Fear, worry, and uneasiness are normal responses to stress. In an emergency, anxiety helps people react to danger. In a less urgent but demanding situation, it energizes you and helps get things done. But when anxiety takes control, it may indicate a disorder.
There are several types of anxiety disorders — one common factor is excessive fear or concern disproportionate to any real threat. When anxiety reaches this level, it can disrupt your life. Here is how you can help prevent anxiety from gaining the upper hand.
Watch for Warning Signs
The first step to managing an anxiety disorder is to recognize symptoms. Some common signs to watch for:
- Persistent feelings of dread
- Sudden attacks of terror
- A pounding heart, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or headaches
- A sense of impending doom or fear of losing control
- Excessive self-consciousness in social situations
- Intense worry about everyday things
Ease Anxiety in Your Life
For mild, short-term anxiety, simple steps can help calm your nerves and ease stress.
- Relax with deep breathing. Place one hand on your belly just above your navel and the other hand on your chest. Then focus on breathing slowly and deeply. With each breath in, feel your stomach rise a little. With each breath out, feel your stomach go back down.
- Confront your fears. Start by imagining yourself facing something that causes you anxiety. Gradually work up to facing it in real life.
- Limit your fretting. Set aside a few minutes of worry time every day. When the time is up, put your worries away until tomorrow.
- Stay physically active. Consider walking, swimming, biking, or another physical activity you enjoy.
- Avoid quick fixes. Turning to alcohol or drugs may seem to relax you in the moment, but it can create more problems in the long run.
When to Seek Help
Talk with your healthcare provider if anxiety is hard to control or interferes with your daily activities. Effective treatments include therapy and medications. Act now to take charge of anxiety and take back your life.
Call or Text 988 for Mental Health Support
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 access to trained counselors via call, text, and chat who can help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including suicidal distress and substance use. Anyone can use the lifeline if they are concerned about a loved one needing crisis help. Counselors will listen, provide support, and connect you to helpful resources. Please spread the word — dialing 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org can be lifesaving.
Behavioral Health at Emerson
Emerson’s experienced behavioral health experts help patients overcome mental health crises. When someone experiences symptoms of a serious psychiatric illness or substance use disorder, we provide a safe, therapeutic environment for evaluation, crisis stabilization and treatment, including:
- Emergency care with psychiatric evaluation in the emergency department available 24/7
- A child life team that supports children experiencing a mental health crisis in the emergency department, offering coping tools, appropriate distractions, and support for families
- A 31-bed adult inpatient behavioral health unit that provides comprehensive one-on-one and group behavioral health therapies for patients who require care for an extended period
- Outpatient programs and support groups for addiction recovery
To listen to podcasts with Emerson experts discussing ways to improve mental health, visit emersonhealth.org/podcast and search topics for “mental health.”