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The exact causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders are unknown. This makes it difficult to prevent anxiety disorders or predict who will develop them. However, much research is being done in this area, and there are steps you can take to reduce anxiety and minimize future episodes.
Studies indicate that early intervention for children who show signs of anxiety is effective in producing a long-term reduction in problems. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, preschool children whose parents intervened early had better results. Children chosen for the study showed distress or fear and withdrawn behaviors, which are identified risk factors for later anxiety. In this particular study, parents participated in an anxiety awareness education program. Children whose parents participated in the education program were much more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety.
These results are encouraging. For adults as well as children, early treatment is the best way to prevent future problems. Many people avoid asking for help with anxiety because they are embarrassed. They may feel that having a mental health problem is an indication of failure. Also, they may fear that other people will think less of them. It is important to remember that anxiety disorder is an illness. With treatment and lifestyle changes, you can keep your symptoms under control and prevent further issues.
If you are experiencing anxiety, it’s important to reduce stress in your life. Find ways to relax. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Try:
In addition to exercise, you might want to take breaks from your routine or plan a vacation. If you enjoy a particular hobby, make time for it. Do things that make you feel better and more relaxed.
Eating a healthy diet will make you feel better both physically and mentally. Don’t stress over food choices, but try to eat a wide variety of fresh, healthy foods. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains whenever possible. Avoid greasy, sugary, high-fat, processed foods. Remember that what feeds your body also feeds your brain.
No one knows you better than you do. Keeping a journal is a great way to track your moods, stress, and anxiety. Many people find that identifying and writing down their problems makes them easier to deal with. If you are working with a mental health specialist, a journal can help both of you figure out what triggers your stress and what helps you feel better.
While tobacco, drugs, and alcohol are often called stress relievers, using them actually damages the body, making it harder for you to handle stress and anxiety. Caffeine, too, can cause or increase anxiety. Addiction to these substances can lead to additional anxiety and stress, and withdrawal can create anxiety as well. If you are addicted and need help to quit, talk to your doctor or find a support group.
In general, the things that make and keep you healthy will also help you cope with stress and anxiety and avoid future symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. One-third of people will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, they report. However, they remind people that there are effective treatments, and that research is developing new ones. They urge people who think they might have an anxiety disorder to seek treatment and information immediately.
Anxiety disorders can bring many biological and psychological symptoms that affect your general health. However, the right treatment combined with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress reduction techniques can help you regain your sense of well-being. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that for most people, both symptoms and quality of life improve once they get treatment.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: May 18, 2016: Reviewer Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PMHNP-BC
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