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Anxiety

Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress

Coping Strategies

Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:

  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

 Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress

For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.

  • 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
  • Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
  • Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
  • Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
  • Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
  • Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
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How to Explain What Anxiety Feels Like

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America. However, many people struggle to identify how their anxiety truly makes them feel. That is because anxiety- like all mental illnesses- is complex. It affects everyone differently, and the symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person.

Furthermore, some people do not quite understand how anxiety works. They may assume you are overreacting with your feelings or symptoms. They might also believe that you can just get over how you feel through willpower.

But if you struggle with anxiety, you know that you cannot just “get over” your thoughts. You also know that these thoughts may not always be rational or even helpful. Let us break down how to describe what anxiety feels like.

It Can Feel Physically Suffocating

The mind and body are closely connected, and people store anxiety in the body. Some of the most common symptoms can manifest as:

  • Chest tightness
  • Racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches

In some cases, anxiety can lead to panic attacks. These panic attacks can be so intense and debilitating that people and their loved ones might mistake the symptoms for a heart attack. Every year, emergency rooms admit patients who wrongfully assume they had a heart attack.

That is because anxiety can feel physically suffocating. When symptoms flare, you may feel as if you cannot breathe, think, or even see clearly. And when that happens, it may trigger even more anxiety, which perpetuates the vicious cycle.

Things Can Feel Great One Day and Terrible the Next

All anxiety disorders exist on a spectrum, and people fall anywhere from experiencing very mild symptoms to utterly debilitating ones. That means symptoms ebb and flow. Typically, specific triggers cause some symptoms to escalate.

For example, if someone struggles with social anxiety disorder, the anticipation of an upcoming presentation may cause their anxiety to skyrocket. Someone with post-traumatic stress disorder may feel unsafe for an entire day after experiencing a spontaneous flashback.

Unfortunately, you cannot predict how anxiety manifests. That is because triggers evolve. Subsequently, many other factors (your mood, physical health, energy levels, relationship satisfaction, etc.) can all impact your anxiety.

The Desire to Numb or Escape It Can Be Incredibly Tempting

It is no surprise that anxiety is closely connected with substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other process addictions like compulsive shopping, sex, or gambling. After all, nobody likes to feel uncomfortable- chronic anxiety often leads people down a path of self-medicating, numbing, or downright escaping.

While it is reasonable to avoid your feelings from time to time, chronically doing so tends to create more problems. For one, you don’t address the issue (which means that it doesn’t go away). Second, you face the risk of complications arising from your compulsive behavior (health problems, financial distress, legal issues).

That said, it is important to remember that these desires aren’t random. They are a desire to escape the discomfort. When anxiety peaks, the distress can feel so overwhelming that you are drinking, using drugs, having sex, or overeating is the only viable solution.

It Can Feel Just Like Depression

Anxiety and depression share many similarities. With both conditions, you may feel irritable and easily bothered. You may struggle with sleep or appetite problems. Finally, you might experience a sense of hopelessness or despair.

Depression has its roots in disappointment and apathy. Anxiety, on the other hand, has its roots in worry and fear. However, with both conditions, you still may struggle with themes of control, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. You might find it hard to concentrate or maintain healthy relationships. For these reasons, it is no secret that many people struggle with both disorders.

The Shame Often Feels Worse Than the Anxiety Itself

At times, your anxiety may feel incredibly mortifying. Because it can be so consuming, it may impact how you connect with others. The worry may prevent you from engaging in certain activities. Likewise, anxiety has a way of cutting into self-esteem and making you feel ashamed.

This shame can quickly become toxic and consuming. Your anxiety perpetuates negative, internal thoughts like I’m worthless, or I’m a failure. Over time, these thoughts almost feel like facts. They dictate much of how you think, act, and feel. And, of course, these harsh thoughts tend to make the anxiety worse.

Shame is a deeply rooted emotion, and it can be insidious in almost every facet of your life. It’s also one of the predominant factors triggering most mental health problems.

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The Short and Long-Term Effects of Anxiety On The Body

Your thoughts may be racing, and you are probably looking to escape. While you may be preoccupied with everything that is happening to you mentally, there is a lot going on inside your body as well. Especially if you suffer from an anxiety disorder long-term, the physical side effects of anxiety can begin to take its toll.

