Anxious feelings are a normal reaction to a stressful situation, but for some people this anxiety happens for no apparent reason or continues long after the event has passed.
Are you dealing with GAD?
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder, characterised by uncontrollable worry that affects day-to-day life. You could be suffering from GAD if all of these symptoms happen on most days and have been happening for around six months.
• You often worry uncontrollably about everything.
• You often feel tired but don’t sleep well.
• You constantly feel tense and/ or restless.
• Your heart races or your mouth gets dry.
If some or all these symptoms sound familiar, talk to your doctor who will recommend therapy and/or medication, depending on the severity of your condition.
What works for anxiety?
To prevent anxiety or alleviate existing symptoms, there are some general principles that
most people find useful. These include:
A healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough quality sleep, limit alcohol and avoid drugs.
Reducing and managing stress levels. Make sure to do something enjoyable and relaxing each day.
Dealing with setbacks. Address problems early and keep trying.
As with depression, effective therapies for the treatment of anxiety are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and behaviour therapy, to help you cope with fearful situations rather than avoiding or escaping them, as well as putting your worries into perspective. But for some people with mild-to moderate anxiety, online therapies, also called e-therapies, have proven to be as effective as face-to-face services.
These therapies mostly follow the principles of CBT or behaviour therapy. You work through the programme on your own but most involve email or phone support from a therapist. Locally-based counselling psychologist, Ellen Whyte, works online via Skype and Messenger at lepak.com.
Antidepressants. Even if you’re not experiencing the symptoms of depression, in some cases antidepressants can be an effective treatment for anxiety. As with depression, changes occur in the brain chemicals that affect mood.
Benzodiazepines. These include mild tranquilisers and sleeping pills prescribed for short periods of time, along with other medications. They promote relaxation and reduce tension, but are not recommended for long-term use as they can reduce alertness, affect coordination, and can be addictive.