Alcohol dependence, depression, and other conditions can sometimes have such a strong link to anxiety in some people that treating an anxiety disorder must wait until an individual manages any underlying conditions.
Recognizing the developing symptoms of anxious feelings and taking steps to manage the condition without medical assistance should be the first port of call.
However, if this does not reduce the impact of anxiety symptoms, or if the onset is particularly sudden or severe, other treatments are available.
Doctors recommend several exercises and techniques to cope with brief or focused bouts of anxiety, including:
• Stress management: Limit potential triggers by managing stress levels. Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines, organize daunting tasks in to-do lists, and take enough time off from professional or educational obligations.
• Relaxation techniques: Certain measures can help reduce signs of anxiety, including deep-breathing exercises, long baths, meditation, yoga, and resting in the dark.
• Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Write down a list of any negative thoughts, and make another list of positive thoughts to replace them. Picturing yourself successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if the anxiety symptoms link to a specific stressor.
• Support network: Talk to a person who is supportive, such as a family member or friend. Avoid storing up and suppressing anxious feelings as this can worsen anxiety disorders.
• Exercise: Physical exertion and an active lifestyle can improve self-image and trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that stimulate positive emotions.
Counseling and therapy
Standard treatment for anxiety involves psychological counseling and therapy.
This might include psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of therapy and counseling.
CBT aims to recognize and alter the harmful thought patterns that can trigger an anxiety disorder and troublesome feelings, limit distorted thinking, and change the scale and intensity of reactions to stressors.
This helps people manage the way their body and mind react to certain triggers.
Psychotherapy is another treatment that involves talking with a trained mental health professional and working to the root of an anxiety disorder.
Sessions might explore the triggers of anxiety and possible coping mechanisms.
Although anxious feelings will always be present in daily life, there are ways to reduce the risk of a full-blown anxiety disorder.
Taking the following steps will help keep anxious emotions in check and prevent the development of a disorder, including:
• Consume less caffeine, tea, soda, and chocolate.
• Check with a doctor or pharmacist before using over-the-counter (OTC) or herbal remedies for chemicals that might make anxiety worse.
• Keep up a balanced, nutritious diet.
• Regular sleep patterns can be helpful.
• Avoid alcohol, cannabis, and other recreational drugs.