Does everyone have anxiety: Why anxiety is on the rise and how we can cope
I decided to write this article after an influx of new clients seeking help for anxiety who had never had anxiety … until now. Anxiety itself isn’t new or abnormal however it was a big change in the reasons for people seeking treatment in my practice whereas in previous years those struggling with anxiety attributed to about 30% of my practice and now attribute to more than half. It made me wonder, is this an even bigger phenomenon beyond my experience?
What convinced me was an unexpected visit to the ER due to … a panic attack. I had also never experienced anxiety before, but there I was in the emergency room feeling like I was about to die in last 2020. Of course, I didn’t know what it was. Even as a clinician, because this was a new feeling I initially attributed it to a medical or physical issue, but it wasn’t. I was experiencing anxiety
In a world that is constantly changing, it’s no wonder that people are feeling anxious more than ever before. With the rise of social media and technology, we are constantly exposed to events happening worldwide. It can be difficult to manage our feelings when we feel like everything is out of our control.
What this article will focus on
This article will explore why anxiety is on the rise, normalize feelings of worry, and identify coping tools. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, know that you are not alone.
This will include explaining the most common types of anxiety, how to differentiate them, and the symptoms associated with them.
We will take a look at what events may be attributed to more people experiencing anxiety on a macro level and coping tools to better manage your anxiety in your daily life, in order to better your mental health.
Below is a list of 15 benefits of overcoming anxiety:
– improved sleep quality
– improved concentration and focus
– improved memory
– decreased heart rate
– lower blood pressure
– less tense muscles
– more stable moods
– improved breathing
– increased energy levels
– improved digestion
– reduced anxiety symptoms
– less worry and rumination
– improved ability to relax
– increased self-esteem
– improved quality of life
Types of anxiety include :
– Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
– Panic Disorder
– Social Anxiety Disorder
– Specific Phobias
– Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
– Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
I will provide you with a few symptoms ( both physical symptoms and non-physical symptoms) for each of these to help you better understand and identify what type of anxiety you may be experiencing. Having a clearer understanding of your anxiety will assist you in identifying coping tools to address your symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder which is also the most common type of anxiety usually consists of racing thoughts, catastrophic thinking, uncontrollable worry, and fatigue. Panic disorder may cause increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. Agoraphobia which is difficulty leaving the home includes feeling shaky, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and sweating due to feeling unsafe.
Social phobia usually involves symptoms pertaining to interactions with others like worrying about being embarrassed in front of others, difficulty speaking in a public setting, wondering if people like you, and obsessing over other people’s views of you.
People who have not struggled with social anxiety may have experienced re-entry anxiety due to the recent pandemic. This means after a prolonged period of isolation or decreased social interactions, you may find yourself feeling anguish over the thought of returning to normal in-person activities such as work, school, or social gatherings. I have had several clients say ” I feel like I forgot how to speak to people”.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes many of the symptoms already mentioned however is accompanied by repetitive behaviors like repeatedly washing hands, cleaning excessively, and difficulty tolerating uncertainty. This stems from perceived disorder in your environment, excessive worry or fear of dirt or germs, and losing control.
Lastly, post-traumatic disorder is a response to a traumatic event where the types of anxiety discussed above do not necessarily have to stem from a single event. Individuals who suffer from PTSD often have trouble sleeping, and experience disassociation, flashbacks, or nightmares of the triggering event, which can lead to substance abuse and cause feelings of shame and guilt.
What is causing the recent rise in the number of people experiencing anxiety?
In today’s world, it’s impossible to escape the constant deluge of news and information. Whether we’re scrolling through our social media feeds or watching the 24-hour news cycle, we’re bombarded with a never-ending stream of stories about natural disasters, political uncertainty, and global conflict.
This constant sense of anxiety and fear can take a toll on our mental health. Studies have shown that exposure to negative news can lead to feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. And while it’s important to stay informed about the events happening in the world, it’s also important to take some time for yourself and focus on positive things. And because we’re constantly bombarded with images and stories of tragedy and suffering, it’s easy to become desensitized to the pain of others.
As a result, we can become paranoid and afraid, always waiting for the next bad thing to happen. If you find that the constant stream of bad news is getting you down, try disconnecting from the news cycle for a few hours each day and focusing on activities that make you happy.
