May is Mental Health Awareness month. In honor of this, I will be posting about anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction, and how each is tied to our overall health.
Starting with anxiety, according to Medical News Today, in 2019, 40 million adults (or 1 in 5 adults) in the US reported having an anxiety disorder.
Surprisingly, wealthier countries reported overall higher rates of anxiety than lower income countries, and out of developed countries, the United States ranked as one of the highest for anxiety disorder diagnoses and for people who are prescribed anti-anxiety medications. (Some of the more common medications being zoloft, valium, or xanax).
While anxiety disorders, as a group, include things such as PTSD and schizophrenia, in this post, I want to discuss General Anxiety Disorder, specifically, because massage therapy has been proven as an effective way to help manage it.
Within the 40 million people in the US who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders, 6.8 million of them have General Anxiety Disorder specifically.
The symptoms for General Anxiety Disorder range from feeling restless (or worrisome), wound-up, on-edge (or irritable), easily fatigued, having muscle tension, difficulty concentrating (or your mind going blank), and/or sleep problems; all of which have physical impacts on the body that can be persistent and disruptive.
What’s important to remember, is that although you may get anxious, or experience any of the General Anxiety Disorder symptoms, this does not mean you have General Anxiety Disorder, or need to be put on a medication. Anxiety, as a whole, is an emotion that acts as an alert signal and needs acknowledgement in order for it to dissipate.
General Anxiety Disorder is typically triggered by stress. When stress occurs, hormones that lead to anxious feelings are released. The increased level of these hormones may also cause insomnia, dizziness, headaches / migraines, muscle tension, sweating, hyperventilation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, immune system repression, and/or digestive problems, such as weight gain or blood sugar issues.
Sometimes anti-anxiety medication is necessary for treatment. In addition, many people also benefit from talk therapy. Ultimately, however, since General Anxiety Disorder is typically caused by stress, looking at the stresses in your life, and choosing an option you feel you can incorporate on a frequent basis, may help alleviate some of the symptoms. Some ideas are: massage, mindfulness, meditation, diet changes, exercising, changing the stressors, talking with a trusted person, looking at self beliefs and self talk, sleep patterns, limiting social media time, finding a support group, and/or getting a pet. I find that a spiritual path may also be successful. Some natural remedies may include lavender, green tea, vitamin D, and/or Fish oils (Omega-3S fatty acids).
In addition to offering massage therapy, I also work as a life coach for client’s with a range of issues, including general anxiety disorder.
In this role, I am about self-advocacy. The American healthcare system is unsustainable. We’ve been taught that it will fix our problems for us. We, as a nation, have to start being accountable for ourselves. As individuals, when we do this, I believe our overall health will improve.
In my next post I will discuss anxiety’s “partner in crime,” depression.