Anxiety is a mental/psychological disorder that causes many problems to the individual. It causes muscular tension, headaches, problems with memory, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, helplessness, difficulty sleeping, etc. The most important and most serious problem, however, is the subjective pain that the patient feels. The most common and most severe symptom of anxiety is the extreme difficulty in breathing. Tension in the abdominal muscles and chest pain are also major problems to the patient.
Our lives are full of different kinds of stressors and normal people are gifted with the ability to face those stressors. Anxiety badly affects and damages this ability to bear stress. Small routine tasks become difficult or even mentally painful for the individual. Patients feel psychological pain for very trivial tasks like brushing teeth or buying a soft drink. Anxiety also makes people lazy.
Patients with anxiety also face problems of stress management and decision-making. They begin different activities with great enthusiasm but when the stress builds up they quit those activities. Let us see what can we do to help an anxiety patient.
Ask the patient which situations and scenes trigger anxious feelings and difficulty in breathing. Make a list of the anxiety-provoking scenes or situations and arrange them from the least anxiety-provoking to the most anxiety provoking one.
Ask the patient to lie on a couch and relax. Ask him to tightly close his eyes for ten to fifteen seconds and then relax them, then ask him to tighten the head and face muscles. Apply this relaxation technique to all the parts of the body.
After the relaxation of the whole body take the list of anxiety provoking scenes you prepared. Now ask the patient to be deeply relaxed and close his eyes and ask him to visualize the least anxiety-provoking scene. Describe the details of the scene and tell him to relax. For example you can say, "Be relaxed, remember that you are lying on the couch and nothing bad is going to happen. Just imagine the scene and try to be relaxed with it." You can repeat this suggestion until the feeling of anxiety vanishes from the patient's mind.
Take the second scene from your list, which is slightly more anxiety-provoking, and apply the above mentioned technique. This anxiety treatment technique is called systematic desensitization. In the beginning, different situations are associated with anxiety, psychological pain and disturbance. By the systematic desensitization technique the therapist conditions or associates the anxiety-provoking situation with relaxation. This also involves learning new response to a previously disturbing situation.
In Vivo Desensitization
The in vivo desensitization technique exposes the patient to real
situations and encourages him to be relaxed in those situations. Obviously this also involves learning a new response to the previously disturbing situation.
- Construct a list of anxiety-provoking scenes or situations.
Be gradual in this technique and move from the least to most anxiety-provoking situation. For example if a person is afraid of leaving his home, ask him to leave the home and walk away for 20 steps. Gradually progress to going to the super market, and so on.The last situation may be to leave the city. Let us talk about other important things regarding the treatment of anxiety.
Other Anxiety Treatments
Suggest the patient join internet communities with other anxiety disorder patients. This will reduce the patient's feeling of loneliness and will help him realize that he is not alone in this problem and there are others who can understand his feelings.
Encourage him to read books about anxiety. This will help him understand and treat his anxiety as well as give him an objective view of his problems.
Ask the patient to breath as deeply as possible with his diaphragm. Ask him to let his belly expand while breathing. This will prevent hyperventilation, in which the level of oxygen in the blood increases and the level of carbon dioxide decreases. Shallow breathing causes hyperventilation and it leads to anxious feelings.
Have the patient to hold his breath for few seconds and repeat this exercise. This will increase the amount of carbon dioxide in blood and will lead to relaxation.
Tell the patient to think positive. Encourage her to hold better and useful beliefs about God, her self, people, events and the world. For example, it is psychologically beneficial to believe that God wants me to be happy and that people are nice and beautiful. Virtue is its own reward and we must respect others' world views, etc.
Most of the patients hold negative beliefs like: nobody loves me, everyone is hostile towards me, God has done injustice to me, everybody is selfish, I am worthless, etc. Help the patient shun such negative beliefs. Our feelings, thoughts and behaviour come from our beliefs.
Changes to Your Daily Life
- Get enough mineral magnesium as lack of it causes anxiety, depression and insomnia. Deficiency of Vitamin B and Calcium also causes anxiety.
- Eat whole grain cereals, green vegetables, and low fat dairy products.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine and stimulating drugs as these cause the adrenal gland to release an alerting and tension creating chemical called adrenaline.
- Avoid artificial colours an preservatives and try to use fresh unprocessed food.
- Physical exercise burns up stress chemicals and promotes relaxation, so exercise!
- You may need the help of anti-anxiety drugs, but you must go to a psychiatrist for medication. Secondly, remember that drugs are complementary to psychological techniques of treatment.
I hope that above information will help people with anxiety disorder. My final suggestion is that spirituality and religion have many good psychological advantages, so if you are a spiritual person, utilize that. The above information is beneficial to anxiety patients themselves and to those who want to help anxiety patients.