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Anxiety today

Anxiety is one of the most common feelings in America today. More than 30 million people in America experience some form of anxiety each year. Women are twice as likely as men to develop anxious or stressful feelings which typically strike in young adulthood. The median age of daily anxiety onset occurs at 24 years of age, but children and adolescents can also experience daily anxiety.

Anxiety is not fun for the millions of people who experience it. For some it can be a sense of apprehensive or uneasiness of mind - or worrisome thoughts and tension (and sometimes panicky feelings) - about the ordinary stresses associated with everyday routine life events and activities. For others it may be an undesired sense of uneasiness that may be accompanied with self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it. An anxiety sufferer may anticipate something worse even though there is little reason to expect it.

Anxiety costs billions of dollars in the U.S. alone in direct and indirect cost annually. One survey found that people experiencing anxiety feelings make more trips to their health care provider than the general population.

Stress is a term widely used in our current fast-paced society. Often the daily demands placed on us build up and accumulate to a point where it becomes challenging to cope. Job pressure, family arguments, financial pressures, deadlines, etc. are common examples of "stressors." It can be almost anything which creates a disturbance, including something physical or emotional.

Medical help for anxiety

Many people suffer from more serious mental disorders, such as phobias, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, cognitive dysfunction, neuropsychiatric problems, etc. Most OTC medications are NOT indicated for the treatment of any of these or other serious mental disorders. See your health professional for any conditions which may require their services.

However, there are two effective forms of psychotherapy that are used to treat anxiety - behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy tries to change actions through techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing whereby slow, deep breaths are taken to reduce anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches people to understand their thinking patterns so they can react differently to the situations that cause them anxiety. Psychotherapy in the form of biofeedback, or short-term individual counseling, has sometimes proven successful.

An increase in physical exercise also appears helpful. Many people find that daily leisurely walks markedly reduced symptoms, probably due to the know stress reduction effects of exercise.

Tips for anxiety and stress

The single most important thing you should know about anxiety and panicky feelings is that real relief is there for you. But you need to help yourself by tak9ing advantage of the information and programs that are available.

Life Style suggestions for dealing with anxiety

Everyone needs adequate rest. Research has demonstrated that if human beings don't get enough sleep physical as well as psychological distress may eventually occur. This would include fatigue, daytime sleepiness, concentration difficulty, anxiety, panicky feelings and other unwanted feelings. Ideally, everyone should attempt to achieve a sleep cycle of seven to eight hours.


Self-Talk Therapy Plan

Another way to help control these emotions is by "filtering" them in a beneficial manner. This technique, known as cognitive therapy, is a deceptively simple, powerful self-help technique for handling these kinds of emotional feelings. The process, pioneered by Aaron Beck, M.D., involves becoming aware of our negative thoughts and feelings by writing them down and then taking a rational look to see if they are really true or somehow illogical. Here are seven quick and easy self-talk steps:

Step 1: Write everything negative down. The act of writing automatically puts some distance between you and your negative thought. Jotting things down provides perspective and helps people detect distorted thinking more easily. If you are in a situation where you just can't put pen to paper, consider saying things out loud.

 Step 2: Identify the upsetting event. What's really bothering you?

 Step 3: Identify your negative emotions.

 Step 4: Identify the negative thoughts that accompany your negative emotions.

 Step 5: Identify distorted thinking and substitute rational responses.

 Step 6: Reconsider your upset and despondent feelings. Are you still heading for an emotional tailspin? Probably not.

 Step 7: Plan corrective action.

Nothing replaces a positive, healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, daily walks in nature, and a healthy diet. The rapid pace of our lives often keeps us from taking the time to really take care of ourselves. Caring for ourselves helps to keep our bodies healthy and maximizes the mind and body's inherent healing potential.

Exercise Ideas

Exercise is for everyone. According to Andrew Weil, M.D., in his book Spontaneous Healing even the more severe forms of anxiety can often be treated with something as simple as breathing exercises. By gradually changing the tone of the involuntary system, it allows deep, internal relaxation that promotes emotional healing, he says. Regular exercise is also important and relaxation training can be very helpful.

