DEALING WITH ANXIETY

UNDERSTANDING ANXIETY
– anxiety symptoms include varying amounts of fear, worry and physical arousal
– physical causes of anxiety (drugs, alcohol, illness) should be ruled out first

FACTORS THAT CAUSE OR CONTRIBUTE TO ANXIETY
– physical threat
– fear of loss of social worth or belonging
– childhood deprivation or trauma
– excessive use of stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and energy drinks
– drug and alcohol use or withdrawal
– some medical illnesses and medications

WHAT TO DO WHEN FEELING PHYSICALLY ANXIOUS
– understand that anxiety is usually a false alarm based on misinterpretation of danger
– deep breathing (slow exhalation) will usually reduce or stop physical symptoms of anxiety
– gradually learn to accept some degree of anxiety rather than trying to avoid or suppress it

WHAT TO DO IN THE LONGER TERM
– have a medical check-up to rule out physical causes of anxiety
– limit use of drugs and alcohol as well as caffeine, nicotine and energy drinks
– pay attention to sleep, diet and exercise
– identify sources of stress and how to problem-solve them
– practice mindfulness and attention-shifting techniques
– understand negativity bias and learn to challenge negative thoughts
– take action to overcome avoidance
– understand that excessive reassurance-seeking perpetuates anxiety
– reconsider your goals and values as you begin to feel better

DRUGS FOR ANXIETY
– all drugs have side effects and should not be used before trying other methods
benzodiazepines relieve anxiety quickly but cause physical dependence if used daily for more than a few weeks
anti-depressants are not habit-forming but take 2 weeks to start reducing levels of anxiety
– when coming off anti-depressants, taper down over 2-3 months to avoid withdrawal symptoms

SEE ALSO
– Why It Is So Hard to Live in the Present
– Why We’re All So Anxious
– The Impostor Syndrome
– How to Deal With a Panic Attack