If you live with the symptoms of anxiety, you already know how disruptive it can be to your life. You just want to go about your business, but instead you have to deal with feelings like constant panic and worry about the future, as well as possible issues like stomach troubles and heart palpitations.
How can you get help, especially if you’re (understandably) wary of the medication options, which can cause side effects or be addictive? The providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center are here to explain how they can help you manage your anxiety symptoms better.
The symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety is a normal, natural reaction to stress. But sometimes, your body starts to sense threats that aren’t there — or are at least not in proportion to how much you’re worrying about them.
These symptoms can become chronic, even disrupting your life. You may hold yourself back from seeking jobs with greater responsibility or from romantic relationships. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety include the following:
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling restless, nervous, or tense
- Breathing rapidly or hyperventilating
- Feeling tired or weak
- Shaking or trembling
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms
- Having a feeling of impending doom
- Inability to stop worrying
These are the most common symptoms of anxiety, but they’re not the only ones. If you frequently feel physical symptoms in addition to feelings of worry or panic, you might have an anxiety disorder.
3 ways to treat anxiety
There are many ways to treat anxiety, but the most effective ones are forms of therapy. This is done with the help of a licensed psychotherapist, and the sessions usually involve talking through problems. These include the following methods:
1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is often very effective in treating anxiety. Research has found that it’s helpful with many forms of anxiety, including phobias and fears, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and panic disorders.
Many people with anxiety disorders are prone to “black-and-white” thinking; events are viewed as either good or bad, with no in-between. CBT helps you learn to find shades of gray in situations, which allows you to see that even the worst-case scenarios don’t have to be as bad as you fear they might be.
In CBT, you learn about the inaccurate ways you view things — called cognitive distortions — and replace them with healthier coping mechanisms. You can learn how to get through anxiety by managing and controlling your thoughts.
2. Exposure therapy
Exposure therapy is just what it sounds like: if you’re afraid of something, you have to be exposed to it to learn that you can handle it.
Most people feel a lot of apprehension before exploring this type of therapy. You gradually learn to expose yourself to a little bit more of what you fear. The first step of exposure therapy is simply to think about what you fear before even experiencing it. This helps you identify your triggers and learn to manage them.
Maybe you fear bugs, for example; you would gradually expose yourself to bugs, getting closer to them and even picking them up when you’re ready. Eventually, you learn that bugs aren’t nearly as bad as your fear of them (even though you may never exactly like them.)
3. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s. Originally developed to treat suicidal patients, it was later discovered that it actually helps a much broader variety of issues.
DBT focuses on four components:
- Distress tolerance
- Emotion regulation
- Interpersonal effectiveness
Each of these four components plays a role in your therapy, with your therapist guiding you through the process. It’s often very effective for issues related to anxiety disorders, including feeling out of control and unstable.
If you’re dealing with frequent anxiety, you don’t have to be a prisoner of it anymore. Call the 2nd Chance Treatment Center office nearest you, or request an appointment online.