In any given year about 17% of us will have an anxiety disorder, and over our lives, about 28 % of us will have an anxiety disorder. Who has not experienced a persistent feeling of unease, or a vague sense that something is about to go terribly wrong? At some time or another in our lives, we all experience anxiety. For example, a person may feel anxious giving a speech before a large audience. In this case, the anxiety can be beneficial, spurring the person to perform at his/her peak level. Anxiety can also take the shape of a persistent and excessive worry about an issue that the person finds difficult to control. Seeking professional help should be considered when anxiety:
- Becomes overwhelming and persistent - Occurs with no warning - Interferes with daily living - Lasts for six months or more
Most anxiety disorders are treatable. Unfortunately, many people with anxiety disorders don't seek treatment because they do not believe they have a legitimate illness, or they fear the reaction of family and friends. If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you may want to consider seeking out counseling.
Almost everyone feels blue from time to time, it’s part of being human. However, if you feel sad, anxious or empty, or experience feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness that doesn't go away for weeks, you may be depressed. Depression has a variety of symptoms; the most prevalent is a feeling of deep sadness. If you are depressed, you are far from alone. In any given one-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 18.8 million Americans suffer from some form of depression. Unfortunately, most people with a depressive illness do not seek treatment. Many are unaware that they can be successfully treated with a combination of therapies. Others may be ashamed or worry about the reaction of family, friends and co-workers.
The APA offer tips on how to manage your stress.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, stress has become a fact of life. It can cause people to feel overwhelmed or pushed to the limit. The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” poll found that one-third of people in the U.S. report experiencing extreme levels of stress. In addition, nearly one-in-five report that they are experiencing high levels of stress 15 or more days per month. While low to moderate levels of stress can be good for you when managed in healthy ways, extreme stress takes both an emotional and physical toll on the individual.
With the consequences of poorly managed stress ranging from fatigue to heart disease and obesity, it is important to know how to recognize high stress levels and take action to handle it in healthy ways. Being able to control stress is a learned behavior, and stress can be effectively managed by taking small steps toward changing unhealthy behaviors.
Understand how you stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed?
Identify your sources of stress. What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else?
Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control, or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.
Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over/under eating) to cope. Is this a rouutine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed?
Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities such as meditation, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations or other breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it's just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.
Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
Information contained in this tip sheet should not be used as a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may need or benefit from care should consult with a licensed mental health professional.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato