I have always been an anxious person. Yet the arrival of my daughter in 2016 sent me spiraling into post-partum anxiety. Added to that, two months after her arrival, my son was hospitalized with a seizure condition which was ultimately linked to a virus. Talk about a lot at once!
The combination of these two experiences caused my anxiety to skyrocket. One moment I would feel fine, the next (seemingly out of nowhere), it was as if someone had kicked my legs out from under me. I could go from feeling like a great mom to feeling incapacitated in a matter of minutes.
Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) (n.d.), 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older are impacted by anxiety, which amounts to 18.1% of the population every year. Additionally, while anxiety is highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment (ADAA, n.d.).
Unfortunately, adults aren’t the only ones with anxiety; for many people, the condition starts early. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety (CDC, 2019; Ghandour, Sherman, Vladutiu, Ali, Lynch, Bitsko, & Blumberg, 2018). Additionally, it was found that as children get older, it is more common for them to receive diagnoses of depression and anxiety (CDC, 2019; Ghandour et al., 2018).
When it comes to anxiety, there are different treatments available.
- One suggested treatment is talk therapy or psychological counseling. This method is typically used on a short-term basis; it focuses on teaching those with anxiety “specific skills to directly manage your worries and help you gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety” (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
- Another method used to medication. Different categories of medications are used to treat anxiety, including antidepressants, buspirone, and (in limited circumstances) benzodiazepines (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
However, simple changes to your lifestyle can be anxiety-reducers, as well.
- Keeping physically active helps improve your overall mood and helps your body stay healthy. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins – your “feel good” hormones.
- Making sleep a priority can help manage stress and anxiety, as can using relaxation techniques. Visualization techniques, meditation, and prayer have all been proven methods to help ease anxiety.
- Eating healthy – that is, focusing on adding vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish to your diet – may be linked to anxiety reduction. (Does this remind you of the diet of Daniel and his friends, found in Daniel 1?)
- Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs are all known to worsen anxiety. Eliminating these substances can help lessen overall anxiety.
- Lastly, spending time with your Heavenly Father is a good way to reduce anxiety and stress. In 1 Peter 5:7, we are advised to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God does not want us to hurt or feel anxious. We are reminded again and again throughout the Bible to share our problems with God, and that He will provide and care for us (Psalm 34:4; Proverbs 3:5-8; Proverbs 12:25; Luke 12:22-26; Philippians 4:6-7 – just to name a few!)
If you suffer from anxiety, what are some tangible steps you can take to move you closer to mental health? Share at least one in the comments below!
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.) Facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Center for Disease Control. (2019). Data and statistics on children’s mental health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
Ghandour, R. M., Sherman, L. J., Vladutiu, C.J., Ali, M. M., Lynch, S. E., Bitsko, R. H., & Blumberg, S. J. (2018). Prevalence and treatment of depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in U.S. children. The Journal of Pediatrics.
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Generalized anxiety disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20361045