Updated: May 16, 2019
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. Whilst treatment varies for the many different types of anxiety disorders, there are some over-arching principles of recovery. Here are 6 techniques to help you in your journey towards a healthy mind.
There is a fine line between stress and anxiety, sometimes making it difficult to identify which is plaguing you. Before we dive into the techniques of recovery, let's explore these differences.
Anxiety vs. Stress
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is strong enough to interfere with your daily life. An anxiety disorder is when things become pathological; when the fear interferes with our life and hinders our ability to function. This can in turn disrupt work, relationships and self-esteem. Stress is a reaction to what is going on in the world around you. Examples of stress may include, a fast approaching assignment deadline, a utility bill that has yet been paid and problems within a relationship to list a few. Feelings of stress or anxiousness can be very useful in protecting us against danger or even fuelling us with motivation to study for an examination.
Symptoms of Anxiety
When you suffer from anxiety, you're constantly living in “Fight or Flight” mode. It's exhausting, draining and can ultimately bring you into an extremely low mood. Some symptoms of anxiety include:
Worrying to an extreme extent about things that are normal to worry about.
Being unable to set those worries aside.
Being unable to rest or even wind down.
Feeling panicked, nauseous, irritable, agitated and detached from your body.
Trembling hands, heart palpitations, dry mouth, concentration difficulties and interrupted sleep for some.
Noticing that you have been avoiding certain social situations.
Types of Anxiety
There are many different types of anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Thankfully, there are a lot of things we can do to overcome anxiety disorders.
Recognising that there is a problem and seeking help from your General Practitioner should be your first port of call. They are well versed in identifying, diagnosing and managing anxiety. Whilst treatment for these disorders vary, there are some over-arching principles of recovery. This brings us to the 6 techniques I would like you to try today.
#1 - Talking
Talking to someone about the problems you are facing and having someone to share the load with can help you tremendously on your road to recovery. Psychological support in particular cognitive behavioural therapy can change problematic thinking patterns and slowly desensitise you to anxiety provoking situations. Our two registered Psychologists at Leichhardt GP are available for appointments throughout the week and on Saturdays.
#2 - Meditating
Breathing and relaxation techniques including meditation can really improve your mood. There are a lot of excellent online apps which can help you learn these techniques. We have looked at a few and recommend these apps:
#3 - Exercising & Getting Some Sun
Regular exercise and getting out into the sunshine can help increase energy, serotonin levels and boost your overall sense of well-being. Try to be out and about as early as you can, best before 10 in the morning.
#4 - Cutting down on Caffeine
Caffeine can increase stress levels and fuel anxiety for some. Even a low intake of caffeine can affect your mood and cause your symptoms to worsen. Coffee is a major part of many people's lives but if cutting down on the caffeine could be good for you, why not give it a try and observe how your mood changes!
#5 - Less Alcohol
When feeling stressed, alcohol may help, but only for a limited time. It is ultimately a depressant and will exacerbate anxiety in the long run. When you're feeling down, instead of turning to alcohol, take the opportunity to lift your spirits by meditating, exercising or getting out into the sunshine with someone you can talk to - but remember to stay away from the alcohol!
#6 - Antidepressants
If the above techniques have done little to improve how you're feeling, you may need help from an antidepressant as well. Anxiety and depression both respond to antidepressants as they are both often related, particularly if serotonin deficiency is present or if they run strongly within the family.
Treatment for anxiety takes time and good support but it is absolutely achievable, and remember that help is always there for you when you need it. Here are a few places where you will find support: