The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says in a new study that Americans from Harlem to Hollywood are more anxious today than they were a year ago, with 39 percent of people reporting feeling more anxiety. Even well-known names like Ryan Reynolds and Patti Murin have recently spoken out about their struggles with anxiety, the same struggles that affect some 40 million people each year. What are some ways to cope if you are suffering with anxiety?
Dr. Prakash Masand M.D., the founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence, offers these 10 tips:
1. Establish a strong support network. If you’re suffering with an anxiety disorder, the world can sometimes seem to cave in on you. One way to remedy this feeling is to talk with others about what you are feeling. Bottled emotions do not resolve and can cause immense stress. Talk with your family and friends about obstacles you struggle to overcome.
2. Consider Exposure Therapy. Often seen as a solution for fears and phobias, exposure therapy can be helpful for emotional and anxiety-provoking situations, too. Slowly expose yourself to your trigger. Start small and build up until you are no longer affected by the sight or concept itself.
3. Find refuge in the paradise of solitude. Eliminating outside stress by turning into your own private world can do wonders for anxiety. Don’t forget to take time for yourself to calm the waters. This is also a critical point to check in with yourself and see how you are coping with your life and circumstances.
4. Be patient but clear with those around you. Not everyone experiences the stresses that you do with your disorder. It can be hard for others to relate to a state of being that is not commonplace for them. Educate people on your situation and how they can best help you. Respond to insensitive comments with empathy and thorough communication.
5. Educate yourself on possible medications that can help. Research what types of medications may best help you overcome your anxiety. A psychiatrist or primary care physician can also be an asset in this quest for relief. Different antidepressants and benzodiazepines can help relieve some of the constant anxiety that plagues you.
6. Seek the help of a psychologist. Counselors and psychologists are there to help you sort out your problems. They can help remedy your reality into a bearable situation. The use of cognitive behavioral therapy can help train your thought process to better cope with anxious responses and tendencies.
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7. Try more advanced and effective treatments like Ketamine Therapy. If behavioral therapies and conventional medications do not help—thankfully, there is another option. Ketamine therapy is growing in popularity as a treatment for those with anxiety disorders. It is a medication that is given intravenously in a professional medical setting and the positive effects can be felt very quickly.
8. Make pivotal lifestyle changes. Starting small and building as you establish new routines can help cement habits rather than have you living a trend. More sleep, healthier eating, and daily exercise are good places to start. These will alleviate some anxieties by setting a strong foundation from which to build a stress-free environment.
9. Simplify your life. Sometimes anxiety can blossom from too much chaos in your environment. Start by simplifying your immediate environment—these are places like your workspace and your home. Then you can turn it digital. A good clearing out works wonders for your emotional space as well. With the newfound space, you are then given room to breathe with a new state of mind.
10. Don’t hesitate to take some time off from your routines. You may not realize how much your daily life antagonizes your anxiety. Take breaks and switch up usual routines in order to identify which faction may be amiss. A vacation is a good method to step back and reevaluate what triggers your symptoms.
Prakash Masand, M.D., is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Global Medical Education (GME) and also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Academic Medicine Education Institute, Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School (Duke-NUS). He is also the Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute for Advanced Medical Research. He completed his residency training in Psychiatry at S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and a fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, in Boston, MA. https://www.copepsychiatry.com/