Expat Mental Health: Anxiety - Part 2

Every anxiety disorder has a different set of diagnostic criteria. If you persistently experience any of the symptoms of anxiety, it's important to seek help - even though the very idea of seeking help can be, in and of itself, anxiety-provoking.

Seeking help

But you don't have to suffer needlessly. A number of treatments and self-help techniques can help to reduce or alleviate your symptoms.

Specific medications, like beta blockers and other anti-anxiety drugs, can help in severe situations, although they certainly should not be relied on as a "cure." They can help you calm down and function - temporarily- until you feel able to seek assistance.

Counselling and psychotherapy are options that can also help. Sometimes, simply talking about your experiences, getting validation and support, and learning how to change dysfunctional thought patterns can offer a tremendous amount of relief.

Other medical interventions, such as biofeedback, massage therapy and acupuncture may also reduce stress and anxiety.

Anxiety & Self-help techniques

You can be proactive and take certain steps to reduce anxiety on your own. One important tip is to try to avoid negative or overly critical thoughts - don't be your own worst enemy.

So you can't speak Dutch perfectly. Or you haven't found a job. You will - but not by beating yourself up about it.

In addition to changing defeatist or negative thought patterns, some techniques that can help include:
 Avoiding excessive use of alcohol - which can actually increase feelings of anxiety.
 Exercise. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
 Incorporate foods rich in B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Deficiencies in these important nutrients can exacerbate anxiety.
 Implement stress management techniques. Take a yoga class, learn to meditate, listen to a guided visualisation CD.
 Get enough sleep. Quality sleep is crucial for reducing stress and anxiety.
 Don't smoke. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
 Consider using natural, herbal supplements for temporary support - such as valerian and kava. Drink chamomile or lavender tea - or purchase relaxing essential oils such as lavender, neroli, bergamot or cedarwood.

Finally, don't ignore your symptoms. Excessive, uncontrolled anxiety can lead to the development of anxiety disorders. And anxiety disorders can become worse if left untreated.

Talk to your doctor or discuss your symptoms with a licensed, qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist, clinical social worker or a licensed counsellor. You don't have to suffer through anxiety alone.

Previous in the series
 Expat Mental Health: Anxiety - Part 1 (Risk factors, Signs & Symptoms)

Stacy Mosel


Stacy Mosel



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