Young Black Woman Feeling Anxious And Biting Nails

Guess what mental health disorder I’m describing which impacts 30% in women and 19% in men at some point in their lives:

  • feeling nervous
  • restless
  • tense
  • a sense of impending danger, panic or doom,
  • increased heart rate
  • breathing rapidly
  • sweating for no reason
  • trembling
  • feeling weak or tired
  • trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry,
  • trouble sleeping
  • experiencing gastrointestinal problems
  • difficulty controlling worry


Anxiety is a normal emotion that is experienced by everyone at some time. Symptoms can be psychological, physical or a mixture of both.  It’s when anxiety disorder sticks around too long or goes untreated that cause distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 

Intervention is required when symptoms become excessively distressing or disabling, or reduce quality of life, in the context of the absence of any clear external threat. 

Anxiety disorders can occur on their own or be co-morbid with other psychiatric disorders, particularly depression (Taylor, Barnes, & Young, 2018). Anxiety can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional after determining that the signs and symptoms are not due to the physiological effects of a substance, medication, or medical condition. 

So what happens if you’ve got some of those list of symptoms above?

The treatment of choice is psychotherapy.

Many modalities of psychotherapy are helpful for clients suffering from anxiety disorders. 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven effective for anxiety disorders. CBT examines the relationship between anxiety-driven cognitions, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps facilitate understanding and insight into the development of anxiety Ganti et al., 2016).
  • There are also various medications that a licensed prescriber can use.

Ok, so you’re not ready for a comprehensive approach… here’s a few things that can help you immediately… seriously, these work really well too… just give them a try:

  1. Breathing techniques can be effective by triggering your autonomic nervous system to reset and restore relaxation.
    • Take a deep breath, inhaling deeply through your nose to the count of four, and then exhale to the count of 6.
    • Do this three times.
  2. Use mental grounding techniques:
    • The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is the most common grounding technique because it calls upon all the senses to bring you back to the present. It involves thinking about:
      • Five things you can see
      • Four things you can feel
      • Three things you can hear
      • Two things you can smell and
      • One thing you can taste in your immediate environment.

Self-care at home is a great way to manage anxiety.

10 Days 10 Techniques to Reduce Anxiety Challenge!

  1. Soak your feet in warm water for 15 minutes
  2. Listen to music is a different language
  3. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea before your start your day
  4. Read a book or magazine that’s been collecting dust
  5. Play with your pet for 15 minutes
  6. Unplug your TV for a day
  7. Watch your favorite movie
  8. Explore a new hobby
  9. Sit outside and listen to the world around you
  10. Turn off your cell phone and computer for 15 minutes

Learning to manage anxiety with coping skills is an important part of treating anxiety whether you seek a professionals help or not. However, if you’re still struggling, DON’T WAIT! Just ask for help, you actually have quite a few resources at your fingertips.


Ganti, L., Kaufman, M., & Blitzstein, S. (2018). First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Taylor, D.M., Barnes, T.R., & Young, A. (2018). The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines In Psychiatry (13th ed.). Washington, DC:  Wiley Group.

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Melissa W., MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She began her nursing career after graduating from Midway University with an Associate of Science in Nursing degree. She went on to work in various acute care settings, while working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. It was then that she felt drawn towards the specialty of Psychiatry and completed her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Walden University.

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