Anxiety Relapse: ( An Update)

People with anxiety often experience anxiety relapse of their symptoms even after reaching remission when their symptoms reach a manageable or sub-clinical level.

Although more than fifty percent of people with anxiety disorders use antidepressants as treatment; however like all medications, people who are taking them can experience side effects.

In this article we will discuss anxiety relapse.

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Table of Contents

What is Anxiety?

You settle into life without the drama and then it explodes again, like a volcano that lay dormant before spewing hail and brimstone onto an unsuspecting public.

Where the hell did that come from? We can never protect ourselves completely from the anxiety demons, which is the same with life generally when you think about it.

Anxiety is a body’s natural reaction to stress.

Although it is a normal and often healthy emotion however if a person keeps on feeling high levels of anxiety it may become a disorder. 

These disorders cause problems such as nervousness, fear, and disproportionate reaction towards everyday situations.

Furthermore it also causes a feeling of fear or uncertainty about what will happen?

It can happen in different types of situations such as the first day at school or job, appearing before a job interview panel, or in a public appearance when someone is trying to give a speech. 

Symptoms of Anxiety 

There are many symptoms related to different anxiety disorders, however General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has following: 

  • restlessness
  • uncontrollable feelings of worry
  • increased irritability
  • difficulty in concentration 
  • sleep problems such falling to sleep or unable to have to good sleep 

Causes

The causes of anxiety disorders are multifold having a background in bio-pscho-social model  .

Possible causes include:

  • These stressors are caused by different stressors from the surroundings such as difficulties at work, relationship problems, or family issues. 
  • There are sudden people who have family members of family suffering from anxiety disorder and they are more likely to experience the symptoms of anxiety or anxiety relapse. 
  • Hormonal imbalance or brain chemistry as suggested by psychologists 
  • Different medical factors such as symptoms of a disease or medication effects 
  • Substance induced anxiety or the withdrawal of illicit drug 

How an Anxiety Relapses Feels? 

Behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings explains: ‘As anyone who has ever experienced a panic or anxiety attack will know, it can be very frightening indeed.

The first time is the worst because there is nothing like this someone has felt before and it is intense and terrifying.

Once the person has the understanding that it is a panic attack, not something physically dangerous, the condition does not assure that there would not be anxiety relapse. 

However it gives the person an insight into symptoms that helps to learn about the symptoms and recognize that it is not heart attack or something similar.

It is the mind that is being triggered, sometimes for totally unknown reasons, into panic, anxiety or shock.

This understanding proves significantly in managing anxiety attacks or anxiety relapse. 

Anxiety Relapse 

A relapse is another word for a setback.

It happens when people suffering from their anxiety disorders work to recover – 2 steps forward and one back.

There a defined period of time a person must be “recovered” before the return of anxiety symptoms qualifies as a relapse.

It can happen anytime, during the recovery process, or even years later almost one-third of anxiety patients relapse after stopping antidepressants.

People on antidepressants for anxiety disorders face a therapeutic dilemma when their anxiety goes into remission. 

Relapse is more likely in the absence of medication and, if they resume their antidepressant after relapse, some patients experience adverse events or drug resistance.

A meta-analysis of 28 studies, with follow-up periods ranging from 8 to 52 weeks, found that the anxiety relapse risk after discontinuation of antidepressants was 36.4%, compared with 16.4% in those who stayed on medication. 

Possible causes of anxiety disorder relapse

There are several possible reasons.

Recovering from anxiety disorders should be taken as a natural process; it is not always possible to make progress in a straight line, for example linear progress.

Most of the people suffering from anxiety may experience anxiety relapse at some point of time. 

For some it can be due to the reoccurring symptoms and not having effective coping strategies. 

How to react towards Anxiety Relapse 

The very first step is to understand what is going on, why someone is feeling more stressed or anxious again.

If the person has had the right kind of treatment, preferably cognitive-behavioral therapy, they can go back to what they’ve learned in the past and reapply those skills.

Sometimes people suffering from hopelessness can go into depression also.

Very often, with anxiety disorders and panic attacks, the person feels scared of their anxiety again.

It’s important to not get scared because that’s how the vicious cycle of anxiety/panic works. 

It is very important that one should accept that they have a sensitive nervous system, one that is hyper reactive to different situations and stimuli.

However this does not mean that anxiety disorders are not treatable.

It only means that recovery is time taking and a process of commitment.

Stress management must become a routine in lifestyle.

Ways to Deal with an Anxiety Relapse at your own

Why?

Making the problem clearer – is hugely helpful.

Indeed, if you identify the problem, you can start to consider solutions.

For example, a lot of my anxiety simply stemmed from spending too much time alone, without valuable structure or company.

