Some say that anxiety is excess future, depression is excess past, and stress is excess present.
Now imagine someone who has an excess of all of these! Laura was that person.
When she was five years old, Laura’s father abandoned her family, pursuing a woman much younger than her mother. Laura’s mother had to work hard to keep up the household. Laura spent much of her time at a day care centre while her mother wore herself out with two jobs.
Laura frequently heard her mother complain about their lack of money, so Laura began to fear the future. She feared her mother would leave just as her father had. She was afraid of losing her house, her room, her life. She was unable to relax. She continually felt that a disaster was about to happen. Simply put, she was unable to control her negative thought patterns.
Two years filled with an overwhelming routine caused Laura’s mother to pay a high price—a serious disease overtook her, and she passed away a few months later. Once again, Laura was abandoned, and her insecurity reached alarming levels.
Adopted by a great-aunt, Laura grew up without the warmth of her mother’s love and the protection of her father. She was afraid of everything—especially the future.
The anxious person suffers from overwhelming apprehension and worry, altering the normality of the individual’s life extensively. The most frequent concerns are interpersonal relationships, work, finances, health, and the future in general. Frequently this person experiences generalised anxiety where no reason exists.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues. In large urban centres, one in three people suffers from anxiety. (A. J. Baxter et al., “Global Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-regression,” Psychological Medicine 43, no. 5 (May 2013): 897–910, doi:10.1017/S003329171200147X.)
Unfortunately, the current conditions under which people live favour these problems and bring a great deal of suffering to the afflicted and their families.
Frequently, the symptoms of anxiety do not emerge until a stressful situation triggers a crisis. Easily applied prevention activities can deter the emergence of anxiety as well as serve to calm the symptoms when they appear:
Talk about your problems. Seek to associate with individuals in a close friendship, those with whom you can share your experiences. People who are always isolated run a greater risk of developing anxiety. If this is your case, maintain a good relationship with a family member or friend who can fulfil your need of companionship.
Practice relaxation. Tension accompanies all forms of anxiety, and it is essential to know how to relax in a systematic and habitual manner.
Use breathing as a means to avoid tension. It is surprising how some simple breaks and deep breathing exercises (from the abdomen to the thorax) can provide calmness in an anxious or anguishing situation, thereby avoiding complications.
Eat properly. Research shows that avoiding hypoglyceamia (low blood sugar) and eating a breakfast that includes protein helps you to maintain the biochemical balance of the body and prevent thoughts that bring about worry. Therefore, eat healthy food and begin the day with a good breakfast.
Find support groups. These are groups of people with similar problems. In many cities, there are organised therapy groups. In this context, you will learn much through the experience of others, and they can understand your difficulties as well.
Clinical research leads us to the conclusion that the most successful techniques in treating anxiety are based on cognitive-behavioural psychology.
– F. Hohagen et al., “Combination of Behavior Therapy With Fluvoxamine in Comparison With Behavior Therapy and Placebo: Results of a Multicentre Study,” The British Journal of Psychiatry 173, Sppl. 35 (August 1998): 71–78;
– K. O’Connor et al., “Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy and Medication in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Controlled Study,” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 44, no. 1 (1999): 64–71;
– K. Salaberria and E. Echeburúa, “Long-term Outcome of Cognitive Therapy’s Contribution to Self-exposure In Vivo to the Treatment of Generalized Social Phobia,” Behavior Modification 22, no. 3 (July 1998): 262–284, doi:10.1177/01454455980223003;
– A. Stravynski and D. Greenberg, “The Treatment of Social Phobia: A Critical Assessment,” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 98, no. 3 (September 1998): 171–181.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
Thought control. It has been proven that thought control is effective, especially in matters that trigger anxiety. If, for example, the reason for anxiety is fear of having a fatal disease, identify the thoughts related to this fear (perhaps the illness of a family member) or any idea that triggers a chain of worries that bring about anxiety. At the first sign of this thought approaching, say, “No!” and focus on something else or begin an activity that can distract your mind.
Systematic desensitisation. This approach consists of learning relaxation techniques that help identify and confront the source of anxiety. The possibility of success is high, and the procedure is fast. However, it requires the involvement of a psychologist.
These techniques can be efficient but superficial. Many times, the problems relating to anxiety have deep roots, as in the case of Laura and her childhood. In these circumstances, it is necessary to confront the cause of the problem, and not just the symptoms.