WHAT IS IT?
Being anxious from time to time is normal. Occasional anxiety is different from an anxiety disorder, which causes frequent, intense, excessive, or persistent worry or fear about everyday situations. Anxiety disorders can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control.
WHAT’S THE CAUSE?
Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people already prone to becoming anxious. Inherited traits also can be a factor.
- Being female. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
- Trauma. Children who endured abuse or trauma or witnessed traumatic events are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Adults who experience a traumatic event also can develop anxiety disorders.
- Stress. A serious health condition, a big event, or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety.
- Family history. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Drugs or alcohol. Drug or alcohol use or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.
- Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than are others.
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling powerless
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. It focuses on teaching specific skills so that you can return to activities you’ve avoided because of your anxiety.
- Antidepressants. They influence the activity of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) thought to play a role in anxiety disorders
- Keep physically active. Be active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer and may improve your mood.
- Avoid alcohol and other sedatives. They can worsen anxiety.
- Quit smoking and limit caffeine. Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
- Use relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
- Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested.
- Eat healthy foods. A nutritious diet may reduce anxiety, but more research is needed.
- Socialize. Social interaction and caring relationships can lessen your worries.