Contrary to what you might see on social media, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) doesn’t mean a person likes to be neat and tidy. There are several types of OCD, but the hallmark of the condition is intrusive thoughts — known as obsessions — that create extreme anxiety. Then, to relieve their discomfort, a person with OCD performs a certain act known as a compulsion. Here’s what OCD looks like for different people. Types of OCD An estimated 1% of the population has obsessive-compulsive disorder. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the following types of OCD are extremely common: 1. Contamination OCD In contamination OCD, the intrusive thought is that the person may have touched something dirty and could catch a disease. The compulsion is usually frequent hand washing or cleaning. The person may also avoid touching certain objects such as doorknobs, bathroom stall doors or faucet handles. A subtype of contamination OCD is the fear of mental contamination, in which a person avoids thoughts or phrases that make them feel like a bad person. They may also avoid talking to people whose behavior they don’t like for fear of accidentally becoming like them. 2. Emetophobia OCD Not always relegated to the realm of OCD, emetophobia is the intense fear of vomiting. It becomes OCD when a person starts performing compulsions to abate the intrusive thought, “What if I throw up?” Compulsions include not finishing all the food on their plate, only eating at certain times or rereading expiration dates on food packaging. People may avoid restaurants where they previously felt nauseous or heard of someone becoming nauseous. They may also count calories to make sure they don’t go over a specific, self-determined limit at which they fear they will vomit. 3. Hit-and-Run OCD Drivers with hit-and-run OCD fear they may have run someone over. A bump in the road triggers the intrusive thought that they hit someone, and then the compulsion is to drive back and check the road. People with this type of OCD will often be late to work or miss appointments because they start driving in a loop, checking the same spots over and over to ensure they didn’t hurt anybody. 4. Relationship OCD “Does my partner love me? Am I actually attracted to my partner? What if I cheated on my partner, but can’t remember it?” The hallmark of this type of OCD is an intrusive thought that seems to threaten a person’s relationship. The compulsion may be asking for reassurance, checking to see if they’re attracted to someone else, ruminating or doing research to “prove” they love their partner. 5. Harm OCD One trait that characterizes many OCD sufferers is a great concern for other people’s well-being, safety or happiness. This makes intrusive thoughts of harming someone very distressing, yet very common for the exact same reason — uncomfortable thoughts become more intrusive over time as the person begins to fear them. People with harm OCD often have thoughts of punching, pushing or stabbing someone they love. New parents may be terrified of dropping their baby or otherwise hurting them somehow. Then, they may compulsively try to remember harming someone, ask others to ensure they didn’t do anything wrong or frequently check on their loved ones. Closely related to — or perhaps a subtype — of harm OCD is pedophilia OCD, where a person is intensely worried that they may be a pedophile. This type of OCD often afflicts new parents. The intrusive thought is that they might be attracted to a child, and unlike with pedophilia, the thought causes extreme anxiety and disgust. Compulsions often involve not looking at children, asking for reassurance, doing research or trying to gauge their attraction to adults. 6. Scrupulosity OCD “Did I accidentally break a rule? Did I tell a lie?” People with scrupulosity OCD obsess over following the rules and being a good person. Many people with this type of obsessive-compulsive disorder are intensely religious. If they accidentally commit a transgression or even believe they did, then they may worry they’re a bad person or fear going to Hell. Compulsions often include excessively confessing their sins, performing cleansing rituals or writing prayers to make sure they’re done correctly. They may repeatedly seek reassurance from religious leaders. Several written reports from the 1600s, which may be the oldest known accounts of OCD, describe these exact behaviors. Understanding OCD Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not about organizing things for the sake of aesthetics. The three letters in OCD describe the condition perfectly: Obsessions trigger anxiety, anxiety triggers compulsions and compulsions trigger a disorder. This cycle usually repeats itself until a person gets the right medication and undergoes therapy. Although OCD often lingers despite these interventions, people with the disorder usually feel much better after taking these steps and can get their normal life back.
