Is constant worrying making it hard for you to deal with everyday life? Do you find yourself “keyed up,” on edge, irritable or tense? Do you have trouble concentrating?1 If so, you may be dealing with general anxiety disorder.
The good news? Anxiety is a real, treatable disorder, and you can learn how to manage your symptoms so your symptoms stop managing you.
How Anxiety Affects Your Body
Some anxiety is normal, even healthy. It’s the “fight or flight” response you have when something new, unexpected, or traumatic happens, and it triggers an energy boost for your body so you can cope.
Your body reacts to anxiety by:
- Making your heart beat faster
- Breathing quickly
- Tensing your muscles
- Turning off digestion2
When you have an anxiety disorder, your brain constantly tells your body to go into panic mode even when there’s no real threat around. This puts stress on your system, and can lead to issues like:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches and pains1
- Heart disease2
Treating Your Anxiety
The first step to reducing your anxiety is to talk to a healthcare professional so you can find the best plan for your life. There are several options for treating anxiety:
Stress management – Check in with yourself to be sure you’re getting the basics:
- Plenty of rest
- Good nutrition
- Relaxation techniques
Ask for help from your support system—family, friends, a partner—if you’re having trouble finding time to take care of you.
Therapy – Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps you figure out what’s at the root of your anxiety and take back control of your thoughts and redirect them, so you can change the patterns that cause anxious feelings.4
Medication – Medication can make a big difference for people dealing with anxiety. The two most common choices are anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. These treatments can also come with side effects3, so talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Harvard Medical School
- National Institute of Mental Health
- American Psychological Association