In a recent article from the ACP internist March 2021 volume 41 number 3, an article by author Charlotte Huff states that “roughly 40% of adult women develop some type of anxiety disorder during their lifetime compared to 26.4% of men” which is a quotation taken from the international journal of methods and psychiatry research. Anxiety is a very common diagnosis. Unfortunately it is becoming more common with the meaning enforce changes we have all endured due to the pandemic.
In my medical practice, I frequently treat patients with the diagnosis of anxiety. Unfortunately, the Pandemic of 2020 drastically increased the occurrence of anxiety in my medical practice. The Pandemic has increased worry, and there are certainly many reasons to be anxious.
My own observations, which are not necessarily quantifiable or have any research to back them up, I am witnessing a sharp increase in patients presenting with anxiety or anxiety like symptoms. Interestingly, I noticed the biggest increase after the wintertime surges.
They’re actually many forms of anxiety. Generalizes anxiety disorder is the anxiety disorder I encounter most medical practice. Other forms of anxiety include social phobias, agoraphobia, or anxiety related to public speaking. Anxiety may also be a component of another psychiatric disorder such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder, is characterized by persistent worry that leads to life changing consequences that last over 6 months. The classification is important because the emotion of anxiety happens to all of us. The distinction must be made when these symptoms are impacting the quality of life.
The typical symptoms of anxiety include but are not limited to:
- Excessive Worry
- Inability to rest or relax
- Tense muscles
- Poor quality sleep
Anxiety can lead to many physical symptoms including:
- Excessive sweating
- Digestive issues
- Muscle spasms
Many factors can put a person at risk, but it seems the greatest risk factor is being female.
Those that have never experienced anxiety and severe enough to require treatment may have trouble understanding why someone would require treatment for this condition. Anxiety can be crippling. Someone in the grips of an anxiety attack often is not unable to understand reality, which will drive severe behaviors. That is very worse anxiety can increase the risk of suicidal attempts.
We all have times we feel anxious. Having transitory “butterflies in the stomach” or feeling on edge is a normal part of the human experience. It is when these symptoms persist, occur frequently, or interrupt daily activities that it may require management by a healthcare professional.
The Suicide Prevention Line is available if you are having severe symptoms and need help now.
Where to Get Help
If you’re suffering from symptoms of anxiety, it is important to know where to turn to for help. If you have a relationship with a physician or care provider such as a Primary Care doctor, they are often more than ready to help you. If you do not, the next best step is to try to find someone to see on a regular basis. If you don’t have health insurance, many state agencies have helplines such as #211 that can help get you to resources. In any case, it is usually impossible to determine by yourself how to figure your symptoms truly if they require treatment.
A complete history and physical exam is recommended to make sure no medical diagnosis could be causing the symptoms.
Once anxiety has been confirmed with the diagnosis by healthcare professional, treatment options can include but are not limited to:
These treatment options require evaluation and recommendations of a healthcare professional. Treatment must be individualized and tailored to each person’s needs. Once treatment is selected, monitoring will need to continue potentially for several months.
Beyond what happens in the clinic, if you have been diagnosed with anxiety or are worried you may be at risk or developing anxiety that is clinical there are things that you can do for yourself at home to improve your symptoms.
I routinely recommend meditation to many of my patients as well as my Reiki clients. Meditation is easily accessible, can be completely free, and requires no special equipment to get set up.
- The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners
- 3 Physical Benefits of Meditation
- The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is the perfect compliment to medical treatment or therapy. Meditation often reduces the symptoms of anxiety immediately and when performed daily will help long-term.
If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of meditation I want to gently remind you that anyone can meditate. please now that even if on the inside your thoughts are racing and you don’t think you can find peace, just the attempt at meditation will reap benefits.
I frequently mention Yoga as a self-care modality that can be included with with meditation when managing anxiety. Yoga has been clinically proven to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
One of the important aspects of Yoga that can help alleviate anxiety is the focus on breath work. Individuals suffering from anxiety often have little to no awareness of how they breathe on a regular basis. Because they tend to breathe in a shallow manner they often don’t realize that they set the stage for anxiety attacks. The practice of yoga can help those suffering from anxiety learn how to work with their chest and their belly to breathe effectively in order to reduce the pulse.
Aromatherapy has grown in popularity over the years. The science of aromatherapy involves engaging the olfactory nerve which has a strong connection to the brain to create therapeutic benefits. Aromatherapy and the form of essential oils can be therapeutic and lower anxiety. Also, aromatherapy can be pleasing and pleasurable to the senses.
Essential oils can be very expensive. Because of this, I usually limit my recommendations to a few essential oils that are relatively well tolerated and can be found in most natural food stores.
If you are considering using aromatherapy, I recommend diluting essential oils and a high quality carrier oil and using a roller bottle. This makes carrying aromatherapy with you throughout the day much easier and less messy. this also allows for a very light application if you’re wanting to keep the smell in a limited area.
If you are managing anxiety it is important to realize that your anxiety may take a long time to improve. You want to be patient, gentle and caring with yourself. Do not rush yourself to “get back to normal”.
Going to level deeper, as you journey through your experience of anxiety you may want to sit with the feeling to learn what the anxiety is teaching you. Anxiety rarely occurs for no reason at all. With the help of a skilled therapist, it is likely you will learn more about yourself and the way you exist in the world that has led to your experience with anxiety. Anxiety can become a learning opportunity for your soul. Anxiety is going to teach you something, so if possible try to learn what it is that you need to about yourself.
As a thank you for spending time learning about a difficult topic you may download my channel negative emotions meditation I created. There are many ways that you can meditate. This particular meditation I created to harness the energy of unwanted emotions and channel them for the greater good.