How to Deal With Crippling Anxiety and Take Control

Written by: Meenakshi Joshi – M Sc
(Psychology)

Last updated date : March 29, 2022

Do you feel like you can’t breadth? Do you ever feel like you will die because of the extreme fear you feel? This type of fear is called crippling anxiety. Let’s see what does crippling anxiety feel like. What are the signs and symptoms? Also, we will see how to deal with such crippling anxiety.

Chapter 1:
What Is Crippling Anxiety?

We all feel nervous. When you have to give a speech or a talk in public, you too must have felt nervous and scared. Also, the nerves you feel when you meet your boss for the first time or go on a first date are natural. This does not mean that you are anxious, maybe just a bit scared. On the other hand, when you feel crippling anxiety, it is much more than that. To deal with crippling anxiety is a big task. It is not easy at all. This type of anxiety is different from daily stress or routine problems. It is much more severe.
  • You feel anxious often, more than others
  • It makes you feel like you just cannot do anything to make it go away
  • You cannot do your daily tasks
  • Your whole life starts revolving around it
  • You cannot live life fully
  • The anxiety you feel is larger than the event that caused it
In short, you feel way too much anxiety and it takes over your life. You feel helpless and cannot stop it.
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Chapter 2:
What Does Crippling Anxiety Feel Like?

The signs of crippling anxiety are
  • Irregular breathing
  • Heart starts racing
  • Sweating
  • Feels like vomiting
  • Feel irritated or angry
  • Isolate yourself
  • Headaches and body pain
  • Not want to be with others
  • Changes in body weight
  • Cannot stay still
  • Cannot fall asleep, sleep problems
  • Get nightmares
  • Show aggression
  • Have suicidal thoughts
  • Relationship problems
  • Worry and more worry
  • Cannot function at work or home properly
  • Start using a substance (do drugs) to feel relaxed
  • Not able to relax, feel uneasy all the time
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Chapter 3:
How Is It Different from Routine Stress?

When you feel crippling anxiety, you cannot control your feelings. You cannot deal with the crippling anxiety you feel.
  • Your anxiety becomes overwhelming. In other words, you just cannot control or understand why you are feeling this way.
  • Your health gets affected.
  • You cannot do routine things such as cook, clean, have a conversation with friends, etc.
  • You do not want to even go out of your house. For example, you refuse to join your friends for dinner or attend a family function.
  • When you feel anxious, which is very often, you feel like you have frozen. You just cannot move or think.
  • Also, you cannot deal with this crippling anxiety on your own.
  • You feel lightheaded and dizzy.
Because this type of anxiety is more severe and damaging than routine fear or stress, it starts affecting your life. You feel less confident about yourself. You start doubting yourself. Also, you might stop doing things that you enjoy or like.

Additionally, if you have crippling anxiety, then there is a high chance that you might have an anxiety disorder.

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Chapter 4:
How to Deal With Crippling Anxiety?

There is no cure or perfect way to stop or deal with crippling anxiety. However, you can start learning to cope with it and try to manage it. There are two groups of treatment methods.
  1. When you are having crippling anxiety – In this, we will talk about how to deal with crippling anxiety at the moment, i.e., when you are having that anxiety attack.
  2. Coping skills – Here, we will discuss general and preventive strategies that you can learn and practice in your daily life to prevent or cope better.
In the moment:
  • Take a breadth – When you feel such severe anxiety, make sure you halt or take a pause to collect yourself. Your mind becomes blank and you get too flustered. However, take a deep breath and stop for a minute. If you could realise and try to halt as soon as you start feeling the anxiety, then you will be able to manage more effectively.
  • When you pause to relax, there are a few things that you can do to deal with the crippling anxiety you are starting to feel.
    1. Start counting – It is an easy way to distract your mind from all the thoughts that are creating anxiety.
    2. Deep Breathing – Start taking deep breaths and try concentrating on your breath. If you know some Pranayama techniques or relaxation breathing techniques, it can help you even more to relax your mind and body.
    3. Do some physical tasks – A quick way to push yourself out of the anxiety/panic zone is to do a physical task that would require you to move, lift something, or run. So, do something that will put your mind and body into action in some other direction.
    4. Use your power of visualisation – You can think about a happy place or peaceful place and visualise that you are relaxing there.
  • Once you have calmed down a bit, try to challenge the thoughts that had bothered you in the first place. This way you can rationalise and reason out in your mind that there is nothing to worry about. You can engage in some positive self-talk to give yourself a boost and to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Focus on doing something creative or fun afterward to reward yourself for dealing with your crippling anxiety in a good way.
Preventive and coping skills:

1.Therapy – You can seek help from a counselor who practises Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In this therapy, you will learn to identify the thoughts that make you anxious. You will learn to change these thoughts to more positive and calming thoughts. Also, you can learn and change behaviours associated with fear and engage in more coping behaviours.

2.  Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) – In this type of intervention, you learn to follow a stimulus (such as a finger) with your eyes. During this eye movement, you also discuss things that make you anxious. The idea is that this movement or following the stimulus will help you relax and if you are relaxed and distracted, the effect of the discussed trauma or anxiety will be less.

3. Exposure Therapy – In this, you talk about the trauma and anxiety for a long time in a controlled situation. The idea is that as you talk about the anxiety more and more, you will be able to handle it better and better. The impact or effect of the anxiety will reduce as you discuss it more. You will kind of get used to it.

4. Medication – Many drugs can help to reduce anxiety and calm you down. These are found effective for crippling anxiety as well. However, please take any medicine after seeing a doctor and with their prescription only.

Other lifestyle changes that can help:

Besides the above-mentioned techniques, there are some lifestyle changes that you can do that will make you feel better overall, improve your health, and help you deal with crippling anxiety.

  • Changes in diet – A good healthy balanced diet can make you feel good and will improve your physical and mental strength.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise always help to be fit
  • Yoga and meditation – It will help to stay calm in panic situations. You can use meditation to calm yourself down if you start feeling anxious.
  • Massage Therapy – Getting a good massage done can also help to release any tensions and stress we have. A relaxed body will relax your mind as well.
  • Arts and other hobbies – Doing something creative helps us to stay busy and focus our energies in the best possible manner.
  • Improve sleep patterns – Get a good 8-hour sleep at night. You will feel much more level-headed the next day.
  • Reduce or avoid caffeine – If you get anxious too quickly, then you should cut down on caffeine.
  • Be more social – Connect with friends and family more often. Having a group of people who care for you and who are there for you will make you feel secure.
  • Share with someone what you feel – Keeping things to yourself will only make things worse. So share your thoughts and feelings with someone. You will feel supported and more in control of your emotions.

In summary, anxiety can be treated. So, don’t feel shy or embarrassed to get help. Take a step to work on your anxiety and it will make you feel much happier and in control of your life.