Why you're nervous or scared for no reason
Do you suffer from anxiety - often apparently for no reason at all?
Do you worry about anything and everything?
Does logic not even seem to come into it?
Do you constantly have 'the jitters'?
Are you feeling on edge all of a sudden, or even all of the time?
You might worry that, behind your back, people call you a wimp, a weakling or strange, but I certainly don't...
I'm so glad you've landed here to discover what it's all about, and uncover some effective self-help strategies. This article is for you and/or your partner, depending on which one of you needs the help, as anxiety can affect all aspects of your life - including your relationship.
What is anxiety and what are the symptoms?
Let's start with the basics. What does anxiety mean? Here are some words to describe it: apprehension, fear, dread, trepidation, panic, nervousness, 'butterflies in your stomach'.
There are three anxiety disorders: panic-, social- and generalised anxiety disorder. In this article I'm mainly aiming to help you deal with the latter - that constant fear in the pit of your stomach, often apparently for no reason at all. Suffering from one of the other forms? Do read on as my self-help interventions will help to settle you too, whatever your fears.
What is generalised anxiety?
Let's look at its worst form first. This is when a doctor may diagnose Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). You can decide for yourself how this compares with what you're going through.
Oh... and don't forget to also have a look at my page on the signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown - you'll find the link at the end of this article.
So, now you can see what generalised anxiety disorder looks like when the symptoms are at their worst.
GAD is of course a label. The label may be helpful in the sense that you - or more likely, your doctor - has a shorthand description for a seemingly diverse set of symptoms.
If you're suffering from these awful, soul-destroying, energy-sapping symptoms of anxiety, you may not care much about what it's called. Or whether it's generalised or not, or classified as a disorder or not. You just want to put an end to it - now!
To find the best self-help strategies we need to look at the causes of anxiety first, as therein lies the answer to what you can do to help yourself.
But, before we get to that...
Feeling anxious for no reason?
The positives of being a 'worrier'
Yes, there are positives. You're likely to be the one that spots real danger, where others merely wander without thought.
You'll be the one to offer practical refinements to an impromptu and vague idea or plan. There's nothing wrong with dreamers - it's just that they need someone like you to balance the team!
And to be honest, I'd rather have a worrier as a dentist or an accountant - they'd think twice before pulling out a tooth or giving some dodgy advice!
Also, all of us have our own tell-tale sign (like the canary in the mine) that alerts us to the fact that all is not well. It can be physical or mental - so, for example, I'm likely get back-ache. Chances are that for you it'll be those anxious feelings.
Let's get to the bottom of your troubles now.
What causes you to feel anxious for no apparent reason?
Before we can begin to help you get over that constant feeling of dread, trepidation and nervousness, we need to know how and when it started. Then you can be clear about how best you can help yourself.
Have you always suffered?
Did it appear (seemingly) out of the blue?
Did it start after some kind of disaster?
Has it built up over time and you now have chronic anxiety?
Does it come on in waves?
Do you often feel you're anxious for no real reason?
It makes a big difference whether or not the onset of your anxiety is due to a sudden event or if you've always been an 'anxious type' - a worrier, someone for whom the glass is always half-empty, and even on a sunny day you can see the storm clouds ahead.
Is it in your genes?
If anxiety appears to run in the family, it may be that your genetic inheritance - that biological lottery - has set you up for some vulnerability to anxiety. That does not mean that you can blame your genes for you constantly being in a state of alarm. The story is far more complicated than that.
Not every timid, shy and anxious child develops into a fearful adult with anxiety problems. Lifestyle factors, parenting and other experiences, as well as your manner of dealing with stressors (stressful events and situations), determine the ultimate outcome.
Your personal development, and here the development of anxiety, depends on...
- how safe (emotionally as well as physically) your environment was when you grew up
- to what extent essential emotional needs were met (see link below)
- whether or not you had parents who were overprotective
- whether or not you had a parent who expressed constant anxiety
- whether or not you were encouraged to become more resilient and deal with, rather than avoid, feared situations - at home, with friends and at school
These experiences would have shaped your own reactions and general attitude towards stressful situations and life-events.
So, what can you do about it?
You've always been a nervous type - chronically anxious? Regardless of whether that is through a genetic predisposition or any of the above, you just need to follow all the steps below to permanently get over that sense of panic. Unless you need treatment for traumatic reactions, decide to focus only on 'the here and now' from now on.
11 Additional causes of anxiety and what you can do about them
The above causes of anxiety may overlap and/or be exacerbated by: -
- Post-traumatic stress
The solution: Follow the link (see below) to a number of my articles with all the advice you need to help yourself recover from this hugely distressing condition.
- A sudden and severe loss
The solution: Whether it was the loss of a loved one, your job, your status, your financial security, etc - this most of all needs reassurance. It is totally normal for you to worry, and walk around with a constant feeling of dread that at any moment there's going to be another bolt out of the blue. Chances are you'll notice yourself getting a little better day by day - depending much on your particular circumstances, of course. Regardless, you need not worry that you've lost your mind forever. You're going to be okay! Nevertheless, you'll definitely benefit from following the advice further down.
- A general build-up of stress
The solution: This not only requires you to manage the symptoms, but also to make some important decisions and lifestyle changes. It might be hard going to start with, but I know you can do it!
- A general (poor?) state of health
The solution: the latest is - believe it or not - that your bowels may be leaking toxins that can pass the blood-brain barrier and cause 'irritation'. Whether or not your doctor is aware of that (many are not!), you may need their help, and there's much you can do yourself too. Inflammation is also linked with anxiety.
