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Living your day-to-day life in total fear mode is exhausting. In most cases, this state of fear and dread is due to an anxiety disorder. First, you need to get to the bottom of which type of anxiety you have. Next, a tailored treatment plan helps manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
If you are struggling with fear, you are not alone. An astounding 40 million Americans live with some sort of anxiety disorder. If you are living in a constant state of worry or struggling with irrational fear, there is help available. Keep reading to learn all about anxiety disorder and treatment options.
What is Anxiety?
We live in stressful times, with new things to worry about popping up daily it seems. Sometimes, it can all become too overwhelming. The fear may cause so much distress that you become afraid to even leave your house. When symptoms of irrational fear take over to that degree and cause impairment in daily functioning, it is an anxiety disorder.
There are several types of anxiety, so a mental health expert is tasked with finding out which form you have. The types of anxiety include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Features constant excessive worry for much of the day, resulting in headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and trouble concentrating.
- Panic disorder: Sudden feelings of terror that cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. Some may isolate in order to avoid having a future panic attack.
- Social anxiety disorder: Intense fear of being judged or being embarrassed in public. Some people withdraw socially as a result of this fear.
- Specific phobias: Irrational fear of a specific thing, place, or situation. To manage this fear, the person will go to great lengths to avoid triggers.
- PTSD: Unresolved trauma can lead to avoidance of people, places, or situations that trigger memories of the event. Flashbacks, nightmares, or repeated thoughts of the trauma stoke anxiety symptoms.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive worries about such things as germs, causing harm, or a need for order drives compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are an attempt to manage the symptoms of anxiety caused by the obsession.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Irrational Fear
While each type of anxiety has its own set of features and symptoms, all anxiety disorders share the common feature of irrational fear. Here are some other common anxiety symptoms:
- Intense feelings of fear, dread, or worry.
- Being on alert for danger all the time.
- Racing heart.
- Shortness of breath; shallow breathing.
- Stomach upset, diarrhea.
- Feeling jumpy or restless.
What Causes Anxiety?
The exact cause of anxiety disorder remains a mystery, although there are two main types of factors that may be involved:
- Biology or genetics. Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. If close family members struggle with anxiety, there is a good chance that you will, too, at some point. Another biological aspect is an imbalance in brain chemistry, where the stress hormones are overactive.
- Environmental. Severe stress can be caused by adverse life events, like a job loss, divorce, or unexpected death of a loved one. Trauma can also result in anxiety.
Also, certain medical conditions, or medications, may cause panic attack-like symptoms.
How to Manage Irrational Fear
If you have symptoms of anxiety, why not make use of the broad range of holistic methods that can help you. These are activities and lifestyle tweaks that can make a big difference, and are easily accessed. Try adding some of these practices into your daily or weekly routine.
Yoga. Yoga uses movement and focused breathing to bring about deep relaxation, as it helps release muscle tension. Yoga classes come in a variety of forms and are available online or in a group class format.
Deep breathing. Deep breathing, or focused breathing, is a quick and effective stress reducer. Deep breathing slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and reduces body tension.
Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to reduce stress by focusing our thoughts on the present moment instead of becoming distracted by our worries.
Massage therapy. Massage can help release toxins from the body, resulting in muscle relaxation and a calm, quiet mood state.
Aromatherapy. Several essential oils induce relaxation. Use the oils in a diffuser or apply topically. The best oils for relaxation are lavender oil, bergamot, rose, ylang-ylang, and German chamomile.
Meditation. The spiritual realm can calm the mind. Try meditation podcasts or apps, or simply some quiet prayer time. These methods help lead you on a mental journey toward a calm, happy place.
Tend a garden. This is the perfect time to plant a garden. Gardening is a calming activity that offers many mental health benefits, including subduing anxiety. Being outdoors, you produce more vitamin D, which also protects mental health.
Keep a journal. Journaling allows you to dump your feelings onto paper and process the stress attached to what is bothering you. Writing in a journal helps you free your mind from ruminating, fear-driven thoughts that upset you.
Exercise. Regular physical movement can help promote a happier mood state while also reducing stress and improving sleep quality.
Nutrition. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, some foods help with anxiety in particular. These include Brazil nuts, eggs, green tea, fatty fish, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, yogurt, and chamomile tea.
Treatment Options for Anxiety Disorder
Counseling and talk therapy are designed to help patients identify triggers that cause anxiety symptoms, while also teaching coping skills. The therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy.
Irrational fear can drain your energy and put a damper on all aspects of life. Reach out for help today, and learn how to rein in the symptoms of anxiety.
Mental Health Hope Online Resource for Guidance on Mental Health Issues
Mental Health Hope is a free support source for people seeking help for a mental health challenge. Our mental health experts offer helpful information, free assessment quizzes, and treatment options. Call us today at (877) 967-9274.