Anxiety

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event, and is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population. People with GAD feel anxious, restless or worried most days, they have trouble concentrating or sleeping, they often experience dizziness or heart palpitations, and as soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue. This often affects daily life, can cause distress and can often lead to depression.

 

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

 

The exact cause of GAD isn't fully understood, although research has suggested that these may include:

 

  • Overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
  •  An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
  • Genes inherited from parents – you're estimated to be 5 times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
  • Having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences
  • How you have learned to cope with things
  • Having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
  • Having a history of drug or alcohol misuse


SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY

 

Some of the symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Weakened or tense muscles
  • Sweating
  • Churning stomach or loose bowels
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling depressed
  • Loss of self-confidence.

 

HELPING TO REDUCE ANXIETY YOURSELF

 

There are a number of things you can do to help reduce your anxiety.


Firstly, as with all the mental health issues featured here, try to realise what is causing you to feel anxious and then put them into three main categories; a) those with an immediate practical solution b) those that will take longer to get better and c) those you can’t do anything about. Once you have identified and categorised what is causing you to be anxious, you can then work at changing your lifestyle enabling you to lower your anxiety, for example: prioritising, eliminating, handing things over to other people, changing your mindset and beliefs about things.

 

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as:

 

  1. Going on a self-help course - working through an online anxiety reduction course in your own time or with the support of a therapist. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness are some of the most effective treatments for GAD. Studies of different treatments for GAD have found that the benefits of CBT and Mindfulness may last longer than those of medication, but no single treatment works for everyone.
  2. Read books on reducing anxiety.
  3. Join a therapy or support group where other people with similar problems meet with a therapist every week to learn ways to tackle your anxiety.
  4. Exercise regularly - integrate physical exercise into your lifestyle as it can be very effective in relieving anxiety.
  5. Be mindful - mindfulness is a mind-body approach to life that helps us to relate differently to experiences and involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in order to better manage difficult and potentially situations that might make us anxious.
  6. Cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink – there is a great deal of evidence that shows that drinking alcohol and caffeine can significantly raise anxiety levels.
  7. Stop or significantly reduce smoking - smoking has been shown to make anxiety worse.
  8. Applying relaxation techniques - focusing on relaxing your mind and your muscles, especially in situations that make you anxious.

 

If you need someone to talk to, and to help you through your anxiety issues then please CONTACT ME.

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© Robin Barratt