Many factors can contribute to heart palpitations, like exercise, anxiety or stress. They’re a common occurrence that is usually not a cause for concern. However, you shouldn’t dismiss them since there is a chance they could be a sign of something serious. Here is an exploration of how to identify the cause of your heart skipping a beat and when to worry about heart palpitations. What Are Heart Palpitations? Heart palpitations are when your heart skips a beat or you feel a flutter in your chest. It can feel like your heart is thumping in your chest, beating too quickly or out of rhythm. Sometimes, you can feel your heart pulse in your throat or neck. Essentially, anything that feels out of the ordinary for you can be a heart palpitation since you are aware of your heart beating and its natural rhythm. Heart palpitations can last seconds, minutes or a little longer. Though they can seem worrisome, they are common and can typically be felt when you increase your heart rate. Your heart beats faster than usual to compensate for whatever activity you’re doing or what you’re consuming. Abnormal Heartbeat Causes Heart palpitations can result from anxiety symptoms, consuming caffeine or alcohol or certain medications. Many factors affect the rhythm and intensity of your heartbeat, like exercise, which increases your heart rate. You will likely feel fluttering or beating in your chest after physical activity, which is normal. Mood disorders such as anxiety can cause heart palpitations — feeling uncomfortable about a situation can do the same. Anxiety triggers a fight or flight response in your body that can result in pulses, so they can be a symptom. Arrhythmia — which is an irregular or abnormal heartbeat — can cause you to have fear and anxiety when you experience pulsations. The fluttering in your chest can prompt you to worry about the cause, creating a vicious cycle. Electrolyte imbalances, hormone changes, thyroid abnormalities, strenuous exercise and fever can all be causes of heart palpitations. When your adrenaline increases, your heart naturally works harder than usual. Drinking a lot of caffeine, taking medicine that contains stimulants or being stressed or sleep-deprived can make you more likely to experience an abnormal heartbeat. Pregnancy can also cause palpitations since it increases blood volume, making your heart work harder to pump extra fluid. You shouldn't worry about these common causes of heart palpitations. So, how do you know when to worry about them? When To Worry About Heart Palpitations Everyone experiences stress and anxiety and a healthy heart can handle the occasional racing. However, some instances can be cause for your concern. If the pulses don’t begin to fade after completing an exercise, eliminating stress or changing your diet like removing caffeine or alcohol, you may need to seek a medical professional. Another potentially worrisome sign is when beating comes on suddenly and frequently happens without doing anything that could cause them. If you experience arrhythmia or heart attack symptoms along with palpitations, you should seek immediate medical assistance by calling 911 or going to an emergency room. Symptoms of a serious condition include shortness of breath, nausea and unprompted sweating, chest pain, dizziness, loss of consciousness or upper body pain. If your palpitations occur frequently and don’t subside after a few seconds, keep track of them and schedule a visit with your doctor. They could be harmless or they could signal something that needs your attention. Ways To Cope With Heart Pulsations There are many ways you can manage your mild heart palpitations. If your heart races when you feel anxiety or stress, you can try a holistic approach to alleviate the symptoms. Mindfulness and meditation techniques help you relax, find your center and decrease your palpitations. You can also identify, address and process stress triggers to minimize the risk of future palpitations. Change your diet and decrease your chocolate, caffeine, tobacco products or alcohol intake. Ensure you are staying hydrated by drinking more water or electrolytes and consider changing your sleep schedule to ensure you get the rest you need. Regular exercise can work wonders for stress levels and boost your immune system. You can try light workouts or walks around the block to minimize the risk of increasing your heart rate to avoid palpitations. Tai chi and yoga are excellent exercises that can ease your heart palpitations and have myriad benefits for your overall health and well-being. Identifying Heart Pulses Anxiety symptoms can make it challenging to know when to worry about heart palpitations. However, unless you have symptoms of a heart condition or underlying disease, you are likely more aware of your heartbeat than usual and have nothing to worry about. Trust your instinct and schedule a visit with your doctor to ease your worries and ensure you don’t have cause for concern.
