Meloncauli is a former nurse and anxiety management therapist. She hopes everyone can take something away from her articles.
Normal Anxiety vs. Severe Anxiety
Anxiety disorders have to start somewhere. When they do start, they are often so mild that for a long time, it may not even be obvious that you have one. We are all open to different levels of anxiety. From the time we are born, we will all have times when we, by reaction, become anxious about something. Anxiety alerts us to a situation that needs to be handled appropriately, whether that’s a dangerous situation or an everyday life issue. Whatever the reason, some anxiety is a good thing. In a healthy way, anxiety is our friend, our motivator, and our warning system.
School exams, financial difficulties, health concerns, and even relationships are some of the things that can test our ability to deal with stress and thus produce anxiety. We can go through life suffering unnecessarily with a mild anxiety disorder, or we can recognize it and address it before it becomes a severe form that can seriously disrupt our everyday life.
Anxiety-Related Behaviours Learned in Childhood
Why do some people develop an anxiety disorder while others don’t? The answer involves many factors.
It is thought that anxiety problems may be genetically linked, but if you have a mother or father who has exhibited anxious behaviour during your childhood, then you can, of course, learn such behaviour. We all know children copy or mimic their parents from an early age. If elevators or lifts make mum anxious, and her child sees or feels her anxiety in approaching one, then that child will grow up to think elevators are things to avoid and be more likely to develop a fear of them. This is a simplistic example, but it is quite common for anxious people to have had an anxious parent.
Childhood traumas can cause an anxiety disorder to develop. An overly anxious, sensitive child will grow up to become an overly anxious, sensitive adult. What should have been an acceptable level of normal anxiety in life can become heightened and disproportionate to the extent that it is a heavy burden to carry. Rollo May, an existential psychoanalyst, believed that pathological anxiety can occur when we avoid or refuse to accept or tolerate normal anxiety. Of course, a sudden trauma, even later in life, can cause an anxiety disorder to develop. Whatever the reason, if we know deep down that we worry too much or that we find it difficult to handle stress, then we need to alter some things in our lives and the way we think if we wish to get back to the normal state of 'a little anxiety is fine and acceptable'.
Symptoms of Mild Anxiety Disorder
Mild anxiety disorder, although somewhat problematic, is not usually severe enough to interfere with daily life. People tend to carry on regardless and see themselves as coping. These people may be seen to be coping and even convince themselves all is well, but long-term and excess anxiety produce symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms you may encounter:
- General nervousness
- Excessive tiredness
- Poor concentration levels
- Chest tightness
- Anxiety attacks
- Aches and pains from tension
- Nervous stomach
- Regular heartburn
- Difficulty swallowing, lump in throat feeling
- Frequent headaches
- Lack of enthusiasm
There are many anxiety disorders, and one of these is panic disorder, with panic attacks occurring frequently and regularly. A mild anxiety sufferer may experience a similar attack that is not quite as bad as a full-blown panic attack. You may feel breathless and dizzy during such an attack. During an anxiety attack, you may feel the need to rush to the toilet or get heart palpitations. These kinds of attacks may only come periodically as stress builds and reaches a peak. You may feel off your food at these times because anxiety-producing adrenaline can make us feel we don’t need to eat so much or even a bit too nauseous to eat. Fear, nervousness, worrying and anticipation are often felt heavily in the tummy.
When these effects of anxiety happen, many people will address the symptoms with over-the-counter remedies. Anti-nausea pills, painkillers, indigestion tablets or liquid are common buys to tackle what essentially may be the effects of anxiety. Of course, when the chips are down, this isn't actually addressing the problem and is only an attempt to mask the symptoms.
Treatment for Mild Anxiety Disorder
A mild form of anxiety disorder should not warrant medication until all other approaches have been exhausted. Indeed, many people might be tempted to live with their fluctuating symptoms, but for those who would like to be more relaxed and stop the symptoms and negative thinking, here are some ideas to address mild anxiety disorder.
There are many ways to relax. Some cost nothing, some come at a low cost, but all should be carried out with enthusiasm and dedication to see good results. Everyone needs ‘me time’ when they set aside at least an hour or so several times a week to completely unwind and destress.
