LIVING WITH ANXIETY
Each and every one of us has a reason to feel anxious at some point in time, but sometimes feelings of worry, anxiety or fear are strong enough to interfere with everyday activities
Anxious feelings are a normal reaction to a stressful situation, but for some people this anxiety happens for no apparent reason or continues long after the event has passed.
WHAT WORKS FOR ANXIETY?
To prevent anxiety or alleviate existing symptoms, there are
some general principles that most people find useful. These include:
A healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough quality sleep, limit alcohol and avoid drugs. Reducing and managing stress levels. Make sure to do something enjoyable and relaxing each day. Support from family and friends. You may find it helps to exercise or do another enjoyable activity with a family member of friend. Dealing with setbacks.
Address problems early and keep trying. E THERAPIES
As with depression, effective therapies for the treatment of anxiety are CBT and behaviour therapy, to help you cope with fearful situations rather than avoiding or escaping them, as well as putting your worries into perspective. But for some people with mild-tomoderate anxiety, online therapies, also called e-therapies, have proven to be as effective as face-toface services. These therapies mostly follow the principles of CBT or behaviour therapy. You work through the programme on your own but most involve email or phone support from a therapist.
Locally-based counselling psychologist, Ellen Whyte, works online via Skype and Messenger at lepak.com.
Antidepressants. Even if you’re not experiencing the
symptoms of depression, in some cases antidepressants can be an effective treatment for anxiety. As with depression, changes occur in the brain chemicals that affect mood.
Benzodiazepines. These include mild tranquilisers and sleeping pills prescribed for short periods of time, along with other medications. They promote relaxation and reduce tension, but are not recommended for long-term use as they can reduce alertness, affect coordination, and can be addictive.
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
Sometimes anxious thoughts can become obsessive and lead to unhealthy patterns of behaviour, such as: Cleanliness/order
Obsessive hand-washing or house cleaning because of an exaggerated fear of germs; obsession with order – an overwhelming need to perform tasks or place objects, like cutlery, in a particular pattern. Counting/hoarding
Repeatedly counting items like clothes; hoarding junk.
Safety/Checking Obsessive fears about harm, which can result in compulsive behaviours such as repeatedly checking the stove or windows and door locks. Sexual Issues
An irrational sense of disgust about sexual activity. How to Treat It
Psychological treatments like CBT have proven to be most effective in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Panic attacks are surprisingly common – up to 40 per cent of the population will experience a panic attack at some point. Some symptoms include:
A sense of overwhelming panic or fear
The thought that you are dying, choking, “losing control” or “going mad” Increased heart rate Difficulty breathing Excessive perspiration Dizziness or feeling faint. During a panic attack, you may also experience “derealisation” – a sense that you or the world around you is not real. What causes it?
Family history; certain medical conditions (asthma, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and irritable bowel syndrome); extremely stressful experiences (such as childhood sexual abuse, redundancy or bereavement); ongoing stress. How to treat it
Treatment usually involves therapy and, in severe cases, medication may be prescribed.