Living with anxiety can be difficult, especially when you feel like your anxiety symptoms are too far out of your control. Anxiety and irrational fear go hand in hand sometimes, as people with anxiety may dwell on a few distressing thoughts that could never have the possibility of happening. Irrational fears are commonly known as phobias, which persist as a fear of something specific without cause. Even though you might feel anxiety regarding specific situations, the most important thing to remember is that your fear could be irrational. You might have anxiety over a situation that will never happen. While you may not know where your stress came from, you can learn how to overcome irrational fears pretty easily. All it takes is some dedication. 1. Try Breathwork If your body is in a panic, you must do what you can to calm yourself down before dealing with the cause of your fear. By breathing deeply, you can force your heart to slow down to a rhythm you feel you can control better. Take deep, slow breaths that you can feel in your whole body. Over time, you should calm down enough to start dealing with other anxiety symptoms. 2. Make a Plan The next time this situation happens, you want to feel prepared. Creating a contingency plan is one way to get ahead of your anxiety. If you ever feel intense anxiety symptoms, what will you do next? You could make a plan for how to deal with it, such as finding ways to ground yourself or affirmations to tell yourself. When you have a plan, even if the situation seems unmanageable, you'll feel more confident in yourself. 3. Stay Mindful The best way to keep your anxiety at bay is to stay in the present. If you're afraid of something happening in the future, remind yourself that you'll deal with it when the time comes. For now, stay aware of the things in your present so you don't miss out on life. Taking a walk on one of your breaks can help you decrease your anxiety symptoms. Focus on yourself when you're moving and you'll start to feel more present in the world around you. 4. Reward Yourself for Progress When you notice yourself starting to make some progress, reward yourself. You deserve to recognize that you’re doing exceptionally well in teaching yourself how to overcome irrational fears. Rational fears are plausible fears that might happen, but irrational fears have no place in your headspace. It's best to kick them to the curb when you can. And when you've been managing your symptoms well enough, it’s time to treat yourself to some good food or a purchase you've been eyeing. 5. Remember the Evidence Often, irrational fears don't have any evidence behind them. It might seem silly to be afraid of something that has no chance of happening, but that's what irrational fears are. Just try to go over the evidence for something you're scared of happening in the future. If you can't come up with anything, you'll know it's an implausible scenario. Knowing whether your fear has evidence to support it is a great way to separate rational fears from irrational ones. When you feel your anxiety symptoms start to rear their ugly heads, ask yourself what evidence you have for the thing making you feel this way. If you can’t pinpoint which fear is causing you anxiety, focus on calming yourself down first. 6. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that relies on behavior change. You pinpoint the negative thoughts and actions and change them into positive ones. The practice has helped people defeat several things, such as reducing their depression or anxiety symptoms and eliminating anger issues. CBT might be vital for you as you learn how to overcome irrational fears. 7. Talk to Others When in doubt, talk to someone about your fears. Even if your loved one doesn't understand where you're coming from, they'll understand that it's putting you through a lot of pain. Your loved ones will reassure you that you have nothing to worry about. While it can be nice having a friend or family member in your corner, you should strive to learn how to overcome irrational fears on your own – just in case that loved one isn't always around to help. Learn How to Overcome Irrational Fears Knowing how to overcome irrational fears can vary by the individual and it can be trickier for some than others. You just have to focus on when your anxiety symptoms arise and what you might be thinking about whenever you start to feel worried. Over time, you may realize that you have nothing to worry about at all. By taking active measures to combat your anxiety, you'll likely feel its effects on you less as time goes on. Remember to prioritize yourself and your health through this process. You'll feel brand-new before you know it.
