Many of us are familiar with the feeling of anxiety, especially ahead of important occasions. But those are usually one-offs, like a first date or a medical procedure. When that feeling of anxiety turns chronic and happens after specific triggers, it becomes a psychiatric disorder.

The Lancet estimates that about 76.2 million people worldwide have anxiety disorders – more than before due to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. [1] this makes it more essential than ever that countries employ strong mental health support systems to aid people’s psychological well-being. But you can’t get treatment without first getting a diagnosis.

If you suspect you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, here are 5 signs to watch out for.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions. It’s different from simple fear or nervousness, as it actively hinders your ability to function normally. There are often triggers (conscious or otherwise) that cause these feelings of panic and dread, and you cannot control your emotional response.

You may feel anxiety prior to a job interview or a significant test. Your anxiety may even be a positive response to a hazardous situation. But when that anxiety becomes chronic – or regularly triggered by some stimulus – and interferes with your daily life, that indicates a deeper underlying condition. [2]

Types of anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorders share common symptoms and manifestations, but emerge from different triggers. Some types of anxiety disorders include [3]:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder: This is a persistent feeling of unease or dread that interferes with your daily life. You may experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time, which affects your ability to function.
  • Phobias: Phobias emerge from a specific trigger, such as social situations (social anxiety), objects, or even other people.
  • Panic disorder: If a person suffers several panic attacks over a short period of time, they are diagnosed with a panic disorder.

Signs of an anxiety disorder

There are several symptoms of an anxiety disorder, which vary depending on the type of condition a person has. But here are 5 common ones that manifest in people. [4]

#1 – Feelings of panic or unease

A person suffering from anxiety will consistently and regularly feel sudden, intense panic or unease. There is usually a trigger, whether the person is aware of the trigger or not. 

For example, a person with generalised anxiety may feel triggered by their academic classes and tests. A person with social phobia may feel panicked at the thought of attending a wedding or presenting in front of their classmates and professor.

While on-off occurrences of panic and unease are normal in humans, persistent and uncontrollable panic is a sign of a genuine psychiatric issue.

A person suffering from anxiety will consistently and regularly feel sudden, intense panic or unease

#2 – Obsessive or intrusive thoughts

Intrusive thoughts tend to come out of nowhere, appearing unprompted in our minds. They may be related to the situation at hand, or they may be related to a previous experience that you suddenly remember. Intrusive thoughts tend to focus on violent or otherwise socially unacceptable concepts.

A person suffering from intrusive thoughts may get the sudden impulse to break a glass when they see one. That intrusive thought then triggers or adds to anxiety, since they recognise the wrongness of the concept and fear that they might act on it. [5]

#3 – Breathing and heart issues

Shortness of breath is a common sign of anxiety and may be a signal of an oncoming panic attack. A person suffering an anxiety attack may feel they are unable to breathe, as if their chest and lungs are constricted. In most cases it is harmless and will lift as soon as the anxiety passes.

Difficulty breathing leads to less oxygen in our bloodstream, which triggers an increased heartrate as your heart tries to pump more blood to your organs. This may also cause some chest pain and sweating. [6]

Shortness of breath is a common sign of anxiety, and may be a signal of an oncoming panic attack

#4 – Inability to calm down

For neurotypical persons, when they experience anxiety, they are often able to calm themselves down and mitigate the feeling. However, for those suffering an anxiety disorder, they are unable to regulate their breathing and lower their heartrate because the feeling is so intense and persistent.

Persons suffering an anxiety attack cannot simply “calm down” and feel better in a few minutes. The feeling of anxiety will persist, often even after the trigger has been removed or addressed.

#5 – Frequent dizziness and nausea

Shortness of breath and rapid heartbeats often lead to dizziness due to the lack of oxygen in your blood. People feel dizzy for a variety of reasons – dehydration or sleep deprivation, for example – but if your dizziness is paired with a strong feeling of unease or dread, that’s often a sign of anxiety.

Meanwhile, that fear may also trigger nausea. Your brain is experiencing a high level of stress, which affects many systems in your body – including your digestive system. You may feel like vomiting or like you’ve bloated, and you may even experience a stomach ache or acid reflux. [7]

Diagnosing anxiety

If you experience a combination of these symptoms over an extended period of time, there is a high chance you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. Speak to your healthcare provider and request that they refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your general practitioner may first attempt to rule out a physiological cause, such as a virus or bacterium.

A psychiatrist or psychologist will use specialised tests and assessment tools to diagnose your disorder. They may interview you closely and examine your symptoms to determine your diagnosis. It is especially important to emphasise the detriment your symptoms have on your daily life. [8]

Managing your anxiety

There are several strategies you can take to manage and mitigate your anxiety. Some involve self-coping mechanisms such as yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques. Adjusting your diet and exercise routines may also improve your symptoms. And of course, your psychiatrist may prescribe you medication to medically address your condition. [9]

Anxiety may affect your quality of life and ability to function, but you can take steps so it does not prevent you from living your life. If you suspect you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder based on these signs and others, consult your doctor at the soonest possible time. 

REFERENCES

[1] www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02143-7/fulltext
[2] psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders
[3] www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
[4] uhs.umich.edu/anxietypanic#symptoms
[5] adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/unwanted-intrusive-thoughts
[6] www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326831#the-connection
[7] www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/anxiety-nausea#causes
[8] my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders#symptoms-and-causes
[9] adaa.org/tips

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Obesity constitutes an important threat to national and global public health in terms of its prevalence and rising incidence, quality of life, life expectancy, and economic burden [1,2]. In severe obesity, bariatric surgery is the most effective therapeutic option to achieve long-term weight loss and improve the associated comorbidities [3]. This has made Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), sleeve gastrectomy (SG), and adjustable gastric banding the most popular and commonly performed bariatric surgeries [4]. However, a small proportion of patients have also been reported to not reach their optimum goal for weight loss two years after the procedure and very few can fail or regain the weight. While anatomical factors can play a part, behavioural and psychosocial optimizations are regarded as equally important. This includes eating patterns, depression, nutritional factors, and exercise [5,6].

Virtual reality (VR) development and applications have gained wide recognition in medical services by providing solutions to improve patients’ outcomes. This is through patients’ education, improving mental health, and post-operative care, including pain management, physical therapy, and rehabilitation [7,8]. VR is a computer-generated simulation of a real or imagined environment. It can be immersive or non-immersive according to its ability to involve the users [9]. The former has been the focus of many medical applications due to its ability to give the user control of the reproduced environment. Immersive virtual reality (IVR) is usually delivered in a variety of ways and the most popular being head-mounted displays or simply a headset [8].

We aim to provide insight on some of these immersive applications and how they can be included to enhance the patient pathway to optimize outcomes both in the pre- and post-operative period for patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Methods

A systematic search following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) research criteria was conducted from January 2015 to December 2021. PubMed was searched using the following keywords: virtual reality, patient education, anxiety and pain, physical rehabilitation, behavioural support, obesity, eating disorders, body image, and substance cessation.

Thirty-four studies were identified and included in the final manuscript (Figure 1) supporting VR technology across applications that can be applied to bariatric patients’ surgical pathways. The applications were subcategorized into eight different areas of interest, which can help to shape the concept of the virtual ecosystem of bariatric patients (Figure 2).

Results

VR applications have been described in the eight domains mentioned below, which can be applied in relation to patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Virtual Reality Patient Education (VR PE)

VR education has been introduced to make the information more meaningful and patient-centred by enabling its users to be fully immersed in an interactive simulated and self-controllable visual and auditory experience [10]. In a study by Pandrangi et al. [11], VR was found to be a useful informative tool in educating patients about their aneurysmal disease through interactive reconstructed three-dimensional (3D) images of their aortic anatomy. The majority of the patients in this study agreed that VR 3D anatomy helped to improve their understanding and therefore felt more engaged in their healthcare decisions [11].

VR PE has also played a role in improving the stress levels of patients undergoing radiotherapy (RT) by improving clarity and levels of education about their treatment. A randomized study on 60 patients with chest malignancy showed that patients who received VR PE showed significant improvement in comprehension and reduction in stress and anxiety levels when compared to standard education [12]. Another study on 43 patients utilized VR PE by creating 3D images of patients in RT sessions and what to expect during the treatment. After the VR PE, 95% of patients agreed that they had a clear understanding of how they would feel when lying on the treatment table. Also, patients’ understanding of the location and the size of their cancer had significantly improved from around 50% to 95% with an increase in the orientation of side effects of the treatment by 30% post-VR PE [13].

In bariatric surgery, there is no currently reported data on the applications of VR education. However, the potential impact of VR PE can be numerous across the weight management pathway. Preoperatively, bariatric patients could potentially utilize VR to be virtually educated about different surgical options versus conservative treatment through enhanced 3D interactive images. This could be seen to help in better understanding of their options including surgery and thereby enhancing informed consent and overall education.

Post-operatively, VR-enhanced education could provide an option for daily or weekly updates on lifestyle changes, which could help in improving compliance. Importantly, this can be done from the comfort of the patient’s home with the added advantage of reducing costs and time for travelling to attend appointments.

Anxiety Related to Surgery

A significant amount of anxiety related to surgery is due to the fear and uncertainty of the outcomes. Its psychological and physical effects are associated with longer recovery, an increase in the need for analgesia, anaesthetic requirement, and unfavourable behavioural and emotional outcomes [14]. Conventional methods of mitigation of preoperative anxiety are pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies [15].

Recently, with promising results in the management of anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, VR has been successfully applied to reduce anxiety related to surgery in different surgical settings [16]. Chan et al. [17] tested the effect of VR relaxing meditation and breathing exercises on 108 women undergoing hysteroscopy. This showed that anxiety scores were significantly reduced after the 10 minutes of VR content, which helped in reducing pain and stress related to surgery. Also, around 85% of patients reported the VR experience as good or excellent [17].

In minimally invasive abdominal surgery, Haisley et al. [18] used VR meditation as a perioperative tool with favourable results in reducing pain, anxiety, and nausea and around 75% of patients stated that they would use the VR again [18]. Similarly, VR meditation showed favourable results in reducing pain and anxiety in burns and complex pain [19,20].

The rationale for using VR to improve anxiety preoperatively is by immersing patients in a fully simulated relaxing environment with the objective of placing them in a more empowered state to deal with the triggers of their anxiety [21]. This could be applied to the bariatric population before surgery. It is to be seen from future studies whether these expected results can be validated in bariatric patients. There is therefore the potential for obtaining better evidence for patient satisfaction and reducing stress related to bariatric surgery.

Pain Management

Successful pain management is a key element of the post-operative course as it shortens recovery and reduces risks of cardiovascular and pulmonary complications. In bariatric surgery, pain management is essential to enhance recovery and prompt early mobilization, which helps to decrease venous thromboembolism, prevent other events, and reduce hospitalization [22]. Therefore, a multimodal approach through regional and systematic analgesia is considered the most effective method as it minimizes opiate use, which can induce obstructive sleep apnoea, which is more liable due to the co-morbidities of obesity [23].

Applications of VR in pain management in other surgical patients have been reported to have numerous benefits. This includes a reduction in pain scores after cardiac, knee, abdominal, and spinal surgery with overall patients reporting the use of VR as a pleasant experience and stating that they would use it again on further occasions [18,24,25]. VR pain management follows a similar concept to VR and anxiety meditation by immersing patients in a simulated relaxing environment, which can help to divert the patient's feelings from their pain. This could be playing a major role in bariatric patients' management of pain and anxiety related to surgery with proper application integration in their peri-operative pathway.

Optimizing Pulmonary Function for Surgery

Respiratory function in morbidly obese patients follows a restrictive pattern with up to 77% suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea [26]. This increases the risk of impaired post-operative oxygenation and other respiratory complications in the form of atelectasis. Optimization of pulmonary function for surgery includes smoking cessation, breathing exercises, including inspiratory muscle training, incentive spirometry, and optimization of chronic disease, for example, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (CPOD) [27].

With the increase of applications of VR in different rehabilitation programmes, VR has been aiding in pulmonary exercises in both healthy individuals and COPD patients [28,29]. VR pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to enable home-based exercises in the form of a 3D avatar instructor in an immersive relaxing environment to guide patients through breathing exercises based on traditional rehabilitation programmes [30]. In COPD patients, VR-based respiratory rehabilitation has shown to have similar outcomes when compared to a conventional programme with the additional benefit of performing the exercises from home. Moreover, VR showed enrichment of experience by also decreasing the levels of anxiety during exercise and therefore optimizing cardiorespiratory function [31].

Physical Fitness Applications

Pre- and post-operative physical activity (PA) is regarded as an important element in enhancing recovery after surgery as it improves physical state, responses to stress from surgery, and improvement of cardiovascular function, thereby reducing complications [32].

