Anxiety

Worried that you worry too much? Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But feeling extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or repeatedly feel panicky, may be signs of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders include panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults. A person has an anxiety disorder if she or he has persistent worry for more days than not, for at least several months. Some people with anxiety feel they have always been worriers, even since childhood or adolescence. In other people, anxiety comes on suddenly, triggered by a crisis or a period of stress, such as the loss of a job, a family illness, the death of a relative, or other tragedy.

Numerous therapies can help control anxiety. These include psychotherapy and medication, ideally supported by good nutrition, sleep, and regular exercise. People who are anxious tend to reach for unhealthy "comfort" food—and then worry about it. Or they completely avoid food, skipping meals or even fasting—and worry that something is wrong, such as an undiagnosed cancer. Healthy eating can avoid these anxiety triggers.

Not getting enough sleep can boost a person's anxiety level. On the flip side, getting enough sleep can help control stress and anxiety. So can getting regular exercise—aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.

Anxiety Articles

Overcoming anxiety

Millions of older adults suffer from anxiety. Idleness in retirement, financial worries, and health issues are the leading causes of anxiety among older men. However, the condition is highly treatable with therapy, medication, and simple lifestyle changes. More »

Meditation may ease anxiety from active surveillance

A mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) can help control anxiety among men who follow active surveillance for prostate cancer. The wait-and-see approach can make men feel so uneasy about their condition that they opt for treatment with radiation therapy or surgery when it is unnecessary. MBSR not only eases anxiety levels, but also inspires men to be more proactive about their health and adopt lifestyle changes like a proper diet and exercise. More »

How music can help you heal

Music therapy has been demonstrated to calm anxiety, ease pain, facilitate rehabilitation, and improve quality of life for people with dementia. (Locked) More »

Starting High School -- Tips for Parents

Going to high school is a big transition for teens. It's during high school that they get ready to move away from their families and enter the bigger world. It's also a time when youth often engage in risky behaviors. So it's a good idea for parents to plan ahead and get ready. Here are some things to think about: An increased school workload. In general, high school is harder and more demanding than middle school. Most teens can handle this. Make sure there is time built into the day for your teen to do the work —and still get at least eight hours of sleep. It may not be possible to do all the activities, including social activities, that they did in middle school. Better to keep the after-school commitments light and add on to them if time permits. (Locked) More »

When a Child Refuses To Go to School

Separation anxiety is normal for a child. After about six to nine months of age, children realize that their parents leave them from time to time. That's why they become uncomfortable around strangers. This discomfort, which usually peaks around age two, lasts until first or second grade. But some children experience separation anxiety well past age 7. They may avoid sleepovers with friends. Nightmares may drive them to climb into bed with their parents. They may worry about being kidnapped. Or they have persistent unreasonable fears that their parents will be harmed or killed. They cry, cling, throw tantrums, or get physical symptoms. But the most difficult sign of separation anxiety may be when a child refuses to go to school. (Locked) More »

Calm your anxious heart

Anxiety disorders alter the stress response, affecting the same brain systems that influence cardiovascular functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. People who have ongoing anxiety problems suffer higher rates of heart attack and other cardiac events. Managing anxiety, depression, and stress can improve a person’s sense of well-being and lower the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. (Locked) More »

How a sleep shortfall can stress your heart

Chronic sleep deprivation strains the cardiovascular system, which may raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The most common cause, insomnia (trouble falling and staying asleep) often stems from stress, depression, or anxiety. Sleep apnea, which causes loud snoring and frequent breathing lapses during sleep, is more prevalent in people at risk for heart disease. (Locked) More »

Generalized anxiety disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time — usually in response to physical stress (such as nearly being run over by a car) or psychological stress (such as having your boss threaten to fire you). When you are being tested or challenged in some way, normal anxiety warns of potential danger and prepares you to deal with it. Normal anxiety has its roots in fear—an emotion that serves an important function. When you face a dangerous or stressful situation, fear helps motivate the body to take action by activating the flight or fight response: the heart beats faster, sending more blood to the muscles; breathing becomes heavier; and muscles tense in readiness for movement. This defensive mechanism provides the body with the necessary energy and strength to cope with threatening situations. When our prehistoric ancestors saw a tiger lying in wait for them, they needed to run. In people with generalized anxiety disorder, the same physical and emotional mechanisms are set in motion, even though there is no physical threat to contend with. For them, feelings of anxiety or apprehension occur for no specific reason. More »