General Anxiety Disorder and You
Written by: Emma Anius
Ever get so worried that it interferes with your everyday life, or feel like you cannot cope with anything that is going on right now? It is normal to feel anxious or worried from time to time, but General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) happens when you are unable to control the extent of the worrying. Most people would just assume that they are stressed over what’s going on in their daily lives, so wouldn’t go to their doctor to inquire, but GAD is a problem that affects over 5 percent of the worlds population. To be diagnosed with GAD you must feel worried and stressed almost every day about most things, and the feelings must last for at least 6 months.
The usual method of treatment is medication and antidepressants that target the serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine chemicals in the brain. Although there are other lifestyle changes you can make to help keep the symptoms of GAD at bay.
Adopting healthy eating habits can help; eating healthily and frequently plays a huge role. Going a long time without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel anxious and irritable. Also the type of food you ingest can play a part; complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables stabilize blood sugar, they also boost serotonin which is a neurotransmitter with calming effects. Avoid sugary snacks and desserts as they cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling emotionally and physically drained.
Cutting back on caffeinated drinks, including soda, coffee, and tea is advised as these types of drinks can increase anxiety, interfere with sleep, and even provoke panic attacks. Alcohol is also a substance that should be taken with moderation and consideration, it could lead you on a path of alcohol abuse and dependence because it temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but as it wears off it actually causes the symptoms of anxiety to return.
Smoking is another lifestyle factor that can have a negative impact as it appears to have a calming effect but nicotine is actually a powerful stimulant and leads to higher levels of anxiety.
With GAD, getting to sleep can be a problem, but sleep is essential to helping you keep calm throughout the day. Lack of sleep can also contribute to anxiety, when you’re sleep deprived, your ability to handle stress is compromised. When you’re well rested, it’s much easier to keep your emotional balance.
Along with sleep, exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment and has long been considered an effective method of managing stress. It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. Aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging and swimming relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, it also makes the body release the same chemical that the antidepressants target; the endorphins and serotonin and other chemicals in the brain known to ease tension and relieve pain. The best form of exercise to take part in is something you enjoy, as that will encourage you to stick with the activity and the benefits you receive will last longer.
Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.
If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:
Lunge x 10, squat x 10, medicine ball twists x 30, plank x 30 sec, 5 min jog
Lunge x 20, squat x 20, medicine ball twists x 50, plank x 60 sec, 5 min jog
- For help with the exercises go to www.facebook.com/cyanfitness and view the photos
Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’