For people who struggle with anxiety disorder, the holidays may not be a blissful period. It’s common to experience stress related to buying gifts, traveling long distances, or seeing that one stressful family member. However, those holiday experiences can feel intensely stressful and overwhelming to someone with anxiety disorder. Figuring out how to deal with holidays and anxiety in a productive way is key to stopping anxiety symptoms from running rampant and ruining your ability to enjoy the season. One of the best ways to do so is to begin an anxiety disorder treatment program.
How the Holidays Impact Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by worries that dominate the mind and impact a person’s lifestyle and ability to function in healthy and productive ways. Common GAD symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
- Persistent worry
The worries and stressors central to a person’s experience with GAD are typically grounded in real concerns like money, work, or relationships. However, GAD takes those worries and blows them out of proportion. Even when someone recognizes the source of their worry shouldn’t be causing such distress, they likely feel unable to control the anxiety response.
One of the most significant ways the holidays and anxiety influence each other is in expectations. If your expectations for the holiday season don’t align with reality, it is likely to cause or heighten an experience of anxiety. The American Psychological Association found that nearly half of women and one-third of men report higher stress and anxiety levels around the holidays.
Coping With GAD During the Holidays
Managing GAD during the holidays can be tricky. You can and should prioritize your mental health any time of year. The holidays are no exception. Part of prioritizing your mental health means taking care of your physical health too. Not meeting your physical needs will only exacerbate your anxiety disorder. Eat healthy meals, stay physically active, and get adequate sleep.
Another way to reduce anxiety during the holidays is to manage triggers and plan ahead to avoid them when possible. Maybe buying gifts is a key driver of your anxiety disorder around the holidays. If so, create a budget and stick to it as you do your shopping. For others, social situations like holiday parties or get-togethers provoke intense worry. Partner up with a friend to help you through that work party you know is coming or set a health boundary to leave at a certain time from that dinner your distant relatives invited you to. In addition, it’s okay to say no sometimes too.
Lastly, it’s worth spending some time to create an anxiety action plan for yourself. That way, if you do end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or on the verge of a panic attack, you can default to your plan to cope and get through it.
Get Treatment at South Tampa Psychiatry
Sometimes, coping mechanisms and anxiety action plans aren’t enough. Formal anxiety disorder treatment may be the right next step for you in tackling your anxiety disorder. If that’s the case, remember above all else that seeking professional help in no way reflects a personal failing.
Anxiety disorder treatment prioritizes medication and therapy. Many antidepressants have dual uses in treating anxiety disorder. Depending on the nature of your anxiety disorder, buspirone is a common anti-anxiety medication now commonly prescribed. Two therapies commonly used in anxiety disorder treatment are cognitive-behavioral therapy and TMS therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can alter the beliefs and thought patterns that dominate an anxiety response to alleviate symptoms and get patients to a place where their triggers have less power over them. Meanwhile, TMS therapy is a specialized treatment option that can treat treatment-resistant anxiety. At South Tampa Psychiatry, we are pleased to provide TMS therapy and other treatment options at our mental health treatment center. Discover how South Tampa Psychiatry addressed anxiety disorder treatment by reaching out to 866.273.5017.