges, fear of stigma, fear of appearing weak, or simply not knowing what treatment options exist.
Undiagnosed anxiety disorder can become more serious as time goes on, threatening to derail careers, relationships, and even cause health problems. With an array of treatment options available, there is certain to be one that fits the individual’s needs. Anxiety recovery retreats offer a popular treatment venue for someone with an anxiety disorder who is seeking a more holistically centered approach.
About Anxiety Disorder
With nearly one in five adults experiencing anxiety disorder, it is helpful to be able to recognize the symptoms. Each type of anxiety disorder will have its own specific features, however anxiety symptoms generally include:
- Excessive worry or fear
- Feelings of dread and apprehension
- Being perpetually on alert for danger
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Shortness of breath, holding one’s breath
- Stomach upset, diarrhea
- Feeling jumpy or restless
- Sleep disturbances
- Trouble concentrating, mental confusion, short-term memory problems
The predominant trait of all anxiety disorders is a sense of having no control over the fear-inducing situation.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety can manifest in different ways. Any of the anxiety disorders can cause symptoms that can impair the ability to function at daily tasks. The types of anxiety that are included in the anxiety disorder spectrum include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD features intense and inappropriate worry for the situation at hand. The exaggerated and chronic worrying can result in impairment at basic daily functioning, as well as somatic symptoms, or chronic physical ailments, such as headache, digestive problems, and muscle tension.
- Panic Disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by unpredictable and intense physical symptoms that resemble a heart attack, such as a chest pain, racing heart, nausea, shallow breathing, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Because the attacks come on suddenly without warning, people begin to isolate themselves to avoid a panic attack, which could result in agoraphobia.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety related to an irrational fear. In response to the fear, individuals adopt compulsive behaviors to help manage the anxiety that the irrational obsession induces. Examples are fear of contamination or germs, fear of angry, aggressive, or sexual impulses, or an obsessive need for orderliness, cleanliness, or symmetry.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is related to the intense feelings of anxiety that follow experiencing or witnessing a trauma. An unresolved traumatic event, whether witness or experienced personally, leads to nightmares, hyper-arousal, and unwanted memories, which can lead to avoidance of any situations or people that might trigger the traumatic memories.
- Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety is caused by a deep fear of being judged or harshly criticized, or publicly humiliated. Social anxiety is characterized by sweating, trembling, shallow breathing, nausea, feeling faint or dizzy, and heart palpitations, which may lead the individual to avoid all types of social interaction and events. This can lead to social isolation and loneliness, as well as negatively consequences to career and relationships.
- Phobia. Specific phobias pertain to the intense and exaggerated fear of a person, place, or thing. The object of fear can lead to irrational and obsessive behaviors as the individual attempts to avoid encountering or triggering the extreme fear that it provokes, leading to avoiding any potential exposure to the specific phobia.
- Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia involves intense fear that is triggered when the individual feels they are trapped, helpless, or may be publicly embarrassed, while on a train, bus, plane, in an elevator, or on a ship. This type of anxiety disorder may result after a series of panic attacks, and can lead to social isolation.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorder
At the intake, a therapist will evaluate what type of anxiety you are suffering from and design an individualized treatment plan to help manage symptoms. Because each type of anxiety disorder will have its own features, treating the anxiety disorder will be tailored accordingly.
- Medication. The doctor will prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication (benzodiazepines), or mood stabilizers like lithium—possibly a combination of them—to help adjust brain chemistry and manage the anxiety.
- Psychotherapy. By utilizing psychotherapy, namely cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the individual learns how to change the distorted internal messaging that results in the anxiety symptoms. Both individual and group therapy sessions provide opportunities to learn new thought-behavior patterns that can help mitigate the fears or triggers that fuel the anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety can be obtained in a variety of settings, including private practice, outpatient programs, day programs (also referred to as a partial hospitalization program), residential treatment, mental health retreat or anxiety recovery retreats.
Holistic Treatment and Anxiety Recovery Retreats
Eastern-influenced mental health treatment approaches are increasing in popularity as people seek out alternative treatment techniques to help manage anxiety. Luxury wellness retreats have embraced the concept of utilizing holistic therapies and now specialize in addressing mental health challenges, such as anxiety. These anxiety-specific retreat centers are designed to help individuals connect mind-body-and spirit through healthy, often medication-free treatment methods, such as:
Deep breathing techniques. Simple breathing exercises can have a swift and significant impact on stress and anxiety. Deep breathing can be done anywhere at any time, offering a fast reduction in heart rate and blood pressure when anxiety emerges. Breathe in slowly to the count of 5, hold breath for a count of 5, then slowly release breath through the mouth to a count of 5. Repeat 5 times.
Meditation. Allowing yourself the space for quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer is immensely relaxing. This allows you to pause and consider blessings, while your mind floats toward the spiritual realm. These sessions are often facilitated at the retreat in group settings, but can also be done in the solitude of nature or your own room.
Yoga. Yoga classes are a staple in wellness retreats. Yoga offers a blend of spiritual and physical activities, such as poses, positions, and movements that are choreographed for calming the mind while toning muscles and stretching the body.
Aromatherapy. Essential oils are derived from plants and flowers and used in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is delivered through the form of a vapor, or diffuser to be inhaled, or applied topically to strategic places on the body. Several of the oils are used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness can help rein in distracting worries or thoughts that keep the person agitated. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention without judgment on the now, and to feel the moment in all aspects, such as through the emotions, tactile sensations, and sounds.
Journaling. Expressing thoughts, worries, hopes, and dreams into a written form can help to relieve the associated emotions. Keeping a journal can help process feelings, thus a tool for healing, as well as recording progress for a given mental health challenge or goal.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical intervention that uses small needles to help open up blocked energy pathways. There is evidence that opening up these pathways can reduce stress.
How Diet and Exercise Can Help Minimize Anxiety Symptoms
To provide a comprehensive wellness program for treatment of anxiety, the anxiety recovery retreats usually include carefully curated dietary menus, focusing on plant-based, organic, clean food sources. There is a connection between diet and mental health, and some foods have been identified as beneficial for mental health. These include:
- Salmon, mackerel, tuna—are all high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Tumeric, a spice that contains curcumin
- Yogurt and kefir
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Chamomile tea
- Green tea
In addition to the nutritional focus at the anxiety recovery retreats, exercise is another essential treatment element. Again, science has shown that physical activity, when done on a regular basis, can bolster mental health. Cardio-specific, or aerobic, activities, such as cycling, swimming, hiking, running, brisk walking, or dancing can cause the body to produce the brain chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins naturally improve our moods and lift the spirit.
During exercise, the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are also increased, which are responsible for improving concentration, memory, and sleep quality. In addition to these mental health benefits, exercise helps regulate stress, the key issue involved with anxiety disorder. Cortisol levels are better controlled through exercise.
Mental Health Hope Can Introduce You to Anxiety Recovery Retreats
Mental Health Hope is an online resource for individuals struggling with anxiety, or any type of mental health disorder. The specialists at Mental Health Hope can provide information about various types of treatment centers for anxiety disorder, including anxiety recovery retreats for those interested in a holistic approach to treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing a decline in quality of life due to ongoing anxiety, reach out to Mental Health Hope today at (877) 967-9274.