The Physical Effects of Anxiety Both Long & Short Term.

As providers of anxiety disorder treatment in Boca, we know that although it is a mental health disorder, anxiety comes with many physical symptoms as well. These symptoms can vary from person to person and are often dependent on the severity of anxiety. Together, the mental toll of anxiety and the effects on the body can be overwhelming.

For many people, a panic attack or their feelings of anxiety are accompanied by a series of intense and noticeable physical effects. The short-term effects of anxiety on the body include:

  • heart palpitations
  • increased blood pressure
  • breathing problems
  • upset stomach
  • shaking
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

For those people who are lucky enough to experience an anxiety attack only once or have mild anxiety, the short-term effects may be the only physical effects their body experiences.

Many people who struggle with chronic anxiety disorders can have more serious health problems. Just as in times of stress, the body can release large amounts of hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine when you are feeling anxious. Prolonged and frequent release of these hormones can lead to severe health problems if left untreated.

Research is still being done on the topic, but studies show that some possible long-term effects of anxiety on the body include:

  • heart problems like increase risk of heart disease1
  • various illnesses from a lowered immune system2
  • gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome3
  • memory problems4
  • frequent migraines5

While you may be focused on your mental health or the immediate physical symptoms, the long-term effects of anxiety on the body should not be ignored. Without help your anxiety could begin to impact your physical health as well.

Don’t let anxiety or another mental health disorder control your life. Our Boca mental health treatment center can help you regain control over your mental health and move forward with your life.  

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Anxiousness vs. Anxiety Disorder

Everyone gets nervous from time to time. In fact, a little bit of anxiety is normal. If you’ve ever had to give a speech or presentation in front of others, you may have experienced some performance anxiety: tingling in your hands and feet, butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, rapid breathing.

This is not a clinical panic attack, it is a normal human reaction to a stressful situation and the good news is the feeling usually doesn’t last long. However, it can become a problem when it is constant, out of control, and abnormally intense.

 What is an anxiety disorder?

When it comes to abnormal anxiety, what we’re usually talking about is an anxiety disorder. There are many different kinds, but the two most common are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and phobias.

(Generalized Anxiety Disorder)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, affects millions of Americans every year. Defining characteristics include: feelings of worry that are persistent, excessive, and surround many different daily issues. This is also known as “free-floating” anxiety, suggesting the feelings linger around beyond a single event or area of your life.

These feelings and thoughts typically persist for more than six months, and cause problems in more than two significant areas of a person’s life, like relationships, work, and school.

There is no one known cause of GAD, but there are many different biological and environmental elements associated with it. For example, over-protective parenting and experiencing social anxiety are connected to it, and people with GAD tend to also be more easily frightened and excited than normal. Having generalized anxiety can be difficult, and the resulting fear and anxiety can lead people to avoid potentially meaningful and rewarding life experiences.

 Figuring Out Phobias

While generalized anxiety affects many sectors of your life, a phobia is much more specific, often an irrational and intense fear of a specific object, place or situation. The specific object of their phobia causes distress and sometimes panic, and is typically avoided at all costs. For example, a person with a phobia of flying in airplanes will avoid flying, which makes sense. But they may also avoid airports, making plans to travel long distances where flying would be required, and in very severe cases they may even have their phobia triggered by seeing toy airplanes and pictures of airplanes. Phobias are more easily diagnosed, but like GAD, symptoms usually have to persist for six months or so before an official diagnosis can be made.

Like generalized anxiety, there are both biological and environmental factors associated with phobias. We know that parents who are anxious or who possess certain phobias tend to model this behavior for their children, and those children can then develop phobias similar to their parents. Personal experiences can also trigger phobias. For example, a child has a bad experience with a neighbor’s angry dog and then generalizes that fear to all dogs into adulthood. In common with GAD, people suffering from phobias tend to be more easily frightened in general, indicating a biological basis for these disorders as well.

