Why is it important to reduce stress?
Stress is the body's natural response to challenging situations, causing muscles to tense and the mind to be more alert. The burst of adrenaline gives you energy to meet your goals. However, if stress does not subside and continues to upset your daily life, the effects can be serious. You may experience problems eating or sleeping, headaches, neck aches, backaches, increased use of alcohol and/or other drugs, upset stomach, fatigue, poor concentration, nightmares, and frustration. Stress affects many bodily functions, especially your immune system. Excessive stress is believed to be a factor in illnesses ranging from colds and flu to heart disease.
What is anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety now and again. Challenging situations naturally trigger fight or flight responses, such as rapid heartbeat, sweaty hands, cool extremities, and increased alertness. However, anxiety disorders cause more intense emotional and psychological discomfort. Sufferers feel helpless, and instead of coping and resolving tension naturally, they feel overwhelmed and think the worst possible things will happen. Anxiety is the largest mental health problem in the US.
What are the symptoms of anxiety disorder?
- Headaches or muscle tension
- Fatigue, trouble sleeping
- Upset stomach
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Depression, feelings of emptiness, low self esteem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing thoughts or obsessions
- Biting fingernails and scratching
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol (unfortunately this may increase frequency and severity of panic attacks)
- Accident prone
- Avoiding situations associated with panic attacks, leading to an increasingly restricted life
- Feelings of bitterness
What causes anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorder is frequently triggered by a sudden crisis or troubling event. Otherwise, the disorder may be caused by a more permanent aspect of life, such as:
- Stress, especially long term.
- Pressure you place on yourself to reach personal goals.
- Changes at home, school, or in your family.
- Genetics or biological predisposition. People who have relatives with an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop one themselves. Studies suggest that those who suffer have a chemical imbalance in the brain, causing the fight or flight response to be out of order.
- Personality traits. Certain qualities, such as low self esteem and poor coping skills contribute to the development of anxiety problems.
- Long term abuse, violence, or poverty.
- Drug use. Some people experience panic attacks after using caffeine or marijuana. Drastically reducing caffeine intake can have the same effect.
What's the difference between everyday nerves and anxiety disorder?
Everyone experiences a little anxiety in stressful situations, like a first date, class presentation, or job interview. Such nerve racking situations can cause sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, rapid heartbeat, and blushing. However, there is good reason for this nervousness which passes without serious physical or psychological consequences. Anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is a medical disorder that strikes without warning and can hinder daily activities. People who suffer anxiety disorder feel inexplicably overwhelmed by fear and physical distress. Efforts to reduce these symptoms often disrupt daily routines, and personal and business relationships.
How is anxiety treated?
Psychotherapy: along with medication, psychotherapy is the most common and effective treatment for anxiety disorder. Therapists provide clients an opportunity to talk about uncomfortable feelings, stay in touch with emotions, and learn how to reduce anxiety. By investigating the cause of anxiety, a client is better able to overcome his/her disorder.
Medication: Depending on the severity of the anxiety, medication is used in combination with psychotherapy. Drugs can offer effective, yet short term relief from anxiety. The prescription depends on the type of anxiety.
Self help: Most effective when accompanied by therapy, self help techniques enable individuals to cope with anxiety problems through relaxing activities. Therapists will often suggest clients take up art, breathe deeply to relax, exercise regularly, or practice yoga.
What should I do if I have a panic attack?
- Remember you're not in danger.
- Change your breathing patterns. You are probably breathing shallowly and fast, so slow down by taking long, deep breaths to get more oxygen in your blood.
- Relax all your muscles. A good technique to accomplish this involves starting with the feet, tensing the muscles there and relaxing them, doing the same for each muscle all the way up to the face.
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Office phone: (718) 340-4216
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Resources for Victims/Survivors Of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, and Rape
RAINN: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
Live, secure, anonymous crisis support www.rainn.org
NYC Rape Crisis Hotline
Safe Horizon: Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline
Safe Horizon:Domestic Violence Hotline
NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
Elmhurst Hospital: Borough Crisis Center
NYS Crime Victims Board
Programs for Abusers
Safe Horizon Alternatives to Violence Program
Sexual Abuser Treatment Referral Line
Mon - Fri 9:00am - 4:30pm