Treatment for Anxiety in Young Adults: The Impacts of AnxietyJuly 31, 2021
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States. Anxiety disorders may develop as a result of a vast number of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Anxiety disorders are mental health disorders categorized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear, that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to a number of behavioral and physical effects on the body.
Stress vs. Anxiety
Before determining whether or not your young adult may be suffering from anxiety, it is helpful to know the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder as well as the differences between anxiety and acute stress. While stress and anxiety may have similar symptoms, stress is a typical reaction to external causes. External causes that may trigger stress include a tight deadline for work or an argument with a partner or friend. Stress is a normal response to external stimuli that helps us to overcome the issue at hand. Generally, symptoms of stress should subside once the situation has been resolved or overcome.
Unlike stress, anxiety has internal causes and is a person’s emotional reaction to stress. Anxiety is the persistent feeling of worry or dread, and these feelings persist after the stressful situation has passed. One potential reason for this is that anxiety triggers our bodies’ stress response or “fight or flight” which is typically activated when there is a perceived threat in our environment, in order for us to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, our bodies can activate this stress response in situations that are not life-threatening which can confuse our nervous systems and the body may not know when it is “safe” to deactivate this response. In turn, this can lead to the development of chronic stress or anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
Listed below are the common symptoms of anxiety disorders. These symptoms may be similar to that of stress but differ in the instance that symptoms are regular, and persist after the stressor has been eliminated.
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep troubles
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) issues
- Difficulty controlling worry
- The urge to, or avoidance of activities that trigger anxiety
If you or a loved one displays multiple or the majority of these symptoms, an underlying anxiety disorder may be present. A formal diagnosis should be given by a licensed professional before determining whether or not an anxiety disorder is present. If an anxiety disorder is present, there are several steps you can take as a parent or friend to support your loved one, and help them to avoid experiencing long-term health effects of anxiety.
Effects of anxiety on wellbeing
The effects of anxiety not only make it more difficult to function and complete daily tasks, but anxiety can also have a variety of adverse effects on the body. The following are systems within the body that can be affected by chronic or untreated anxiety.
- Central Nervous System. Long-term anxiety can trigger your body to release excess stress hormones on a regular basis. This can contribute to the increased frequency of headaches, dizziness, depression, and even weight gain.
- Cardiovascular System. Anxiety can cause rapid heart rate, palpitations, and chest pain. This can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Excretory and digestive systems. Anxiety can have significant impacts on digestion. Stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other digestive issues may occur.
- Immune System. With your body being in a constant state of the fight-or-flight stress response, it does not know how to signal itself back to normal functioning. This weakens immunity, leaving you more susceptible to infection and illness.
Help and Treatment
As far as treatment goes, there are many different options and routes for those with anxiety disorders. Treatment for anxiety disorders can take many routes, the most common methods for treating anxiety disorders include self-care, therapy, and medications. While medication can be helpful for some, the following are holistic methods of self-care that may help to ease your anxiety.
- Stay active. Regular exercise is good for both your physical and emotional health. Exercise improves your brain’s ability to cope with stress and lowers your risk of anxiety by 25 percent.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can cause excessive nervousness or jitters, exacerbating anxiety disorders. Alcohol is a depressant that may help to ease some of the symptoms of anxiety but can actually worsen anxiety once the alcohol has worn off, and lead to dependence.
- Get regular sleep. Sticking to a solid sleep schedule can help to reduce some symptoms of anxiety. Avoid sugar as well as screen time before bed, and additionally, be sure to set yourself in a comfortable and cool sleeping environment.
- Eat a healthy diet. Processed or junk foods can cause mood changes in some people. Consuming a high-sugar diet can also lead to impaired temperament. Staying hydrated, eliminating processed foods, and eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies can help to reduce inflammation caused by stress and anxiety.
- Meditate. Mediation works by replacing chaotic thoughts with a sense of calm and mindfulness in the present moment. Research from John Hopkins found that practicing meditation for 30 minutes a day helps to alleviate some symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
All of these mechanisms are proven and effective for managing anxiety in both adults and adolescents. However, if anxiety is serious or does not respond to the approaches above, it may be helpful to look into treatment programs for your young adult’s anxiety disorder.
Trails Momentum can help!
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy treatment program for young adults ages 18-25 who struggle with emotional or behavioral issues. Our integrative program uses adventure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a strength-based approach. We pride ourselves in having a small and nurturing community that focuses on the common goal of improved self-regulation and overall functioning. Trails Momentum gives students the skills they need to live happier, healthier lives. We can help your family today!
For more information about our program, please contact us at 877-296-8711.