Everyone feels anxious at some point. A little anxiety can even be helpful, like when nervousness about a test spurs you to study. However, not everyone has clinical anxiety. Clinical anxiety is when persistent anxiety becomes overwhelming or prevents a person from completing daily life activities.
Finding professional help is the first step to take if you suspect you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder. No one should face anxiety alone, and a therapist can diagnose and offer treatment so you can get back to your normal life.
What is anxiety?
The word anxiety can be used to mean two things. First, anxiety can be used to describe a sensation of fear. Second, anxiety can mean a mental health disorder that occurs when someone has excessive fear or worry disproportionate to the actual danger.
A person may feel nervous before stepping onto the field for a championship game- that person may feel anxious, but not have clinical anxiety. An individual with clinical anxiety might be too fearful to show up to the championship game. The persistent worry of clinical anxiety interferes with everyday life and keeps you from doing things you enjoy.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, too. Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, separation anxiety and phobias. A person who experiences anxiety for 6 months or more may be diagnosed with one of these disorders.
What are anxiety attacks?
If you’re wondering what an anxiety attack feels like, overwhelming fear and worry are the most obvious sensations. A person may also experience an increased heart rate, tense muscles, trouble sleeping or concentrating and feeling jittery or uncomfortable.
Anxiety attacks are different from panic attacks, although people often mix them up or lump them together. Panic attacks have some of the same symptoms, but a person having a panic attack will also sweat, shake or have trouble breathing.
What triggers anxiety attacks?
In order to handle anxiety attacks, we should first look at what might be causing them. Being aware of your environment and anticipating potential sources of anxiety can help you to cope better. Here are some of the most common triggers to anxiety.
Sleep or diet
A poor diet or insufficient sleep can impact anxiety. When your body is tired or needs nourishment, you can’t function at your best. Without proper sleep and a good diet, you’ll be more susceptible to having anxiety attacks. The reverse is also true though, and you can work to prevent anxiety attacks by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
It’s important to let your therapist know about any medications you may be taking. Some medications that are related to the onset of anxiety disorders include anesthetics, thyroid medications and mood stabilizers.
If you notice a change in the number or intensity of anxiety attacks after you change medications, talk to a mental health professional or a psychiatrist. There may be other options of medication you can take that won’t have a negative impact on anxiety.
Anxiety caused by a medical condition is technically its own category of anxiety disorder and therefore requires specific treatment. Heart disease, diabetes, respiratory issues and more may be connected to anxiety. Let your care team know about any other conditions you have, even if you think they’re unrelated.
Socialization is full of nuances that can lead to stress and anxiety. Feeling that people will judge you or dislike you can be a major trigger for some people. Anticipating social events can build up anxiety and may result in an anxiety attack.
Living up to expectations
Having unrealistic expectations for yourself or having pressure put on you by others can trigger anxiety. The best way to manage high expectations is to talk with a therapist. A therapist will support you in learning ways to set goals for yourself and incorporate positive self-talk so negative thinking doesn’t cause anxiety attacks.
According to Alcohol Research, if a person has alcohol use disorder or an anxiety disorder, there is an increased likelihood of developing the other disorder. There is also evidence that both disorders have similar underlying neurobiological causes. Regardless, watch your alcohol consumption to avoid anxiety attacks.
Managing anxiety attacks
In the same way that triggers anxiety are different for everyone, so are the best ways to manage them. Although some causes cannot be combatted, like other medical conditions or taking essential prescription medications, learning coping strategies and avoiding harmful triggers can help you to lessen anxiety attacks and handle them smoothly. Your therapist will teach you the skills you need to thrive in the face of anxiety.
Living with anxiety
With the right help, anyone can learn to manage anxiety and live a fulfilling life. Knowing your anxiety attack signs can help you to prevent them and prepare for them. Although there’s nothing pleasant about anxiety attacks, the more you prepare for them the more in control you’ll feel in the moment.
A therapist can help you to gain control over your anxiety. The Light Program can help to match you with a compassionate and understanding therapist and with virtual options available there’s no excuse to wait. Call (610) 644-6464 to get started finding hope and healing with The Light Program.