In the bariatric population, a structured exercise regime is considered a feasible and effective adjunct therapy that benefits cardiometabolic parameters when compared to those with bariatric surgery alone [33]. Exercise before surgery has shown to be beneficial in reducing body weight, improving blood pressure, general fitness, quality of life satisfaction, and decreasing fasting plasma insulin and blood lipid. Exercise after bariatric surgery has been shown to preserve dynamic muscle strength and contribute to maintaining weight loss after calorie restriction [34].

Although PA promotion is recognized as an important component of weight loss programmes, there are no current evidence-based or standardized bariatric surgery-specific PA guidelines [35]. Reported exercise regimes ranged from walking, aquatic, resistance, and supervised exercises. Also, adherence to exercise before and after surgery plays a big role in physical rehabilitation. As in the bariatric population, many can face barriers in the form of low confidence levels in their abilities and not feeling comfortable going to the gym due to real and perceived discrimination. Therefore, many come up with the belief of not having time to participate in sports [36].

VR rehabilitation has gained much recognition from dedicated platforms like treadmills, diving, cycling simulators, and medically oriented VR rehabilitation. These studies have demonstrated increased participation of users utilizing VR exercise programmes [37]. VR rehabilitation and exercise have shown to be effective in healthy individuals and different medical rehabilitations. It was reported to be equivalent and sometimes more superior to standard physiotherapy in cerebral palsy, spinal injury, and stroke [38]. In healthy individuals, VR exercise was demonstrated to increase adherence and enjoyment with positive physiological effects during exercise [39]. It was also reported that obese children performed better on treadmills while using VR than traditional walking, as VR allowed more distraction and less discomfort [40].

VR exercises during rehabilitation can therefore potentially play a major role in pre- and post-operative PA improvement in bariatric patients. Given the feasibility and the safety of these home-based devices, it can decrease the load on healthcare services, as most of the standard pre-operative programmes are resource intensive.

Virtual Reality and Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Eating and depressive disorders significantly affect the bariatric population with a prevalence of 24% and 17%, respectively. Both can lead to less post-operative weight loss, weight regains, impaired general psychology, and quality of life [41]. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is recommended for patients undergoing weight loss surgery (WLS). It has been shown to improve self-monitoring and control eating behaviours with significant improvement in depression and anxiety and therefore better results [42].

Over the last decades, VR-enhanced cognitive therapy (VRCBT) has been embraced for being a novel way to deliver CBT. The technique creates an interactive 3D environment to simulate successful goal achievement. This helps patients to overcome memories of previous real-life experiences through emotionally guided virtual exposure [43]. VRCBT has shown favourable results in anxiety, phobias, social anxiety disorders, and depression [21]. Moreover, randomized trials have shown VRCBT to be superior to conventional CBT in managing eating disorders and binge eating [44,45]. This helped in weight reduction therapy and adding adherence to programmes [46].

There is a paucity of evidence of the use of VR in the overweight and morbidly obese population. Phelan et al. [47] tested the use of a VR environment on 15 overweight adults for four weeks with the main hypothesis to evaluate the effect of the simulated scenes on behavioural skills related to eating habits. Although they showed no difference in weight loss among participants, VR intervention was more preferred by patients over traditional weight loss programmes [47]. Manzoni et al. [45] tested the efficacy of an enhanced VRCBT module aimed to unlock the negative memory of the body and modify its behavioural and emotional behaviour. A total of 163 female morbidly obese inpatients were randomly assigned to three CBT-based treatments: a standard behavioural inpatient programme (SBP), SBP plus standard CBT, and SBP plus VR-enhanced CBT. The study showed that patients in the VR group had a greater probability of maintaining or improving weight loss at one-year follow-up than SBP patients and, to a lesser extent, CBT patients. On the contrary, participants who received only a behavioural programme regained on average most of the weight they had lost [45].

VRCBT can therefore be a valuable tool in managing behavioural disorders related to obesity in patients undergoing WLS. This can help in maintaining weight loss and improving well-being and quality of life.

Virtual Reality and Body Image (VRBI)

Body image disorders (BIDs) are linked to various psychological and physical sequelae of impaired functions, for instance, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and poor quality of life [48]. Among the bariatric population, body image dissatisfaction is associated with binge eating, depression, and lower self-esteem, with one in five bariatric patients identifying appearance as their main motive for surgery [49]. Improvement in body image perception after successful surgery has been linked to a decrease in compulsive eating syndromes, reduction in body mass index (BMI), and improvement in self-esteem and intimate relationships [50].

A contrary aspect of body image after surgery includes the issue of excess skin with massive weight reduction. This has been linked to poor body satisfaction, dermatitis and skin fold irritations, and impairment in daily activities and exercise. In turn, this leads 85% of bariatric patients to seek body-contouring surgery (BCS) to elevate this problem [51].

The application of VR has been used to improve BID. This is by creating a 3D simulation of their bodies in the form of avatars through an immersive environment that reproduces situations related to their body image concerns. Through multisensory simulations, it produces an empowered feeling of ownership of one’s body, which consequently promotes a healthier body image and behaviour [52]. A recent systematic review of six studies utilizing avatars and VR in weight loss programmes showed that avatar-based interventions were effective in both short- and mid-term weight loss. Also, the technology helped to improve exercise adherence in the long term [53]. VR was also used to assess the BID of 78 women with different BMIs by exposing the participants to different versions of avatars: slimmer, same weight, and overweight. The study showed that women with higher BMI reported more BID on their replicated avatar and showed satisfaction with their slimmer version. This finding indicated that VR may serve as a novel tool for measuring BID [54].

Potentially, VR avatars can also play a role in body image perception in bariatric patients. It can be integrated to improve BIDs by recreating slimmer avatars, which could promote adherence to weight loss and exercise programmes.

Smoking and Alcohol

While the increase in BMI is a risk factor for adverse outcomes related to surgical procedures, smoking's hazardous effects range from increased risks of pulmonary complications, wound infection, venous thromboembolism, and slower recovery. Similarly, alcohol consumption before surgery can lead to increased unfavourable outcomes [55]. Smoking and other substance abuse are recommended to be stopped four to six weeks pre-operatively [56]. VR has been tested as a potential solution to stop smoking and alcohol usage by inducing an advanced cue exposure therapy (CET), which was superior to static images or videos used in conventical settings [57]. Also, VR exposure therapy (VRET) has been reported to be more effective if combined with conventional cognitive behaviour therapy in relation to stopping smoking [58].

Although its applications are still under development and validation, VRET in smoking and alcohol cessation could play an important role in optimizing patients undergoing bariatric surgery as a part of a virtual reality surgical care package (VRSCP).

Discussion

Patients who are candidates for WLS usually undergo variable preparatory phase and post-operative optimization to improve both short- and long-term results. Standard care models usually involve education and follow-up through multidisciplinary teams with reflection on the patient's progress through educational sessions and follow-up plans.

While VR applications are being investigated in many surgical and medical specialities, their application to patients undergoing WLS is limited and not yet explored. The favourable applications of VR in patient education, anxiety and pain management, preoperative optimization, and behavioural and physiological treatment can be packaged as a surgical care bundle making bariatric patients' journey more satisfactory with the potential for improved outcomes.

Despite its promising applications, VR is still an emerging technology and has its own initial drawbacks to gaining traction in the healthcare system. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the obvious cost of the systems and the absence of adequate clinical validation could play a major role in limiting widespread adoption. Further delays in adoption would likely be seen within the education of both healthcare providers and their patients, particularly on the application and utilization of the systems. The technology is still seen to be clumsy to wear and will need educational support to use [59].

With the increased investments and advancement in VR technology, education of healthcare professionals and further studies demonstrating evidence of improved outcomes, VR will play a major role in surgical patients and more specifically bariatric patients. This could be even refined as a personalized surgical care package. This will contribute to a fully virtual ecosystem in health care.



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Anxiety is everywhere and touches every family. Way back in 2018, Barnes & Noble reported that sales of books about anxiety were surging, and that was before anyone had ever heard of masking or social distancing. In the years since the pandemic, the need for concrete tools to combat uneasiness, apprehension and excessive nervousness has only become more critical, with an estimated 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety, especially among women and young adults.

"The mental health crisis is real," says Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. "The clinic I work at has experienced the longest wait list we've ever seen in our 25-year history." Dr. Hendriksen adds that the average age of the patients she sees is skewing younger and younger, with many college students now seeking her help.

While anxiety is best treated with counseling and medication, self-help books can also be beneficial when it comes to complementing traditional treatment, and they can also provide some good ways to stop feeling anxious while you wait for an opening with a therapist. "A strength of self-help books is their versatility," says Joshua Magee, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of Wellness Path Therapy. "You can use them rather inexpensively at your own pace, which can be useful for people who aren't currently working with a therapist. It's just important to check that they are rooted in scientific evidence," he adds.

Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, recommends anxiety books to patients for their useful tools: "Self-monitoring, practicing breathing and mindfulness exercises you can do at home — people can see what works and what doesn't, and they become a really useful way to extend the work of therapy to the time in-between," she says.

“You might come away from a good self-help book with a changed attitude, different behavior, fresh motivation or something else shiny and new to test-drive,” says Dr. Hendriksen. She says that a solid anxiety self-help book meets three criteria:

  • It articulates a feeling or experience you've carried for years but couldn’t identify.
  • It shrinks shame and isolation.
  • It encourages you to move forward.

    How we chose the best books about anxiety:

    We went straight to the experts for this one: We asked seven mental health professionals to name the books that they recommend most to their clients — and that they have found helpful themselves. Our health editors have vetted that these book recommendations are all based on reliable scientific research.

    Our top picks:

    If you're struggling with anxiety, read our full reviews of the top recommendations below; you can find more information about what to look for in books about anxiety, as well as coping mechanisms that work and when to see a professional about anxiety, at the bottom of this guide.

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Best Overall Anxiety Book

New Harbinger Publications

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook

Best for Dealing With Stress

The Stress-Proof Brain

Best for Perfectionists

Free Press

Never Good Enough: How to Use Perfectionism to Your Advantage Without Letting it Ruin Your Life

Best for Sensitive People

The Highly Sensitive Person

Best for a Loud Negative Inner Voice

Chronicle Prism

Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Discover the Life You've Always Wanted

Best for Catastrophizers

The Worry Trick

Best Practical Tools for Anxiety

The Anxiety Toolkit

Best for People Who Experience Panic Attacks

Mindfulness Workbook for Panic Attacks: Healing Strategies to Reduce Anxiety, Manage Panic and Live in the Moment

Best for People Who Experience Negative Thoughts

New Harbinger Publications

The Negative Thoughts Workbook: CBT Skills to Overcome the Repetitive Worry, Shame and Rumination That Drive Anxiety and Depression

Best for Anxiety About Health

Freedom from Health Anxiety: Understand and Overcome Obsessive Worry about Your Health or Someone Else’s and Find Peace of Mind

Best for People Pleasers

Please Yourself: How to Stop People-Pleasing and Transform the Way You Live

Best for Chronic Worriers

When Panic Attacks

Best to Find Balance

Better Than Perfect

Best for Learning Mindfulness

Full Catastrophe Living

Best for People With OCD

Getting Over OCD

Anxiety is a psychological state in which you may feel worried, tense and have physical signs such as increased heart rate or sweating, according to the American Psychological Association.

You might feel anxious about something specific in the future, or feel a more diffuse sense of anxiety. "For some people it's a very physical feeling, and in some people it shows up as being unable to sleep," while others still avoid engaging in activities about which they have a lot of anxiety, says Debra Kissen, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., chief executive officer for LightOnAnxiety CBT Treatment Centers and the co-author of four books on anxiety, including the upcoming Overcoming Parental Anxiety: Rewire Your Brain to Worry Less and Enjoy Parenting More. "It's important to know how it shows up in you so you can recognize it in yourself."

What is the best coping mechanism for anxiety?

There is no single best way — different things work for different people, says Kissen. "When you're on anxiety, it's a fight-flight-freeze response, because your brain is thinking 'danger!'" she says. One helpful way to cope in the moment is to do something with your body, such as take a brisk walk, jump up and down or dance, "to do something to relieve the energy," she says.

Another good coping mechanism for anxiety is to took around to reassure yourself that you are no in actual danger, even though it feels that way. "Is there a lion coming? Are my pants on fire? Is there an immediate danger?" Kissen asks hypothetically. "If nothing is actually occurring, then that's a false alarm." Realizing that can give you space from the emotion.

Once you've recognized that you're feeling anxiety, you might try repeating a helpful mantra, such as "this is a false alarm," or "this feels uncomfortable but I am teaching my brain I can handle this." Kissen advises having your helpful mantra handy as an in-the-moment reminder.

Breathing slowly and deliberately can also help dial down some of the physical reaction to anxiety, say experts, as can focusing on fidget toys.

Can reading cure anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion, not something you'd want to "cure," but self-help books can be calming when your anxiety feels excessive.

