Anxiety and stress can become pervasive feelings that overshadow all other experiences in life. Understanding effective coping strategies is a crucial first step toward reclaiming an authentic sense of calm.
Keep reading to discover practical tools that empower you to navigate the complex landscape of anxiety and pave the way toward lasting well-being.
Why Does Anxiety Happen?
Anxiety is a normal response to everyday stressful situations and worry. Think of it as the human body’s way of sounding the alarm—a call to action in the face of perceived threats.
In the body, feelings of anxiety spike the increased production of adrenaline—a hormone created by the adrenal glands—causing a heightened state of awareness that allows you to act more quickly and efficiently. Your body is preparing to either face the threat head-on, or safely escape. This stress-response system is also known as the “fight or flight response.”
The body’s stress-response system is designed to protect us and help keep ourselves safe from danger. It’s meant to be temporary and should eventually diminish once the threat is gone. Sometimes, though, we can lose control and feelings of anxiety can fail to go away on their own—even after the stressful situation resolves.
Constantly feeling anxious and in danger significantly interrupts daily life and routines, making it difficult to maintain healthy relationships, find success in work and school, and feel satisfied and happy. If anxiety becomes chronic, it’s no longer a normal, fleeting reaction. Chronic stress and anxiety leads to a range of physical symptoms that take a major toll on long-term health.
Root Causes of Anxiety
Every person faces a unique collection of experiences and challenges, creating a personal narrative and life story that is completely and entirely our own. Because of this, there is no “one-size-fits-all” for reasons why we might develop feelings of anxiety—instead, root causes look different for everyone. Chronic stress, past traumas, and even the delicate chemistry of our brain’s neurotransmitters can each play a role.
Common Sources of Anxiety
Although every person’s situation looks a little different, there are some common causes that can be identified as sources of anxiety. Some common causes and triggers include:
- Chronic stress caused by problems in social relationships, work, school, etc.
- Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Family history and genetics
- Chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin and dopamine
- Substance abuse and addiction
To best understand the real causes of our own anxiety, it’s crucial to distinguish between everyday worries and anxiety disorder as a clinical condition.
Recognizing Anxiety Disorder
We know that anxiety is a natural part of the human experience, serving as an instinctive response to stress and potential threats. However, if anxiety becomes persistent and overwhelming, it may signify an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety are varied and can manifest in different ways, affecting both mental and physical well-being.
- Excessive worry: A persistent and overwhelming concern that goes beyond what is proportionate to the situation and is difficult to control.
- Restlessness or feeling on edge: An unsettling feeling or constant need to be on guard, contributing to an overall state of edginess.
- Fatigue: Mental exhaustion and physical tiredness, often stemming from the constant strain of anxious thoughts.
- Difficulty concentrating: A challenge in focusing on tasks or maintaining a train of thought due to the intrusive nature of anxiety.
- Irritability: Heightened sensitivity and a propensity for irritability, impacting personal relationships and daily interactions.
- Muscle tension: Feelings of anxiety can force muscles to frequently tense up, causing physical aches and pains.
- Sleep disturbances: An array of sleep-related challenges, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep.
- Nausea: Nausea is a very common symptom of anxiety, and it can be incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to deal with.
Experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms can be frightening. You might even feel like your frequent symptoms have also become a burden to those around you. While it may seem incredibly isolating to discover you may have problems with managing your own anxiety, it’s actually the most common mental disorder and impacts millions of people worldwide.
Recognizing these signs and feelings is a powerful step toward compassion and connecting with a support system that can guide the journey toward healing. With proven and effective treatment, anxiety disorder and the symptoms it causes can be managed and even resolved completely.
Treatment Options for Anxiety
While it’s a common experience that affects many people, anxiety can significantly impact your quality of life. It can also be difficult to manage on your own, so seeking treatment by a mental health professional is essential.
