Anxiety affects over 8 million people in the UK alone, and its prevalence is only rising. It’s a mental health disorder that can stem from a range of different factors and can be triggered by anything from a genetic predisposition and a traumatic event to the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
While most people experience passing anxiety, whether it be from public speaking, job interviews or pre-exam jitters, a generalised anxiety disorder is characterised as an overwhelming state of unease that can often interfere with day-to-day activities and be difficult to control. Fortunately, anxiety is a treatable condition and with the right type of treatment, you can manage your symptoms and feel your best. Here are the possible options for anxiety disorder treatments.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that anxiety and stress are not synonyms. Stress is the body’s response to a real or alleged threat or discomfort, whereas anxiety is a reaction to stress. Whereas stress is caused by an external trigger, living with an anxiety condition includes more intense and persistent worrying about everyday situations. The amount of anxiety felt is also typically disproportionate to the reality of the situation that the person is facing.
The persistent worrying that is symptomatic of anxiety can also often manifest in physical behaviour, which can come in the form of walking back and forth, fidgeting, feeling overly tired, or finding it difficult to concentrate.
Various types of anxiety disorders, much like the diverse factors that contribute towards the development of anxiety disorders, the disorders themselves take a variety of different forms. We will go on to explore these next.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition that can cause you to worry excessively and illogically about situations and events that would otherwise not be a source of emotional concern. It is recognised as a condition after this behaviour is present for more than six months, and in milder cases, GAD poses no threat to your ability to carry out everyday activities. However, a more serious diagnosis can be more debilitating and can have the power to disrupt your normal lifestyle.
Social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming anxiety or fear of social situations that can range from mild to more severe. It typically stems from the worry of being judged or humiliated by others, and the condition can also increase feelings of self-consciousness and loneliness.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can be caused by an experience such as a natural disaster, war or physical attack. The impact of the disorder is usually immediate, and it can last for years.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may experience intrusive and unwanted thoughts that can often become obsessive. Common obsessions include constant worry about cleanliness, the need for symmetry and counting or checking something.
Phobias are defined by a persistent urge to avoid a specific feared object or situation. Phobias may include a fear of enclosed places (Claustrophobia), a fear of heights (Acrophobia), and a fear of the dark (Achluophobia), among many others.
Panic disorder is a common form of anxiety disorder that can bring about sudden attacks of panic or fear. Physical symptoms may occur at any time and include heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
In some cases, a person can cope with short and less severe periods of anxiety at home without clinical observation. To help you manage anxiety levels, you can try the following techniques:
Reduce potential causes of stress. Make sure to limit potential triggers by organising daunting tasks in to-do lists, keeping an eye on pressures and deadlines and setting aside enough time for professional or educational obligations.
Try out relaxation techniques. Learning to relax is a crucial part of your anxiety treatment plan. Things like long baths, deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga, can reduce signs of anxiety and make your treatment work better.
Exercise regularly. Maintaining an active lifestyle and physical activity can improve self-esteem and trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that activate positive emotions and reduce stress.
Connect with others. Whether it’s on the phone, computer or in person, consider sharing your worries and concerns with a trusted loved one. Individuals who have a close group of friends or family members that support and chat with them have lower levels of anxiety. In case you don’t have anyone you can reach out to, it’s never too late to make new friends or join a self-help or support group.
If your anxiety is severe enough to negatively influence your ability to function, medications can help support the treatment of an anxiety disorder or help relieve some of the physical and mental symptoms. Many people with anxiety use medications when self-help strategies or therapy would work just as well or even better without serious adverse reactions or safety concerns.
However, anti-anxiety medications can be addictive and cause unwanted or dangerous side effects, so make sure to research your options carefully. It’s essential to weigh both the benefits and potential risks of taking anxiety medications so you can make an informed decision.
Standard anxiety treatment also might include counselling and therapy, which involve psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or a combination of counselling and therapy.
CBT is designed to recognise and change harmful and negative thought patterns that can cause anxiety and unpleasant feelings, limit distorted thinking and alter the scale and intensity of responses to stressors. This therapy teaches people how to redirect their thoughts and helps them manage how their bodies and minds respond to certain triggers.
Psychotherapy is considered another beneficial treatment that allows identifying anxiety triggers and possible coping mechanisms through talking with a mental health professional and working with the root of the anxiety disorder.
Nowadays, many people also prefer to use cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of anxiety. Through interaction with special receptors of the complex endocannabinoid system, CBD is known to help in reducing stress and anxiety levels, improving your mood and even regulating anxiety-related insomnia.
Existing evidence suggests that using CBD oil for anxiety has considerable potential as a treatment for numerous anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. To receive its benefits, you can take CBD capsules, use a tincture or inhale it with vape juice.