Anxiety and Parenting

A little anxiety in your life is normal. It alerts you to danger, gives you adrenaline when you need it, and propels you through a project with a tight deadline. Without a certain amount of stress, we would be as unconcerned and lifeless as a toy doll.

But too much anxiety can lead to panic attacks, severe depression, and phobias that confine sufferers to their homes.

Some anxiety disorders begin in childhood, while others manifest in adulthood. Anxiety can be general in nature and doesn’t seem to have a clear origin, while other times it can be traced to a single stressful event such as an accident resulting in physical injury, or emotional trauma such as divorce, death of a loved one, or other devastating event.

How do you know if you’re having an anxiety attack? You will breathe harder and faster, your heart will race, you may start to perspire. You may have chest pains, nausea, dizziness, disorientation, or claustrophobia. You may withdraw from people and the outdoors.

Some common anxiety disorders:

–Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is marked by insomnia, nervous tension, restlessness, disruption of sleeping or eating patterns.

–Panic disorder is typified by the sudden onslaught of fear and panic. Physical symptoms like nausea and chest pains usually accompany the fear. Phobias are also found in this category.

–PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a result from experiencing a traumatic even like war, rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc. Nightmares, flashbacks, and depression are also associated with this high level of anxiety.

Luckily anxiety disorders are easily treated. Medication and therapy are the standard methods of treatment. But there are other ways of coping that a person living with anxiety can do for themselves.

This includes assessing your lifestyle to see when you’re anxious, what causes it, and how you can control it.

There are changes you can make on the inside and out. You can start by treating your body with healthy, natural food, rest, and exercise. You will want to cut down or eliminate tobacco and alcohol. You will want to start exercising a little every day. Just a swim, bike ride, or walk in the park will do. You will want to relax your mind with calming activities, like reading, meditating, listening to soothing music, having a massage, or doing some guided imagery.

You don’t have to cut out therapy and medication, if it works for you. But you don’t have to choose among the traditional and natural ways either. You can use all of the methods listed above to find a way that works for you.

When it comes to being a parent with an anxiety, it’s helpful to have a partner who is aware and understanding of your condition. Your partner can be an enormous help to you if you need a break or feel that your anxiety is unmanageable. If you are a single parent, it’s good to have an informal support system in place to help you deal with anxious periods. Perhaps it’s a close neighbor, good friend, or a parent or sibling. Make arrangements for your children to be with them until your anxiety passes. Perhaps all you need is a walk, or a nap, or some time alone. Above all, don’t suffer anxiety alone. If you need professional help, don’t be afraid to ask.

One of the best things you can do for anxiety is join a support group. You will be among others who deal with the same things you do.

It may be that your partner or child exhibits symptoms of anxiety for known or unknown reasons. In this case, an evaluation will help ease your mind, and you will be on your way to finding the help for your family.

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