Numerous studies have show that lack of physical activity is a risk factor for health problems. Overall, the results show health concerns are almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people than in those who are more active. The best exercises to strengthen your overall health are aerobic - brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. Regular aerobic exercise (at least 30 minutes, three to four times per week) reduces one's chances of becoming overweight or developing other health problems. In addition, your overall health, including sinus and respiratory health, becomes stronger through regular exercise.

A two-part program of strength training and aerobic exercise is best to help optimize healthy respiratory function. Strength training builds a larger muscalature, which burns more calories and helps to keep weight down, which is important to reduce health risk. Aerobic exercise strengthens the respiratory system and benefits the system by speeding up your metabolism. But when you exercise, build slowly. Do what you can handle to start with, but regardless of how long your exercise, make it fairly intense.

There is no reason to wait to start leading a healthy life, eating a satisfying diet, and optimizing nutrition. Exercise leads to greater support for a healthy outlook and more energy - a great incentive for everyone!

Diet and nutrition choices

Healthy Diet - Changing the way you eat will change the way you feel. The right roods can lower the riskes for potential health problems while also promoting longevity and overall health. Choose to eat right by eliminating problematic foods and increasing your daily intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. By following simple guidelines for lifestyle, diet and nutrition - by changing a few habits and getting the right nutrients - you can protect your health from potential problems. Every person should adopt four simple diet rules:

  1. Reduce saturated animal fats. The simplest way to do this is to consume fewer dairy products, less red meat, and fewer processed meats like ham, bacon, and bologna, and hydrogenated fats.
  2. Consume fewer processed carbohydrates like processed cereals, breads bagels, crackers, cakes, cookies, or anything containing white flour.
  3. Avoid diet sodas and colas. Many people believe soft drinks help them maintain their weight. But sodas can make a person's bones brittle because they have a high phosphoric acid content, and phosphoric acid literally leaches calcium out of the bones.
  4. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black teas, and caffeine-laced soft drinks.

It may be easier for you to follow these recommendations if you follow a modified Mediterranean diet, a diet usually heavy on olive oil and vegetables and low on saturated animal fats. This diet includes foods such as fish and nuts that are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, olive oil (a source of monounsaturated fats), and loads of fresh fruits and vegetables. Meat is used only to flavor sauce, and onions and garlic are prominent components. This diet can help your body deal more efficiently with the impact of stress and anxiety.

Whole (unprocessed) foods are rich in the nutrients needed to fight destructive free radicals, promote skin and tissue health, repair bones, muscles and tendons, and promote regularity. In addition, being more nutrient-dense, whole foods are more filling and decrease the likelihood of overeating and subsequent weight gain. Whole foods also put less overall stress on the body because they are more easily digested and contain fewer toxic substances than processed foods.

Today there are so many things you can do about anxiety disorders to help you live a fuller, more active life. So don't suffer needlessly. Learn all you can about anxiety and stress. You don't have to miss out anymore.

For More Information

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Office of Communications and Public Liaison

6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8184, MSC 9663

Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

General Inquiries: (301) 443-4513


Anxiety Disorders Association of America

8730 Georgia Ave., Suite 600

Silver Springs, MD 20910

(204) 485-1001

 Freedom fro Fear

308 Seaview Avenue 

Staten Island, NY 10305

(718) 351-1717

 Obsessive Compulsive (OC) Foundation

337 Notch Hill Road

North Branford, CT 06471

(203) 315-2190

 American Psychiatric Association

1400 K Street, NW

Washington, DC 20005

(888) 357-7924

 American Psychological Association

750 1st Street, NE

Washington, DC 20002-4242

(800) 374-2721 or (202) 336-5510

 Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy

305 7th Avenue, 16th floor

New York, NY 10001-6008

(212) 647-1890

 National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

Colonial Place Three 2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22201

(800) 950-NAMI (6264) or (703) 524-7600

 National Mental Health Association (NMHA)

2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor

Alexandria, VA 22311

(800) 969-6642 or (703) 524-5959

 National Center for PTSD U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

116D VA Medical and Regional ooice Center 215 N. Main St.

White River Junction, VT 05009

(802) 296-6300



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