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How to beat anxiety when you can't "just calm down"
How to beat anxiety when you can't "just calm down"

Sometimes anxiety is not just an experience, but an illness.

How to beat anxiety when you can't "just calm down"
How to beat anxiety when you can't "just calm down"

What can be associated with anxiety

Anxiety is the natural response Stress-to-Stress Curve. The body senses danger, triggers the fight-or-flight response, releases adrenaline and norepinephrine into the bloodstream, and the heart begins to beat faster.

But in some cases, bouts of anxiety arise and quickly end. And in others, they become long and destructive. The scenario depends on why the alarm occurred.

Events that happen to you

Perhaps this is the most common cause of unrest. We are worried about the future. We are concerned about the health and well-being of loved ones. We are considering whether there will be enough money for paycheck.

This everyday anxiety is not dangerous. It passes when the stressful situation ends. And it decreases when you switch to some kind of routine calming activity, get support from friends, or just say to yourself: "Get it together, rag!"

Hormonal changes

A striking example is premenstrual syndrome in women. Hormonal surges affect the work of the brain, which is why even a girl who is always balanced and generally satisfied with life can feel unhappy, offended, deeply worried about innocent reasons.

There are also more serious hormonal disorders. For example, hyperthyroidism (increased production of thyroid hormones) increases Depression and anxiety in hyperthyroidism. This means that a person with such a disease reacts more sharply and brighter to the slightest stress.

Chronic stress

It develops if you find yourself in a stressful situation day after day. The fight-or-flight response becomes permanent, and the endless burst of hormones eventually depletes the body's reserves.

Fear and anxiety remain, because the stressful situation has not gone anywhere. But in addition to them, new symptoms appear: weakness, rapid fatigability, a feeling of a lump in the throat, an acute desire to wrap up in a blanket and hide from the world.

As a result, it may come to the development of psychosomatic diseases and mental disorders.


The word depression is often used synonymously with bad mood or loss of energy. But this is incorrect. Depression is a full-blown mental disorder caused by What causes depression? imbalance of chemicals in the brain. This is a serious illness, one of the symptoms of which is anxiety.

If left untreated, depression can trigger other problems, such as heart and blood vessel problems, and other mental health problems.

Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is said to be when anxiety - persistent or in the form of acute attacks - lasts more than six months Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More and manifests itself with physical symptoms: heart palpitations, sweating, weakness, inability to concentrate on anything else, except fear.

But it is possible to assume this mental disorder earlier - by a number of characteristic symptoms inherent in different types of Anxiety disorders of anxiety disorders. The most common ones are listed below.

1. Generalized anxiety disorder

This definition hides regular and excessive anxiety on the smallest grounds, which is almost uncontrollable and affects physical well-being. For example, you sincerely, to trembling knees and pain in the region of your heart, worry if a family member is delayed for five minutes. Or you break out in a cold sweat every time you take on a new project, because you are always afraid to make a mistake. It happens that even the phone ringing leads to panic.

Generalized anxiety disorder is often accompanied by other types of anxiety disorders or depression.

2. Social phobia

She is also a social anxiety disorder. A person is very sensitive to the attitude of others. He is terribly afraid of being ridiculed, rejected, unnoticed.

This fear is so great and uncontrollable that if it is necessary to “go out into the world”, the social phobia's legs literally give way. Therefore, he avoids social contacts by all means.

3. Anxiety Disorder Associated with a Health Condition

It usually manifests itself in those who suffer from a serious physical illness. For example, Diabetes and anxiety.

Diabetics may worry about the need to constantly monitor their weight, diet, and blood sugar levels. They are worried about the high risk of complications: from hypoglycemia to heart or kidney disease, stroke.

Fears also plague those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, asthma and other respiratory disorders, cancer, skin diseases, and so on.

4. Phobias and irrational fears

They are called by specific objects or situations. For example, it may be a fear of spiders - so exaggerated that a person cannot enter the room if he notices a piece of cobweb. Or claustrophobia that prevents a person from using elevators or the subway. Or the terror of flying.

5. Panic disorder

It manifests itself in repeated attacks of severe panic. They do not last long, most often a matter of minutes, but they have extremely unpleasant symptoms: shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, fear of impending death.

During panic attacks, a person does not control his behavior: he may fall or scream. Due to the fear that the attack may recur at any time, new disorders appear - the same social phobia or anxiety associated with a health condition.

Other mental disorders

Excessive and persistent anxiety is a common symptom of other mental disorders. For example, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (obsessive-compulsive disorder), manic-depressive psychosis, alcohol and drug use disorders.

How to understand what exactly you have

Basically, the question should be different: "Am I anxious to deal with, or is the situation getting out of hand?"

