One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to learn about your own anxiety: your symptoms, what triggers it, and what coping mechanisms have been effective in the past. When you learn what your anxiety is tied to, it can help you be mindful of what's really happening as well as prevent and mitigate symptoms by processing and working through the issue in therapy. Other strategies that have been shown to help manage anxiety are meditation, challenging anxious thoughts, exercising, and journaling.
Anxiety is so much more complicated than people realize. Anxiety attacks, in particular, don’t always manifest in the way you might imagine. In fact, anxiety can look—and feel—a lot like anger. It can also manifest as silence or withdrawal; every person is different.
If you find yourself feeling angry, if your chest feels tight, if you find yourself withdrawing during stressful situations, or if you struggle to cope with your emotions, even if you don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly you’re experiencing, consider contacting an anxiety therapist at Thriveworks Portage Counseling.
Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety is usually caused by a combination of factors in a person’s life, but some have a medical explanation. Some people experience anxiety during or after a highly stressful or traumatic situation in their lives, though anxiety can arise at any point in a person’s life. There are a number of factors that contribute to anxiety, including the following:
- Abuse – Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical anxiety later in life, particularly if the abuse had a negative effect on a person’s self-esteem or made them feel the need to be perfect to please someone else or face repercussions.
- Genetics – A family history of anxiety can mean that an individual’s chances of also developing anxiety. Other factors in family history or environmental factors can play a role as much as a genetic link to an individual.
- Substance Abuse – Many people with a history of substance abuse problems tend to be likely to have diagnosed or undiagnosed anxiety or other undiagnosed mental health issues that causes them to seek an escape from dealing with reality.
- Chronic High Stress Environments – Anxiety can be the result of dealing with high stress situations. High stress situations can be pregnancy, job changes, job loss, loss of a loved one, or an unstable home life.
- Social Anxiety – Social isolation that occurs either through anxiety or voluntary withdrawal due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can be the result of dealing with anxiety as a disorder.
There are multiple categories of anxiety, some examples including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People that suffer from GAD tend to feel generally anxious or worried on a day-to-day basis regardless of stressful or non-stressful situations and it can have a negative impact with their daily lives. Basic activities such as household chores or daily appointments can become the subject of an intense fixation focused on feelings of worry and dread, and the activity can become so built up and overwhelming that it can be difficult if not impossible to actually perform the task, no matter how minor.
When having a panic attack, an individual feels like they are helpless and unable to control their own minds or reactions to things. People that develop panic disorders are not at fault for their reactions and part of therapy for anxiety disorders is for the individual to understand how these conditions work and how to work through any feelings of guilt that go along with their impossible-to-control reactions.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Everyone can experience feelings of social nervousness, especially in unfamiliar or stressful social events or situations. But for a person with social anxiety, these feelings can be overwhelming to the point of cutting themselves off from any situation in which they might develop these feelings or worry about even potential events or situations where these negative feelings might occur.
How Therapy Can Help
Therapy, along with the potential medical treatment given by a psychiatrist alongside a full diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, is vital in helping a person deal with anxiety. Therapy can help you learn to manage fearful situations that can set off anxiety; it can also help people learn and practice social skills, so important for treating social anxiety disorder, and it helps those with any type of anxiety develop a healthy sense of self.
And hey, Western Michigan University students: it’s worth noting that college students frequently experience anxiety over relationships, work load, and insecurity over what to do after college. If you’re struggling with any of these issues, contact us. Our primary therapist, Starr Bull, is extremely compassionate. She understands how difficult it can feel to reach out for help, but you’ll be glad you did.
And remember—therapy is completely confidential.