Not only are research-based solutions useful in reducing anxiety, it's comforting to have a manual handy when you're having a moment. A reputable book on anxiety "is like having an on-demand therapist that can offer you instant support," says Kissen. But unless your anxiety is pretty mild, it's unlikely a book on its own will be enough to really get it under control, she says. "It's really hard to change on your own," she says. "It's hard to be the coach and the one who needs the coaching."

Still, as part of a treatment plan, it's a great tool. "A book is an additional tool in the toolbox, especially when an anxious brain is driving the moment, because it can offer a more balanced perspective," says Kissen.

What to look for in books about anxiety

Ask yourself if you fit into one of the targeted audiences of the books on our list. For example, have you been told you're a perfectionist? That you're "too sensitive"? Note: If you choose a workbook, order a hard copy (not an audiobook) and don't forget to grab a pencil, because a number of these reads require note-taking and have actionable exercises.

When to see a doctor about anxiety

It's time to see a doctor about anxiety when it is getting in the way of your happiness, or if you're not functioning well. "If you're not meeting your life requirements at work or at school or in terms of taking care of the kids," it is time to consider getting help, says Kissen.

It may also be that you're not enjoying your life as much as you might if anxiety were less of a factor. "If your anxiety is causing you distress, or if you're anxious more days than not or more stuck in the anxiety than engaging in your life, why not have all the tools in the toolbox at your disposal?" she says.

"If you find a book you really like, it's a good idea to bring it to your therapist," she says, so you can focus on ways to alleviate your anxiety.

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For the first time, the US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that all US doctors should screen adults 19 to 64 for anxiety, even without symptoms. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health struggles people face. The draft decision references a systematic review highlighting the benefits and effectiveness of mental health screenings. Early intervention for anxiety can have a signifiant impact on a person's ability to manage symptoms and function. 

The proposal is open to public comment until Oct. 17, so there's no firm date that the recommendation could be implemented. In the meantime, here's how to manage anxiety each day.

Read More6 Best Teas for Anxiety and Stress for 2022

Can you really get rid of anxiety? 

You might have come here to learn how to get rid of anxiety fast. However, anxiety isn't an old item you can just toss to the curb. If you live with anxiety, you might be dealing with a diagnosable mental health condition that will likely be a part of your life long-term. It can take many forms -- like social anxiety or a phobia. In any case, learning how to deal with anxiety means figuring out how anxiety affects you personally.  

To find out if you're living with generalized anxiety disorder, the most common type of anxiety, Mental Health America has a free online screening tool that you can use. 

Whether you want to figure out how to get rid of social anxiety, GAD, panic attacks, phobias or another way that anxiety is impacting your life, it starts with learning your triggers. That means identifying your symptoms and what causes them, so let's start there. 

woman practicing meditation at home

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What are the symptoms of anxiety? 

The symptoms of anxiety depend on the type of anxiety affecting you. The five most common types are:

  • GAD
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Social anxiety disorder

If you want to learn how to get rid of anxiety, it's worth doing some research to find out what type could be affecting you and the symptoms it causes. Talking to a doctor can help, too. 

That said, since GAD is the most common form of anxiety and many of its symptoms apply to other anxiety disorders, we look at those here. Before we dive in, you should know that anxiety looks different for everyone. Symptoms vary and it can be challenging to tell if you're living with a diagnosable anxiety disorder or whether you just need new tools for dealing with stress. 

Ultimately, knowing what symptoms to look for can help you decide if it's time to talk to your doctor. Anxiety can manifest both physically and mentally so let's look at both. 

Physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Achy or tense muscles

Psychological symptoms of anxiety:

  • A pervasive sense of worry that you can't control
  • The consistent feeling that something bad will happen
  • Overthinking and imagining the worst outcome
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Decision-making problems

What is a panic attack?

Panic disorder is the kind of anxiety that causes panic attacks, which are marked by the sudden onset of symptoms like:

  • A racing heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flashes

Panic attacks happen quickly but usually go away within five to 20 minutes

Keep reading: How to Stop and Prevent an Anxiety Attack 

How to get rid of anxiety in the moment 

While we can't promise to show you how to get rid of anxiety for good, we can equip you with grounding techniques. Having these tools at the ready can help you through challenging times, so let's dig in. 

Acknowledge you are feeling anxious

Naming something can make it feel less scary. When you're having a panic attack, knowing that it is a panic attack -- and that it will pass -- can go a long way.

Similarly, if you live with GAD, knowing that what you're feeling is part of a health condition, not a reflection of how the world actually is, can help you feel more grounded. Talking to someone about what you're feeling, whether it's a friend or a doctor, can also help to provide anxiety relief. 

Practice breathing exercises 

Breathing is one of the most powerful calming tools. Between the added oxygen and the stimulation for your parasympathetic nervous system, breathing can work wonders. Plus, breathing techniques are free and you can do them anywhere. 

As you learn how to deal with anxiety, it can be helpful to memorize some breathing exercises you can do anytime, anywhere. Slow, diaphragmatic breathing is a great place to start. Putting your hands on your stomach can help you learn this skill, but you don't necessarily need to do that if you're in public. 

Read more: 5 Easy Breathing Exercises to Relieve Stress and Relax 

Woman concentrating on breathing exercises at home

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Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method while anxious

Grounding yourself makes a big difference when you're feeling anxious. To do that, you can use the 5-4-3-2-1 method:

  • Look around and spot five individual things.
  • Touch four things near you. 
  • Acknowledge three things you can hear. 
  • Identify two smells.
  • Check in with your mouth for one thing you can taste.

By tapping into your senses, you're bringing yourself back to the present moment and anchoring yourself there. Don't be afraid to walk around to get all 5-4-3-2-1 things named. Take your time and use this as a way to help yourself relax.

Distract yourself 

It's easier said than done, but distraction can be a useful tool. Try to reposition your mind from a place of worry to focusing on something you enjoy. Go for a walk somewhere nice, listen to music you love, show your pet some love, get yourself a beverage to enjoy, chat with a coworker -- whatever works to distract your mind.  

Journal through situations

Studies show that journaling can help as you're learning how to calm anxiety. You could freewrite, jotting down whatever comes to your mind. Getting it out of your head and down the page can help with letting things go. Or you might try to journal about what you're grateful for since that can shift your mind to more positive thoughts. 

More tips to help

If you're still hunting for how to deal with anxiety when it affects you, we have some more calming life hacks you can try out. 

How do I know if I need treatment for my anxiety? 

Even though there's no immediate fix to get rid of anxiety once and for all, you can learn how to help anxiety when it impacts you. The tools we just laid out can build the arsenal you can turn to whenever you need anxiety relief.

Be mindful of how often you turn to that toolbox. Most of us deal with anxious feelings from time to time. If you're leaning on these tools to get you through the day on a regular basis, you may benefit from professional help.

Signs treatment may help your anxiety:

  • Your anxiety is a daily obstacle 
  • You've stopped doing things you used to enjoy because you feel anxious
  • You worry through most of every day
  • You continually feel physically unwell
  • You always assume the worst outcome
  • You experience panic attacks

Getting relief could mean talk therapy, medication or something else. But if all of this sounded familiar, know that help is waiting. Talk to your primary care provider or find a therapist in your area or online. Mental health experts are your best bet if you want to figure out how to treat anxiety that continually affects you. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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There is no easy way to live with anxiety. You are not the only person suffering from anxiety, millions of others are looking for ways to find relief as well. Controlling anxiety requires time and effort – it is not something that can be accomplished overnight. 

Nevertheless, you can incorporate strategies for fighting anxiety into your daily routine. Those who suffer from anxiety right now, or who experience anxiety often enough to need immediate relief, may benefit from the following strategies for reducing anxiety. Visit www.healthline.com to learn more about the ways hemp can treat anxiety.

Control Your Breathing

Poor breathing habits are often linked to severe anxiety symptoms. Several of the most upsetting symptoms of anxiety are associated with poor breathing habits among men and women with anxiety. It’s not what you think – controlling your breathing is the solution. You should not try to take deeper breaths if you don’t feel able to take a deep breath. Instead, you should slow down and reduce your breathing.

Get Therapy

Talking to someone you trust and like is another very effective technique. Don’t hide your anxiety – tell them what you’re feeling and why you feel that way. Your mind is kept off your symptoms by talking to nice, empathetic people, while friends and family are supportive. A friend can also provide you with peace of mind if you’re suffering from a panic attack because if something were to go wrong, someone would be able to care for you.

Exercise

Adrenaline floods your body during times of anxiety. A great way to improve your anxiety is to use that adrenaline to do aerobic exercise. The intensity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the nature of your anxiety, can be significantly reduced with aerobic activity, such as light jogging or even fast walking.

Find A Way To Relax

Your life is already filled with relaxing things. Consider making a list of the things that you enjoy and that help you relax so that you can refer to it when you feel anxious. To stop anxiety symptoms before they escalate, turn to those activities when you notice your anxiety rising. Consider taking a warm bath if you find it relaxing. It’s easy to relax when you’re in the tub, lighting a few candles or adding some soothing scents. Getting a massage or bathing, skipping stones at the park, or taking a bath can all help relieve anxiety sooner rather than later. Click here to learn more tips for relaxing.

Your mood and anxiety can be greatly affected by music. There is, however, more to selecting songs than just liking them. Listen to music that reflects what you want to feel, but also makes sure it represents what you want to accomplish. The way you feel and the mood you are in can be directly affected by music that is happy or relaxing.

Despite the fact that people often find it relaxing to listen to angry music during times of anger or sad music during times of sadness, such music will only serve to intensify negative emotions. You won’t feel better if you do that. Listening to music helps you calm down when you’re trying to stop anxiety.

Consider Medicinal Cannabis

Some sufferers look for more natural alternatives to prescription anxiety medications because they’re frustrated with side effects. These alternatives don’t cause them to feel unwell, sap their energy, or flatten out their emotions. 

Medicinal marijuana for anxiety can offer relief with manageable or even nonexistent side effects for some patients. Cannabis oil can be vaporized, taken orally or through a sublingual spray, and edible treats can also be consumed to consume it; it doesn’t necessarily have to be smoked.

Cannabis may reduce panic attacks and treat generalized anxiety disorder in those who benefit from it. People suffering from social anxiety may benefit from it since it enables them to leave their houses and interact with others on a daily basis. 

As a result of chronic pain or cancer, marijuana can also reduce secondary anxiety. Performance-related anxiety is said to be eliminated by working out while high for many athletes. You can get this resource from hifi farms to help with anxiety symptoms.

Try Essential Oils

Many conditions, including anxiety, have been treated with essential oils, which are extracts from plants. Serotonin, a feel-good chemical released by essential oils, is activated in certain brain areas by essential oils. Anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms are eased, mood is improved, and sleep quality is enhanced with their use.

Anxiety symptoms can be alleviated through diffuser use, inhalation, or topical application. Using an essential oil diffuser will allow you to fill your space with the desired scent when diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend (mixed oils). 

Essential oils are inhaled by deeply inhaling them straight from the bottle or through the use of a diffuser pad (sometimes leather or felt) or lava beads attached to a bracelet, necklace, or keychain. Drops of essential oil can also be placed in your hands, rubbed together, and then cupped and inhaled deeply.

It is also possible to apply essential oils directly to the skin in areas such as behind your ears, the back of the neck, the wrists, over your heart, over your carotid artery, and over your heart. A healthy adult’s recommended dilution level is 2%, which means mixing one teaspoon of a carrier oil with two drops of an essential oil. (Examples of carrier oils include olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil.) All essential oils should be diluted, but individuals decide how much and if they wish to do so. In addition, it is strongly recommended that young children, babies, the elderly, and those who are unhealthy use stronger dilutions.

Control Your Thoughts

There is no such thing as an anxiety attack out of nowhere. A common reason why people experience anxiety attacks is because their minds spiral into negative thoughts. When you learn to dismiss triggers that cause anxiety and keep these thoughts at bay, you can sometimes control this anxiety. Many people find it difficult to follow through on this. However, you can try a number of different strategies that may be effective.

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On September 10, the globe commemorates World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). As the name implies, the day is dedicated to raising awareness about suicide prevention all across the world. World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was created in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Suicide deaths account for 1.4% of all fatalities globally. The majority of suicides are caused by mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, psychosis, and other trauma-related disorders.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety is a natural component of life. However, for persons suffering from an anxiety illness, it begins to interfere with daily tasks such as job performance, academics, and relationships. Anxiety disorders are classified into different kinds, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobia-related disorders. Here are some coping strategies for anxiety and depression:

Communicate;
Share your emotions with whomever you trust. Allowing your feelings to be expressed to a trusted friend, companion, or family member will help you feel calmer on the inside and provide you with clarity of thinking. Holding down emotions can lead to increased mental tension and overthinking.

