Everybody may feel anxious about something or the other at some point of time in their lives. But gnawing, overwhelming and continuous anxiety is different; it is an indication of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is defined as a mental disorder characterized by feelings of worry, panic, distress and fear-these feelings are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
Anxiety disorders is a term that includes different disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, social phobia or any other phobia that one may develop. All these disorders are different from each other as they have different characteristics.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Researchers are not sure about what causes GAD. It may be a result of a combination of a number of things such as genes, changes in the brain chemistry, environmental stress, traumatic experiences like domestic violence or child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, or a chronic health condition like cancer or arthritis. It is generally triggered by the fear of a specific event and builds gradually over a period of time.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
An anxiety attack is characterized by unrealistic and excessive worrying for a continuous period of at least six months. An anxiety attack would be characterized with at least three of the following symptoms:
- Avoiding social gatherings
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Concentration difficulty
- Hot and cold flushes
- Extreme irritability and anger
- Feelings of overwhelming fear and of losing control
- Physical symptoms like a racing heart or knots in the stomach or in the muscles
Though the treatment of an anxiety disorder needs proper therapy, there are certain things that one can do to manage an anxiety attack.
1) Take a Deep Breath
The moment you feel that an anxiety attack may be coming on, sit down and take a deep breath. Breathe in and exhale gently through the nose. Feel the breath travel from your nose to your lungs and to your stomach and your back. Take 15 such deep breaths and the attack would pass.
2) Break the Attack
Whenever you feel the onset of an attack, take a paper bag and blow into it. Now breathe in from the bag itself. The lack of oxygen and excessive carbon dioxide will discourage you from hyperventilating. Also, this will break your attack, forcing you to concentrate on other things.
3) Maintain an Anxiety Journal
Reach for your anxiety journal the moment you feel even the slightest of anxiety. Rate your anxiety from 1 to 10, the reasons that made you feel anxious, what happened after the attack passed and what happened to the thing that made you anxious. Revisit the journal regularly and you will start feeling less anxious as you identify your triggers and your patterns.
4) Start Using Lavender
Lavender oil is a natural anxiety-easer and should be included in your daily routine. Add some drops of the essential oil to your bathing water or use it in a diffuser to help sleep better. You can also rub it in to relax tense muscles.
Practice these tips to see which works the best for you.