EXCLUSIVE: Know the early signs of anxiety

What if the bridge collapses? What if the plane goes down? Or, to make matters worse, will I drown in the swimming pool? Some of us may have had these thoughts at some point in our lives. While most people would describe it as pessimistic, doctors call it anxiety.

It goes without saying that stress, anxiety, and depression are at an all-time high. Especially during the pandemic, when all one could do was sit back, relax, and scroll through the rising COVID-19 numbers.

Many people, however, misinterpret the symptoms of anxiety and dismiss it as normal stress or tension. Dr. Samant Darshi, Psychiatrist and De-addiction Specialist at Psymate in Noida, lists some early warning signs of anxiety that should never be ignored.

Physiological

1. Initial response of the body on being exposed to an anxiety-provoking trigger is the flight and fight syndrome. It involves the sympathetic nervous system and typically causes an increase in the heartbeat, blood pressure rises, breathing becomes rapid and the body prepares itself to escape

2. Always being keyed up, inability to relax

3. Sleep disturbances

Behavioral

1. Safety behaviors to avoid the occurrence of a feared catastrophe

2. Reassurance seeking

3. Avoidance behaviors

Cognitive

1. Negative automatic thoughts pop up in your stream of consciousness and you start getting ideas like “what if I collapse now”.

2. Cognitive distortions such as thinking in a catastrophic manner

Affective

1. Fearfulness

2. Irritability

3. Emotional fluctuations

While these warning signs may appear frightening, the fear of anticipating a danger every time is unsettling and necessitates action. Here are a few strategies for combating anxiety symptoms.

Deep breathing is a simple method for dealing with difficult emotions. Anxiety can be alleviated by abdominal breathing.

The process of progressive muscle relaxation entails alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles throughout your body.

Consider something calming; positive imagery has the power to alter one’s mood.

Label your thought as a thought rather than a fact.

Evaluate whether the thought is true, important, or useful; if it is neither, detach yourself from it.

Examine your negative thinking for evidence that contradicts it as well as evidence that supports it.

Simple affirmations in the present tense, such as “I am calm,” work best.

Return to the present moment by focusing your attention and awareness.

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