Trained therapists and other medical professionals can provide tailored strategies, coping mechanisms, and a supportive space to explore your personal root causes of anxiety. Understanding the available treatment options is a crucial step toward managing and overcoming its challenges.
Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have long been effective and reliable treatment tools for managing anxiety disorder. These medications work by regulating brain chemistry, providing relief from symptoms and allowing space for recovery.
With so many different medications available, success rates and improvement of anxiety can vary. By working closely with your treatment team of healthcare professionals, you can find the right combination of medication type and dosage to match your body’s chemistry and needs.
Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy)
Talk therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), has served as an important foundation for anxiety treatment. Your therapist becomes your ally against anxiety, helping you to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, find coping strategies, and foster resilience and recovery. The ultimate goal is to create a supportive environment for self exploration and personal growth. This approach has consistently shown long-lasting benefits, equipping individuals with practical tools to confront and manage anxiety effectively.
Advanced Treatment Options
The field of mental health treatment is constantly evolving and advancing. New and innovative approaches are emerging, providing a more nuanced approach to anxiety treatment.
These advanced treatment options go beyond the norm, providing a more personalized approach to treatment. They can also complement traditional methods and may be considered when more conventional approaches fall short.
Ketamine, historically used by physicians as an anesthetic, shows promising evidence as a tool in treating anxiety disorders. It works by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain, offering rapid relief from symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, depression, and more. Its role in disrupting entrenched thought patterns has shown promise, particularly for those with treatment-resistant anxiety.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Deep TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific brain areas associated with mood regulation. This technique has demonstrated promise in alleviating anxiety symptoms, especially when other treatments have proven less effective.
Neurofeedback is a therapeutic technique aimed at regulating brain activity. Through real-time monitoring of brainwave patterns, individuals can learn to self-regulate and modify their brain function. The latest research has shown its potential in reducing anxiety symptoms by promoting healthier brainwave patterns.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. While primarily known for treating physical wounds, new studies suggest its potential in anxiety management and promoting long-lasting healing.
Stellate Ganglion Blocks
Originally used for pain management, stellate ganglion blocks involve injecting a local anesthetic into a collection of nerves in the neck. Recent studies have shown how it can decrease activity in the sympathetic nervous system, alleviating symptoms of anxiety and trauma. With the reduction or elimination of pervasive physical symptoms, those dealing with anxiety or PTSD can find immediate relief.
Dealing with Treatment-Resistant Anxiety
It’s possible that you’ve tried treatment options before and are still living with severe symptoms of anxiety. You may be dealing with treatment-resistant anxiety—or anxiety that persists despite traditional treatments like medication and therapy. That’s why more and more mental health professionals are recommending a combination of different treatment approaches to best match patient needs.
Creating Your Comprehensive Treatment Plan
In the face of treatment-resistant anxiety, the key lies in embracing a comprehensive and tailored strategy that meets you where you are. Medication and therapy, while offering varying degrees of effectiveness on their own, can be combined with advanced treatment options to support better health outcomes. With more options to explore, you can have more control and decision-making power in your own mental health journey.
To make the most out of all available treatment options, you’ll work alongside your healthcare team to figure out a personalized treatment plan, selecting treatments that best meet your needs and avoiding what you’ve found to be ineffective based on your lived experience. These innovative approaches offer hope and expanded possibilities, especially for those who’ve struggled with treatment success in the past.
No matter what your personal treatment plan looks like, the most important thing is that you find a healthcare team with qualified professionals you can trust.
Get Personalized Treatment with Plus by APN
On your own, navigating anxiety, panic disorder, depression, or PTSD can quickly become overwhelming. Find the right tools and resources you need by connecting with a mental health professional. At Plus by APN, our commitment extends beyond addressing symptoms; we’re dedicated to fostering long-lasting relief and improved well-being in mind, body, and soul.
In your unique journey, we strive to meet you exactly where you are. Our approach is not just about treatment; it’s about providing a space for recovery and growth, so you can thrive. Call 424.644.6486 or complete our confidential online contact form to get started today.
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