Anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, particularly in a new or stressful situation. It sometimes causes other symptoms, such as poor sleep or loss of appetite and, in extreme cases, may give rise to panic attacks which can include periods of dizziness, short breath, and sweating. It can be constant, or it may be triggered by certain situations, such as going to new places. Anxiety can also be a sign of depression. 

Although anxiety is a biologically useful reaction to threatening situations, if it exceeds certain levels and durations, and impedes active participation in life, it is regarded as a disorder.

What treatment is available? 

Relaxation 

Relaxation techniques can be very effective in relieving acute states of anxiety, including therapies such as massage, meditation, breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, yoga, aromatherapy and Tai Chi.

Medication

Anxiety  can be treated and it is wise to talk with your doctor about any medications that he/she may feel will be able to help such as antidepressant medications. The range is wide and the choice will depend on their benefits and side effects, interaction with other medications and how they suit you as an individual. 

Psychological approaches

If medications are not effective, or if anxiety is severe, a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist can help. This can be particularly effective in more severe cases when used alongside medication. Sometimes it may be useful if your partner or carer is included in consultations. The most effective psychological treatment of anxiety disorders has generally proved to be cognitive behavioural therapy. This involves treating social phobic reactions by confronting the situations which elicit anxiety.

Individual counselling can also help you to recognise worries and underlying issues, and work out a strategy to deal with them. 

Who else can help?

Various trained professionals may be involved in managing anxiety, including your doctor, nurse, a psychiatrist and a counsellor. For more information ask your doctor who else can help you. If you book an appointment with a therapist or counsellor remember to check their qualifications and experience.

There are also many organisations that offer various kinds of emotional support such as telephone help lines, group meetings or practical help. Even if you have close family and friends, sometimes you might want to chat with an outsider and such organisations can be very helpful. Your doctor or a social worker will be able to help you identify such organisations, or you may find contact details in a telephone directory.

How can I help myself?

It is important to remember that anxiety is common and can be effectively treated. Don’t be afraid to say if you feel anxious – this is key to getting help and overcoming such feelings.

All involuntary movements, including tremor, are worsened by emotional or physical stress, anxiety, fatigue and coincidental illness. Uncontrolled stress can make tremor very difficult to manage, and it can make Essential Tremor (ET) uncontrollable. Stimulants such as caffeine, coffee, chocolates, recreational drugs, and alcohol withdrawal will worsen tremors. For these reasons an holistic approach to dealing with tremor can be just as effective as being prescribed more medication. 

Complementary therapies to promote relaxation and reduction of stress, can be very valuable. Psychological inputs, including cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapies, meditation, neuro-behavioural training and neuro-linguistic programming all have parts to play in the management of some individuals. Likewise, nutritional changes may be necessary. 

Many people have discovered and developed strategies that help them to reduce or overcome tremor – their own personal coping strategies. Although these won’t work for everyone, watching some of these video clips may help you 

One of the most important ways in which you can help yourself is by staying positive. Below are some suggestions that might be helpful:

  • educate yourself about Tremor, its cause and treatment. Being informed generally helps you to feel more in control 
  • take an active role in managing your illness 
  • confront difficult situations rather than avoiding them, and try not to be disheartened if things don’t turn out the way you hoped 
  • be open with your doctor or other healthcare professional – if something is worrying you then mention it 
  • keep doing the activities you enjoy – research has shown that keeping active can improve mood 
  • pace yourself - know and accept your limitations and accept that these may change with time 
  • try to stay relaxed - some complementary therapies such as yoga and Tai Chi may help 
  • accept help when you need it 
  • contact your national Tremor organisation or other support groups. 

 

We would like to acknowledge the use of information taken from the European Parkinson’s Disease Association website http://www.epda.eu.com