Read More From Healthproadvice
Run a nice warm bubble bath, perhaps with candles and some lavender incense, and have a long soak, followed by a lie down on the bed with some guided relaxation audio at the ready. These are found in abundance on the internet or in stores. MP3 players are great for storing many forms of guided relaxation, visualization and meditation exercises. You can now download many such forms of exercise on your mobile phone by way of apps. Most of these forms of relaxation address your pattern of breathing and, when mastered, will have a positive effect on the symptoms of anxiety.
Exercise is great for your mood generally. A walk in the countryside brings calm and a sense of getting away from it all. Exercise reduces stress chemicals and when we carry out more rigorous forms such as cycling, running, fast walking or swimming, endorphins are released, leaving us with a feeling of well-being. Regular exercise can make you feel better both mentally and physically.
Caffeine is a stimulant. If you have more than two or three cups of coffee a day, then you are inviting a more stimulated nervous system which will add to your problems. Cut down or ideally stop your caffeine intake. Smoking is stimulating too. It may feel like that cigarette calmed you down, but the reverse is actually true. Here are some foods that have been proven to help reduce anxiety and the effects of anxiety:
- Almonds – helpful in combating fatigue
- Milk – contains melatonin which helps you sleep
- Bananas – both serotonin and dopamine in these, which have an antidepressant effect
- Wholegrain cereals
- Wholegrain rice and pasta
- All fresh fruit and vegetables
If you don’t feel able to stick to these kinds of foods in your diet, then taking some B-complex vitamins may help a little. Perhaps even look to a herbalist as an alternative approach.
Of course, changing a lifestyle takes dedication and determination. You will get out of it what you are prepared to put in, but the above are alternative ways in which you can reduce stress levels and address your ongoing anxiety.
Your mind chatter or self-talk might be better suited to talking therapy. Getting to the root of the way you think is likely to be vital for complete success. Negative thinking and fear keep an anxiety problem rolling along. CBT, EFT and even hypnotherapy are some of the therapies that may be useful for your anxiety and, in particular, in helping with the causes (if any are evident) of your particular mild anxiety problem. If you don’t wish to see a therapist, then look to the way you think for yourself. Write down all your negative thoughts and look for ways you can change these to more positive ones. Constant worriers or anxiety sufferers tend to see doom and gloom in so many things. The worst scenario is their mental companion. I have shown here some books that may help you to stop thinking so negatively.
Interesting Internet Reading
- Anti-Anxiety Workout - EverydayHealth.com
Exercise is a healthy way to help manage anxiety. Learn ways to relax your mind and ease your stress levels through physical activity at EverydayHealth.com.
- Born worried: Is anxiety all in the genes? - Science - News - The Independent
Alice, a young scientist working in a biological laboratory, likes her work, and her supervisor values her conscientiousness and perfectionism.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
meloncauli (author) from UK on June 27, 2012:
Thanks Simone. It is a very common problem.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 26, 2012:
After reading your Hub, I've come to realize that quite a few people I have suffer from mild anxiety disorder (if not something worse). They would certainly benefit form the de-stressing and change in diet you advice. Perhaps I might nudge them in the general direction of your Hub! ;)
William E Krill Jr from Hollidaysburg, PA on June 26, 2012:
Another home run!
meloncauli (author) from UK on June 26, 2012:
MikeNV -I am totally in agreement with you which is why I did not promote medication in the article. The lack of testing in psychiatry keeps it in the realms of supposition instead of definitive fact. The medicalization of psychiatry has long been argued as a reputable way to treat 'disorders'. I also agree on how the drug industry/money plays an important role in keeping the psychiatric system what it is.
monicaortegamon - Wow! Congratulations on the title. Consistency plays a big part doesn't it? Thanks for your comment.
Monica Ortega from Uncasville, Connecticut on June 25, 2012:
Hi Meloncauli, thanks for the information I agree. I have found that eating, and especially exercise is a great contribution to having anxiety...Exercise alone helps me a lot when I can drag myself out there to do it, (laughs). Three years ago I held the state title for Martial Arts (Tae Kwon do) championships. Unfortunately I stopped my exercise til recently. Going back is helping make a big difference in my anxiety and other illnesses. Thanks for sharing. Monica.
MikeNV from Henderson, NV on June 24, 2012:
While anxiety may be very real. There is no medical test to diagnose it. All diagnosis are subjective based on the DSMIV. There is no way to actually treat these "Disorders" with medication. They may give you medication but it isn't treating anything. Anti Anxiety meds work by dumbing out your brain and blocking natural processes. Guinea pig heaven! Big money to be made by Big Pharma selling solutions in a bottle.