In fact, the border between these states is rather arbitrary. To find it, experts suggest Anxiety Disorders and Anxiety Attacks to answer seven questions:

  1. Do you regularly find yourself worried, irritated, tense, and this becomes your habitual state?
  2. Does anxiety prevent you from working, studying, communicating with people, building relationships?
  3. Do you have an irrational fear (for example, you are afraid to go down the subway), but you cannot overcome it?
  4. Do you believe that something catastrophic can happen if you don't do certain things right (like not putting your shoes on the shelves or doing a little ritual before the start of the day)?
  5. Are there situations or activities that you regularly avoid because you are scared?
  6. Do you have sudden attacks of extreme panic during which you cannot control yourself?
  7. Do you feel that the world is an unsafe place in which it is enough to make a mistake to become a victim of scammers, get sick, lose money or lose close friends?

In principle, a single "yes" is enough to suspect an anxiety or other mental disorder. If there is more than one such answer, you need help.

How to get rid of anxiety if it's not related to a mental disorder

In this case, conventional stress management techniques can help. There are dozens of them. Here are the most popular and effective ones.

Take a few deep breaths and long breaths

Scientists at Stanford University have discovered Study shows how slow breathing induces tranquility in the brain, a region that links the frequency and depth of breathing and emotional state. As it turned out, the more actively and superficially we breathe, the more nervousness and excitement we experience.

Play soothing music or listen to nature sounds

In 2017, researchers proved IT'S TRUE - THE SOUND OF NATURE HELPS US RELA: when people listen to the sounds of nature, their stress level is noticeably reduced. The same goes for calm muted music.

By the way, here is the most soothing track recorded by the scientists of the British Academy of Sound Therapy:

Switch from the topic of your concern

For example, if you are nervous about the news, turn off the TV and log out of social media. Instead, watch a comedy or melodrama, read a book, play with a cat, call a friend. Your task is to keep your head occupied with something else, to distract yourself from the stressful situation.

Take your hands

There are many options. Start knitting. Plant flowers under your windows. Read a book to your child or do a couple of physical experiments with him. Do the dishes or clean the apartment. These activities will help you switch.

Learn to tell yourself "stop"

Watch your thoughts and stop in time. If you find yourself thinking about something disturbing, be aware of that fact. Imagine taking the worrying thought into your fist and putting it aside. And then consciously start thinking about something else - a situation that you can control.

How to get rid of anxiety if it is caused by a mental disorder

In this case, deep breathing, unfortunately, is almost useless. If your anxiety has reached the level of a mental disorder, you will need help.

Talk to your doctor

To begin with, you can visit the therapist, tell him about the symptoms and ask for recommendations.

The sooner you seek help, the easier it will be to regain your cheerfulness and positive attitude towards the world.

Another option is to immediately contact a psychotherapist. The specialist will be able to establish exactly what is happening to you and what kind of violation prevents you from living.

Change your lifestyle

Most likely, the doctor will first of all advise Anxiety disorders to reconsider the habits.

  • Refuse alcohol, coffee, drinks with a high sugar content and energy drinks. They excite the nervous system and can increase anxiety.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise increases levels of endorphins, hormones associated with good mood.
  • Eat well. This will increase your body's reserves and reduce the negative effects of the fight-or-flight response.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours.
  • Try relaxation techniques. This can be regular meditation or yoga.

Get psychotherapy

This is the most effective way to deal with anxiety and other disorders. There are various types of psychotherapy, but the most popular Therapy for Anxiety Disorders are Cognitive-Behavioral and Exposure.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Its idea is that your well-being does not depend on a stressful situation, but on how you feel about it. Therefore, the therapist will teach you

  • Identifying negative thoughts is what you are specifically thinking about when you start worrying. Example: "They will laugh at me."
  • Evaluate and challenge negativity. It means asking questions: “Will the bad thing that scares me really happen? And if so, would it really be disastrous? Maybe it's not so scary?"
  • Replace negative thoughts with realistic ones.

2. Exposure therapy

It is based on the assumption that trying to avoid stressful situations only makes fear stronger. To learn how to control him, you need to meet him face to face. Of course, this will not happen immediately.

First, you and your doctor will write down steps to help you relieve your anxiety. For example, if your goal is to cope with your fear of flying, the list might include the following steps:

  • look at the photos of aircraft, cabin and passengers;
  • re-read good reviews about flights;
  • describe what reward awaits you after landing;
  • buy a plane ticket;
  • check in for the flight;
  • drink tea at the window.

Then, under the guidance of your therapist, you will start working with the list. The goal is to dwell on every frightening point until the fear diminishes. Most of the time will be spent working out the first steps.

As you progress, you will put a bold checkmark in front of each item. This will help keep you confident that you are in control and make it easier to move towards your goal.

Take medication as needed

In some cases, psychotherapy alone is not enough. To relieve anxiety, your doctor may prescribe medications for you. For example, sedatives or antidepressants.

This article was originally published in November 2015. In April 2020, we updated the material.