How to Manage Your Anxiety

By Dr. Okechukwu Amako, MBBS (Ibadan)
Tip Image
It is normal to be anxious from time to time especially when you are about to go for an interview, give a speech before a crowd of people, ask a girl out or after something terrible happens like surviving an accident. The feeling of fear, palpitations (your heart beating faster), sweating, rapid breathing or dryness of the mouth before any of these occasions is normal because such feelings are very temporary, and they disappear after some time (a few minutes after that interview or speech; or a few days after the terrible incident).

However, if you frequently feel tensed up, afraid or worry that something bad is going to happen to you for no reason or cause, and this is affecting your ability to do things you normally did before, then you may have a mental health condition known as anxiety disorder. A mental health condition is a problem of the mind the same way diabetes is a problem of the body; it is not a sign of bad luck or evil in you or your family, neither is it a curse on you from some evil forces. It can be treated.

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which the affected person experiences one or more of the following:

1. Fear, panic or worry which can last for many days or months; the fear or panic can also come suddenly, last for minutes and repeat itself. This constant fear or panic usually cannot be attributed to any cause by the person or it just results from normal circumstances which other people have no problems with like objects, heights, and social gatherings or meeting new people.

2. Along with the irrational fear comes bodily symptoms like:
-excessive sweating on the hand or feet
-the heart beating very fast
-a burning sensation in the chest
-rapid breathing or shortness of breath
-dizziness or a headache
-sleeping problems where the person can't sleep due to this irrational worry

There are many other symptoms that come with this mental health condition depending on the type of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder has no known single cause, but there are risk factors associated with it. These include:

-Genetic predisposition to developing an anxiety disorder meaning it can be inherited from parents if it runs in the family
-Being under severe stress for a very long time can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder in a person.
-Experiencing a very traumatic incident like being raped, an attack by armed robbers, surviving a civil war or fighting in a war can trigger an anxiety disorder in a person who has a genetic predisposition to developing it.

How do you take care of anxiety? Well, it depends on whether it is the everyday normal and temporary anxiety that comes before important activities or it falls into a mental health condition.

1. If you normally feel anxious before important occasions like giving a speech or asking a lady out, doing the following can help calm you down:
-taking a very deep breath several times a few minutes before taking the stage
-taking a good rest a day before the event
-having a mindset that it is just a moment and no matter what happens you're not going to die and the world will not come to an end.

2. If your anxiety looks like it is abnormal, the very best thing to do is to see a doctor who will take a detailed medical history from you and carry out a physical examination on you after which he or she will refer you to a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist, if he or she is not one, for special medical attention. This special medical attention will involve medications and what is known as cognitive behavioral therapy (the psychiatrist helps you to recognize and change your thought patterns and behaviours that are associated with the anxiety)

It is also advisable for people with anxiety problems to reduce the consumption of things like coffee, tea, cola, and energy drinks as they contain caffeine that can worsen anxiety symptoms.

If you found this tip useful, don't forget to share with your friends and family with the share button on the top right of this page.

For more advice and help, consult a doctor online.
Copy and paste this url anywhere:
Published Thursday, April 20th 2017

Put your Doctor in your pocket

Stay healthy on the go. Get health advice from over 750 doctors, daily health tips, personal menstrual cycle planner etc, all from the comfort of your mobile phone.

Screenshots of the app