According to a recent survey, nearly 60% of Americans say they are worried about their financial future. This is not surprising when you consider the economic insecurity that many people are facing. Job loss, debt, and financial instability are all major sources of anxiety.
When you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from, it’s hard to relax and enjoy life. For many people, their job is their primary source of income, so the threat of losing it can be extremely stressful. Debt can also be a major source of anxiety, especially if it is high-interest debt that is difficult to repay. Financial instability can cause even more stress, like feeling unsure about the future and whether or not they will be able to make ends meet. All of these factors can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues.
In today’s society, there is an immense pressure to succeed. Whether it’s at school or at work, people are constantly striving to be the best. This pressure can come from a variety of sources, such as parents, teachers, bosses, and even peers. The pressure to succeed can lead to a feeling of anxiety and stress, as well as a fear of failure. It can also motivate people to work harder and achieve their goals. However, the pressure to succeed can also be overwhelming and lead to burnout
Our culture values success and achievement, which puts even more pressure on people to perform well. Whatever the reasons for the pressure, it’s clear that it’s taking a toll on our mental and emotional health. So how can we cope with this pressure? One way is to take some time for ourselves and do things that make us happy. Whether it’s spending time with friends and family, pursuing a hobby, or simply taking a break from work, it’s important to find ways to relax and de-stress.
Additionally, we can try to be more accepting of ourselves and our own imperfections. By learning to accept ourselves, we can reduce the pressure we feel to be perfect all the time.
A desire for connection but fear of doing so
Social distancing and self-quarantine measures have led to a sharp increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness. For many people, these measures have meant avoiding contact with friends and family members, which can be both emotionally and physically draining. In addition, social media platforms that were once used to stay connected with loved ones have now become a source of anxiety and isolation. With everyone living in their own little bubble, it’s easy to feel cut off from the rest of the world.
This can be a difficult adjustment for people who are used to being around others on a regular basis. For introverts, it may be a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, for extroverts and people who thrive on human interaction, this can be a challenging and lonely time.
When you are used to being around people all the time, it can be hard to suddenly be by yourself all the time. You may start to feel like you are missing out on what is happening in the world and that you are not as connected to people as you used to be.
Political unrest and uncertainty about the future
The past few years have been a time of upheaval and uncertainty.
Political unrest and a changing job market are just a few reasons people are experiencing anxiety, particularly young people who are just starting out in their careers. The future seems increasingly uncertain, and it can be difficult to know how to plan for the future when the present is so unpredictable.
Other reasons for increased worry are that there is a lot of change happening in the world, on what feels like a day-to-day basis. This can be difficult to adjust to and can make people feel uncertain about what the future will bring. Second, there is a lot of information available about the problems in the world leaving us overwhelmed. Finally, there are a lot of people who are not sure how to plan for the future when the present feels so desolate.
If you find that you are feeling anxious or worried, there are a number of things that you can do to help manage these feelings. First, try to focus on the present moment and take things one step at a time. Second, realize that it is okay to feel anxious or worried and that these emotions will eventually pass. Third, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. fourth, talk to someone who can offer support and understanding
Traumatic events such as mass shootings, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters
In the wake of a traumatic event, it’s normal to feel scared. You may feel like you’re in danger, even if you’re not directly affected by the event. This is because your brain is hardwired to respond to threats. When you perceive a threat, your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your heart rate and blood pressure, preparing you to fight or flee. This response is known as the “fight-or-flight” response, and it’s designed to keep you safe in a dangerous situation.
However, in today’s world, we’re constantly bombarded with news of traumatic events happening all over the world. As a result, our bodies are in a constant state of alertness, which can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and other health problems. If you find yourself feeling scared after a traumatic event, it’s important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you process your feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Now that we have addressed some of the reasons behind this recent surge in anxiety diagnoses, let’s explore some ways to cope with anxiety on an individual level. Remember that you are not alone in feeling anxious and there are many tools available to help you manage your symptoms.