Anxiety presents itself in several ways. Severe anxiety symptoms can sometimes include restlessness as worrisome thoughts consume you. It's important to look at the cause of these feelings to handle your condition better. What Does Restlessness Entail? You probably want to move around if you're feeling restless. It feels like being in a constant state of "can't sit still." You'll get up and down, potentially bouncing your leg against the floor or tapping your fingers. Restlessness might come about due to your routine being disrupted or something else changing in your life. You might feel jumpy and have racing thoughts. Sometimes, restlessness might be a side effect of a new medication. It might also be a symptom of a mental or physical health issue. Restlessness is one of the most common anxiety symptoms — but just because you're restless doesn't mean you have anxiety. You should take note of other severe anxiety symptoms you display so you know whether to look into getting a diagnosis. 3 Severe Anxiety Symptoms You Should Know Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health issue that could stem from anything, including future events, past mistakes or current physical appearance. Severe anxiety symptoms don't always manifest the same way in everyone. You should note them over time and see if they match up with some of the most common indicators. 1. Difficulty Concentrating If you experience a lot of anxiety, you might find it difficult to concentrate on anything besides the worrying thoughts in your head. Anxiety plagues your brain and keeps bringing you back to certain "what if" scenarios that may not even have a chance of happening in the real world. If your mind often wanders to things that might not have a chance of happening and the thought of them worries you, you may have anxiety. 2. Mood Changes You might experience a lot of fatigue. You could also feel on edge, as if something bad is about to happen at any moment. Feeling this way constantly can make you irritable and likely snap at others if they start questioning you. Changes in your mood aren't a surefire sign of anxiety but should be considered when paired with other symptoms. 3. Restlessness Restlessness is one of the key indicators that a person could have anxiety. Most everyone experiences it, but not necessarily while having other severe symptoms of anxiety. Dig to find the root of your restlessness and try channeling it productively until you can calm yourself down. How to Deal With Anxiety Effectively Dealing with anxiety symptoms isn't fun. You must convince your brain and body that they aren't experiencing a threat or attack, so it's OK to calm down. Focus on tangible things to keep yourself rooted in the present during an attack. Try these methods to help lessen some of the symptoms. 1. See a Doctor You should always see a doctor first if you have concerns. They can help you get a diagnosis and medication that can help lessen some of your severe anxiety symptoms. You can also focus on other ways to take care of yourself. When paired together, you may find that you have little to no anxiety at all. 2. Meditate Meditation can bring you back to the present and center your mind and body, so it's an excellent option to deal with the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. You might find it difficult to sit still if you have severe restlessness, but forcing yourself to meditate for even five minutes a day could be enough to see a difference. 3. Check in With Yourself You should regularly check in with yourself. It goes beyond jotting down your current mood. You should sit quietly and take an honest inventory of your feelings. You should prioritize taking care of yourself once you notice your mood slipping or anxiety symptoms appearing. You might have to take a break from whatever is giving you the anxiety to give yourself time to recover. 4. Sleep Well You often hear that adults need around eight hours of sleep, but you may not know how to practice good sleep hygiene. Getting enough shuteye means nothing if you aren't gaining quality rest. You'll want to keep your bedroom at a cool temperature and use it only for sleep so you fall asleep faster. Blackout curtains can help prevent city lights from leaking in during the night and disturbing your slumber. Deal With Severe Anxiety Symptoms as Best You Can What works for some people may not work for you. It might take trial and error before you learn which activities can relieve your anxiety symptoms. Dealing with anxiety is never fun, but practice can make it manageable. Push back against restlessness by taking better care of yourself and potentially seeing a doctor. Your symptoms may fade over time. Remember to take care of yourself daily to keep your severe anxiety symptoms at bay.
