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Coming Down From the Edge: Understanding and Treating Anxiety

If you find you’re feeling constantly “on edge” like you're about to lose control, disconnected from reality and depressed about how fearful your life has become . . . chances are you're suffering from an anxiety disorder.

While we all experience anxious moments from time to time, but constant anxiety is different. It can disrupt your everyday life and seriously damage your ability to function socially and at work. As much as you would like to restore your normal world, overcoming anxiety is more than a battle of wills. More than likely you’ll need professional help to get through this.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders which include generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.  Specific and effective treatment depends on determining the type you may have.

Symptoms of anxiety.

In addition to feeling on edge and worried all the time there are other symptoms of anxiety:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Tingling sensations
  • Fear of dying or losing your mind
  • Feeling like your choking

Causes of anxiety.

High anxiety often leads to panic attacks and can turn your life upside down. But in order to find treatment you have to understand what is causing your anxiety. You have to find the source.

Of course, anxiety can be triggered by many different factors and they're not the same for everyone. Studies suggest that anxiety builds up from the point of simply being anxious. Over time that anxious feeling multiplies and it will eventually turn into a full-blown attack.

Sometimes it seems these anxiety attacks come out of the blue for no particular reason.  But there is always some type of trigger involved, whether you realize it or not.  Anxiety disorders can be brought on by environmental factors, a medical condition, brain chemistry, genetics or substance abuse.

A stressful workplace, home life, relationships, worry about finances, or your health are common triggers for anxiety attacks.

Treatment of anxiety.

If you’re suffering with anxiety it’s important you seek treatment.  Not only is your emotional and mental health at risk, chronic anxiety affects your physical well-being as well. Here are a few of the most common treatments available for anxiety and the accompanying depression:

1. Pharmaceuticals. Many people turn to anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication to find relief from anxious feelings. However, these types of medications can be highly addictive and come with dangerous side effects.  While they may be useful short-term, safer treatments are available.

2. Relaxation techniques. Relaxation exercises are helpful to some because they put your mind and body in a peaceful, relaxed state. This way your body and mind can manage and dissipate anxious feelings.

3. Herbs. Herbal treatments have been used by different cultures for thousands of years and when used correctly they were just as effective as and often safer than prescription meds.

4. Exercise. There's no doubt exercise is good for the body and the mind. Just 20 minutes of regular exercise each day can reduce your anxiety and release feel-good chemicals to replace worry and fear.

5. Deep breathing exercises.  Many people benefit from special deep-breathing techniques, which increase the oxygen to your body and brain and can help restore chemical balance.

6. Psychological treatment.   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common treatments for anxiety.  CBT helps you identify and then modify negative thinking habits. 

Perhaps the best treatment for anxiety is a holistic approach.  That means taking care of the body and the mind with effective treatments.  A change in diet, lifestyle, and exercise routine combined with herbal medicines and psychological treatment can give you the tools you need to reprogram your mind’s and body’s response to anxiety triggers.

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