Task: grab a pen and begin to note down anything that’s been worrying or upsetting you lately.

It could be a small thing – you’ve been feeling run down and are not sleeping well.

Or it could be a bigger thing: troubles at work, for example.

Try to identify what’s fueling the anxiety, and rationalize it with simple solutions

Exercise

There are many persuasive biological, chemical and neurological reasons as to why exercise is so effective in managing anxiety, not least because you are utilising the excess adrenaline that so often fuels the disorder.

From reducing inflammation, promoting positive neural-growth; releasing happy-go-lucky endorphins; and providing focus, distraction and a form of ‘moving meditation’, exercise is now prescribed by the NHS to help combat poor mental health.

Task: are you exercising enough, or at all?

Begin to carve out time in your day to get your heart pumping.

A lunch time power walk?

A quick YouTube exercise routine in the lounge?

Some yoga before bed?

Try to exercise at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Be sure to also keep a diary to track your mood before and after exercise.

Acceptance

Task: what is your biggest fear when it comes to anxiety?

And how much are these fears related to thoughts concerning how it might burden or impact the lives of those around you?

Relaxation 

Simple activities can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety.

These techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, long baths, resting in the dark, and yoga. Check this quick guide to the best sage products that will help you deal with anxiety.

A relaxing bath can be very beneficial, you can add bath salts to your bubble bath, check the Lush Bath Bombs for Anxiety site and our Epsom Salts top.

Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones

Make a list of the negative thoughts that might be cycling as a result of anxiety, and write down another list next to it containing positive, believable thoughts to replace them.

Creating a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a specific cause, such as in a phobia.

Stress management

Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers.

Organize any upcoming pressures and deadlines, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from study or work.

Building resilience

Think about specific challenges you have been through in the past.

• How did you get through it?

• What did you do?

• What did you say to yourself?

• Who was supportive or helpful at the time?

• What resources did you use? Places, things, skills, organisations…

• What useful advice did you get from others?

• What did you learn about how to cope with challenges?

Professional Treatments 

Counseling

A standard way of treating anxiety is psychological counseling.

This can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, or a combination of therapies.

CBT

This type of psychotherapy aims to recognize and change harmful thought patterns that form the foundation of anxious and troublesome feelings.

In the process, practitioners of CBT hope to limit distorted thinking and change the way people react to objects or situations that trigger anxiety.

For example, a psychotherapist providing CBT for panic disorder will try to reinforce the fact that panic attacks are not really heart attacks.

Exposure to fears and triggers can be a part of CBT.

This encourages people to confront their fears and helps reduce sensitivity to their usual triggers of anxiety.

Medications

A person can support anxiety management with several types of medication.

Medicines that might control some of the physical and mental symptoms include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, tricyclics, and beta-blockers.

Benzodiazepines: A doctor may prescribe these for certain people with anxiety, but they can be highly addictive.

These drugs tend to have few side effects except for drowsiness and possible dependence.

Diazepam, or Valium, is an example of a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine.

Antidepressants: These commonly help with anxiety, even though they also target depression.

People often use serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which have fewer side effects than older antidepressants but are likely to cause jitters, nausea, and sexual dysfunction when treatment begins.

Other antidepressants include fluoxetine, or Prozac, and citalopram, or Celexa.

Tricyclics: This is a class of drugs older than SSRIs that provide benefits for most anxiety disorders other than OCD.

These drugs might cause side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and weight gain.

Imipramine and clomipramine are two examples of tricyclics.

Additional drugs a person might use to treat anxiety include:

  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • beta-blockers
  • buspirone

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQS

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a body’s natural reaction to stress.

Although it is a normal and often healthy emotion however if a person keeps on feeling high levels of anxiety it may become a disorder. 

These disorders cause problems such as nervousness, fear, and disproportionate reaction towards everyday situations.

What are symptoms of anxiety? 

The common symptoms of the anxiety are 
restlessness
uncontrollable feelings of worry
increased irritability
difficulty in concentration 
sleep problems such falling to sleep or unable to have to good sleep 

Why am I going through anxiety relapse? 

There are possible reasons for anxiety relapses such as reappearing of the situations you went through the first time such as family problems, medical issues, or a job interview.

What can I do to avoid anxiety relapse?

You can use different ways to avoid or manage anxiety relapses such meditation, exercises, relaxation techniques, medications or distracting techniques. 

Is medication the only way to prevent anxiety relapse? 

No, medication is not the only way to prevent this, there are other treatment options available such therapy, behavioral techniques and counselling along with self-management and self-care manuals. 

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References 

twinsthattravel.com/5-ways-to-deal-with-an-anxiety-relapse/

medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454#prevention

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