Anxiety is a common illness that can present as intense feelings of nervousness or fear. In certain instances, anxiety can even trigger a panic attack. Panic attacks may also appear suddenly or out of the blue, seemingly for no known reasons.
Anxiety can make normal situations far more difficult to navigate and some people find that their anxiety significantly impacts their lives on a regular basis.
Luckily, there are techniques you can learn that can help manage and perhaps even overcome your anxiety, reducing its impact on your wellbeing.
We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.
It is normal to feel uneasy when faced with certain, stressful situations. Under normal circumstances, the anxiety goes away when the trigger or stressful event has subsided. However, in the case of anxiety disorders, these feelings of intense unease remain for long periods.
For some people, anxiety may appear from nowhere, be present all day, and lead to difficulties with daily functioning. This can make it hard to make decisions and maintain a daily routine.
Anxiety disorders can feel very intense and may even be debilitating, causing you to avoid activities that you would normally enjoy.
Anxiety can affect anyone regardless of age and it may begin at any point in life¹. Some people may develop anxiety disorders in response to a stressful event, such as trauma.
Alternatively, the disorder may be a result of a combination of genetics, environment, and life experiences. There is generally no single cause of an anxiety disorder.
One of the first things you will need to know when learning how to cope with anxiety is that it can come in many forms.
The NHS² says that some of the most common symptoms of anxiety can be divided into three categories: mental, physical, and behavioral.
Tension throughout your body that doesn't go away
Trouble concentrating on normal routines
An impending sense of doom
Obsessing over little things
Inability to sleep or function the way you normally would
Feeling frozen or stuck
Chest pain or tightness
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Rapid or irregular beating heartbeats
Loss of appetite
Fear of new things
Inability to maintain relationships and self-sufficiency
Dread when going to certain places
Engaging in routines or rituals to manage feelings
These are not all the symptoms you may experience when going through anxiety, but they do cover the most common ones. Your anxiety symptoms could also be dependent on the type of anxiety you experience.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can cause chronic anxiety about everyday experiences.
Phobias may cause intense fear of a specific situation or thing.
Separation anxiety disorders will make you worry more about the people you love being taken away from you in some way.
Panic disorders are frequent and often recurring anxiety attacks.
Social anxiety is based on a fear of social situations where you may be around many people at once.
Whether you or someone you love has anxiety, it is important to understand that there are several types of anxiety. There are also several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing an anxiety disorder.
Certain people may be more prone to anxiety due to having a temperament that is shy or withdrawn. Research has shown³ that new or worsening anxiety disorders may also stem from environmental factors or genetics.
Exposure to stressful or negative experiences or events during childhood or adulthood
Family composition and history
Increased work or family stress
Illness or death of a loved one
Family members with anxiety or other types of mental illness
Certain genes, specifically the NPSR1 Gene, have been associated with panic disorders according to a study from 2016⁴. However, this is not the only gene that has been noted in patients who have severe anxiety.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety affects nearly 19% of the population, about 40 million adults. Roughly 7% of children are diagnosed each year. In short, it is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States⁵.
Common signs of anxiety include:
Frequent need for reassurance
Expressing fear in certain situations
Seeming compulsive in actions
Getting irritable or frustrated in some situations
Seeming overwhelmed by daily activities
Obsessing over certain topics or events
Having difficulty climbing out of a ‘rut’, or engaging in daily life
Trouble with decision-making
Anxiety can make it feel as though normal everyday activities are overwhelming or even impossible. It is important that you don’t avoid engaging in daily life as this can make things worse.
Do your best to go about your daily routine and if you experience extreme anxiety or panic, talk to a mental health professional about tools and techniques you can use to help reduce these symptoms.
If you want to know how to overcome anxiety⁶, there are a range of learnable techniques and actions that can help to ease your symptoms.
Learn about your triggers and your situation
Keep a journal of your triggers and experiences
Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
Stay active; research shows that physical activity can reduce stress levels by up to 40%³
Avoid alcohol or other substances that can worsen anxiety
Eat healthy, unprocessed foods
Practice good sleep hygiene
Socialize and push your limits a little when possible and safe
Every individual and every situation will be unique. There is no definite answer on how to handle anxiety; you will need to try and find what works for you. However, engaging in daily routines such as journaling, meditation, and exercise can significantly help reduce your symptoms and help you feel a little more in control.
If you cannot find a solution that helps you get through the tough times, it may be time to ask for professional help.
Your doctor can help you learn how to manage anxiety. You should contact them if:
Your anxiety feels out of your control
You think you have a physical health condition that may be contributing to your anxiety
You feel that your anxiety is affecting your ability to work, socialize, or have relationships with loved ones
You feel very depressed⁷, have suicidal thoughts, or have other mental health issues
Please note: If you ever feel suicidal or like you want to hurt yourself or someone else, you should seek immediate help from your doctor, loved ones, or emergency services.
You should know that there are treatment options that your doctor can provide and each one is designed to help you. Together, you and your doctor can work together to treat your anxiety. There are several options available, including therapy and medication.
Therapy will help you learn how to combat unhelpful thoughts, engage in healthy behaviors, and better manage the symptoms of anxiety when they appear. You can also seek help to overcome phobias and triggers through a type of therapy called exposure therapy.
There are also medications that have proven to successfully treat anxiety which can be used on their own, or in conjunction with other therapies. Some medications are meant as short-term solutions while others may be used long-term. Talk to your doctor about whether medication is right for you.
In some cases, support groups and stress management techniques may be most beneficial for you. Each person is unique and it may take some time to determine the best plan for you and your symptoms.
If you are experiencing anxiety and still haven't figured out how to get help, you should know that there are options available. These include clinical trials that may provide beneficial treatments and, sometimes, go above and beyond the help you would receive in a regular clinic.
Late life generalized anxiety disorder | Very Well Mind
Anxiety, fear and panic | NHS
Anxiety disorders | NIH: National Institute of Health
Anxiety disorders | National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder | Mayo Clinic
Stress & exercise | American Psychological Association