How to cope
Talk to a therapist
A therapist can help you to understand your anxiety and how to manage it. They can provide you with tools and techniques to help you control your anxiety and live a more normal life. Therapists can also help you to identify and avoid triggers for your anxiety. If you have an anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder or social anxiety disorder, a therapist can help you to understand your disorder and how to cope with it. A therapist can also teach you how to manage your symptoms and minimize the impact of your anxiety on your life. If you are struggling to cope with anxiety, a therapist can help you to find ways to manage it and live a more fulfilling life.
Practice relaxation techniques
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult to focus and enjoy life. However, there are several relaxation techniques that can help to manage anxiety and promote well-being. One such technique is diaphragmatic breathing, which involves taking slow, deep breaths from the stomach rather than the chest. This helps to oxygenate the blood and calm the nervous system. Another effective relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. This helps to release tension and promote a sense of calm. Finally, guided visualization is a helpful way to distract from anxious thoughts and focus on more positive images. By practicing these relaxation techniques, it is possible to reduce anxiety and improve overall wellbeing.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. Exercise has long been known to have physical benefits, but recent research has also shown that it can be an effective treatment for anxiety. One study found that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise was enough to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety. Other research has shown that regular exercise can help to prevent the onset of anxiety disorders. Exercise is thought to work by reducing levels of stress hormones and improving mood. It also helps to increase levels of endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-boosting effects. In addition, exercise can distract from anxious thoughts and help to improve sleep, both of which can contribute to reduced anxiety levels. Overall, research indicates that exercise is a highly effective way to reduce anxiety.
Reframing or thought-stopping techniques
It’s no secret that our thoughts have a big impact on our emotions. If we’re constantly dwelling on negative experiences or ruminating on things that make us anxious, it’s not surprising that we’ll start to feel more anxious as well. But what many people don’t realize is that we have the power to change our thought patterns – and in doing so, reduce our anxiety levels.
One way to do this is through positive self-talk. Instead of dwelling on your anxiety and all the ways, it’s impacting your life, start focusing on positive affirmations. Remind yourself that you’re strong and capable, that you can handle whatever comes your way. It might sound cheesy at first, but try repeating these affirmations to yourself several times a day, and see how it impacts your anxiety levels.
You might also want to try reframing your thoughts around anxiety-provoking situations. For example, instead of thinking “I’m going to fail this test,” we can tell ourselves “I’ll do my best and whatever happens will happen.” This may seem like a small change, but it can help us to feel more in control and better able to cope with whatever challenges come our way. Similarly, instead of catastrophizing about a future event (“I’m never going to be able to speak in front of all those people”), we can remind ourselves that we do not actually know what will happen and that we have coped with difficult situations in the past. By changing our inner dialogue from negative to positive, we can reduce our anxiety and better cope with whatever life throws our way.
One of the most effective ways to manage anxiety is through journaling. When you take the time to sit down and write out your worries, it can help to put them into perspective. Often, our anxiety is caused by our own thoughts running in circles. Writing them down can help to break the cycle and allow you to see your worries more clearly. In addition, journaling can also be a form of self-care. It allows you to express your emotions in a healthy way and can be a form of stress relief. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, try keeping a journal and see how it helps you to manage your symptoms.
Meditation involves focusing your attention on a single object or thought and letting other thoughts come and go without engaging with them. This can help to train your mind to focus and let go of intrusive thoughts. In addition, meditation can help to regulate breathing and heart rate, which can be beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety-related conditions such as panic attacks. While it may not be a cure-all, meditation can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety.
While it is impossible to completely eliminate anxiety, there are a number of techniques that can help to reduce its intensity. One type of distraction technique is to focus on your senses. Pay attention to the things you can see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. This can help to ground you in the present moment and prevent you from getting lost in your thoughts. Another type of distraction technique is to engage in a repetitive task such as counting or deep breathing. This can help to calm your mind and body and allow you to focus on something other than your anxiety. By utilizing these techniques, you can help to reduce the impact of anxiety on your life.
Anxiety is on the rise, but there are things we can do to cope. By changing our inner dialogue, journaling, meditating, and utilizing distraction techniques, we can help to reduce our anxiety levels and better manage our symptoms. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, remember that you are not alone and there are things you can do to help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, there are resources available to help. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) provides support and information for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. NAMI also offers free online courses on topics such as anxiety, depression, and coping with stress.