Not All Anxiety is a Disorder
Are there ways of dealing with feelings of anxiety without going on medication?
Anxiety is one of those terms that we all use but perhaps understand less than we know. We pepper our general conversation with expressions like “my anxiety level was off the charts” and talk about how things like flying, starting a new job or going on a first date make us anxious to the point of almost being physically sick.
Are those types of feelings indicative of having an actual anxiety disorder? Maybe. But probably not.
The feelings that we associate with anxiety, like a sense of uneasiness or nervousness, an increased heart rate, sweating and heightened awareness or vigilance are all perfectly normal. When we are feeling stressed about what is happening around us or fearful of what may happen in the future, anxiety is a natural response. It’s all part of the adrenalin rush that comes from our “fight-or-flight’ response that gets triggered when the body senses a threat.
This internal warning system that generates these feelings of anxiety has served us well in our evolution to becoming the current dominant species on the planet. Throughout our history, serious threats were abundant. Today, however, the situations we face rarely require either fight or flight, but our reaction to conflict can still generate the same internal, chemical reactions. This can lead to excessive stress, as well as anxiety that is inappropriate or out of proportion to the situation.
The difference between normal feelings of anxiety and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is seen in level and duration and the effect it has on the individual’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities. For someone with an anxiety disorder, the feelings and symptoms don’t go away. Instead, they typically increase and become worse. Eventually, they can take a heavy toll on daily functioning and interfere with relationships, personal and professional.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 out of every 13 people struggles with anxiety, making it the most common type of mental disorder, worldwide. In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect 40 million people per year.
Some of the most common variations of anxiety disorders include:
- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- panic disorder (panic attacks)
- social anxiety disorder
- separation anxiety disorder
- phobia related to a specific situation or object
- selective mutism
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Ongoing anxiety can have a significant impact on the quality of life. Traditional treatment methods include psychotherapy and medications. Other options that may help in reducing levels of anxiety include nutritional programs, supplements, hormonal balancing and lifestyle changes.
Most people are aware that meditating and simply taking time out to relax and practice breathing exercises can do a lot with calming the mind and reducing stress. Improving overall physical health can also be beneficial in regulating anxiety levels. Some of the most common good practices include:
- Eating healthier foods
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding alcohol, smoking and eliminating or, at least, reducing caffeine
- Making sure to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis
Supplements are a little trickier, so it is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare professional to determine which would be best for you to try. Some of the supplements believed to help relieve anxiety include vitamins B5 and C, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids and herbs, such as valerian root, licorice root and passionflower.
The Southern California Center for Anti-Aging focuses on the practice of advanced, preventive and regenerative medicine. We strongly believe correcting imbalances and deficiencies in nutrition, along with improving fitness and balancing and restoring hormones with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, can help with creating the foundation for a healthier and happier life. To learn more about our holistic approach or if you have questions about any of our services, take advantage of our Free Consultation by clicking here to use our convenient online form.