Who isn’t familiar with the sensation of butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation or test? As it turns out, your tummy and brain share an intricate link, and what happens in one influences the other — and vice versa. It’s a two-way street, and scientists have only begun to unravel the link between anxiety and stomach problems. Gastrointestinal distress is a frequent anxiety symptom many people overlook. If you’ve experienced more than your share of constipation, diarrhea, nausea and bloating lately, it’s crucial to evaluate all the factors contributing to your distress if you want lasting relief. That unsettled feeling in your belly is something you should heed. The Link Between Anxiety and Stomach Problems What’s the link between anxiety and stomach problems? Think of it as a tale of two cities connected by a superhighway — your vagus nerve. This biggest of your 12 cranial nerves carries messages from your gut to your brain and vice versa. It’s very much bidirectional. Your vagus nerve is part of your parasympathetic nervous system — the side in charge of your rest and digestion functions. It can become overstimulated because of excess mental and emotional stress or a disruption in your gut microbiota, the colonies of healthy bacteria that aid digestion and keep everything running smoothly below. You develop symptoms like indigestion, diarrhea, nausea and constipation when it does. Your tummy trouble could stem from mental or physical causes, but these often interconnect. For example, you might develop gastrointestinal symptoms that make you nervous about potential health problems, especially if you have a history of intestinal disorders in your family. The resulting stress could make you feel even worse, creating a negative feedback loop where worrying increases your pain, and that agony creates more tension. The problem you face is how to find relief, whether your digestive upset stems from anxiety symptoms or something you ate. That requires a holistic approach to care that combines traditional medical interventions with mindfulness training and proven stress-reducing techniques. Anxiety Symptoms to Bring Into Mindful Awareness You should seek medical treatment for conditions that may have an underlying physical cause, but you can often determine if stress might contribute to your discomfort. What anxiety symptoms should you know to explore mindfully, evaluating if you may have such a disorder? Here’s a short list of signs to consider beyond your tummy trouble: Are you continually restless, wound up or on edge, finding it difficult to relax without artificial substances? Are you tired all the time? Do you have difficulty with focus and concentration? Are you irritable and more prone to snapping over minor interruptions or inconveniences? Do you struggle to fall or stay asleep? Do you find yourself worrying constantly? Do you have other physical symptoms, like headaches and migraines, body aches, or unexplained pains? Any of the above signs could signify that anxiety contributes to stomach issues. It may or may not be the only contributor, but it plays a role in your overall discomfort. Stress management techniques like the ones listed below may help, although you should book an appointment with your doctors if you don’t find relief. What if Your Gut Is Telling You Something? Sometimes, your gut is telling you something is physically wrong down below. It might ease your anxiety to book a visit with your doctor. They may begin screening for physical issues by ordering a CAT scan, MRI or ultrasound to look at your digestive system. If that proves futile, they may move on to a barium enema, sigmoidoscopy or endoscopy to rule out polyps, precancerous cells and other abnormalities. You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re OK internally — but medical bills can also increase anxiety. It’s ultimately a choice only you can make. Remember that the gut-brain superhighway runs both ways. Your brain might perceive unseen dangers that don’t reach your conscious awareness. Therefore, pay attention if a nervous stomach comes on suddenly and tune into your environment. Personal safety guru Gavin de Becker recommends not walking around feeling hypervigilant all the time but listening to your body’s innate danger signals. Don’t disregard what may be a genuine sign that it’s time to get out of Dodge. Natural Holistic Ways to Ease Anxiety What can you do to find relief if your stomach trouble arises from anxiety symptoms? The following techniques have proven effective in soothing your nervous system. Make them an integral part of your daily routine and see if your pain improves. 1. Deep Breathing Your breathing becomes shallow and rapid when you get nervous. You may even hold your breath. Deep breathing tells your parasympathetic nervous system, “It’s OK. Everything’s fine, and you can resume normal functioning.” You can use dozens of techniques, but perhaps the easiest is to inhale for five counts and exhale the same length, placing your hands on your chest and belly and feeling them rise and fall. 2. Meditation Prolonged stress and anxiety can prompt physical changes in your brain, like shrinking your hippocampus. That’s the area of your mind responsible for determining if something merits your attention, but it gets smaller when bombarded with constant threats. Studies show that meditation can increase hippocampal volume, helping repair the damage. 3. Yoga Yoga helps repair the structural changes in your brain arising from prolonged stress. It also uses gentle movement to mitigate your cortisol levels, a stress hormone that often goes into overdrive when you experience ongoing pressure. Movement also boosts levels of positive neurotransmitters like serotonin. It stimulates juicy endorphins to help you feel better and activates your endocannabinoid system. You could give a gentle Hatha or restorative class a try. Why You Should Take Your Gut Instincts More Seriously Scientists have learned a lot about the link between anxiety and stomach problems. They know that your brain and gut “talk,” and those messages can influence how you feel. If tummy trouble is one of your anxiety symptoms, use the above techniques to feel better. Seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t abate, and remember to take your gut instincts seriously.
