Anxiety is a common mental health disorder affecting a large segment of the population. It is an umbrella term that covers a group of conditions that have the same pathological anxiety as their main disturbance of moods or emotional tone. The disorder manifests itself as a change in mood, behavior, thinking, and physiological activities. The different categories of the disorders include panic, agoraphobia, specific and generalized anxiety phobias, compulsive-obsessive, acute stress, and social and post-traumatic disorders. The diagnostic criteria for someone with an anxiety disorder include excessive fear and worries that last for at least six months and difficulty in controlling the behavior. Many ways have been developed to help individuals deal with their anxiety challenges. People with depression or anxiety have turned to nonpharmacologic and nontraditional methods, including tai chi, qigong, and yoga, to help them deal with their condition (Atezaz et al. 620). Anxiety and repression are the most prevalent psychiatric conditions that affect people, but it is manageable through nonconventional means such as yoga.
Anxiety is a familiar emotion since it is part of everyday experiences. It is a natural function that the body uses to alert a person of potential threats, which allows time to evaluate and respond appropriately. The heightened level of readiness can help people to do better and stimulate creative impulses. In this regard, anxiety is often perceived as an artifact of modern societies which is increasingly depicted in the visual arts, music, social media, and literature (Atezaz et al. 622). To some people, anxiety triggers the onset of an inappropriate response to the perceived threat. This led to exhibiting persistent and intrusive behaviors that are now associated with obsessive behaviors, panic, and phobia.
In many disorders, a subjective experience of fear accompanied by disturbances of concentration, sleep, or occupational functioning of a normal being are the most common symptoms. However, despite their similarities, these disorders differ in their manifestation, treatment, and course. Usually, the patients present complain of poor physical health as their main concern. These early symptoms may temporarily halt or mask the underlying anxiety symptoms. The trend is most common for a panic disorder which is identifiable by the short period of intense fear and a sense of looming doom. Panic disorder is characterized by physical signs such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain. In response, the affected person avoids the situation that triggers their panic attacks. Thus, real anxiety disorder is hidden by early symptoms, which may manifest as a different mental health condition.
Individuals who seek the help of mental health specialists develop agoraphobia after they first experience panic disorder. The condition is best understood as the repeated behavioral outcome of repeated panic attacks and the accompanying worries, preoccupation, and withdrawal. On the other hand, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) rarely manifests itself without a host of psychiatric symptoms where a person experiences constant worry over an extended period, usually six months and above (Atezaz et al. 624). Social phobia describes a type of anxiety when a person develops avoidance of public gatherings or interactions. The anxiety is brought by past events that instilled fear in the individual and the crowd becomes the trigger of this anxiety (Atezaz et al. 624). Another common type of anxiety disorder is post-traumatic and acute stress disorder. The above two conditions present themselves when a patient has undergone a traumatizing experience with subsequent physiological triggers of the memories of the event. Lastly, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is exhibited by repeated or compulsion behavior which reduces anxiety connected to unwanted or intrusive thoughts (Meenakshi). The most common symptoms of OCD are excessive cleanliness or washing in response to perceived contamination. Additionally, some people regularly check to confirm if the gas is turned off for fear of a fire outbreak.
Self-Care Dynamic Approach to Control Anxiety
Many people with depression or anxiety have turned to non-medical means to control their conditions. Yoga has, over the last few years, been embraced by many people as a way of curing stress and reducing anxiety levels. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews have shown that these non-conventional methods can improve the symptoms of anxiety disorders. As a form of adjunctive treatment, exercise has shown significant potential as a treatment for resistant anxiety symptoms, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Additionally, monotherapy yoga and mindfulness-based meditation have shown positive results in minimizing the symptoms of anxiety. However, despite the positive findings being less common amongst people with anxiety disorders, the available evidence supports adjunctive use. Therefore, there is no negative response reported to the mindfulness-based interventions, which further supports the use of adjunctive therapy.
Yoga is an ancient eastern practice that is famous for combining breath control, physical posture, and meditation. The exercise has several styles that vary depending on the duration, intensity, and emphasis of every movement. A systematic review concludes that yoga is an effective treatment for curing anxiety. In comparison to other forms of treatments for major disorders, yoga was found to have the same results. However, the review indicated that exercise was less effective compared to electroconvulsive, which shows that it is not suitable for treating long-term resistant anxiety (Meenakshi). In the prenatal period, yoga has been effective in relieving anxiety, but results varied depending on the style.
The indications for yoga in the management of anxiety disorders are less clear. A meta-analysis of hatha yoga showed that individuals with severe conditions benefited the most. However, the total impact was small, and this suggests that it should best be used as adjunctive treatment in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy and serotonin inhibitors (Meenakshi). Nevertheless, studies have suggested that yoga is effective at reducing the symptoms of anxiety compared to no treatment. For example, as a monotherapy, yoga is effective in the management of panic disorder. However, no evidence shows the optimal duration of yoga required for it to be effective.
Yoga improves the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition that is characterized by chronic nervousness and fear, which points out that exercise may help in treating anxiety in some individuals. Researchers at the New York University (NYU) school of medicine found that yoga was significant in the management of generalized stress. However, it was not found as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is the gold standard developed for talk therapy to help patients isolate negative thinking from their problems. Generalized anxiety disorder is a prevalent condition, yet many people are not willing to seek help, while others have no access to evidence-based treatment (Ghaffarilaleh et al.). Therefore, these people can benefit greatly from yoga practice which will improve the overall management of their condition.
Although there are positive reviews on the use of yoga to treat or manage anxiety disorder, there is a downside to it that makes it less effective in some individuals. Therefore, there are important limitations to keep in mind before embarking on yoga as an alternative medication for anxiety disorder. First, it is not all studies that are equally balanced as some may have a design flaw or tested on a small number of people. Although it can reduce stress and manage anxiety, yoga is not considered a stand-alone treatment. For example, individuals experiencing extreme cases of anxiety may require the input of mental health professionals rather than using yoga as the sole treatment option (Ghaffarilaleh et al.). Additionally, to practice yoga and get results, the input of professional trainers is needed, which may be expensive for the patients. Hence, anxiety patients still need to combine yoga with conventional treatment for good results in managing their mental health problems.
In conclusion, the world is in the age of anxiety which indicates a shared mood about the rigors of modern-day living. The way children are being raised, the attitudes of people at work, threats of terrorism, and joblessness, among other factors, are contributing to increased anxiety levels in society. However, people are turning to nonpharmacological methods to manage their condition, such as yoga. Numerous studies have shown that yoga plays an effective role in the reduction of anxiety, stress, and depression. A systematic review compared yoga with CBT and found that it affects reducing stress-related anxiety in people. In the prenatal period, the practice was found to be effective in reducing stress in pregnant women. Nevertheless, its use in treating long-term and persistent anxiety disorder has not been proven and should be done with caution. Moreover, yoga cannot be considered a standalone treatment for managing anxieties. Therefore, it should be used in conjunction with conventional methods for better outcomes. More studies need to be done to determine the optimal duration of yoga that affects anxiety disorder.
Atezaz, Saeed et al. “Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, And Meditation”. American Family Physician, vol 99, no. 10, 2019, pp. 620-627.
Ghaffarilaleh, Ghafoureh et al. “Yoga Improves Anxiety and Vital Signs of Women with Premenstrual Syndrome”. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, vol 08, no. 04, 2019. Longdom Groupю
Meenakshi, Dr S. “Impact of Yoga Therapy on Anxiety and Depression”. Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Research, vol 5, no. 12, 2017. Valley Internationalю