As a leading agency in youth treatment and child welfare in Iowa, it is important to emphasize that this blog is not to be used as a diagnostic tool. While understanding the difference between normal levels of anxiety and an anxiety disorder is important, it is just as important to avoid diagnosing yourself with a mental illness. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing an abnormal amount of anxiety, talk to your doctor or contact a therapist to discuss your symptoms and determine which, if any, treatment option is best for you.

Approaching Anxiety Disorders

Just as there are many types of anxiety, there are a variety of treatments and approaches to managing a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

  • Deep breathing exercises can provide relief for some with anxiety as it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. Essentially, you are telling your body to calm down and it gives your body a moment to relax and recuperate, which can help you collect your thoughts.
  • Therapy is for everyone, but can be especially helpful for people struggling with anxiety. In therapy, people with anxiety can learn to challenge their unhelpful thoughts and change them, or learn to accept them and let them go. Additionally, therapy provides a place where people can express themselves without fear of judgement: simply talking about your worries can help diminish them.
  • Counselors also utilize research-supported approaches to helps clients overcome their phobias. This includes a common approach known as exposure therapy, where clients work through triggers from the very mild to the more threatening to desensitize themselves over time. Although avoidance is a very normal response to something scary, it can actually make a phobia worse by keeping the person from facing their fears and instead letting the fear control them. If possible, people with phobias should face what scares them on their own, which often helps them tame their own fear! Doing so in therapy is a great approach for those living with phobias.
  • If your anxiety still seems unbearable, consider talking to your doctor about medication. There are many medications available today that treat anxiety and can aid in living a more balanced, full life.
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Anxiety In Men

Anxiety can happen to anyone. While women are often cast as the stereotypical worrier, men can suffer from anxiety, too. In fact, anxiety in men can sometimes be more problematic because they are less likely than women to seek help. While a small amount of anxiety and stress is normal from time to time, you might have a problem if your worries start negatively impacting your daily life.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • being easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)

There are things you can do to lessen your anxiety, but there are also common mistakes to avoid. Many times, if struggling with anxiety, men will try to tough it out on their own. The idea that men are too strong to experience anxiety can leave some feeling embarrassed and isolated. With anxiety, too much time alone can often exacerbate emotions and make things worse. Pride can also get in the way of asking for help.

Another mistake commonly made is to attempt to cope with anxiety with alcohol or drugs. While substances like these may temporarily reduce symptoms, over time they can actually make anxiety worse. Further, men can become addicted to these substances, further complicating recovery.

What should men do to fight an anxiety disorder?

In an anxious moment or panic attack, take a deep breath. Know that your anxiety can play tricks on you and what you are experiencing will pass. Focus on a calming image and have a positive mantra you can repeat to yourself. Try challenging your thoughts and ask yourself if your worry is realistic. Is your worry actually justified or does it just seem that way in the moment? Having these “conversations” with yourself can help lessen moments of panic.

Never underestimate the power of regular exercise and a healthy diet. Exercise is a proven way to reduce anxiety as it releases hormones that help improve mood. Schedule regular exercise as often as you can to ward off stress and keep your anxiety in check. Nutrition is also key to keep you energized and your mood stable.

Be ready to talk about your anxiety. Share how you are feeling with a trusted family member or friend. Talking out loud about your issues can help you work through them and explore options that could make your mood improve. Let your friends know what they can do to help you. Outside of friends and family, also consider talking to a mental health professional. Everyone experiences anxiety differently and a professional can put together a treatment plan that is right for you.

With help, anxiety disorders can improve. It is important to accept your anxiety and ask for help. Men can and do struggle with anxiety but they can also recover.

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Signs you have too much anxiety

What are the signs you have too much anxiety? Dennis Buttimer, M.Ed, CEAP, RYT, CHC, a life and wellness coach at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, shares the causes and symptoms of anxiety, how to reduce it, and when to seek support.

What is anxiety?

“Anxiety is an uncomfortable mental-emotional state about the future,” says Buttimer. “We want predictability and control over what’s going to happen in the future; anxiety focuses excessively on the ‘what-ifs.’”

Anxiety is a normal part of life, but you could have an anxiety disorder if you experience it frequently, it starts to affect your daily activities, it is hard to control or it seems out of proportion for a situation.