We all get anxious sometimes, but those with anxiety disorders often struggle to keep negative thoughts at bay. These symptoms make it difficult to do many activities, including sleep. Insomnia and anxiety are linked. Anxiety can cause you to not fall asleep at night and getting little sleep can lead to more anxiety. If you find your anxiety symptoms cause insomnia, there are things you can do to get the rest you need. Here are five tips to curb insomnia and anxiety. Meditation Mindful meditation is an excellent way to center your mind and prepare you for quality sleep. Mindfulness helps many people deal with anxiety because it focuses on the present, not the past or future. Learning to meditate can help you relieve those late-night jitters and feel at peace as you drift off. You don’t have to be an expert to begin meditating. Many free or low-cost guided meditations online gently instruct you on what to do and when. Meditation is a skill, and the more you practice it, the better you’ll become at it. Research shows that just 10 minutes of mindful meditation can reduce the intrusive thoughts that can come with anxiety. When you are able to relax your mind, you can fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. Journaling Journaling is a great way to get anxious thoughts out of your mind before bed. Writing is an excellent way to get your thoughts and frustrations out that you struggle to say. By seeing them written down, you may also identify new patterns in your anxious thoughts, helping you identify and avoid triggers and come to new realizations. You can choose to write your stream of consciousness to relieve yourself from negative thoughts, or you might choose a journal with prompts that guide you to get feelings out or explore new thought processes. A 2018 study found that one month of emotion-based journaling can help improve your mental health. These can be especially helpful if you use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – you’ll receive guidance as you work through each anxious thought. Another journaling method that can help with anxiety before bed is the gratitude journal. There are different versions out there, but all involve focusing on the positive things in life. Anxiety can easily cause you to focus on the negative, but these journals can help you rediscover the positive before you drift off to sleep. Routine Creating and sticking to a nighttime routine can help relieve stress and anxiety by training your body to get into a state of relaxation before bed. Taking a warm bath or shower, reading a light-hearted book, indulging in some decaffeinated tea or warm milk, using scented lotions, or listening to a favorite podcast or meditation track can get your mind into a state with less anxiety and calmer. Research has found that repetitive routines can help relieve anxiety. This applies to many different areas of life, including as you settle in for the night. By finding the things that help you relax and doing them every night before bed, you improve your mental well-being and get a relaxing night’s sleep. Aromatherapy Aromatherapy is another way to relieve anxiety at night and help you sleep. Certain scents and essential oils can relax the mind and body so you can drift off with ease. You want to be careful to try out the right scents. Certain oils, like citrus and peppermint, smell good but can make you more alert than you should be before bed. Relaxing oils – like lavender, sage, rose, and eucalyptus – all work well to help your mind and body unwind. There are several ways you can incorporate these scents into your nighttime routine, including candles, diffusers, pillow sprays, and skin care. You can also incorporate their use into deep breathing or meditation exercises. Adding these oils to your routine can make you clear your mind and curb anxiety and insomnia. Different oils such as frankincense and sandalwood can also help you feel focused and relaxed in the morning. Exercise Exercise works in several ways to relieve anxiety and help you sleep. It releases mood-boosting hormones like serotonin that can help you feel better and focus less on any anxious or negative thoughts. Research shows that incorporating exercise into your daily activities can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Just a few minutes of walking, running, biking, or swimming can benefit you, and doing so before bed can help you get into the right headspace to sleep. Exercise also relieves anxiety symptoms by improving your overall health. Your physical and mental health are connected, and when you keep your body healthy, it’s easier to keep your mind healthy. Exercise is a key part of keeping your health. Curbing Anxiety so You Can Sleep When you struggle with anxiety, it can be hard to sleep at night. Thankfully, there are proven things you can try to cope better with your anxious thoughts, allowing you to get a good night’s rest finally.