Self-care;
If you are feeling worried, take a break from whatever you are doing to relax. When you are overwhelmed with worried thoughts, do breathing techniques and drink water. This will assist you in allowing your energy to settle. Go for a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. Incorporating yoga and meditation into your daily routine might also help you deal with anxiety.

Engage in physical activity;
Being physically active and healthy will assist you to direct your energy in the proper way, allowing you to cope with your worried thoughts.

Dietary Supplements;
A well-balanced diet may do wonders for both your physical and emotional well-being. The necessary minerals, vitamins, and other ingredients will guarantee that your brain functions properly, allowing you to deal with stress more effectively.

Seek Professional Advice;
Seek quick professional treatment if your anxiety is interfering with your everyday life. Professional assistance can help you overcome your problems by utilising available therapies and drugs (if necessary).

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Last Updated: September 10, 2022, 09:50 IST

Here are a few tips that can help you deal with anxiety and depression. (Representative image: Shutterstock)

Here are a few tips that can help you deal with anxiety and depression. (Representative image: Shutterstock)

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is observed on September 10 worldwide. As the name suggests, the day is dedicated to the cause of creating awareness on preventing suicides across the globe. WSPD was established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in association with the World Health Organization (WHO). The global suicide mortality rate amounts to 1.4% of all deaths worldwide. Most of the suicide cases are related to psychiatric diseases including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, psychosis and other trauma-related disorders.

ALSO READ: World Suicide Prevention Day 2022: History, Significance, and Theme

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. But for people with an anxiety disorder, it starts interfering with daily basic activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.

Here are a few tips that can help you deal with anxiety and depression:

  1. Communicate
    Communicate your feelings to anyone you trust. Letting the emotions out to a trusted friend, companion or family member will allow you to feel calmer on the inside and give you clarity of thought. Holding the emotions back can lead to more mental stress and overthinking.
  2. Self-care
    If you feel anxious, take time off from whatever you are doing to calm yourself down. Practice breathing exercises and drink water whenever you are flooded with thoughts that make you anxious. This will help you allow to calm your energies. Go walk out for a walk in fresh air to refresh your mind. Inducting yoga and meditation into your routine can also help you in dealing with anxiety.
  3. Be physically active
    Being physically active and fit will allow you to channelise energy in the right direction, helping you to cope with the thoughts that make you anxious.
  4. Nutritious Diet
    A nutritious diet can help wonders not just for your physical but also your mental health. The right kind of nutrients, vitamins and other elements will ensure smooth functioning of your brain, equipping you better to deal with stress.
  5. Seek Professional Help
    If your anxiety is making it difficult for you to continue with your daily life, seek immediate professional help. With available therapies and medication (if needed), professional help can enable you to win over the issues that are bothering you.

Read all the Latest Lifestyle News and Breaking News here

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If you have panic disorder and feel like you need a stronger treatment than psychotherapy, the National Institute of Mental Health recommends consulting with a psychiatrist about getting a prescription for antidepressants. While these medications can be effective in treating panic disorders, you may feel uncomfortable side effects such as nausea or headaches. If you want to avoid these side effects and prefer a more natural approach, then CBD may be a treatment to check out.

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is one of the two main active ingredients found in marijuana (per Medical News Today). Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) though, CBD is not psychoactive. While you won't feel a "high" from CBD, there are several possible benefits CBD may offer that scientists are currently studying, from easing muscle inflammation to decreasing anxiety.

According to Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, current research shows that when taken in low to moderate doses, CBD can reduce feelings of anxiety and panic. There's also a pending phase three clinical trial that will be examining the effect different dosages of CBD capsules, ranging in increments from 200 mg to 800 mg, can have in treating panic disorder (PD), agoraphobia, as well as generalized and social anxiety disorders. Current Neuropharmacology conducted a brain imaging study on healthy humans taking CBD and found that CBD presented "anti-panic" effects on the parts of the brain that are typically activated during a stress response in patients with PD.

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Women and young people in particular have been affected.

 

Social anxiety in the time of Covid

In 2020, Kerstin had just overcome her social anxiety with therapy. But then came the lockdown. Now she has to practice socializing to overcome her fears all over again.

 

What happens in the body when we’re scared?

No matter if we’re actually in a threatening situation or merely frightened, the same reactions occur in the body every time we’re afraid.

 

Stomachache caused by stress

Children and teens often react to anxiety or stress with physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches. How should parents best handle them?

 

Hypochondria: The fear of being terminally ill
An ache in the stomach or a slight headache are usually nothing to worry about. But for hypochondriacs, such physical symptoms often trigger fears of serious or even terminal illness.

 

Using VR technology to treat anxiety

In therapy to treat anxiety, a very important aspect of successful treatment is called “exposure,” or facing one's fears. Virtual-reality technology offers patients the chance to confront their fears in a safe environment.

 

Hyperventilation: Have we forgotten how to breathe?

“Just take a deep breath.” It’s well-intentioned advice for stress that many have heard. And it's true: Breathing can be an effective tool in reducing stress. But, “how” is important.

 

Fitness exercise: Stretches in a sitting position

Fitness instructor Aurelia Damann shows you how you can stretch the back of your legs in almost any location.

 

 

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MANILA, Philippines – Even our modern-day heroes need to rest.

Being a teacher in the Philippines is hard. Most public and private teachers can say that they’re overworked, underpaid, tired to the bone, and stressed, especially with the many adjustments they had to make in the pandemic. Now that face-to-face is back, another set of stressors are here – daily commutes, poor public transportation, bumper-to-bumper traffic, the threat of COVID-19, and a bigger lack of time for the self.

It’s a tough but noble job, and many teachers feel like they don’t get enough credit for the amount of effort, energy, and selflessness they pour into their classes and students. During the pandemic, this feeling – coupled with mental, physical, and emotional struggles brought about by the profession – is a recipe for burnout disaster.

This is why it is so important to take care of yourself, teachers! If you won’t, who will?

Pandemic problems, face-to-face fears

Since March 2020, teachers were constantly adjusting, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. When the lockdown first hit, teachers had to completely change their work setup, from having their own desk at school to having to cram everything into their homes. Classrooms became Zoom rooms, and learning modules and teaching styles had to be reworked. Teachers had to find a way to interact and engage with their students virtually.

Because of this, this took an emotional toll on teachers. There was no longer a distinct separation between work and personal life – work-life balance was moot, and compartmentalizing one’s office life and home life was no longer possible. Both aspects merged, and the lines between rest and grind were blurred.

Mentally, many teachers suffered, licensed counselor from Empath Mary Grace Orden, who is also a teacher, told Rappler. “Like many of us, they too reached survival mode. It was usually, ‘Let’s do whatever works.’ For instance, if they try out a teaching style that they may not be comfortable with, but if they find it effective, they will still use it,” Orden said. Despite all these challenges, teachers still found ways to power through. But at the expense of what?

It’s a mixed bag of reactions, now that face-to-face classes are back. Many teachers are excited to return to school, but many are also anxious about adjusting to another new set-up. It’s just like coming back to a routine you’ve forgotten long ago – teachers are trying to remember how they used to do it. It is another transition, with a brand-new set of factors to consider.

“One of the changes is having to be more mindful about the health protocols that they need to practice while having classes, such as wearing face masks properly, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from students and fellow teachers. Some teachers even have to bring their own microphones to make their voices more audible while wearing their face masks,” Orden said.

Plus, the threat of the virus is still very real. Luckily, most teachers are required by the schools to complete their vaccine shots. However, many students are no longer required to get their vaccine before going to school because of many reasons, like family, beliefs, culture, health, and more. Teachers are still scared to get the virus or pass it down to their students.

The fear of leaving one’s comfort zone is also valid. Since teachers had to work remotely for two years, many have already grown comfortable at home, no longer having to commute, brave traffic, or wake up at the crack of dawn to dress up and squeeze in breakfast before leaving.

“Now, they all have to experience the perils of riding mass transportation and heavy traffic, which can induce a lot of stress even before holding their own classes. The rainy season also makes it more difficult for teachers and students to go home as a lot of areas get flooded,” Orden said.

“When students can’t go home, some teachers have to stay longer in school to watch over them. The longer working hours and inconveniences of commuting are non-teaching concerns that add up to the stress of being a teacher,” she added.

What about the fresh grads who just joined the teaching field in the pandemic? These new teachers had no prior experience of working onsite, so teaching in school for the first time can be very anxiety-inducing. “Teachers can also experience social anxiety, especially when they have been cooped up at home for years and have very limited social interaction,” Orden said.

Apart from needing to handle social situations well, teachers also need to take care of their students’ emotional needs when they are at school. “They are seen as ‘second parents’ and ‘leaders’ by students and because of this, they can feel pressured to perform well and adjust as quickly as possible,” Orden aded.

On the bright side, finally having in-person interactions with students has made teaching itself a lot easier and more fulfilling for many teachers again. Teachers can now see if their students are fully absorbing the lessons and can adjust lessons intuitively, unlike in a remote set-up. Also, goodbye WiFi problems and technical difficulties!

But Orden cites another con – teachers now have to deal with the misbehaviors and concerns of students on the spot, and this takes some time to juggle alongside teaching.

“Now, they can’t simply have a short timeout by turning off their video and muting their microphone; their full presence and attention are needed from the moment they step into the school until they end their classes,” Orden said. Sorry, no off-cam option anymore.

Burnout is real

Let’s not forget that many teachers are also mothers, sisters, daughters, and managers of their households. During the pandemic, many chose to take care of their families alone without any kasambahays. “Now that we are transitioning, many teachers who are also parents are still trying to balance caring for their children and family with adjusting to an in-person work environment,” Orden said. Even those who have set up their own side businesses in the pandemic will now have to learn how to manage their time between both jobs, and maybe have to lessen their efforts in the business.

There is a lot on a teacher’s plate, and getting overwhelmed is inevitable, especially when teachers try to take on everything on their own. This is why, according to Orden, teachers should be more aware of when to ask for help.

“The pandemic taught us, most especially for teachers, to be resourceful and use whatever is available that we forget about asking for help. Teachers should be more aware if they already need help in a given task or if they need someone to assist in terms of their feelings and thoughts,” she said.

Teachers must remind themselves that their job is not an easy one, and they shouldn’t undermine its taxing effects on their physical and mental well-being. It’s impossible to run on empty, so understand that it is normal (and even encouraged) to take a break, sleep, or feel like you want to take a pause especially when you are exhausted. 

What are the signs that burnout is imminent? Orden listed down a few symptoms that you need to watch out for:

  • If you still feel tired after sleeping
  • Prone to headaches
  • Internal reluctance or dread to do your tasks or even look at your teaching materials
  • Drastic changes in sleeping patterns (either you can’t fall asleep or sleep too much)
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Mood changes (more irritable, lethargic, etc.)

If you’re a teacher and have been experiencing at least two of these symptoms, it’s time to check in with your mental health. You may also notice a quiet build-up of tension in your body – someone who is always rushing to meet deadlines and attend to students’ needs and administrative concerns may unconsciously be doing shallow breathing and suffering from tensed muscles all the time.

“When we are not that mindful of the tension build-up in our bodies, we are unable to address them properly and this can result in feeling perpetually stressed out,” Orden said. Taking the time to stop, assess, breathe, and be aware of your current state of being is key in preventing more tension. Then you can proceed to caring for yourself at that moment.

Self-care is the best care: Tips, tricks, and affirmations

First of all, self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care simply means setting aside some time to check in and take care of yourself, even if you feel like you are “too busy” and have “no time” to do so. If you think about it, practicing self-care is an investment – caring for yourself now will reap many benefits later. Like in medicine, prevention is better than a cure.

“Research shows that self-care promotes a positive health outcome and can help us develop further our resilience, have a longer life, and better management of stressful situations,” Orden said. Self-care is a simple reminder for you to pause, listen to yourself, and make some time to take care of your needs. Who else deserves this the most than our hardworking, selfless teachers?

“Self-care also affects the way we deal with and handle people. Physically, people can identify a person who is taking care of him/herself. Kids, for example, can see/feel if their teacher is tired or sleepless or unprepared. They can also observe if someone is having a bad day,” Orden said. A good teacher always want to put their best self forward for ther kids. Happy teacher, happy students!

Even if self-care is already on your agenda, moments of fatigue and burnout will still come. When these down-in-the-dumps moments happen, always try to remember your WHY. Regularly go back to your reason for teaching. Embrace your purpose.

“Ask yourself, what made you teach in the first place? What made you enter this profession? Because these answers are our guides on how to push through the most,” Orden said. She also recommended a choosing self-affirmation phrase every week that you can recite to yourself, e.g. “Things will be great, I am limitless, I am a work in progress, I choose to smile, I choose to be thankful.” Put it on a Post-it or as your phone background!

