If you need immediate help, please call 911 or the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1

Anxiety 101

We all worry or feel anxious from time to time. You may feel anxious about an important briefing to your commander or preparing to leave your family and daily routine for a deployment. Anxiety is an emotion experienced when anticipating something threatening or dangerous that might happen in the future. It is usually accompanied by physical feelings of tension and worried thoughts. Occasional anxiety is common. However, if your anxiety interferes with daily activities or is affecting your relationships, check in with your health care provider. Managing your anxiety helps keep you mission ready.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders differ from one another in terms of the type of situations that cause the individual to feel anxious, as well as the associated behaviors and thoughts. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.   

Signs of anxiety disorders can include:

  • Feeling on-edge or worried a lot
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling panic
  • Difficulty concentrating

Ways to Manage Anxiety

Working with a licensed provider can help you more effectively manage your anxiety symptoms. In addition to other forms of treatment, your provider may recommend that you practice the following simple lifestyle changes:

  • Prioritize Sleep. Lack of sleep can impact your mental health. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Get Active. Try incorporating a workout routine into your weekly schedule. Exercising can boost your mood and help reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity also improves your quality of sleep.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol. If you experience anxiety, consuming alcohol or caffeine can amplify your symptoms. While alcohol can reduce feelings of anxiety in the moment, fatigue and increased anxiety can follow the next day.
  • Reflect and Relax. Try practicing breathing and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga. Writing down your thoughts in a journal can also help keep your anxiety symptoms in check.
  • Be Open. Share your anxiety triggers with your family and friends. By being more aware, your support network can better understand what makes you anxious and support you in getting through anxiety-inducing situations

Maintaining Mission Readiness

Talk with your health care provider to explore ways to manage your symptoms. Treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy works to identify the anxiety trigger and change your thinking patterns that support the fear and your reactions to the fear. Examples of therapy your health care professional may use include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.  CBT focuses on helping you identify and change the thoughts that contribute to anxiety.   Exposure therapy helps you safely face your fears, reduce avoidance of the feared situation, and manage feelings of anxiety.
  • Medications affect the chemicals in your brain linked with anxiety disorders to reduce the intensity of your anxiety and your symptoms.
  • Mindfulness Meditation teaches you to stay in the present moment and let go of anxious or negative thoughts.
  • Guided imagery promotes relaxation by creating a visual picture in your mind of a calm, safe place to reduce worry.  

Reaching out can help you stay mission ready and improve your relationships. Call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to speak with a trained health resource consultant or use the live chat. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (8255), service members press 1.

Additional Resources

Sources

Anxiety Disorders,” National Institute of Mental Health. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2019.

Anxiety Disorders,” Department of Veterans Affairs. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2019.

Military and Military Families,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Last

accessed Feb. 27, 2019.  

What is PTSD?” Department of Veterans Affairs. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2019.