The number one mental illness in the U.S. (and probably worldwide) is ANXIETY. It affects some 40 million American adults. Though considered treatable, most people do not get any treatment for it. On top if it all, anxiety is on the rise. With Covid, financial issues, environmental stressors and defective diets, along with the 24/7 press coverage of everything dramatic and horrible that happens in the world, no wonder anxiety disorders continue to escalate.
Though occasional boughts of anxiety are normal, you might be one of the millions suffering from anxiety or continual anxious feelings, what can you do about it. The standard response from the medical profession is get on meds – all of which have many side effects, including addiction. And, therapy is recommended. Talk therapy is the norm for most therapist, but too often standard or CBT – Cognitive Behavioral therapy – does not work in cases of anxiety.
There are other non-invasive treatments for anxiety along with the use of supplements that can assist in decreasing those feelings that overwhelm you and interfere with your sleep and well-being.
Though the current thought is that anxiety disorders are not curable, I beg to differ. Anxiety is common when something stressful happens in your life. It occurs, typically, after some ‘anxiety producing’ event or a series of events. That does not mean it is incurable. However, it does mean that as long as you are alive on this planet, you will be subject to stressful events – occurrences that are unexpected and come out of left field for you. That would cause stress and naturally some anxiety. It is when anxiety continues, long after the event ceases, that becomes the problem.
The medical profession seems to blame so much on genetics – but your genes are NOT your destiny. It is more likely the environment you were raised in that bring out anxiety. For example, if a parent was always anxious, you would have learned that being anxious was how to handle issues. Much like getting angry at everything and acting out can be ‘inherited’ from a parent who acts that way.
There are other outside influences that can make you anxious. Too much caffeine, substance abuse and some medications have the side effect of anxiety (those can include some anti-depressants). There are also medical conditions that can mimic anxiety disorders – such as heart, lung and thyroid conditions.
Of course, a history of trauma, abuse, even a chronic physical condition, or being a caretaker for a seriously ill relative can increase your likelihood of developing anxiety.
Outside of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy (which does not always work in these cases), what can you do.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Make sure you are not ingesting substance that are anxiety producing, i.e., caffeine, too much sugar, alcohol and other substances, medications, or any other foods that evoke anxiety for you. For example, you may have an allergy to nuts or a sensitivity to gluten – be mindful that what you put into your gut does affect your mental health.
- Do you watch a lot of tv, are you on your computer and get the latest newsfeeds? This does produce anxiety. Give yourself a break from the news. Stop watching the murder shows or being on your phone an hour before bedtime. Now, I realize how impossible this has become. But, if you must watch – no games. They are also an addiction and the blue light from the screens prevent decent and restorative sleep – adding to anxiety. Instead, consider reading. Yes, the old fashion reading a book or even a magazine. You will be amazed at how differently you feel. Minimize the news watching. It is typically all bad news anyway and, for the most part, you will find that if you watch once a week, nothing much has changed
- Sleep – yes the restorative power of sleep is amazing. How many of us get a 7 to 8 hour nights rest regularly.? How many of us wake up raring to go in the morning and not groggy as we haven’t had restorative sleep? If you are one of those who do not sleep well, consider making changes suggested in 1 & 2 above. Also, a dark, cool and quiet room are part of good sleep hygiene. When you have a restful sleep, a lot of anxiety can disappear. If you snore, you might consider seeing your doctor for sleep study. Sleep apnea, which is becoming more and more common, has many negative side effects – including increased dementia. Sleep issues should be taken seriously. If it is once a week, that is okay But, if it is daily, you would benefit from a medical consult on this. And, alcohol before bed is not a cure- all. Alcohol will turn to sugar later and wake you up.
There is more, of course, lots more, but that will wait till next post.
In good mental, physical and emotional health.