How to Calm Anxiety
For some people, it’s a slightly elevated heart rate and constant worry. For others, it can mean social anxiety in group settings. For others, it may be a full-blown panic or anxiety attack, with a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating and shaking.
The bottom line is that anxiety and anxiety disorders affect more than 18 percent of all Americans each year.
Anxiety is debilitating to millions of Americans. We’re here to provide you with the help and services you need to discover how to calm anxiety, whether through exercise, meditation or anxiety medication.
But before we take steps to calm our anxiety, we have to first discover what causes it.
What Causes Anxiety?
Our ancestors had to be constantly vigilant. There were a lot of dangers. For example, at any minute they could have been attacked by a bear or other wild animal. In response, their body was primed to either stand their ground or escape quickly. We call that the “fight or flight” response.
Today, we’re not being chased by bears or wild animals, but this fight or flight response is still hardwired into our brain. Some people, when presented with worrisome situations such as being stuck in traffic, money woes or job stress, go into this fight or flight response.
Brain chemistry also has a role to play. Researchers believe that some people may be more prone to anxiety than others.
There are also a host of other medical conditions that can cause feelings of anxiety such as:
- Underlying health issues—in some cases even heart disease or diabetes may be to blame
- Thyroid problems
- Breathing disorders, including COPD and asthma
- Chronic pain
Anxiety can also be prompted when someone has withdrawal symptoms, either from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications or other drugs.
When Should I See a Doctor About Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. However, if it starts to interfere in your day-to-day life, you should schedule an appointment with us. Internal medicine doctors in Cary, like those at Cary Medical Group, are keenly aware of how all systems in the body interact together. We can see the “whole picture” and help tailor a plan just for you.
Other signs why you should see a doctor are:
- Your worry is interfering with your job or schoolwork
- Your anxiety is having a devastating effect on your relationships
- You’re depressed
- You start abusing or having issues with alcohol and drugs
- You believe anxiety may be related to a medical problem (like those listed above)
- You have suicidal thoughts. If you have suicidal thoughts, you should immediately seek emergency treatment.
How to Calm Anxiety
There are several ways you can calm anxiety, and no one method will work for everyone. We’ll partner with you to determine the best treatment for you. Don’t worry—we’re with you every step of the way.
We’ve always said that exercise is good for you, but did you realize it can also change your brain chemistry? Exercise releases endorphins, which give you that “feel good” emotion after a solid workout.
Researchers have said that exercise is vital for mental fitness. Not only can it reduce stress, but it can reduce fatigue, improve concentration, enhance your alertness and improve your cognitive function in general.
What Type of Exercise Will Help Relieve Anxiety?
You don’t have to run a marathon or be a seasoned athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Simple aerobic activity will help lift your mood and be a great stress release.
Studies show that even moderate exercise—something as simple as walking 15 minutes a day—can have positive effects.
The most important facet is to get moving! We’ll be happy to work with you to help establish a fitness routine that’s perfect for you.
The word itself may make you think of an ancient practice shrouded in mystery. The truth is that meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Like everything else, it becomes more effective with practice.
During a meditation, you should focus your attention on one thing—usually the sound of your breathing or a word or phrase. This eliminates the constant stream of anxious thoughts that crowd your mind.
Meditation also provides additional benefits such as:
- Building new skills
- Increasing your self-awareness
- Enabling you to focus on the present
- Decreasing negative feelings
- Enhancing creativity
- Increasing patience
Don’t let the process intimidate you. Here’s a useful video that gives some information on how to get started with meditation.
Therapy—specifically cognitive behavioral therapy – is also very useful. Sometimes it is as effective as medication in helping you overcome anxiety.
Therapy is a safe space that enables you to explore some of the things that may cause your anxiety.
A trained therapist can help you work through these stressors.
When exercise and meditation aren’t effective—or when anxiety has made it impossible to function in everyday life—medication may be the answer. These work by interacting with different receptors in the brain.
What Is an Anxiety Attack?
You may have heard of individuals having an anxiety attack, sometimes referred to as a panic attack.
While these may not be physically dangerous, they are a terrifying and frightening experience to those who have one.
During an anxiety attack, your brain goes into full “fight or flight” mode, often when there is nothing around to precipice it or cause panic.
The main symptom is a feeling that something catastrophic is about to happen.
Other signs are:
- Fear of losing control
- Racing heart
- Fear of death
- Feeling of being “detached” from surroundings
One important note: many times, anxiety attacks can cause chest pain. However, because chest pain is also the sign of many serious conditions, we encourage you to get emergency medical attention any time you’re having pain in your chest.
If you are having anxiety attacks, we urge you to contact us for an appointment as soon as possible. You do not have to live your life in fear of having a panic attack. We are eager to help you.
Internal Medicine Doctors in Cary, NC
As internists, we know that every system in your body is connected. What affects one area has a “trickle down” effect on others. This makes Cary Medical Group the perfect choice to help you find solutions.
For more than 25 years, we’ve served residents of the Cary and Triangle areas. Contact us to schedule an appointment.