“Anxiety becomes over the top when you are debilitated by it and are so caught up in the future that you can’t pay attention to the present moment,” he says.

Signs of an anxiety disorder

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Avoiding people or circumstances that cause anxiety
  • Change in eating habits (eating more or less than usual)
  • Chronic pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of fear, nervousness, panic, restlessness or tension
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hyperventilation
  • Inability to control worry
  • Increased heart rate
  • Poor quality of life
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by:

  • Certain health issues, such as asthma, chronic pain, diabetes, drug withdrawal, heart disease, hyperthyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic stress
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Medication side effects
  • Other mental health issues, like depression  
  • Personality traits
  • Trauma or abuse

When to see a doctor for anxiety

You should see your primary care provider if you:

  • Are abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Have anxiety that is difficult to control
  • Have symptoms of depression
  • Have suicidal thoughts (if so, seek emergency medical care right away)
  • May have a physical health condition related to the anxiety

Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist (counselor) or psychiatrist (medical doctor) for evaluation and treatment.

“A mental health professional can teach you techniques to help you put things in perspective,” Buttimer explains. “They can offer you a more objective look at the events in your life and help you distinguish between normal anxiety and extreme stages of anxiety.”

Lifestyle changes to reduce anxiety

Buttimer recommends the following tactics to minimize anxiety:

  • Allow yourself to feel anxiety. The next time you’re feeling anxious, allow yourself to feel it instead of brushing it aside. Buttimer recommends paying attention to which part of the body is affected by anxiety, such as the pit of your stomach or your chest. Breathe deeply and bring your hand to this part of the body. Allow yourself to feel the anxiety. “As you sit with it and honor the emotion for 90 seconds to two minutes, it will usually shift into something else and move on,” he says.
  • Deep breathing. “When you’re anxious, you tend to hold your breath or take shallow breaths,” he says. “Try long, slow breathing through your nose into your belly – this is called diaphragmatic breathing.” This type of breathing sends signals to the brain to relax.
  • Exercise, particularly yoga. Regular exercise and yoga have been shown to reduce anxiety.
  • Listen to relaxing meditation audio or music. “Meditation has been shown to stop the emotional hijacking that takes place in the brain when you are feeling anxious,” he explains. “The amygdala, which is the portion of the brain responsible for your emotions, becomes hyperactive when you are anxious. Think of it like a smoke alarm that keeps going off even after the threat is gone. That’s how it is with anxiety.”
  • Make healthy food choices. Excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol can worsen anxiety, so focus on unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, lean meat, fish and whole grains. 
  • Pay attention to the media and entertainment you consume. Buttimer says negative content, like violent crime shows or the news, can worsen anxiety.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Try these tips to get a better night’s rest.
  • Take a technology break. Being constantly “on” and checking your smartphone frequently can increase anxiety. Put your phone in a drawer or on airplane mode, take a break from social media scrolling, and make time for an activity you enjoy, like walking outside, calling a friend, reading a good book or sipping a mug of tea.
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Anxiety disorders in children

Introduction

It’s normal for children to feel worried or anxious from time to time, such as when they’re starting school or nursery, or moving to a new area.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear – it’s an understandable reaction in children to change or a stressful event.

But for some children, anxiety affects their behaviour and thoughts on a daily basis, interfering with their school, home and social life. This is when you may need professional help to tackle it before it becomes a more serious issue.

So how do you know when your child’s anxiety has reached this stage?

What are the signs of anxiety in children?

Anxiety can make a child feel scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed.

Some of the signs to look out for in your child are:

  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
  • not eating properly
  • quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
  • constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
  • feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
  • always crying
  • being clingy all the time (when other children are ok)
  • complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell

Your child may not be old enough to recognise why they’re feeling this way.

The reason for the anxiety (if there is one) will differ depending on the age of the child. Separation anxiety is common in younger children, whereas older children and teenagers tend to worry more about school performance, relationships or health.

What types of anxiety do children and teenagers experience?

Common types of anxiety in children and teenagers are described below.

