Quick Reads - Anxiety

Anxiety; a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Most of us will experience intermittent bouts of anxiety during our lives, lasting a few minutes to a few days. Often seemingly coming and going at random, these short bouts can be triggered by something as benign as poor weather.

Brief periods of worry are normal and in fact necessary for certain areas of our life, including decision making. Longer bouts of anxiety, however, can have a serious effect on long term health and standard of life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America 40 million Americans (18% of the population) are affected by anxiety, making it the most common mental illness in the United States.

Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes, the most prevalent being:

  • General Anxiety Disorder (the most common)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Those with anxiety are estimated to be at six times the risk to being hospitalised for psychiatric disorders than those without and anxiety is heavily linked with depression, eating disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How do you know if you have anxiety? 

According to John Hopkins Health Alert an average adult may spend an average of 55 minutes per day worrying whilst someone with a anxiety disorder may spend over 300 minutes per day worrying.

Common causes of anxiety include:

  • Trauma from events such as abuse of bereavement
  • Stress from a relationship
  • Stress from work or school
  • Stress about finances or achievement
  • Lack of oxygen, particularly prevalent in high altitude areas.
  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry imbalance

Symptoms of Anxiety:

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Being Tense
  • Feelings of danger or panic
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle twitching
  • Difficulty focusing

Remedies

A myriad of fixes are available for Anxiety, whilst their effectiveness may vary dependant upon the severity of ones anxiety it is usually recommended to start with a natural remedy. Ranking -in our opinion- for least intensive, here are some common fixes:

Alternative Treatment 

A very broad range of alternative or natural treatments ranging from dietary changes like increasing ones Theanine, Omega-3 or Lemon consumption to exercise or meditation.

Touted as one of the best remedies for anxiety lets look at meditation. Practicing meditation fits us with greater control our our thoughts, with strong control over ones thoughts we can set aside the negative worrying thoughts that are often the precursors or stressors to an anxiety bout. I have mentioned the app before -it is a personal favourite- Headspace, is a brilliant place to start meditation, they even have specific anxiety busting meditations, from 3 minutes per day.

Exercise not only helps us to improve our self-esteem but also plays a vital role in regulating our hormones, as aforementioned a hormone imbalance is a major trigger for Anxiety. I have personally found a run in the morning before I set about my day gives a rush of feel good hormones and leaves me on cloud 9 for the remainder of the day.

Talk to a friend, voice your concerns or worries to a close friend or relative. Keeping these worries bottled up almost always results in a deepening on lengthening of the anxiety.

Therapy 

The most common form of Therapy for anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this should be fairly easy to access for you in any major city and also relatively inexpensive. Trained Therapists will strip back the anxiety and help establish the root cause and subsequently gain a much better understanding of how it can be sorted.

Supplementation 

The market is abundant with anti-anxiety supplementation, most aiming to tackle anxiety by addressing hormone imbalances. The most common being,  St.Johns Wort, Ashwadangha, Tryptophan and GABA. These can offer great long term relief from Anxiety, however, do not address its root cause. 

Medication 

The final stage, essentially a step up from Supplementation. This stage would be initiated by a healthcare professional and in most parts of the wold these medicines are only available with a prescription. These medicines include Valium, Sera and Xanax. Whilst they are the most potent method to rid Anxiety, these medicines do come with their side effects and once again, do not address the root cause of the problem.

Take away tips

  1. Remove stressors in your life as they occur.
  2. Stay fit, active and healthy.
  3. Have a hobby.
  4. Surround yourself and openly talk to the right friends.
  5. Ensure you have a balanced diet including B-Vitamins, Omega-3's and Theanine.
  6. Get quality sleep - find out more about sleep here.

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