Yoga, mindfulness exercise, medication: what helps against constant fear

Yoga, mindfulness exercise, medication: what helps against constant fear

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Sensible strategies: When fear is constant, action is the order of the day

Fears and worries are common. Some are afraid of the dentist, others of snakes or spiders. Fear is basically normal, but if fear is unfounded and constantly overshadows everyday life, those affected should react. Experts explain which strategies can then help.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses. They can affect life and accompany many people for long periods. However, there are various treatment options. These include relaxation methods, psychotherapy, medication and herbal remedies.

Get more confident

Fear is completely normal. It is natural and sometimes inevitable. If you shrink from the hot stove, you don't react in an unusual way - and certainly not unreasonably. But what if constant fear determines life?

Then action is the order of the day, explains the author Caroline Foran. "Fears can slow down those affected severely." But it is up to everyone to counter their fears and thus gain more self-confidence.

From phobia to panic

Anxiety disorders exist in different forms: One form are phobias - specific fears, for example, of spiders or tunnels. Sociophobia is also widespread. Those affected are horrified by certain interpersonal situations, perhaps a lecture in front of a large audience, or sitting at a table and eating with others.

"The focus here is on the fear of being judged by others and not considered good enough," says Prof. Markus Banger. He is the chief physician of the department for addiction disorders and psychotherapy at the LVR Clinic Bonn.

Generalized anxiety disorder is also widespread. Affected people are always worried. For example, they are afraid of losing their jobs - although there is nothing to suggest this. Or they live in constant fear that close relatives have a serious accident. "Generalized anxiety disorder is often accompanied by depression," says Banger.

Panic attacks are another form of anxiety disorders. The attack comes like a robbery and is accompanied by violent body reactions - from shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating to tremors. In these situations, people sometimes even think they have to die.

Therapy and medication

Anxiety disorders can have different causes. "There is a genetic basis in around 30 percent of fears," explains Banger. In the remaining 70 percent, medication, drugs, physical illnesses, life history experiences and acute events play a role.

In the case of severe anxiety disorders, those affected should definitely rely on professional help and see a psychotherapist, for example, through their family doctor. Behavioral therapy, possibly combined with medication, can help.

Mindfulness against fear

But in many not so difficult cases, everyone who is plagued by fear can help themselves.

Caroline Foran has many tips and strategies for this. One of them is the mindfulness exercise: the next time you feel nervous or anxious, you first consciously perceive the feeling. The goal is to focus attention on yourself and your feelings and thoughts - "even if it is uncomfortable," as Foran says.

And this is how it works: inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to eight. "Repeat this exercise five times until the pulse has slowed down." In the next step, attention goes towards the feet and lower body. You anchor yourself, feel the ground under your feet, breathe in and out. The mindfulness exercise can be helpful, for example, before an exam or a lecture.

Reflection and relaxation

Another approach: make yourself aware of your fears. To do this, sit down and write down in as much detail as possible what you're actually afraid of. "Sometimes it can be a first step to overcome your fear if you then tear the note into many pieces," says Banger.

According to the expert, it can also help to talk about his or her fears with the partner or with good friends: "Such a conversation can help to put anxiety in perspective." In the case of anxiety disorders, doing sports or relaxing exercises is also very helpful - for example in the form of yoga.

The concrete disaster scenario

What, according to Foran, can also help: so-called fear hacking. You sit down and analyze what could go wrong in the situation you're afraid of. The next step is to imagine all the possible catastrophe scenarios in this context and ask yourself: what if?

"What if you finally told the truth to this one person," Foran mentions as an example of fear hacking. The expert assumes that reality will often not be as bad as your own disaster scenario. If it does happen, you will survive it.

"You are prepared for an emergency and can deal with it better thanks to this strategy," said Foran.

You don't have an influence on everything

Fears can sometimes be dealt with more calmly. "You have to make sure that you don't have an influence on all events in life," explains Foran.

It is not always up to you whether you lose your job - but you can develop professionally and thus increase your chances on the job market.

For fears whose triggers can be influenced, the following applies: face them and look for a solution. Avoiding situations in which you are afraid - that doesn't get you anywhere. On the contrary: "This can only make fear worse and severely impair the quality of life of the person concerned," says Banger. (ad; source: dpa / tmn)

Author and source information

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