A fear or phobia about something specific

Children are commonly afraid of things like monsters, dogs or water. This is a perfectly normal part of growing up, but has the potential to become a phobia (a type of anxiety disorder) when the fear becomes overwhelming and affects your child’s day-to-day life.

Read about phobias

Feeling anxious for most of the time for no apparent reason

While it’s normal for children to frequently have fears and worries, some anxious children may grow up to develop a long-term condition called generalised anxiety disorder when they become a teenager or young adult.

Generalised anxiety disorder causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

People affected by it feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety means a child worrying about not being with their parent or regular carer.

It is common in young children, and normally develops at about six months of age. It can make settling into nursery or school or with a child minder very difficult.

Separation anxiety in older children may be a sign that they’re feeling insecure about something – they could be reacting to changes at home, for example.

Social anxiety

Social anxiety is not wanting to go out in public, see friends or take part in activities.

Social ‘shyness’ is perfectly normal for some children and teenagers, but it becomes a problem – ‘social anxiety disorder’ – when everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone cause intense, overwhelming fear. Children affected by it tend to fear doing or saying something they think will be humiliating.

Social anxiety disorder tends to affect older children who have gone through puberty.

School-based anxiety

Some children become anxious about going to school, schoolwork, friendships or bullying, especially if they’re changing school or moving up a level.

They may not always share these worries with you, and instead complain of tummy aches or feeling sick. One of the signs is crying or seeming tired in the morning. 

This may be a problem that needs tackling if it is significantly affecting their daily life (see below).

Less common anxiety disorders

Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder are other anxiety disorders that can occasionally affect children, but are usually seen in adults.

When is anxiety a disorder that needs treating?

It is probably time to get professional help for your child’s anxiety if:

  • you feel it is not getting better or is getting worse, and efforts to tackle it yourself have not worked
  • you think it’s slowing down their development or having a significant effect on their schooling or relationships 
  • it happens very frequently

How serious can it be?

Long-term anxiety can severely interfere with a child’s personal development, family life and schooling.

Anxiety disorders that start in childhood often persist into the teenage years and early adulthood. Teenagers with an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop clinical depression, misuse drugs and feel suicidal.

This is why you should get help as soon as you realise it’s a problem.

Where should I go for help?

You can talk to your GP on your own or with your child, or your child might be able to have an appointment without you. The doctor should listen to your concerns and offer some advice about what to do next.

Your child may be referred to the local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), where the workers are trained to help young people with a wide range of problems. Professionals who work in CAMHS services include psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. They should offer help and support to parents and carers as well as the child.

More about CAMHS from Young Minds

Youth counselling services 

If your child doesn’t want to see a doctor, they may be able to get help from a local youth counselling service.

Youth counselling services are specially set up for young people to talk about what’s worrying them, and get advice.

For more information, search Scotland’s Service Directory for mental health and wellbeing services in your area that can help young people. 

Telephone or online help

Telephone helplines or online services can be helpful for children and young people, who may feel it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know them. 

How can an anxiety disorder be treated?

The type of treatment offered will depend on what is causing your child’s anxiety.

Counselling

It can be helpful for your child to talk in confidence about what is worrying them to a trained person, especially as it’s someone they don’t know.

If your child is being seen at CAMHS, they might see a child and adolescent psychotherapist or a clinical psychologist. If they are at a youth counselling service, it will be a trained youth counsellor or psychotherapist.

These sessions can help them work out what is making them anxious and how they can work through the situation.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help your child manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.

It has been proven to help with anxiety that isn’t severe, and is commonly offered to young people who are anxious.

Your child will work with the therapist to find ways to change the way they think and find strategies for coping in situations that make them anxious. They’ll usually have 9-20 sessions.

It’s not clear whether CBT is effective for children younger than six years of age.

Medication

If your child’s anxiety problem has not got better, your doctor may talk to you about trying medication.

A type of antidepressant, called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), may help your child feel calmer and differently about things.

Antidepressants usually take around two to four weeks to work properly, so you or your child may not notice the difference immediately.

It’s natural to be concerned about side effects. Your child should be aware of any possible adverse effects and should tell you or their doctor if they happen. 

What can I do to help my child?

