Anxiety can be a situational experience or a symptom of a chronic condition. Handling anxiety is often challenging, particularly in the case of anxiety disorders.
However, there are a number of safe, effective ways to handle common anxiety. If you or a loved one is experiencing overwhelming anxiety, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems in the U.S. According to one study, more than 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety.
People experience anxiety when their bodies feel threatened, either by real or imagined danger. Some situational anxiety is normal, but it becomes problematic when it starts to impact daily life.
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including:
- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- social anxiety disorder
- panic disorders
Anxiety disorders have a few different causes. They may be linked to genetics, or they may be a result of trauma, abuse, or other negative life experiences.
Signs And Symptoms Of An Anxiety Disorder
There are different types of anxiety with varying symptoms, but all of them include persistent feelings of fear, dread, or worry.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- elevated heart rate
- shortness of breath
- insomnia and exhaustion
- stomach troubles
Emotional or mental symptoms can include:
- being tense or nervous
- rapid mood swings
- feeling restless
- chronic stress
- panic attacks
- difficulty concentrating
Why Xanax Doesn’t Always Work As An Anxiety Treatment
Xanax is typically used as a short-term treatment until other therapies, such as antidepressants, can kick in, but some healthcare providers may prescribe it for longer periods of time.
Despite Xanax’s effectiveness, it has a number of risks and side effects. It is highly addictive and may cause physical dependence or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms after just a few weeks of use.
Some of Xanax’s side effects include:
- difficulty concentrating
- trouble with coordination
- slurred speech
- blurred vision
- memory loss
- respiratory depression
Proven Treatment Approaches For Anxiety Disorders
Fortunately, there are several evidence-based treatment options for anxiety that people can try besides benzodiazepines.
Different forms of therapy are often the first and most effective form of treatment. Some clinicians may also combine therapy with the use of prescription medications.
Psychotherapy And Counseling
There are several forms of therapy that are proven to treat anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common.
CBT works by helping people stop negative thought patterns that may be contributing to anxiety and behavior that enforces anxiety and adopt a clearer, more realistic view.
Therapy also helps clients tackle the root source of their anxiety and process traumatic experiences in a safe setting.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax are not the only prescription medications that can be used to treat anxiety disorders.
This may include antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and SNRIs, beta-blockers, antihistamines, or anti-anxiety medications like buspirone.
Some of these take a few weeks to become effective, so your doctor may prescribe short-term medications to help with anxiety in the meantime.
Natural And Holistic Methods For Treating Anxiety
You can find countless holistic treatments for wellness ranging from natural supplements to meditation or acupuncture.
Some of these methods are more effective than others, so much so that they are recommended by physicians or are common elements of mental health and addiction rehab programs.
Follow A Healthy Diet
Drinking plenty of water and maintaining a nutritious diet has serious mental health benefits. People who consume large amounts of sugar or caffeine often have worsened anxiety symptoms.
It’s vital to eat fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains to support brain health, which has a direct effect on anxiety.
Additionally, cutting alcohol out of your diet has proven benefits in reducing anxiety symptoms. Alcohol use affects the same brain neurotransmitters that are activated by anxiety.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with getting regular exercise.
Exercise reduces cognitive decline, improves memory, lowers symptoms of anxiety and depression, leads to new cell growth, and causes a rush of “feel good” chemicals like dopamine.
As little as 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week can lead to improved mental and physical health.
Use Grounding Techniques
Experiencing anxiety, particularly during an anxiety attack, can be frightening and disorienting, but there are some quick-relief techniques you can try to help quell these symptoms.
There are many different grounding techniques, so don’t be afraid to try different ones until you find something that works for you.
These include self-care activities like journaling, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, or reading.
Maintain Healthy Relationships
Having a healthy support system is essential during difficult times. Feeling loved and reassured by family members and friends can go a long way when dealing with anxiety.
People who experience social anxiety can also benefit from time with loved ones, although it may be challenging initially.
Studies have found that having strong connections with others decreases feelings of loneliness and increases positive emotions.
Try Natural Supplements
There is a wide variety of natural and herbal supplements that are legal, safe, and somewhat effective in managing anxiety, although there is more research to be done on how they work.
Supplements can be a great boost to other anti-anxiety treatments like counseling or antidepressants.
Some popular anti-anxiety supplements and herbal remedies include:
- green tea
- kava kava
- valerian root
- lavender oil
- lemon balm
Find Help For A Substance Use Disorder Today
Anxiety disorders and addiction often occur together. If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse, contact us today to learn more about your treatment options.
Published on August 22, 2023
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- Medical News Today
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Health Service