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Coping With Anxiety

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest
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How Do You Cope? continued...

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later."

The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can, that you need to move forward," Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another."

Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews. "You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself."

But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life."

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.

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Reviewed on December 31, 2009
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