A Useful Guide on How to Deal With Anxiety: From ESAs to More

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woman with anxiety crying and emotional support dog licking her face

Do you want to know how to deal with anxiety? Do you have anxiety? What is it exactly? What is the treatment protocol for anxiety? Read on to find the answers to all these questions and more! You might be surprised at how positive, fun and easy some of the solutions can be!

What is Anxiety? The Anxiety Definition

Anxiety can be defined as a feeling of worry, unease, or nervousness about something. When this anxiety escalates to a point where worrying is excessive and persistent, it becomes a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD is characterized by extended, extreme worrying about everyday occurrences that the patient feels are difficult to control. People with GAD find themselves worrying more than is healthy. They tend to ‘blow things out of proportion’. GAD can result in social and occupational impairment and emotional distress.

Other types of anxiety include panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Anxiety is a very debilitating illness. Something as simple as dropping something can set the body into total “fight or flight” mode and release an excess of adrenaline. It is exhausting, and the worst of all is: it is entirely out of the person’s control!

Imagine a world in which something as simple as “what to wear” can set off a complete sense of overwhelm that sets off a panic attack.

Worry, Worried, Worrying: Millions of People are Dealing with Anxiety Daily!

There are millions of people looking for answers on how to deal with anxiety! Everybody feels worried now and then. You could be worried about an important decision that needs to be made. Perhaps you are worried before taking an exam. Worrying or anxiousness is normal. A little bit of worrying can even be good for you. Worrying can help us make good decisions and drive us to strive for better.

But, when worrying takes over, becomes all-consuming and has physical manifestations, something is very wrong. Anxiety disorder is not a rational mental illness, which makes it so much harder to control and manage.

A Look at Statistics of People Suffering from Anxiety in the US!

According to anxietycentre.com, 3 % of the U.S. population is diagnosed with GAD in a year. Almost 20 % of American adults are affected by an anxiety disorder.

There is a 9 % chance of an individual being diagnosed with GAD in their lifetime. Women are two times more likely to develop GAD. GAD onset is most likely to occur between the ages of 20 and 40 years.

Do I Have Anxiety? From Early Signs of Anxiety to Serious Anxiety Symptoms

Before you get to “how to deal with anxiety”, you first need to establish whether you have this condition. The signs of anxiety differ from person to person. They also differ according to the severity of the anxiety condition.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive worrying, as well as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of restlessness, feeling wound up, or edgy.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Difficulty in focusing and concentrating.
  • hen your mind goes blank.
  • Feelings of irritability.
  • Tense, stiff or sore muscles.
  • Neediness – i.e. seeking and needing reassurance from others.
  • Extreme list making and over-planning.
  • Difficulty in sleeping. This could be difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or in the quality of your sleep.
  • Jaw Clenching.

What Causes Anxiety: Nature vs Nurture

There are several causes of anxiety. There is the baseline anxious or fearful feeling that most people will experience when faced with a scary or stressful situation. This is a natural, biological response to enable us to respond to the situation (i.e. fight or flight).

Some people, however, will have a heightened or disproportionate response to certain stimuli or situations. Humans that have inherited (genetically) or developed a nervous disposition will perceive certain elements of the ordinary world and their day-to-day lives as life-threatening.

Scientists cannot pinpoint exactly what it is that brings on an anxiety disorder. Like other mental conditions, GAD could be caused by changes in your brain chemistry, environmental stress, and/or your genetic make-up.

overwhelmed girl with anxiety disorder leaning against black board

ESAs to the Rescue: 6 Ways in Which ESAs Help People Manage Anxiety

There are any number of different methods that one can employ to overcome anxiety (see below). Different methods will work for different people. For some, the unconditional love and comfort that an emotional support animal (ESA) can bring, can make all the difference.

You might need to look no further than your own pooch or kitten to find the relief from those overwhelming feelings of anxiousness.

1. Always Ready for a Cuddle

Your four-legged friend is always good for a cuddle. Several studies have shown that the simple act of stroking a dog or a cat can relieve tension and help physical and psychological healing.

2. Those Floppy Ears are Ready to Hear Every Gory Little Detail!

You will be hard-pressed to find a better listener! Your doggo has all the time in the world to listen to your woes. A completely unjudgmental audience. What’s more, they will not bombard you with advice that you don’t need.

3. Distraction from Destruction

Having another being to care for and be responsible for is a super distraction. The sense of achievement that you can get from caring for and giving happiness to another being is food for the soul.

4. Your Constant Companion

Your cuddle-cat or lap dog will always be by your side. They will always be there when you need them. Having another life form sharing your living space with you can definitely tone down the anxiousness. That living being can help keep loneliness and fear at bay.

