Constant worry is exhausting.
Feeling overwhelmed or fearful doesn’t have to be a way of life.
The term “anxiety disorder” refers to specific symptoms that involve extreme fear or worry toward unknown events, outcomes and/or places and objects. It is common to experience anxiety in response to life events such as applying for a new job, preparing for a presentation or perhaps having a medical procedure. Many people also experience these types of feelings toward practical issues like money or health conditions. It is normal to experience varying degrees of anxiety in response to life stressors. But if these feelings become so persistent and overwhelming that it interferes with daily activities, work, and/or important relationships, you may have an anxiety disorder. There are several different types of anxiety-related disorders. Some examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Researchers are learning that anxiety can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and some psychological factors. It has also been found to be related to exposure to stressful events experienced both in childhood and adulthood. Some who are widowed, divorced, separated or who have experienced a traumatic loss or traumatic situation are at a higher risk to experience anxiety disorders. Overwhelming anxiety can impact every area of a person’s life from their physical and emotional health to their professional and personal lives.
To help you determine if you may be struggling with anxiety, we have provided a short questionnaire to check your symptoms. Click on the button below to take the Anxiety Symptom Checker:
Anxiety in adolescents and children
It can be difficult to recognize if a child, adolescent or teen is struggling with an anxiety disorder. Children and teens experience anxiety in response to stressful situations or scary events just like adults. Often it is a temporary phase and they will move past it. But one in eight children are affected with anxiety disorders and often go untreated. In addition, girls are more likely than boys to develop anxiety disorders. Children and teens are also at a higher risk of having an anxiety disorder if there is mental illness in their family history. These are some symptoms to look for:
- Moody and often irritable
- Often worried about many different areas of life
- Frequent outbursts
- Performance in school suffers, grades drop, refusal to go to school or constantly getting in trouble
- Trouble sleeping or staying asleep
- Difficulty concentrating or staying of task
- Persistent negative thoughts about self-performance
- Substance abuse
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
If your child or adolescent show signs of persistent irrational fear, are often asking “what if”, or experience extreme shyness accompanied with some of these symptoms, it may be time to seek professional help. Early diagnosis and intervention accompanied with the right treatment plan are the best ways to help your child understand why they experience anxiety and what they can do about it. Depending on the age of your child, a therapist will work with caregivers to understand what might be impacting a child’s anxiety levels and teach effective ways to support a young person who is struggling. Addressing childhood anxiety is a team effort, and we are here to help!
Tips and Strategies to Cope with Anxiety
Get help: Seeking help is a sign of true strength not weakness. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental issues in the US but can be treated. If you feel as though you are struggling with anxiety, seek help from a professional.
Take care: Caring for your body is one of the first steps in addressing anxiety. Try incorporating some form of exercise as this is proven to decrease stress and improve overall mood. The act of exercising alone can allow your mind to engage on the task at hand rather than focusing on worries. Diet has the potential to reduce and prevent symptoms of anxiety as well. Try avoiding foods that are greasy, sugary, and heavily processed. Decreasing your caffeine intake or avoiding caffeine altogether when feeling anxious or nervous is beneficial. Avoiding alcohol when you’re experiencing feelings of anxiousness or nervousness may help because alcohol has the potential to prolong the feelings of anxiety. Anxiety can affect your sleeping habits making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for long periods of time. Give yourself time to wind down before bed. A therapist can work with you to help you identify what may be contributing to sleep problems and create a plan to confront those issues.
Practice Awareness: Try learning to be aware of what makes you anxious. Learning to identify what situations or thinking patterns cause/trigger anxiety will help you manage how it affects your mood and behavior. Being aware of anxiety and its triggers allows you to take a step back to observe a situation rather than automatically react which may give you the power to reduce your symptoms of anxiety or prevent them. Meditation and yoga are practices that have the potential to help manage anxiety. They allow you to come to a quiet place and be in tune with your mind and body.
Find Connection: Research has shown that people who have supportive networks and friendships have a better chance of fighting mental illness. Having people to connect and talk with will allow you to get out of your own mind and share your anxieties and worries. Finding a support group may be helpful. There you will be able to share your problems and achievements with others without fear of judgement.
Try self-compassion: Love yourself! It’s easy to beat yourself up when experiencing anxiety and you’re not sure why. Mental illness is not a choice. No one chooses to feel anxious and nervous and constantly fearful. Remember to be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone in struggling with anxiety. There is hope!