Coping with anxiety disorders is similar to coping with other mental illnesses, like depression. Psychologist, psychiatrists and counselors use cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation, and medication to treat anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves identifying, understanding, and modifying thinking and behavior patterns. If a person can change their thinking and behavior, positive emotional changes usually follow. Relaxation helps to cope with the physical stresses caused by anxiety disorders. Medications, such as antidepressants or antianxiety medicines, are used to alleviate severe symptoms. Depending on the individual, treatment can be short-term or long-term. Since I suffer from severe panic disorder, I take a daily dose of Paxil. It is extremely important to take your medication has directed by your pharmacists. DO NOT mess around with antidepressants. (I know from personal experience. It isn’t pretty.)
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America offers these suggestions to help students with anxiety disorders:
Exercise: Physical activity benefits your body and MIND.
Eat a balanced diet: Don’t skip meals and remember to eat from all of the food groups. Avoid caffeine since it can trigger anxiety attacks.
Do your best instead of trying to be perfect: Perfection isn’t possible, so be proud for however close you get.
Take a time out: Take a deep breath and count to ten. Mediate. Get a massage. Go for a walk.
Put things in perspective: Look at life from new angle. Ask yourself if you are blowing things out of proportion. (I always blow the little things out of proportion. I like to think I come from a long line of over-reactors.
Talk to someone: Don’t bottle up your feelings to the point of explosion. Talk to a friend, roommate, church leader, or family member.
Find out what triggers your anxiety: Take notes or write in a journal so you can reflect on your anxiety. (This is easier said than done…but try it!)
Don’t give up. Dealing with anxiety is a never-ending process.