During weeks where you’ve been extra on-the-go and frazzled, Orden suggests to incorporate simple mindfulness or breathing exercises. These can take up to five minutes only – you can find an audio or video guide from the internet on how to do simple deep breathing exercises. Headspace is also an easy meditation app to start with. With these practices, it’s not the length or intensity of each session that’s important – just focus on doing it and doing it consistently. You can also consult a therapist if you feel like you need to talk through your emotions and find specific ways to insert more calm in your life.

Remember that not everything will work for you, and that’s okay. “You need to check what works for you when including self-care in your daily routine. Try to think of a doable self-care daily routine for you, whether you only have a 5-, 10-, or 30-minute break,” Orden said. Maybe all you can fit in is a 5-minute deep breathing exercise, a 10-minute phone call with a loved one, or a 30-minute walk around your campus today – either one is already a great way to get grounded and care for yourself!

Also, don’t forget to find things that make you feel good and do them during an uninterrupted timeslot you set for yourself every day. If you are into skin care, put away your phone and mindfully massage in each product onto your skin slowly, distraction-free. Invest time to take a long shower. Treat yourself to your favorite cheat meals on the weekend. Take your dog out on a walk and leave behind your phone. Spend the night playing video games. Basically, do what makes you happy! (And don’t feel guilty for doing so).

“The key is to devote time for relaxation and recreation within the day, every day, no matter how busy you are,” Orden said. Show up for yourself the same way you show up for your students daily. As they say, it is difficult to pour from an empty cup. Your students need you just as much as you need yourself, so take the time to care yourself – it’s the best investment you’ll ever make, and the best lesson you can teach your students. Rappler.com

To book a consultation with a psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist, you can do so on social enterprise Empath’s website.

Gracie Orden is a licensed counselor and teacher. She has been in the school counseling profession for twelve years. She finished her Masters degree in Counseling, specializing in School Counseling, at De La Salle University. She also completed her academic units for her Doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology, specializing in Clinical Psychology, from the same university. She deals with child to adult clients both in school and in private practice. During her free time, she likes to travel and go hiking. 

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Shaheen Bhatt has always been vocal about her mental health struggles. In the past, she has talked about depression and anxiety, and how she has had to deal with particularly dark and harrowing episodes ever since she was a child.

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On her mental health platform ‘Here Comes The Sun’, the writer had a deep conversation with singer-songwriter Ananya Birla, wherein they discussed their panic attack episodes and how they dealt with them in the past.

Shaheen, who is the older sister of actor Alia Bhatt, said that she had not had a panic attack episode in over seven years, and then she had one recently, which made her feel like she was going to die.

WebMD defines panic attack as involving “sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning”. “People experiencing a panic attack may believe they are dying or going crazy. The fear and terror that a person experiences are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them,” it states.

Shaheen described her experience as somewhat similar. She told Ananya, “I had my first panic attack in seven years, just a month and a half ago. And I had completely forgotten how to deal with them, because I hadn’t had one for so long.”

She added that at one point in her life, she was experiencing panic attacks “really regularly” and she had, therefore, “figured out a system”. “But, this time I was… it completely took me by surprise,” she said of her latest bout.

“The thing with a panic attack is, it feels like you are dying… you don’t realise that it is just panic, or this is just [the] nervous system going into overdrive, which is what it is,” the 33-year-old said.

She told Ananya that when she had her recent panic attack, she managed to remember certain things in order to feel less stressed. “The first thing I do is, I really focus on my breathing. I think most people are really shallow breathers. We breathe into our chest, but what we are supposed to do is diaphragmatic breathing, which is breathing into your stomach.”

She showed how she puts a hand on her stomach and inhales, and fills her body with air; it also helps her focus on something else, besides the triggering panic.

Shaheen went on to explain that she also follows the five-four-three-two-one method, which allows her to use her senses and focus on things around her. “Does that help bring you back into your body?” Ananya enquired, to which Shaheen said, “It helps ground me, I feel like it is an anchoring thing. Also, it arrests the loop [of panic] in my head.”

The writer also said that she reminds herself that it is just a panic attack. The affirmations she uses are: “I am not dying, Worst case, I am going to look a little dumb. Maybe, I am just hyperventilating.” She added that she worries she might throw up or pass out in front of everybody, but “it is not the end of the world”.

Arouba Kabir, a mental health counselor and the founder of Enso Wellness told indianexpress.com that panic attacks are usually “fear responses” that are abrupt, intense, and highly-disruptive to the individual’s capacity to function in response to the fear.

“They can occur on their own, or as part of various disordered states such as social anxiety, generalised anxiety, specific phobia, relationship issues, chronic illness, an interview or an exam,” she explained.

The expert said presentations of a panic attack may vary among Individuals and also for the same person, depending on the stressors. “The most defining sign is a gripping fear. It may leave you feeling drained out and exhausted. You can also feel you are losing control, your heart starts racing and you feel a tightness in your chest, which can cause some difficulty in breathing. You can also experience hot or cold flashes with a sense of numbness, nausea, headache, abdominal cramping or unconsciousness,” Kabir told this outlet.

She suggested that calming oneself is the mainstay during any situation involving a “sensitised emotional state”. “This can be achieved by deep breathing for a count of four, holding for five seconds and exhaling slowly in the next six seconds. This helps slow your breathing and heart rate, creating a feeling of calm.”

Kabir also suggested ‘mindfulness’, wherein you can sit/lay down comfortably, close your eyes and feel your own self, your body. “Try to cut off from the stressors so as to lower the heart rate. It can also be practised by visualisation/imagery where one can think of things that bring them peace. Positive self-talk can help transport you to a safe mental state. Even putting ice or cold items on your wrist pulse can sometimes help.”

Concurring with her, Dr Rituparna Ghosh, consultant psychology, Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai said the ways to work on dealing with panic attacks include:

– Lifestyle modification with regular exercises
Healthy diet and sleep
– Therapy to change the way you perceive a challenging situation and find new positive adaptive ways to work on dealing with challenges
– Medication in intense attacks
Mindfulness exercises
– Progressive muscle relaxation techniques
– Nurturing and investing on your day to day self care

Kabir said it is important to consult a doctor and seek therapy if they experience such episodes frequently.

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Anxiety can arise when a person is concerned that something bad will occur. It is a term that describes a feeling of fear or worry that is frequently associated with a particular issue or concern.

Anxiety can be a stress reaction. It frequently includes physical symptoms as well as feelings of fear and worry. Anxiety can also occur when there is no identifiable stressor.

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There are strategies you can use if you suffer from anxiety to avoid feeling consumed by it. Here are some quick fixes to help you deal with the situation right away, as well as long-term solutions to a recurring problem.

Breathe: There are methods for reducing anxiety.

Do you know how your heart beats faster in response to a stressful situation? Perhaps you get sweaty palms when confronted with a daunting task or event.

When we are stressed, our bodies natural reaction is anxiety.

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If you haven’t already identified your triggers, consider starting a new job, meeting your partner’s family, or giving a presentation in front of a large group of people. Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps in coping with and managing anxiety attacks.

Identifying your triggers may take some time and self-reflection. Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to try to reduce or eliminate your anxiety.

Also Read: Panic attack vs Anxiety Attack: How do they differ from one another?

5 easy ways to deal with anxiety

If your anxiety is sporadic and interfering with your ability to focus or complete tasks, some quick natural remedies may help you regain control of the situation.

If your anxiety is focused on a specific situation, such as being concerned about an upcoming event, you may notice that the symptoms are brief and usually subside after the anticipated event occurs.

Examine your thought pattern

Negative thoughts can take root in your mind and distort your perception of the gravity of the situation. One method is to confront your fears, ask if they’re true, and see where you can regain control.

Deep, focused breathing is recommended.

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Anxious people should try breathing in for at least four counts and out for at least four counts for five minutes. When breathing is more evenly spaced, the heart rate returns to normal.

The 4-7-8 technique has also been shown to reduce anxiety.

Make use of aromatherapy

Natural scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing, whether in essential oil form, incense, or a candle.

Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain brain receptors, potentially reducing anxiety.

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Take a walk or practice yoga for 15 minutes.

Walking away from a stressful situation is sometimes the best way to calm down. Taking some time to focus on your body rather than your mind may help you feel less anxious.

Getting some quick exercise can help you feel better and relax.

Make a list of your thoughts.

Writing down what’s making you anxious gets it out of your head and can help you feel less overwhelmed.

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These relaxation techniques are especially beneficial for people who regularly experience anxiety. In a pinch, they might also get along with someone who has a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)!

Quick coping methods should not be your only treatment option if you suspect you have GAD. You’ll want to devise long-term strategies to help alleviate and even prevent symptoms.

Discover and master your triggers

Triggers can be identified on your own or with the help of a therapist. Caffeine, alcohol, and smoking are all well-known triggers. They are also capable of being subtle at times.

Long-term issues, such as financial or work-related issues, may take time to resolve — is it a deadline, a person, or the situation? This may necessitate additional assistance, such as from therapy or friends.

When you’ve identified your trigger, try to limit your exposure as much as possible if you can’t limit it, such as if it’s due to a stressful work environment that you can’t change right now, other coping strategies may help.

Do a daily or weekly meditation.

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While it takes some practice to achieve success, regular mindful meditation can eventually help you train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise.

If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try yoga or walking meditation first. Many free guided meditations are available on apps such as InsightTimer to help you get started.

Maintain a journal

It can be beneficial to establish a daily habit of writing down your thoughts and emotions in a journal. For some, the act of writing down thoughts can be calming.

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It can, however, assist you in keeping track of when you experience anxiety, how it makes you feel, and what kinds of things trigger it.

Socialize

Although everyone is different and some people experience social anxiety, spending regular time with friends and family may help you manage your anxiety.

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Socialization can help relieve stress, promote laughter and togetherness, and reduce loneliness. According to research by trusted Sources, social connectedness can help you become more resilient to stress in the long run.

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Some people love being in the company of others and can’t wait to be around a lot of people. Yet this may be a different story for people living with social anxiety disorder.

If you have social anxiety, or social phobia, interacting with people on a social level doesn’t always come naturally. In fact, it can feel downright frightening.

Social anxiety disorder may cause self-consciousness and excessive worry and fear about social situations. You may fear being judged or humiliated in front of others.

In addition, socializing can invoke physical symptoms, such as:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • rapid heart rate
  • nausea
  • blushing
  • shortness of breath

Social anxiety can affect your interactions at school or work, but it doesn’t have to dominate your life. Treatment can help you manage the condition and become more comfortable in social situations.

Here’s a look at a few ways to treat social anxiety.

Social anxiety is a type of anxiety condition that makes people feel anxious or fearful in social settings.

People who have social anxiety disorder might have a hard time meeting new people, talking to them, and possibly attending social events. Though they may know these are feelings of anxiety, they may still have difficulty overcoming them.

This type of disorder can be debilitating on a persistent basis and affect one’s ability to work, study, and create close relationships with non-family members.

We looked at different social anxiety disorder treatments and chose the best options based on what’s been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and this disorder in particular.

We also considered how many options each method offered, its availability in different markets, pricing, and whether insurance is accepted.

Benefits of therapy

There are a few benefits of therapy. The main one is that you can discuss your thoughts and feelings with your therapist, and they can help you discover the root cause of your social anxiety.

Other benefits of therapy can include:

  • creating a plan to help overcome your anxiety
  • having a safe space to express fears
  • developing skills to acknowledge your triggers
  • building healthier habits to deal with anxiety

Psychotherapy

If your social anxiety seems too overwhelming to handle, it’s important to speak with a mental health professional. Psychotherapy is an effective treatment on its own and might be even more effective when combined with medication.

In psychotherapy, you’ll learn techniques to change negative thoughts about yourself. This type of therapy can help you get to the root of your anxiety.

Through role-playing and other methods, you’ll learn how to improve your interactions in social settings, which can help build your confidence.

Teletherapy

It’s been found that teletherapy, or therapy delivered remotely, can benefit those with social anxiety disorder who might delay or avoid in-person therapy. This can be common due to anxiety over commuting to appointments and meeting someone new in person, even if their role is a mental health professional.

Having that extra space and time can actually improve outcomes for people living with social anxiety since their anxiety isn’t heightened by being in the physical presence of a therapist. Trust can build faster when patients feel more comfortable and are willing to share their concerns, which teletherapy can help with. Plus, there’s a higher level of anonymity and confidentiality since patients can be alone in their homes or private space.

Benefits of teletherapy for people with social anxiety disorder include:

  • Convenience: there’s no commute or traffic, and you’re not running into people on your way to therapy. You also don’t need to worry about what you’re wearing or how you look, which you may focus on and feel stressed about for in-person meetings.
  • Privacy: you’re able to stay in the comfort of your own home with no need to explain to anyone why you’re in therapy.
  • Accessibility: it can often be stressful to find the right therapist who you connect well with. Teletherapy can take some of that stress away since you’re not limited to a specific geographic location and can choose from a wider pool of professionals.