5. Playtime to De-Stress

Nothing like a romp around the garden or a stroll through the park to get those endorphins (feel-good hormones) pumping through your bloodstream. This combined with a dose of fresh air and some laughs are a fantastic recipe for reducing stress and anxiety!

6. Your Furry Wingman is Great at Making New Friends!

If you have social anxiety, your new four-legged friend will help you keep those nerves at bay. Not only is your canine companion good at getting you out and about. You will soon be sharing smiles and little chats, and making friends wherever you go. All with thanks to Fido!

emotional support animal distracting woman with gad

The Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter for People Suffering from Severe Anxiety

Your pet is clearly a big part of your life. If your pet doubles as part of your therapy for the treatment of an anxiety disorder, all the more so.

If your pet could be seen as an emotional support animal (ESA), they would be granted rights that other pets are not. The legal system recognizes that one answer for how to deal with anxiety is by allowing people to have their animals with them!

For example, your ESA can live with you in no-pet rented accommodation. Also, your ESA cat or dog can travel with you in-cabin when you travel by airplane. There are two laws that govern these ESA privileges:

The Federal Laws That Protect ESAs

Stemming from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are two federal laws that pertain to the rights of ESAs and their owners.

The first is the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This legislation dictates that individuals may not be discriminated against according to their disabilities. If you have an ESA letter in hand, you may not be turned away from renting a house or apartment that usually abides by a no-pet policy. The FHA goes further, in that you are also not liable for any additional ‘pet-fees’.

The second piece of legislation is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This law states that owners of an ESA may not be discriminated against when traveling by plane. Their ESAs (within reason) may travel with them in the cabin on most domestic flights. They are also not liable for any extra charges for this privilege.

Sealing the Deal: How CertaPet Makes Getting an ESA Letter Easy!

Want your very own ESA letter? Take just 5 minutes to answer the quick pre-screening questionnaire and you could be well on your way to being the owner of an ESA!

If your questionnaire indicates that you could benefit from having an ESA, Certapet will connect you with a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP) in your state.

You will then have a quick online consultation with your LMHP. During this consultation, your mental health professional will assess your condition and whether having an ESA could assist in your treatment. Within a few days, you will receive your very own ESA letter! The LMHP can tell you how to deal with anxiety by teaching you valuable coping skills and of course, make sure you always have your furry friend by your side!

How to Deal with Anxiety and Take Back Control of Your Life

Getting better and getting rid of anxiety in your life takes time. There is no miracle quick-fix. By gaining control over your worry, you can get better.

An ESA might go a long way in helping you on the road to recovery. Yet, in severe cases, this may not be enough. There are several treatment modalities to choose from to compliment your anxiety healing program.

Undergo Psychotherapy

Seeing a Psychologist can have a massive impact on someone who is learning how to deal with anxiety. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a very effective psychotherapy treatment with long-lasting effects. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns”. Depending on the individual, results can be seen in 12 to 16 weeks!

Seek Psychiatric Help

When dealing with a mental illness, it is always best to seek psychiatric help. We are all different. There is no one sure-fire way to treat anxiety.

A psychiatrist will help you to target the sources of your particular anxiety. They will also be able to give you your own unique set of tools and coping mechanisms to aid you in your recovery. These are also generally the most qualified professionals who can help find the right medication should you need it!

Self-Care!

The first step on the road to recovery from any kind of mental or emotional disability is self-care. There is nothing more important than taking care of numero uno… yup, that’s you!

As with all things in life: “different strokes for different folks”. For you, self-care might be making sure that you get 8 hours of sleep each day. For the next person, it might mean taking time out for a yoga class a couple of times a week.

Whatever it is that you need to stay physically and mentally healthy, is of utmost importance.

overwhelmed woman having a panic attack

How to Deal with Social Anxiety? Start Small and Interact with Your ESA

You have the perfect test candidate right there on the couch with you. Yup, that bundle of fur occupying prime real estate on your lap. That’s the one. Start up a conversation with your pet. Chat about your day. Bounce a new business idea.

You will find them a very patient and indulgent audience. The perfect way to gain a bit of practice and confidence before heading out into the wild and actually making conversations with real people!

Mental Illness is Real and You Don’t Simply Have to “Deal with it” Alone!

In fact, as with most things in life, it is a whole lot easier when you have some help. Whether that help comes in the form of a Pekinese, or a Persian, a psychologist or a pal.

Find someone to share your burden with. Someone that will hold you accountable on your road to recovery. It will make the whole journey that much smoother. The people who love you need to know how to deal with anxiety as much as you do!

Common Questions About How to Deal With Anxiety

Can my dog help me cope with anxiety?

How do I know whether I have anxiety?

Is there a cure for anxiety?

Is there a quick fix on how to deal with anxiety?

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