I know what it's like to suffer from anxiety. For me, the first step in trying to recover is understanding more about the disorder.
Over forty million people in America suffer from anxiety disorders. I am one of them. I understand what it is like to feel anxiety in many different ways: physically, mentally and emotionally.
When dealing with multiple disorders, it can be hard at times to figure out how to keep it all under control. I find the most effective way to help yourself or someone you love with their anxiety is to try to understand them. The best way to try to understand what may help is to be informed. A lack of information leads to a lack of understanding, which leads to more stressful situations for the individual dealing with the disorder.
The first part of being informed is to understand that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 18 percent of our population. It is also important to note that there are several different types of anxiety disorders that a person can have. For example, I suffer from GAD (general anxiety disorder) and agoraphobia (an abnormal fear of being in crowds). These are two different types of disorders, but both are related to anxiety. Despite the fact that there are many different types, most of them are highly treatable depending on what methods you try.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most widely used and highly effective ways to treat anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapy can be a good way to not treat the symptoms of your disorder, but also allow you to get to the foundation of it and possibly help you to control the anxiety symptoms before they start.
CBT combines two separate types of therapy, cognitive and behavioral, just as the name suggests. Cognitive therapy examines how a negative thought pattern can contribute to the source of your disorder while behavioral therapy examines how you behave and react the stressful or 'triggering' situations. By combining these therapies, you may get a full understanding of your disorder, and what may trigger your symptoms.
In my opinion, CBT is the most effective way to start to understand yourself or your loved one. I had the opportunity to attend a three-day group counseling session that employed some CBT techniques. Though this session, I was able to get a better understanding of myself and my thought patterns. It is by no means easy, but it will help you face your fears—and you will feel better after the sessions are finished. I would recommend this method of treatment.
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Another method is called exposure therapy. This method focuses on systematic desensitization, which is the idea that the more one individual gradually faces their fears, the less afraid they will be. When using this method, you will be exposed to many situations that give you anxiety. It will force you to deal with the symptoms that come, in an effort to help you learn how to gain control of your disorder. Exposure therapy can be used by itself or with other methods such as CBT. In my opinion, This is the most direct method. I imagine that parts of this method may be very uncomfortable. I personally could not handle this method but for those who can face their fears like this, I commend you.
As I am sure you know, medication is another huge factor in deciding what you want to do for treatment. Medication can be used alone or with other methods if approved by your primary care doctor. Personally, I decided to stop taking any medications because I did not like the side effects of the medication I was prescribed. If you do choose this method, you will need to speak to your primary care doctor and discuss what medications may be best for you. If you have any reactions to a medication that you have just started, contact your primary care doctor immediately and let them know what is affecting you! If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 911!
Other Ways To Manage
Other than these methods, there are many options to help you understand and deal with anxiety such as exercise. I have also found that finding an activity that you find relaxing can ease symptoms as well. Personally, I love to do art to express my feelings. For me, art encompasses many different activities, such as drawing, painting, writing, or even cooking. The goal is to reduce your stress level which will in turn reduce your anxiety level. Exercising, implementing a healthy lifestyle, and doing relaxing activities like taking a walk, reading a book, or listening to music are the type methods are options that you use at home, or when experiencing symptoms of your disorder. The most important thing to remember when dealing with your own anxiety or someone else's is that information is key. Information leads to understanding. Understanding leads to solutions. Solutions can lead to treatment, and treatment leads to a happier, healthier life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Gwen Hickman
Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on July 02, 2017:
I, too, have General Anxiety Disorder. When I was first diagnosed, I used both medicine and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Eventually, I was able to go off the medication as I learned to to recognize and deal with my anxiety triggers. I still see a counselor regularly as that keeps me accountable and taking better care of myself.
Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on June 24, 2017:
Welcome! Good article for those who need that initial boost for getting help for their anxiety. Nice blend of your personal experience and basic methods of treatment to inform.