If a child is experiencing anxiety, there is plenty parents and carers can do to help. First, it’s important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries.

Why are some children affected and others not?

Some children are simply born more nervous and anxious and less able to cope with stress than other children.

A child’s anxious personality may be partly determined by the genes they’ve inherited from their parents. Parents of anxious children may recognise the signs and remember feeling and behaving the same when they were younger.

Stressful environment

Children can pick up anxious behaviour from being around anxious people.

Some children can also develop anxiety after a series of stressful events. They may be able to cope with one of these events, but several difficult events together may be too much for them to cope with. Examples are:

  • Frequently moving house and school – it can be hard to settle when you’re always expecting change
  • Divorce or separation of parents, especially when there are new step parents and siblings (although many children will adapt to this and settle in time)
  • Parents fighting or arguing
  • Death of a close relative or friend
  • Becoming seriously illor injured in an accident
  • Having someone in the family who is ill or disabled
  • School-related issues such as homework or exams, or bullying or friendship problems
  • Becoming involved in crime
  • Being abused or neglected

Medical conditions

Children with certain conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorders may experience anxiety as part of the symptoms of their condition, because of differences in the way their brain functions.

How common are anxiety disorders in children?

Nearly 300,000 young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder. 

In the UK, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 5-19% of all children and adolescents, and about 2-5% of children younger than 12.

Separation anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder in children younger than 12.

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Anxiety and Panic

Panic attacks are intense periods of fear or feelings of doom developing over a very short time frame — up to 10 minutes — and associated with at least four of the following:

  • Overwhelming fear (of losing control or going crazy)
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of being detached from the world (de-realization)
  • Fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs or entire body
  • Chills or hot flushes

Panic attacks and panic disorder are not the same thing. Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks along with constant fears about having future attacks and, often, avoiding situations that may trigger or remind someone of previous or unexpected attacks. Not all panic attacks are caused by panic disorder. Sometimes, they’re related to conditions like:

Doctors will often look for other medical conditions that might trigger or be related to panic attacks or similar episodes. They might include:

Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive and unrealistic worry over a period of at least 6 months. It is associated with at least three of the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or anger
  • Muscle tension, aches, or soreness
  • Sleep disturbances

Phobic disorders are intense, persistent, and recurrent fear of certain objects (such as snakes, spiders, blood) or situations (such as heights, speaking in front of a group, public places). These exposures may trigger a panic attack. Social phobia and agoraphobia are examples of phobic disorders.

Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD — was considered to be a type of anxiety disorder in earlier versions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But in 2013, PTSD was reclassified as its own condition.

It describes a range of emotional reactions caused by exposure to either death or near-death circumstances (such as fires, floods, earthquakes, shootings, assault, automobile accidents, or wars) or to events that threaten one’s own or another person’s physical well-being. The traumatic event is re-experienced with fear of feelings of helplessness or horror and may appear in thoughts and dreams. Common behaviors include the following:

  • Avoiding activities, places, or people associated with the event
  • Persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event, such as:
    • Unwanted memories
    • Nightmares or flashbacks
    • Emotional or physical distress when experiencing reminders of the trauma
  • Changes in arousal or reactivity, including:
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Being hypervigilant (you closely watch your surroundings) or being easily startled
    • Irritability or aggression
    • Risky behavior
  • Negative changes in feelings and thoughts, such as:
    • Feeling a general sense of doom and gloom with diminished emotions (such as loving feelings or aspirations for the future)
    • Feeling isolated or negative about the world
    • Less interest in activities
    • Exaggerated feelings of blame for self or others about the trauma
    • Negative thoughts and feelings about the world

Symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, fainting, and weakness should not be automatically attributed to anxiety and require evaluation by a doctor.

What Should I Ask My Doctor?

If you have anxiety or were recently diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, consider asking your doctor these questions at your next visit.

