OA and Anxiety
Active depression over a period of time often leads to another mental health issue: anxiety. Just like with depression, you must understand anxiety to manage it.
- Feeling changes: Feeling worried, nervous, apprehensive and fearful.
- Thought changes: People with anxiety have thoughts that race and swirl around their mind. They think that they are “going crazy” or that their mind is “going to explode.” You may think that the worst is going to happen in whatever situation confronts you.
- Behavior changes: Like with depression, people with anxiety tend to isolate themselves because the outside world feels too scary and overwhelming. You will avoid and escape from situations that are outside of your control.
If you are experiencing any or all of the anxiety symptoms above, consider taking effective actions to improve symptoms and return to an improved state of well-being. Want to shed anxious thoughts? Many therapists use a technique called prescribed worry. This strategy works by embracing rather than ignoring anxiety. Here’s how to make worry work for you:
- Self-monitor – You already know that anxiety has become too intense, frequent or long in duration. Start to realize and accept the negative impact that anxiety has in your life. Begin to rate your anxiety on a 1-10 scale throughout the day and find periods of low and high symptoms. This will help track changes over time and look for patterns.
- Find the time and place – The best prescribed worry is done daily at the same time. Find a period of time when anxiety is present but not overwhelming. Experiment with different times of the day. If bedtime is very difficult due to worrisome thoughts keeping you up, complete prescribed worry about an hour before bed. A bathroom is typically a great location since a mirror is readily available and the bathroom carries a level of privacy with it. An appropriate site will be quiet, free from interruptions and distractions.
- Relax – Calming your body will allow your mind to be in a more desirable state. Even if you have had poor results in the past, try deep breathing again. This is the basis of all relaxation techniques. Try progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery or autogenics to get the desired result. These will aid your reduction of worry while soothing your body in a way that will lessen OA symptoms.
- Worry – Now that your body is calm, it’s time to worry. During a prescribed worry session, you will go to your chosen location at your chosen time, look in the mirror and worry. The goal is to verbalize all of your worries, anxieties and fears. Voice how OA makes you feel and what you fear. Most people with anxiety feel like there is an endless parade of negative thoughts marching through their mind. Prescribed worry challenges this notion and most people find that their infinite worry actually amounts to a handful of stressors. The act of hearing you say them makes the worries more tangible and easier to address with action. Plan to set aside 10 minutes to worry but many find that they run out of things to say quickly.
- Act – Use the information gathered during the worry to refocus your energies. Act in ways that are helpful and efficient. Do not permit anxiety and worry to demotivate you and keep you stuck. The increased action is a natural anxiety buster.
The progression is simple. OA leads to unwanted physical symptoms. These symptoms trigger a stress response. The stress leads to depression and the depression leads to anxiety. In an ideal world, you would have a chorus of healthy coping skills to prevent stress. Since this s real life, working to defeat depression and annihilate anxiety separately. Now that you have the skills, aim at your target and fire.