What Causes Anxiety and How to Manage the Symptoms Before They Get Out of Hand

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What Causes Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million people in the USA live with an anxiety disorder – which equates to approximately 18% of the population. Anxiety can be triggered by many things and may manifest in a number of different ways, and spotting the early warning signs of a problem is often difficult.

Being mindful of the symptoms means that you can take action and make changes before they become worse – just a few small alterations may make a huge difference to how you feel and get you back on track.

Common Causes of Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety differently, and there are many reasons for its appearance. However, the most common causes of anxiety are, broadly:

  • Past experiences, sometimes dating back to childhood.
  • Current life situation.
  • Mental and/or physical health problems.
  • The use of medication or drugs.

Some research has suggested that you may have an increased chance of developing anxiety if you have a close relative who has experienced an anxiety disorder. However, it’s unclear whether this is linked to genetics or connected to learned behaviors.

How to Manage the Symptoms of Anxiety

You can do several things to mitigate the symptoms of anxiety that may even resolve the issue you’re experiencing completely. Consider trying one or more of the strategies below:

Try Therapy

Counseling or therapeutic services are often one of the most effective ways of managing anxiety and helping people get to the bottom of the underlying feelings causing the issues. Now, therapy can be accessed in more ways than ever before, making it much more accessible, even for those who may find it difficult to attend an in-person setting.

Online therapy could be a great option to consider: as well as being able to access support from qualified therapists in the comfort of your own home, you can book sessions at a time that’s convenient for you. Some online services even offer the facility for unlimited messaging as part of the treatment plan.

When choosing a service, you may wish to seek online therapy that takes insurance. Many insurance companies now cover alternative and mental health care costs but check this carefully before signing up.

Managing Worries

When we’re anxious, it’s hard to stop our minds from racing and worrying about a million different things – it becomes a vicious circle of fear and fretfulness. There are some steps you can take to calm your mind and help you cope.

Many people find it helpful, where this is the case, to set aside a specific time to focus on their worries – and stick to it. So, for example, you could give yourself five minutes in the morning when you’ll allow yourself to concentrate on what’s worrying you. Set a timer, and move on when your ‘worry session’ is over. If you find the worries creeping in, tell yourself that you’ll focus on them during the next designated ‘session’ and then re-focus on the task at hand.

You may find it helpful to write down your worries in a notebook or on pieces of paper that you then put in an envelope or jar.

Have a Go at Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a great way of dealing with stress and anxiety and can help you feel better quickly. Practicing breathing exercises regularly can also keep stress at bay longer-term, so trying them out is highly recommended to see if they work for you.

Find a comfortable position, either sitting up or lying down, and try to relax. Allow your breath to flow into your body as deeply as possible without forcing it. Breathe in through your nose to a count of five, and then out through your mouth for five gently and regularly – you may not be able to reach five at first, and that’s fine. Keep doing this for about five minutes, focusing fully on your breathing.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

Our mental and physical health are intrinsically linked – if you look after your physical health, you may find the symptoms of anxiety significantly recede. Take care of the basics by ensuring you eat a nutritious diet, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly, whether this is a jog, a swim at the pool, or a yoga session.

Some foods can actually help to promote a positive mood. Magnesium-rich food can keep anxiety at bay, so eating plenty of almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, cashews, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds is a great idea.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to helping with anxiety and depression disorders: foods rich in this nutrient include salmon, broccoli, avocado, and eggs.

The Importance of Seeking Support

Mental health issues, including anxiety, can significantly impact an individual’s life and, if untreated, may deteriorate, causing further problems for the sufferer. If you’re experiencing anxiety, whatever the symptoms and severity, it’s vital to seek support. Speak to your doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible so that you can access this support and get the advice you need on the next steps to take to get you back on track as soon as possible.