Anxiety disorders are the most common mental concern in the United States, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population every year. Approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder. Most people develop symptoms before age 21. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet many who suffer with them do not receive treatment. A combination of genetics and environment are considered to be the main factors contributing to the cause of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders often co-occur with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Anxiety treatments include medication, psychotherapy, and complementary health approaches, including relaxation techniques.1
Techniques for dealing with anxiety fall into three general categories:
1. Physical distress resulting in terror or panic:
These are often identified as Panic Attacks. This includes heart pounding, pulse-racing, feeling dizzy, tingly, shortness of breath. Physical symptoms come on suddenly and unexpectedly. It can trigger feelings of fear or dread.
What to do:
1. Stay physically healthy through healthy eating, adequate sleep, and physical exercise.
2. Practice therapeutic breathing: Take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth for one minute several times per day. Deliberate therapeutic breathing can slow down or stop the stress response.
3. Practice mindfulness. Focus on relaxing and being in the moment. Take time to slow down and “smell the roses.”
2. Emotional distress resulting in feelings of tension, stress, and dread
This is caused by the mind trying to make sense of something that is happening.
What to do:
1. Spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, especially Psalms and Proverbs. If God is trying to tell you or teach you something, you will find it there. Sometimes God just wants us to trust Him with things that don't make sense.
2. Don’t listen when worry calls your name. When worry knocks, ask Jesus to answer the door.
3. Feel anger but don't show anger. Take time to stop, think, and pray before saying anything. Learn to respond rather than react to stressful situations.
4. Use fun and laughter to release stress and break through tension.
3. Mental distress resulting in rumination
The brain won’t turn off.
What to do:
1. Write down the thing(s) you are worrying about and put them in a “worry jar.” Come back to
it later, within 24 hours. In the meantime, pray about it, ask others to pray, give it to the Lord and go about your day.
2. Plan instead of worrying. When you return to your worry jar, make an Action Plan for how to deal with items that need be faced and dealt with. Planning puts you in control of that which you can control and reduces anxiety.
3. Don't second guess plans and decisions you have made. 2
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
Resting in Jesus,