Some of our top teletherapy platforms include:

Support groups

You may want to join a local or online support group for social anxiety. Here, you’ll connect with people who understand what you’re going through because they’re managing the same condition.

In a support group, you can share your experiences, learn coping techniques from others, and perhaps role-play together.

Speaking with a group and relating your fears is also excellent practice for interacting with others in social settings.

Realize you’re not alone

Support groups are a great reminder that you’re not the only one living with this type of phobia. Social settings and interactions are a source of anxiety and fear for lots of people.

If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing or being judged by people, keep in mind that others feel the same way. Remembering this can help as you navigate social situations.

Because social anxiety can be a severe, ongoing disorder, a mental health professional may prescribe medication to help you cope.

There are several types of medication for social anxiety disorder, and your doctor can help you determine which one might be right for you.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are often the first-line treatment for social anxiety and depression.

These medications — which include paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft) — work by increasing the level of serotonin in your brain.

Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter, a molecule that helps send messages throughout your body. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and anxiety.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

If an SSRI doesn’t improve social anxiety, your doctor may prescribe another type of antidepressant to improve symptoms.

This may be an SNRI such as:

These medications also signal changes in brain chemistry to help improve mood and anxiety.

Antidepressants that work well in one person may not work well in another. That’s why your doctor may need to prescribe different medications until you find one that works for your individual symptoms.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

If your social anxiety is severe enough that you experience panic attacks, your doctor may prescribe you MAOIs. These are antidepressants that help prevent panic attacks.

MAOIs also work with chemicals in your brain to stop monoamine oxidase, which is the removal of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals that elevate your mood

Some popular forms of this drug are phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate), which have been shown to help with panic attacks.

However, due to side effects, MAOIs are rarely prescribed anymore and have generally been replaced by antidepressants.

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are commonly used to reduce high blood pressure but are sometimes prescribed to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, sweating, or tremors.

These medications — which include propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin) — block the stimulating effects of adrenaline. Beta-blockers are also an option for performance anxiety, which is a type of social anxiety.

Anti-anxiety medication

Anti-anxiety medications are also prescribed for social anxiety. Some of these medications include:

These medications tend to work quickly, but they can be habit-forming or have a sedative effect. For this reason, your doctor may not prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the long term.

Anti-anxiety medications shouldn’t be the first-line treatment for anxiety disorders. However, doctors also know that some people won’t adequately respond to other types of treatment.

The decision to use these medications will need to be made after a discussion with your doctor, weighing how they may benefit you against the chance of dependence.

If your social anxiety isn’t severe, there are alternative methods you can take in place of, or in addition to, traditional methods to reduce the amount of anxiety you face when you’re in social situations.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies along with conventional treatment might also reduce anxiety and help you cope with social phobia.

Some alternative therapies to consider include:

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes may also have a positive impact on anxiety in general. If you’re able to reduce your overall anxiety level, it might be easier to cope in social settings.

Getting regular physical activity is one change you can make. Exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that regulate mood and anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

You can also lessen anxiety by knowing your limitations. Having too much on your plate can heighten anxiety, so practice saying no to events you don’t really want to attend and try your best to prioritize rest, relaxation, and self-care.

Avoid or limit caffeine

Caffeinated drinks — such as coffee, tea, and soda — can provide a much-needed pick-me-up. But if you have anxiety, caffeine can make you feel worse, and it might even trigger panic attacks.

If you can’t give up coffee or tea, try to cut back on the amount you consume each day.

Even though up to 400 milligrams per day is safe for healthy adults, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), everyone experiences the effects of caffeine differently.

So, you might need to drink less of it if you’re managing social anxiety.

Practice being social

Practice can be a great weapon against social anxiety.

Rather than fear social settings, ease into these situations with baby steps. Simply avoiding social interactions could potentially worsen anxiety.

You can also practice talking to people. For example, say “Good morning” or offer a compliment to a coworker. This can be as simple as, “I like your hair.”

Also, try to make eye contact when speaking with people. If you’re in a retail store, you can take a small step like asking a sales associate for help.

Prepare for social events

Rather than turn down invitations to all social events, prepare for them in advance. Role-playing and practicing conversation starters is an excellent way to build confidence.

If you’re aware of the guest list, consider the interests of those attending. Maybe someone recently went on vacation or started a new job. If so, prepare a few questions to break the ice and pave the way for a conversation.

Avoid questions with a yes or no answer, though. Remember, the idea is to converse. So, instead of asking, “Did you enjoy your trip to Florida?” ask “What did you like about your trip to Florida?”

In most cases, the other person will open up and get the conversation started. The more you talk, the less anxious you’ll feel, and it’ll be easier to speak with others.

With different types of treatment for social anxiety out there, it can be tough to know exactly which option is the best choice. Above all, it comes down to who you are and what you need.

Your decision should account for factors such as:

  • your lifestyle
  • how long you want the treatment to last
  • how easy it is to implement and stick to the treatment over time
  • cost
  • whether or not insurance is accepted
  • what you’re most comfortable with

If you find that you regularly go out of your way to avoid social situations because of anxiety or fear, you may want to consider seeking help. For instance, if you’ve noticed that your anxiety causes social isolation or big life changes (like dropping out of school or unemployment over a long period of time), it may be time to start seeing a mental health professional.

That said, it’s important to recognize if and when you might need professional help before getting to points like these. Your life can be adversely affected in the long run without getting the treatment you might need.

What is the most effective treatment for social anxiety?

There are many types of effective treatment for social anxiety. One treatment plan isn’t better than the other, mainly because they’re all suited for different types of people and their specific needs and situations.

That said, experts believe that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective. Psychotherapy, teletherapy, support groups, and medication are all great options, too.

It’s best to talk with a mental health professional to explore the best treatment for you.

Can social anxiety be avoided?

You can try to avoid social anxiety, or at least extreme cases of it, by taking gradual, small steps in social situations. You can start with something you can handle relatively well, like seeing a small group of 2 to 4 people in a casual setting and work your way up to tougher scenarios from there.

This can help you build confidence and coping mechanisms to help you mitigate or avoid more severe social anxiety.

Can social anxiety be cured?

With the right mindset, and openness to trying different strategies and lifestyle changes, along with treatments that include professional help, social anxiety can be at least mitigated, if not cured, over time.

Although anxiety and fear in social settings are common, you may feel that you’re alone or that your situation is hopeless. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Treatment can help you overcome your phobia. You can start with home remedies such as exercise and deep breathing.

But if these don’t work, talk with your doctor about prescription medication or counseling. Mental health professionals can help you cope with anxiety and become more sociable.

Visit the American Psychiatric Association website to find a mental health professional in your area.

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The 333 rule is a common and informal technique for coping with anxiety. Its purpose is to help you ground yourself and calm down in a moment where you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed.

The 333 rule involves looking around your current environment and:

  • naming 3 things you see
  • identifying 3 sounds you hear
  • moving or touching 3 things, such as your limbs or external objects

While there is no formal research into the effectiveness of the 333 rule, many people find it to be a helpful and simple technique to handle anxiety. Although it won’t completely get rid of your anxiety, it can be a useful tool to manage it in the moment.

The 333 rule is not a substitute for treatment, no matter how helpful it may be to you or how frequently you use it. We’ll review other methods for coping with anxiety aside from the 333 rule and common treatment options for anxiety and anxiety disorders.

Along with treatments like medication and therapy, you can try other coping techniques for anxiety. These coping techniques can be helpful if:

  • You are in between therapy sessions.
  • You choose not to take medication or cannot take medication.
  • You are looking for additional ways to manage anxiety in the moment.

General coping techniques can include:

  • Take a time-out: Remove yourself from the situation and do something different, like listening to your favorite music or doing some stretching.
  • Minimize alcohol and caffeine intake: Both alcohol and caffeine can make anxiety worse and cause mood shifts.
  • Laugh more: Humor naturally relaxes us.
  • Take care of your body: Make sure to get enough sleep and eat balanced meals.
  • Try mindfulness: Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and the feelings passing through you.
  • Pay attention to your breathing: Use breathwork, which refers to different breathing techniques that can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Meditate: Practice meditation to calm and re-center your body and mind (this activity could include breathwork and mindfulness, but not always).
  • Lower stress: Try other stress reduction exercises like tai chi or yoga.
  • Ease physical tension: Consider trying massage or acupuncture to address physical tension anxiety creates in your body.

Many of these coping strategies may also fall under the lifestyle changes treatment approach for anxiety.

Lifestyle modifications can help you manage anxiety. While these are not the same as medical treatment, they can complement a treatment regimen to reduce the effects of anxiety on your day-to-day life.

Most people feel occasional anxiety — it’s a common part of life. People have temporary anxiety about their work, health concerns, family, or relationships. For example, maybe you get particularly anxious or nervous before a big presentation or event.

When anxiety becomes overwhelming or chronic, it can interfere with your ability to function in daily life and lower your overall quality of life as a result. This can lead to avoiding responsibilities, activities, and people. It can also cause tension at work, school, and home.

If anxiety affects your life to this degree, it may be more than occasional anxious feelings. You may have an anxiety disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common anxiety disorders include:

  • General anxiety disorder (GAD): GAD is a general, persistent feeling of anxiety.
  • Panic disorder: Panic disorder is when you have frequent and recurring panic attacks.
  • Social anxiety: With social anxiety, you may have a strong, persistent fear of being judged or observed by others, which may impair your ability to be in social situations.
  • Phobia-related disorders that involve irrational fear of a specific thing: These include agoraphobia, acrophobia, or claustrophobia.

If you believe you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of an anxiety disorder, it may be time to get help. You’re not alone, and anxiety is very treatable.

While many of the coping strategies mentioned earlier are helpful, they don’t address the underlying cause of anxiety, and they may not be enough to fully treat it.

Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes are considered the gold standard treatment.

Therapy is an effective treatment for many different types of anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, types of therapy that can be helpful for dealing with anxiety include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thought and behavior patterns.
  • Exposure therapy: In exposure therapy, you will be slowly exposed to a feared situation to help the fear response diminish over time.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This type of therapy uses strategies of living in the moment and refraining from judgment, along with behavior change, to cope with anxiety.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT combines CBT techniques with meditation concepts.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This is short-term supportive talk therapy that focuses on resolving interpersonal (or relational) problems.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses bilateral stimulation through eye movements, tapping, or tones to help heal from past experiences.

Medication is typically used along with therapy for the best possible outcome. Commonly prescribed medications for anxiety include:

  • Antidepressants: Healthcare professionals may prescribe certain kinds of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This can include sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Anti-anxiety medications: Anti-anxiety medications may be prescription drugs from the benzodiazepine class, like alprazolam (Xanax).
  • Beta blockers: These can be used for certain situations, like social anxiety. They are blood pressure medications.

Some people with anxiety find a combination of medications works best for them. Always inform your doctor of any other medications you take to prevent adverse drug interactions.

Anxiety can significantly impact your life, especially if it becomes a severe, chronic issue.

The 333 rule for anxiety is an easy technique to remember and use in the moment if something is triggering your anxiety.

It involves looking around your environment to identify three objects and three sounds, then moving three body parts. Many people find this strategy helps focus and ground them when anxiety overwhelms them.

If your anxiety is constant or interfering in multiple areas of your life, you may need more than temporary coping strategies. Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms regularly or with severity, talk with your doctor. They can help connect you with the right mental health resources and figure out an individualized treatment plan that works for you.

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Social anxiety disorder which is commonly termed social phobia can be very challenging for a lot of people. Getting nervous in certain social situations is also quite common for quite a lot of people.

Some of the most common situations people usually face are while speaking at a public function or maybe in front of the entire class. Even a first date can make you face such a situation.

While speaking at such an event you may feel like losing your breath or get nervous and shaky all over the body.

If you feel these regularly, then you need to seek professional assistance to deal with the anxiety.
Here are some ways to deal with the anxiety:

You may feel breathless sometimes when you are hit with anxiety or if you are highly nervous. During such instances, ensure to sit down and comfort yourself. Remember to keep your back straight during this. Keep your body relaxed and start breathing slowly.
Breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds and keep one hand on your belly and the other on the chest.
While breathing let the hand on your belly rise keeping the hand on the chest still.
Hold your breath in for 2 seconds and then slowly let it out through your mouth for 6 seconds.
You will have to repeat this till you feel relaxed.

If you know that you are supposed to face any such situation, make sure you prepare yourself in advance. Keep the above breathing exercise in mind and practice it at the venue before facing the situation.

Prepare some plan on how you address the event. While on it, try to be focused on the person with you rather than the feeling of you being nervous.

If you have trouble facing a larger crowd or even a classroom, try dealing with such situations with a small group of friends or family members.

While addressing people in a large number, keep your focus on them or the topic you are discussing. Keep the thought of you being nervous out of your mind.

