Anxiety: Who is at Risk and How to Manage It

When there is a deadline to meet, a high stakes decision to make or you are waiting for an answer that you have zero control over, you understand the feeling of those butterflies flipping around your stomach, almost making it impossible not to throw up. Welcome to anxiety.

We all deal with anxiety in our lives at some point and time. How you handle what comes next is completely in your control. Do you breathe a sigh of relief, sob uncontrollably, throw the closest object against a wall? Or, do you let it eat you for days, weeks or even months on end? If your anxiety seems to not be managed well and you let those feelings linger, you might have an anxiety disorder.

Who Is at Risk for Anxiety?

In all reality, no one is safe from anxiety or from developing an anxiety disorder. Historically however, women tend to suffer from anxiety more often and people in these categories:

  • Being widowed or divorced
  • Having financial difficulties
  • Having suffered from a traumatic experience during childhood
  • Family history of anxiety or mental disorders

In addition, rates of anxiety are on the rise too. Most of the anxiety has to do with finances. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about 32% of adults are more anxious than they were last year with regard to the finances. Also, 43% reported that they felt just as equally anxious as the year before. However, this does not take into account the drive in anxiety the whole nation has felt after Covid-19 hit.

In fact, nearly half of all Americans are now fearful of contracting Covid-19 with nearly 40% extremely worried about becoming seriously ill. If that wasn’t enough, nearly 36% reported having serious mental health issues due to the pandemic.

“The stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic can and is having an effect on people’s physical and mental health,” said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D. “During this time, it is important to do what we can to maintain self-care and manage the stress. I would suggest this for everyone coping at home as well as those who are still in their workplaces by necessity, especially the health care professionals on the front lines of this pandemic.”

What are clinical symptoms of Anxiety?

The symptoms of clinical anxiety are two fold. There are the physical symptoms and then there are the emotional/psychological symptoms. Some of these might include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Upset stomach
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tension headaches
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating

Typically, you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if you excessively worry six days or more a week, for six months or more. You also likely recognize the aforementioned symptoms as something you’ve been struggling with. The thing is, you do not want to wait to seek treatment. Do not feel as though you need to see if these symptoms last for 6 months. Get help right away if you find yourself going down this path.

How is Anxiety Treated?

The best place to seek treatment for anxiety initially is with your general practitioner. They can guide you to a proper treatment plan. Some of the things your doctor might consider for you to help treat and manage anxiety include:

  • A referral to a therapist
  • Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications
  • Beta blockers

How is Anxiety Managed?

When you are diagnosed with anxiety, it could mean that you are in for the long haul. Do not fret, however, there are ways you can work to identify your anxiety when it creeps in and manage it before it gets out of hand. A few ways to manage your anxiety include:

  • Exercise. Daily cardiovascular activity is good for your heart and soul.
  • Breathing techniques. Learning how to control your breathing when the anxiety kicks in is a good way to reset your body.
  • Eat healthy while limiting alcohol and caffeine. Diet can play a huge role in how your body handles stress and how you react. Limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption can help.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body needs time to reset and be fresh for the next morning.
  • Talk to someone. Even if it is not your therapist, talking to someone can help you sort out your stress.

Final Thoughts on Anxiety

Knowing how to identify your anxiety and managing it for the long term are the keys to living with it successfully. There are many ways to cope with your triggers and to also set your body up to handle whatever the world decides to throw at you next. Seeking treatment from your general health practitioner is another good place to start.

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