  1. How did I get anxiety? Is there a chance I passed this on to my kids?
  2. Are there any underlying medical problems that could be causing my anxiety symptoms?
  3. What are my treatment options for anxiety? Will I need to take an anxiety drug? Will I take it every day or as needed? How long will I need to take it?
  4. What side effects can I expect from medications? Is there a way to minimize or prevent side effects?
  5. What should I do if I miss a dose of medication?
  6. Should I begin therapy sessions? Which type and for how long?
  7. How long before I can expect to feel better?
  8. Once treated, how likely is it that my anxiety symptoms will return?
  9. What lifestyle changes can I make to help me feel better?
  10. How will alcohol or other drugs interact with my medication or affect my anxiety?
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How To Talk to Your Doctor About Anxiety: Seeking Help

Anxiety is a daily part of life for people. A certain amount of anxiety is good, it keeps us safe and helps us make smart decisions. But for some people, it can be excessive and intense. 

Anxiety disorders can often cause disruptions in routine activities and even manifest as panic attacks. However, if you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, you aren’t alone. There are doctors available to help put you on the right path. 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety when is in its most severe form is categorized as feelings of intense fear and worry. More than 40 million Americans deal with anxiety disorders, which are highly treatable. Some symptoms of anxiety are as follows: restlessness, increased heart rate, sweating, trouble sleeping, hyperventilation, and trouble concentrating. Anxiety can be separated into several groups of phobias and disorders

Are There Different Types of Anxiety?

Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes. Some disorders require more treatment than others, but it’s difficult to tell which one you have without a proper diagnosis from a doctor. 

Here are some of the most common anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized as persistent and excessive anxiety about events and routine issues. This type of anxiety often goes hand in hand with depression.
  • Social anxiety revolves around the fear and avoidance of social situations due to self-consciousness and possible embarrassment. 
  • Panic disorder involves sudden feelings of intense anxiety that result in panic attacks and other physical symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Specific phobias occur when you are exposed to a certain situation or object that you wish to avoid altogether. 

Getting Rid of the Stigma

Many people who struggle with anxiety feel like they can’t reach out for help because they think they will be blamed for their condition. Sometimes people express their anxiety to those around them who downplay their emotions and tell them that they don’t really need help. 

Stigmas like this cause people to feel ashamed for things that are out of their control. In the past few years, great strides have been made to reduce the stigma around mental illness, but there is still a far way to go. The first step to normalizing anxiety and depression is openly talking about it with others. Talking about what it’s like to live with these conditions helps people understand what it’s really like.

The way that you talk about mental illnesses like anxiety is important, too. Be mindful of your language when talking about these types of conditions. Try to avoid using conditions as adjectives and explain to other people why that’s hurtful. 

You can also help end the stigma by showing compassion for those with mental illnesses if you do not suffer from one yourself. If someone opens up to you about their anxiety, be willing to listen without judgment. Being honest about your treatment also helps to normalize getting help. Tell your friends or co-workers that you’re going to the therapist just as you would tell them you’re going to the dentist. 

When To Talk To A Doctor About Anxiety

If you’ve been wondering if your anxiety is “bad enough” to talk to a doctor, it might be worth looking into. Not everyone with anxiety needs medication or therapy but is almost always helpful to try. 

Here are some signs that you should talk to someone:

  • If your anxiety is harming your physical well-being. This includes trouble with sleeping, achy muscles, or digestion problems. 
  • If your anxiety symptoms have been persistent for at least six months. 
  • If your anxiety is affecting more than one aspect of your life. Generalized anxiety is often tied to excessive worry about multiple events. 

How A Doctor Can Help With Anxiety

When you go to the doctor to get treated for anxiety, they will probably assess your physical health first. Next, they will ask you questions related to anxiety disorders that could be the underlying problem. This includes things like low blood sugar, heart disease, and hyperthyroidism. 

They will be able to refer you to a mental health professional who can diagnose you. A mental health professional will look for criteria in the DSM-5 for specific symptoms. They will uncover the root of your anxiety and figure out the best treatment plan for you. This could be medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. 

Getting Help For Anxiety From Home

A lot of people avoid going to the doctor for anxiety because it’s too much work or they don’t have a primary care physician nearby. This prevents a lot of people from getting the help that they need. That’s why Brightside is reinventing the way you think about mental health treatment. We offer a personalized plan with medication delivered to your door and therapy on your phone. 

Brightside was designed to deliver the best psychiatric care available. Our data-driven prescribing analyzes over 100 unique data points and decades of clinical research to pinpoint your match. 

You can start by filling out a free mental health assessment to help us understand your symptoms. From there, we can recommend the best treatment plan for you, whether it be medication, therapy, or both. 

You can stay in touch with us with unlimited messaging and two monthly sessions with your Therapist. You can even measure your progress with check-ins to make adjustments to your plan. We specialize in treating the full spectrum of anxiety-related conditions, whether it be PTSD, phobias, or OCD.

What Are Your Options For Treating Anxiety?

Depending on your specific needs, there are a variety of paths to take for treating anxiety. One of the options is starting medication for your anxiety. This is often prescribed in conjunction with therapy and is given on an as-needed basis. This is because some anxiety drugs can be habit-forming. 

SSRIs are commonly used to treat different types of anxiety disorders. These are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that act on your brain chemicals. Another way to treat anxiety is with different types of therapy. This includes practices such as psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

You can also make certain lifestyle changes to help reduce your anxiety. Getting exercise every day helps increase your heart rate and increase blood flow throughout your body. You can also try breathing exercises and yoga to help relax your body. 

There are also certain things you can avoid to help your anxiety. Staying away from things like alcohol and recreational drugs can help decrease symptoms of anxiety. If you have difficulty quitting these substances on your own, there are support groups available to help. 

The Takeaway

Even though anxiety seems scary and permanent, it’s not. Talking to a doctor is the first step in feeling better. So don’t be afraid of seeking help, because looking back, you’ll be glad that you did. 

Try Brightside today for a free assessment so that you can get back to enjoying everyday life.

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Five Simple Things To Help Anxiety Everyday

 I often say that I was born with anxiety. There isn’t a time I can remember where I didn’t feel anxious. My first severe episode happened when I was just 5. I started school that year and for the first two weeks, I was violently sick outside the classroom every single day. My mum would ask me each morning, ‘you’re not going to be sick today?’ and I would shake my head feverishly only for the same thing to happen.

I can see now, it was anxiety. Skip 30 years and many more bouts of terrible anxiety later I have learned some essential techniques to help me cope and more importantly live with generalised anxiety disorder. Here are my five simple steps to help you with anxiety daily.

Exercise

I say this as a self-confessed exercise-phobic BUT exercise helps. It doesn’t have to be much either. I find a short 15-minute yoga session or 10-minute walk with the dog to be helpful. The bonus of some fresh air helps to unclog your mind from overthinking.

Attention Training

I learned this technique recently and it’s so useful and easy. When I find myself overcome with anxiety, I shift my attention and focus on something specific. For example, I might count all the blue things in the room, list five things I can smell or 3 things I can hear. Either way, I give my brain a specific task to focus on and this usually stops the anxiety overwhelm taking hold.

Taking Time Out 

I know with everyday pressures it can be hard to take time for yourself. There’s work to do, kids to feed and a mountain of laundry. Taking time for yourself can easily be pushed to the bottom of the list but it shouldn’t. When I take some time to myself to do something I love I can literally feel my shoulders relax and some of the tension ease. I like to read, getting lost in a book is anxiety-reducing for me. Or you could try meditation, a bubble bath or playing with your dog. Do whatever you love doing. Schedule ‘time out time’ into every day.

Setting Daily Goals

Anxiety has the awful ability to overwhelm. I find setting just 3 simple goals for the day helps. They give your day a focus and a sense of achievement when they are complete. It also allows you to get things done without overcommitting yourself. Some days my goals are: Get the laundry done, reply to emails and prep dinner. Your goals can be whatever you need them to be on the day.

Breathe Deeply

Breathing calms our bodies stress response. It will slow a pounding heart and quietens our mind. I have struggled with this one over the years I won’t lie and yet making it a part of your daily routine is essential. There are techniques you can follow if you wish,

Anxiety UK has a helpful guide, or to keep it simple do what I do. I try to practice deep breathing multiple times a day: while the kettle boils or I’m waiting for the bus. That way it becomes a habit, and you can put it straight into action when anxiety strikes. 

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