Keep your focus on the topic as to what you’ll say next or what the audience will say. Prepare your mind to deal with that. In the beginning, this might not feel much but eventually, things will work out.



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A VR app has been successful in improving the symptoms of five common phobias in a recent trial. Image credit: max-kegfire/Getty Images.
  • Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that can be challenging to treat.
  • A new study trialed the use of a virtual reality-based app to treat 126 people with specific phobias.
  • Using the app reduced average symptoms from moderate to severe to minimal after 6 weeks.

A phobia is a form of anxiety disorder defined by the American Psychological Association as “a persistent and irrational fear of a specific situation, object or activity.”

Common phobias includeacrophobia (a fear of heights), aviophobia (a fear of flying), and arachnophobia (a fear of spiders).

While phobias are relatively common — according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 12.5% of adults in the United States will experience a specific phobia at some time in their lives — they can be challenging to treat.

Exposure therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that aims to expose the person to their fear in a safe environment, is often the first line of treatment for specific phobias. However, exposure therapy can be difficult to access, may cause discomfort, and is associated with high dropout rates.

In a new study from the University of Otago in New Zealand, researchers trialed an app-based virtual reality (VR) system to treat specific phobias.

Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, the results show that the self-guided VR system reduced the severity of symptoms for five different phobias.

The study, a 6-week randomized controlled trial, involved 126 adults living in New Zealand with one of five phobias:

  • fear of flying
  • fear of heights
  • fear of spiders
  • fear of dogs
  • fear of needles.

A further group of people was on a waitlist for treatment.

Participants needed to have access to a smartphone and the internet in order to use the VR app, called oVRcome. The app was paired with a VR headset to allow participants to experience 360-degree virtual environments.

This type of therapy can have important benefits compared to real-life exposure therapy, Dr. John Francis Leader, a psychologist developing a mixed reality therapy room at University College Dublin, told Medical News Today.

“Traditionally, therapeutic work with phobias via exposure therapy required recreating the scene physically. Physically going to a location or having access to a given phobic stimuli can prove challenging from a resource perspective and it can be harder to control the variables,” he said.

The app has six different modules — psychoeducation, relaxation, mindfulness, cognitive techniques, exposure through VR, and relapse prevention — which participants worked through over 6 weeks. Participants could also choose the degree of exposure to their phobia using a library of different VR videos.

To assess changes in symptoms, the researchers used the Severity Measure for Specific Phobia-Adult from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This is a 10-item scale that assesses the severity of specific phobia in adults. Measures include frequency of experiencing moments of sudden terror, feeling anxious, worried or nervous, as well as physical symptoms such as racing heart and tense muscles.

Of the 126 people who started the trial, 109 completed the study at week 6.

The researchers say this suggests the app has high acceptability and could be used to help people who cannot or are reluctant to access in-person exposure therapy. The app is also cost-effective, which means it could be more accessible than other, more expensive forms of treatment.

Study author Dr. Cameron Lacey explains that the “[l]evels of exposure therapy could be tailored to an individual’s needs, which is a particular strength.”

“The more traditional in-person exposure treatment for specific phobias have a notoriously high dropout rate due to discomfort, inconvenience and a lack of motivation in people seeking out fears to expose themselves to,” he notes. “With this VR app treatment, triallists had increased control in exposure to their fears, as well as control over when and where exposure occurs.”

The researchers also found a significant improvement in symptoms in the people who used the app compared to those on the waitlist.

The average severity score decreased from 28/40 (moderate to severe symptoms) to 7/40 (minimal symptoms) by the end of the trial.

“The improvements they reported suggest there’s great potential for the use of VR and mobile phone apps as a means of self-guided treatment for people struggling with often-crippling phobias,” says Dr. Lacey.

Some people left comments about changes to their behavior as a result of using the app, including one person with a fear of needles who said the app had helped them to book their COVID-19 vaccination. Another participant said they had been able to book flights to see their family and were spending less time worrying about flying.

oVRcome is now available for use for 10 specific phobias, as well as for social anxiety.

Dr. Leader told MNT that this approach has a lot of potential, but reminded us that it will be important to ensure that suitable safeguards and processes are in place to support users.

“The unique feature of this study is that the approach focuses on self-guided supports for the treatment of phobias, rather than the use of experiential technology administered by a practitioner. This offers great advantages in terms of reach; however, further research will need to be carried out to understand the limitations of conducting psychological interventions for phobias in the absence of professional supervision.”

– Dr. John Francis Leader

Finally, it is also important to note that oVRcome is a commercial, for-profit initiative, and people who wish to use the app to address their phobias are required to pay a monthly subscription fee.

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Agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder are often mistaken for each other. While they share similarities, there are key differences.

Agoraphobia and social anxiety are two disorders with similar characteristics. Both conditions involve feelings of fear, which can impact your social life.

While both anxiety disorders can cause you to avoid particular situations, they are two separate and different conditions.

Because agoraphobia and social anxiety are similar, understanding them better may help you tell them apart.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) describes agoraphobia as “an anxiety disorder that involves intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult.”

Someone with agoraphobia may fear leaving home or traveling. They may even avoid crowded places for fear of having a panic attack or not being able to escape or get help if something goes wrong.

Agoraphobia can affect people in different ways and may vary in severity. Not everyone, for example, will be unable to leave their home.

Many people with agoraphobia also have panic disorder, another type of anxiety disorder. Most people develop agoraphobia after having a panic attack, due to the worry that they’ll have another attack.

NIMH reports that an estimated 1.3% of adults in the United States experience agoraphobia in their lifetime.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, is an intense, constant fear of being watched by other people. This overwhelming fear of being in social situations can affect work and other daily activities.

If you have social anxiety, you may avoid direct interaction with other people for fear of being judged or criticized. You may also worry about engaging in social situations weeks in advance or fear everyday tasks such as eating in public.

People with SAD may know their fear is unreasonable but can’t help but feel the way they do. They usually tend to avoid certain situations altogether. Or they may try to get through them but experience intense feelings of anxiety.

An estimated 12.1% of adults in the United States experience social anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, per the NIMH.

People with social anxiety disorder don’t usually develop agoraphobia. But the two anxiety disorders may arise from similar situations.

Panic attacks can occur in people with agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear that may not have a specific cause.

With agoraphobia, you may have the intense fear that you can’t escape from somewhere like a shopping mall or crowded place, which can lead to a panic attack.

With social anxiety, an anxiety-provoking situation, such as giving a speech or being in a job interview, can potentially lead to a panic attack.

Agoraphobia and social anxiety share symptoms, making them hard to diagnose.

Statistics suggest that 90% of people with a social anxiety disorder have a co-occurring condition, which means having two conditions at the same time. This means that both agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder may occur together.

According to a 2014 study, women are more likely to experience both disorders together compared to men.

Agoraphobia and social anxiety are treatable conditions.

Self-help techniques such as breathing slowly and gradual exposure may help you manage your symptoms better.

If your symptoms don’t respond to these techniques, you may want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

During CBT sessions, a therapist will work with you to help you modify your thinking and behaviors. You may also learn how to confront situations you were previously scared of.

Some people with social anxiety or agoraphobia may benefit from medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines.

Together you and your doctor can decide on the appropriate treatment option that’s right for you.

Some coping techniques can help you deal with symptoms of both agoraphobia and social anxiety. Consider these helpful tips to help you manage both conditions.

Try relaxation techniques

When you start to experience feelings of panic or anxiety, try to focus on slow, deep breathing. Mindful meditation is another technique that may help you become aware of your present emotions and thoughts without reacting to them.

Realign your focus

Try to focus on something you can see in front of you, like your watch or a lamp on the table. Remind yourself that the thoughts you’re feeling result from panic and will pass.

Challenge your fear

When you notice your fear has crept in, you may find it helpful to challenge it. Try to identify it, allow yourself to sit with it for a minute, then remind yourself that your fear is not rational, and it will soon pass.

Practice systematic desensitization

Systematic desensitization involves replacing your fear or phobia with a relaxation response. This can help reduce the link in your mind between the thing you fear and the panic you feel.

Don’t fight the panic

When symptoms of panic occur, trying to fight them can sometimes make things worse. Instead, you may find it helpful to accept that your symptoms are happening and difficult to deal with but aren’t life threatening.

If agoraphobia or social anxiety stops you from living your day-to-day life, then it may be time to seek help.

A therapist or mental health professional can be a helpful resource. They can help you by listening and providing tips and strategies to better manage your symptoms of anxiety and fear.

You may also find it helpful to join a support group. Here are a few to consider:

There are many paths to managing agoraphobia and social anxiety symptoms. You can learn more on how to manage both disorders here:

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Depression and anxiety can impact blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular issues.


A new study published in the journal BioMedical Engineering shows mental health ailments can negatively impact automimic functions which can, in turn, lead to poor blood pressure management and heart disease.  More specifically, the study builds on prior research which has found that individuals suffering from depression and anxiety may have reduced heart rate variation (HRV), which can be a sign of a poor response to stress.  This leads to significant physiological disorders.

“We know that people with mental health problems have [an] increased risk of cardiovascular events and organ damage,” explained Dr. Renly Lim, one of the researchers involved with the study. “We also know that people with higher blood pressure variation (BPV) have higher cardiovascular risk.  Our study now makes the connection between mental health problems and blood pressure and heart disease.”

Mental Health Can Affect Physical Well-being, Lead to Heart Disease
Photo by Louis Bauer from Pexels

“The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a complex network of cells that regulate involuntary physiologic processes like maintaining a constant internal temperature, regulating breathing patterns, keeping blood pressure steady, and moderating the heart rate,” the authors wrote, adding that “autonomic dysfunction is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.”

Many studies have demonstrated there is a link between reduced heart rate variation (HRV), depression and common anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  For the current research, the authors scoured four electronic databases for data on blood pressure variation (BPV) in individuals with mental illness who did not have hypertension (high blood pressure).  They found a dozen that met their criteria.

Of those, “seven measured ultrashort term BPV (beat-to-beat blood pressure measurement over seconds to minutes), three measured short-term BPV (blood pressure fluctuations that occur over a 24-hour time period), and two measured long-term BPV (fluctuations that occur over days, weeks, or even years),” they found. “Five of the studies assessed BPV in adults aged 55 and older while the remaining studies assessed BPV in adults between the ages of 18 and 46.  People with depression or anxiety had high BPV in the studies that measured short-term BPV.”  And they found “a significant association between BPV and mental illness.”

Dr. Cristen Wathen, an assistant professor in the counseling department at Palo Alto University, wasn’t surprised by these findings.  She said, “When we are consistently in chronic stress, which is typical of people who have been diagnosed with [anxiety and depression], then our bodies are releasing stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine.  If we’re in that constant state of chronic stress [due to anxiety and depression], then that’s going to relate to our physical health.’

One’s socio-economic situation can also lead to chronic stress, Wathen said, adding, “There’s so much that’s related to poverty, oppression, trauma, like generational trauma, and access to healthcare, that also can lead to more experiences of chronic stress.”

Dr. Richard Wright, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, would like to use this data to determine whether physiological health might improve with mental health treatment.

“I think…the main importance of this kind of an analysis [is] to point out that there are physical ramifications of these emotional issues,” he explained. “If you’re chronically depressed and you have these issues where the autonomic nervous system is messed up, do you get better if your depression goes away?”  More research is needed to determine the impact of treatment options on one’s overall health and well-being.

Sources:

Blood pressure and mental health: Study finds cardiovascular link

Association between mental illness and blood pressure variability: a systematic review

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Anxiety, depression, and stress have become common in everyday modern life, impacting relationships, families, communities, and even the workplace. In fact, mental health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, and a negative impact on productivity and profits. According to Mental health America (MHA), managing stress and balancing professional and personal demands continues to be a prominent issue for employees.

In 2021, some 80% of employees agreed that the stress from work aff­ects their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. A further 71% of employees say that they find it difficult to concentrate at work -up by 6% from 2020. Very often anxiety manifests itself in the form of increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness, trouble concentrating, insomnia, and others.

If you experience some of these symptoms perhaps you might want to seek help from a trained mental health professional. But in the meantime, you might consider trying out some mental health apps to help relieve your anxiety.



What is an Anxiety App?

Anxiety apps are tools that help users focus on improving different aspects of their mental health and well-being. They employ a variety of behavioral exercises and relaxation techniques to help you break free from anxious thoughts and feelings. These may include meditation sessions, calming tracks, breathing exercises, mood monitors, sleep therapy, goal setting, courses, and more. With anxiety apps, all you need is your mobile device and a few minutes to focus. Anxiety apps not only help you overcome panic attacks but also help you receive therapy in the comfort of your own home. They make it easier for people to reach out for help and are easily accessible for anyone trying to cope with mental health problems.