- Nutritional deficiencies
The solution: you guessed it - a better diet. Ditch the fast-food stuff for starters, but there's also a chance that your body isn't absorbing the nutrients you're getting from the good food you're eating. Deficiencies can also be caused by the contraceptive pill (Vit B12) and other prescribed medication.
- Blood sugar instability
The solution: stop eating sugar and sugary foods. Dr Kelly Brogan will tell you what else you can do. You won't believe how quickly your symptoms can disappear if this indeed is the problem.
- Medication (acid blockers in particular)
The solution: do your own research first, then discuss with your doctor how you can make some positive changes to benefit your health.
- Gluten intolerance
The solution: do your own research and connect with a (medical) practitioner - doctor or nutritionist - who's well-versed in functional medicine.
- Other allergies or intolerances
The solution: clean up your diet for starters. Get Dr Kelly Brogan's book: a Mind of Your Own for a comprehensive way to sort your diet once and for all.
The solution: lifestyle adjustments and support to help you ride out the storm.
- Childhood adversity, incl. trauma
The solution: first of all - realise that you matter! You are unique, you have been born with unique gifts. The past need not define your future, You have already started your self-healing journey. Don't stop!
For all of these issues, you'll benefit from - and feel tons better for - following the advice on how to deal with the immediate symptoms that you'll find further down the page.
To start you off
I'd like you to watch the video testimonials on Dr Kelly Brogan's website. Dr Brogan is a fully qualified and very experienced psychiatrist who treats people without medication! She's an absolute star in my eyes.
3 Potential medical causes at the root of anxiety disorders
It's important that your doctor or other health professional rules out any other problems you may have, such as:
- Thyroid disorder
- Heart disease
- Digestive-tract disorders (read The future of psychobiotics to learn more)
These conditions can also cause you to suffer from anxiety, and anti-anxiety medication (if you were to be advised to take any at all) would absolutely not be necessary. Indeed, long-term it may make the problem much worse. I'd be delighted therefore, to show you how you can help yourself. So read on!
Effective 3-step anxiety disorder self-help plan
How precisely does the anxiety affect you?
Below is a list of what my clients have reported, regardless of the cause of the condition or disorder. Be sure to share it with your partner or friend so that they understand what it's like to suffer.
What are the best interventions to beat anxiety forever?
Remember that much of the above may lessen when certain health conditions that cause inflammation and/or any medical complications are resolved. Dr Kelly Brogan, MD has found an amazingly effective way to deal with all of that, including the anxiety. You may need no other treatment at all!
Also, the above signs and symptoms can be quickly - and positively - influenced by very simple and practical anxiety disorder self-help strategies, including self-hypnosis (see my article: Hypnosis FAQ and downloads).
I also want you to consider getting some professional help too, as all of the above are much related to...
... how you view yourself
... your perceptions of the world around you
... what you tell yourself about those perceptions
... how you react to all of the above
All of them are exacerbated by your undoubtedly very rich imagination (and I so hope you put that to good use in other ways from now on!).
Oh, and do also ask yourself...
- Do you by any chance also 'use' anxiety to get out of things you just don't fancy for reasons other than the condition?
- Could you possibly be setting yourself up to be the vulnerable one in your relationship (see further down in this article)?
Both need to be addressed if you're really serious about getting over your anxiety forever.
Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of change
3 Step plan to beat your anxiety forever
Step 1 - Self-help for the symptoms
Dealing with the symptoms is so important and they will reduce further by themselves over time as we tackle the causes and your lifestyle (Yes I know, that's the bit you may not want to know about!).
The best way to calm yourself is with self-hypnosis. You can listen to that soothing voice with its powerful messages as frequently as you need to. Know that with each time you listen, you're one step closer to recovery.
Do challenge yourself to continue to take steps out of your comfort zone in the morning, afternoon and evening. Each time you do, it's one more step towards overcoming all of the barriers your anxiety has previously put in your way.
Step 2 - Dealing with the causes
Again, this may involve a visit to a doctor. But then...
- Do all you can to put an end to old hurts. Talk it out with the people who matter. And, if that's not possible, talk it over with someone you trust. Forgive, even if you can't forget.
- Take whatever action is necessary to get over a traumatic experience (see links below)
- Stop making excuses for yourself. You know now that courage is your middle name!
- Stop blaming others for your 'issues' - you'll forever remain dependent on their actions and not your own. To a greater or lesser extent, all of us have 'issues'. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's time to take your life into your own hands and get back in the driving seat.
- Put that creativity you employed to dream up all kinds of disasters to more productive use - in your mind and in reality: draw, sew, design, paint, write, or do whatever works for you. When you're busy creating, there's no space for worrying. And should you have time, day-dream about how easy everything is - in detail, using all of your senses.
- Change your diet. This is absolutely one of the most important changes you can make.
- Talk to a professional - it's so much easier today because of the ready availability of professional therapists online. You can chat not only about your anxiety, but anything at all that's bothering you.
Step 3 - Making lifestyle changes
Your anxiety is much less likely to rear its ugly head in the future if you commit to making lifestyle changes that protect your body, mind and environment from damage.
Now I'm going to refer you to my page on how to get over a nervous breakdown. I wrote that article for people who are on the far end of the scale with their anxiety - they've had a complete burn-out. They may or may not have previously suffered from excessive stress or anxiety, but the advice for you is the same as it is for them.
Next - enlist your partner's support...
Helping your partner to help you
I've given you lots of information and links to many resources that can help you with your anxiety. It might take a little time to digest it all - but that's okay! This isn't a race. You've already taken the first step towards making some positive changes, simply by reading this page.
Overcoming your anxiety for good will take some work on your part (sorry!), but the payoff is soooo worth it. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you'll get to where you want to be. I know you can do it - never forget: you already have the courage of a lion!