Why You Should Download an Anxiety App

Anxiety apps can help you find the right mental health services that suit your needs. They also can help ease any apprehensions when it comes to seeking to address a mental health issue in person. There are many potential benefits of using anxiety apps for alleviating depression and anxiety and including:

  • Affordability: Unlike therapy with a mental health professional anxiety apps come at a relatively low price. However, they may not be the best substitute for treatment if you are dealing with anxiety at work or serious mental health issues.
  • Supplement existing therapy: Anxiety apps can supplement treatment as they help to offer compliance to routine treatment through worksheets and tools.
  • Convenience: Anxiety apps come in the palm of your hands making it easy for you to access some tools to help you cope with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They also offer convenient ways of practicing strategies learned in face-to-face therapies and include reminders that can be set to increase treatment and continuation of therapy.
  • Gathering data and trends: Some anxiety apps can generate data through graphs or tables showing improvements or areas that need improvement. This can help therapists determine which interventions are working best and which ones should be changed.

Best Free Apps for Anxiety

If you need help coping with anxiety, depression or insomnia try one of the free anxiety apps below:

1. Mindshift

MindShift CBT helps users manage their anxiety and stress using evidence-based anxiety management strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This free self-help anxiety relief app helps to reduce stress, learn more about anxiety, develop more effective ways of thinking, be mindful, and relax. It comes with a user-friendly intuitive design, tools based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) designed for anxiety relief and self-management; daily check-in to keep track of your anxiety levels and mood tracking; facts and tips to overcome general worry, social anxiety, perfectionism, panic attack, and phobias; goal setting tools to keep users accountable; coping cards and statements to help users deal with anxiety; guided relaxation and mindfulness meditations; tips and tricks for incorporating healthy habits into your life and minimizing anxiety naturally; the ability to share data to streamline sessions with your counselor, therapist, or psychologist; and more.

 Available on: iOS and Android.

 2. Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind is a free app for meditation and mindfulness developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to users’ lives. It is designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. It has dedicated sleep programs for adults, teens, and even kids. The app offers guided meditations that help users wind down at night to assist with both getting to sleep and improving overall sleep quality. It also touts being able to help increase productivity and attention; help in anxiety reduction and stress management; offer clearer and more focused thinking; and increased positive emotion, life satisfaction, and self-esteem beyond the workplace.

Available on: iOS and Android.

3. Dare: Panic & Anxiety Relief

Dare app offers users an interactive experience that helps users overcome anxiety, panic attacks, worry, and insomnia. It comes with information on anxiety, panic attacks and other topics. It has exercises to help users work through their anxieties and offers several meditations too. Users can also download the free audio guides to help them meditate and tackle insomnia. In addition to its free version, its robust paid subscription comes at a price tag of $9.99 a month.

Available on: iOS and Android.

4. Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help

Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help app helps users monitor and manage symptoms of panic. The app includes articles about anxiety and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and includes tools for relaxation, mindfulness, and teaching audios. With it, users have access to a mood log and analysis, cognitive diary, healthy goals, and more.

Available on: Android.

5. Bearable

Bearable is a simple, customizable health tracker that helps users track trends and patterns in relation to their mood, and symptoms through the use of calendars and graphs. With it, users can understand the impact of different treatments and medications on health issues such as anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, and mood disorders. Users can also use Bearable to identify triggers, find the cause of flare-ups, help with medical appointments, manage existing health conditions, and to understand correlations between their habits and health. Users can customize reminders for diary entries, medication, and more while being able to sync their health data from Apple Health and Apple Health Kit. The free version comes with a basic version while subscriptions start at $4.49/month,

 Available on: iOS and Android.

6. Shine

Shine app can help you start your mental wellness through daily meditation and Self-Care Courses. It helps users to log and track their mood, y, get support from a diverse community, and explore an audio library of over 800 meditations, bedtime stories, and calming sounds to help you shift your mindset or mood. Its free version offers daily meditations, a daily article and the ability to log your gratitude its more robust paid version comes with a $14.99 a month subscription.

 Available on: iOS and Android.

Best Apps for Anxiety Disorders (Paid)

If you are relooking for anxiety apps that offer robust features and enhanced tools you might want to look towards paid apps where you pay upfront for the app or through subscriptions. Below are our picks of best-paid anxiety apps:

7. Calm App

Calm is a meditation app that helps to relieve anxiety. It achieves this by offering nature sounds and sleep stories to help users get into a relaxed sleep. The app is designed to cater to anyone, whether you’re new to meditation or a seasoned expert. It’s also for anyone who needs a mental break, a soothing sound, or a peaceful night’s rest. It comes with guided meditations that are available in lengths of three to 25 minutes. Additional features include sleep stories narrated by well-known voices like Matthew McConaughey, a music library with exclusive tracks from top artists like Keith Urban and Disney, short videos with mindful movement and gentle stretching for every body type and Masterclasses taught by world-renowned experts in the field of mindfulness, soundscapes and nature sounds to use during meditation or to help you sleep, breathing exercises to help you relax, and more.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Calm comes with a $6.99 a month subscription while with the free version, the app offers a limited number of guided exercises and meditative audio to help relieve stress.

8. Sanvello

Sanvello formerly known as Pacifica is a health and wellness app that focuses on stress, anxiety, and depression. Users’ journey with Sanvello journey is customizable meaning the app checks in with how you’re feeling so you can track your emotions and progress over time. As patterns are identified, Sanvello will provide customized tools, rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, to keep you on the path to feeling better. The app focuses on mindfulness and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and comes with audio exercises that focus on meditation, deep breathing, and other activities. Users can also access tools that include a mood tracker, daily challenges, goal tracking, and a health tracker.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Sanvello comes with a $3.99 monthly subscription while offering a limited free version.

9. Insight Timer – Meditation App

Insight Timer app offers meditation solutions to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness. It comes with free guided meditations for both beginners and experienced practitioners. It also offers short meditation sessions when you are on the go, helping you to build a daily habit in addition to thousands of music tracks and ambient sounds to calm the mind, focus, sleep better and relax. This app also offers statistics and milestones for tracking your progress.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Insight Premium Meditation comes with a $9.99 monthly subscription while offering a free version as well.

10. InnerHour

The InnerHour app is created by mental health professionals that offer a self-help tool, which provides users with a digital experience of therapy. The app has specific programs to help with worry, stress, sleeplessness, depression, and anger. It comes with self-help courses on depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, stress, anger, and happiness. Users can also access therapists through the app.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: InnerHour comes with a $4.99 monthly subscription while offering a limited free version.

11. HeadSpace

The headspace app helps users to meditate and sleep soundly. It offers guides on how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. With it, you learn how to relax, manage stress, and focus your energy to become more centered and well-rested. Its features include daily meditations, sleep meditations, stress relief, coping meditations, and more. It offers over 40 meditation courses on topics that include stress and sleep

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: Headspace comes with a $12.99 a month subscription while offering a seven-day free trial.

12. BetterMe: Mental Health

BetterMe mediation app helps users by offering simple meditations and guided courses for mental well-being. The app is a product of a collaboration with mental health specialists to offer tools and coping strategies from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you tune in to the world surrounding you. The tools available include guided meditations, stress-relief practices, breathwork, and sleep meditations.

Available on: iOS and Android.

Pricing: BetterMe comes with a $9.99 a month subscription while offering a free version as well.

Take Steps to Improve Your Mental Health Today

Mental health issues are a very serious matter, as they affect how we think, feel, and behave in our daily life. They also affect our ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and deal with life’s setbacks. Strong mental health isn’t simply about the absence of mental health problems but also about being emotionally resilient.

Emotionally and mentally resilient people can cope with difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook. This helps them remain focused, flexible, and productive during both good and bad times. Mental health is not only about mental health issues such as generalized anxiety disorder or elevated anxiety levels but also about making continuous improvements on how we deal with issues and strive to be better versions of ourselves

Speaking to a Mental Health Professional

If you regularly have anxious thoughts or experience anxiety symptoms seeking the help of a mental health professional can help you better understand yourself, your feelings, and generally make sense of everything going on in your life and how that makes you feel. They can also help you resolve complicated feelings or find ways to cope with them.

What is the best app for anxiety?

Calm is considered the best app for anxiety. It helps tackle insomnia that comes with feeling anxious. Through its sleep, meditation, relaxation and other tools Calm helps you not only deal with anxiety but remain productive and emotionally resilient.

Is there an app for people with social anxiety?

Headspace can help people deal with social anxiety. It offers guides on how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. With it, you learn how to relax, manage stress, and focus your energy to become more centered and well-rested.

Is there a free app to help with anxiety?

MindShift helps users manage anxiety and stress using evidence-based anxiety management strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This free self-help anxiety relief app helps to reduce stress, learn more about anxiety, develop more effective ways of thinking, be mindful, and relax.

What is a good game for anxiety?

SuperBetter is an app designed by Jane McGonigal and is inspired by her book SuperBetter. It helps to incorporate Role Playing Gaming (RPG) in real life to address challenges such as anxiety, depression insomnia, willpower, and others by offering activities to do to overcome them.

Image: Depositphotos


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Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as shaking, but there are ways to manage it.

You may think of your anxiety as something that only affects your brain, but for many people, anxiety presents with physical symptoms as well.

One of these is shaking. If you experienced your knees knocking or your hands trembling when anxiety grabs you, you might know how disconcerting this can be.

Anxiety disorders can include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorders, phobias, separation anxiety, and agoraphobia. Shaking associates with all of them, though not everyone with an anxiety disorder develops shaking.

The cause of anxiety shaking is your body entering a fight, flight, or freeze mode when you experience stress. When this happens, your heart rate may increase and your blood pressure can climb.

The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol flood your system. Your muscles tense as all of this happens, then they release as the stressor fades, giving you the shakes.

Anxiety shaking usually lasts until the stress response ends, which can be a few seconds or a few minutes.

When a person experiences anxiety, they may experience a physical reaction to their stress. This physical reaction can lead to anxiety shaking. Sometimes anxiety shaking is part of a panic attack and sometimes the symptoms are less severe.

When a person experiences anxiety shaking, they may experience any combination of the following symptoms:

  • trembling hands
  • shaking muscles
  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling lightheaded or developing tunnel vision like you might faint
  • clamminess
  • nausea

Mindfulness

A small 2022 study revealed that mindfulness practice can help reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety. Apps like Headspace or Calm are popular ways to access mindfulness plans and track your progress.

The purpose of mindfulness is to remain in the present moment and accept the thoughts that pass through your mind without any judgment. This practice can help you regulate your emotions, such as feelings of anxiety, which can help prevent anxiety shaking symptoms.

Breathing exercises

Another small 2022 study found that breathing exercises, with a focus on breathing deeply into the diaphragm to increase oxygen flow, can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Since one symptom of anxiety can be hyperventilation, focusing on your breath may help ward off more uncontrollable breathing, as well as help prevent your body from entering fight, flight, or freeze mode and developing the shakes.

Yoga

A different small 2022 study found that yoga, when practiced consistently over time, may help people with anxiety relax and experience fewer stress responses to their anxiety triggers. There are both free and paid apps that can help you begin a yoga practice, or, if COVID-19 protocols allow it in your area, you can find a local studio.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT can be very helpful in treating anxiety, according to a 2022 research review. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns through exposure and learning to manage automatic responses.

If a certain anxiety trigger leads to the anxiety shakes for you, learning to rewire your brain to respond differently to that trigger might eliminate the symptom entirely.

Creative arts therapy

A 2021 review found that creative arts therapies, including art therapy, music therapy, dance and movement therapy, and bibliotherapy, help reduce anxiety symptoms in similar ways to CBT.

However, in creative art therapy, you create something a work of art, a musical composition, choreography that may help your brain focus more on that process than on your anxiety trigger.

Equine therapy

Equine therapy, done through horseback riding, can help reduce symptoms of social anxiety and social phobia, according to one small 2021 study performed in South Korea.

Because social anxiety and phobias often trigger shaking, if you have access to equine therapy, the benefits to you both physically and mentally could be significant.

Antidepressants

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be a very effective treatment option for anxiety. In fact, SSRIs tend to be the most common class of antidepressants that doctors prescribe to treat anxiety and depression due to their limited side effects and their overall effectiveness in reducing symptoms.

While medication generally goes hand-in-hand with psychotherapy, using medication to reduce and moderate symptoms first may help people reach a point where they may be willing and able to access therapy.

If your anxiety disorder whether it’s generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobia, or panic disorder leaves you shaking as a symptom, it can be helpful to understand why your body responds to your triggers that way.

Your body enters its fight, flight, or freeze response, during which your muscles tense then relax suddenly, leaving you shaky. It can also leave you feeling like your heart rate increases or like you might faint.

Treatment exists, whether it’s through self-care practices, therapy, medication, or a combination of the three, to manage your anxiety symptoms, such as shaking. Whichever treatment plan you choose, try to remember that you’re not alone and you can get better.

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