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16:21 PM

MSN: How Anxiety Can Lead to Healthy, Lifelong Habits

Chances are, we’ve all come across someone in our lives suffering from an anxiety disorder, and there’s a reason for that. Studies from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America have indicated that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the nation, with over 40 million adults affected.

A variety of factors, like genetics and traumatic life events, can determine whether an individual becomes diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and it’s different for each person.

But what if it doesn’t have to be all bad?

Despite the adverse effects the disorder can cause, like excessive worrying and racing thoughts, Megan Schabbing, MD, director of psychiatric emergency services at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, explains how these symptoms can actually have positive effects.

"Anxiety can be a positive trait," Dr. Schabbing told Microsoft News reporter John Hastings in a recent interview. "Someone who worries about being on time or performing at a high level often excels in various aspects of life, both professionally and personally."

While she cautions that those affected should always seek medical treatment first, there are a number of ways the condition influences people to find healthy ways to maintain it.

Exercise and making room in your day to express your creative side are both healthy habits those with anxiety have picked up. Exercise helps combat anxiety by providing a distraction and an outlet for releasing stress in a positive way. On the other hand, sitting down and engaging in a soothing activity, like knitting or coloring is also helpful. The repetition engages parts of the brain that ease feelings of fear.

"The key is that, when you fill your brain with other activities and thoughts, the anxiety is no longer able to take control of your mind," said Dr. Schabbing.

One of the best things anxiety can teach you is how to ask for help. It’s one of the first steps to taking control of the condition.

"Managing anxiety by talking to a professional in the field about your feelings can help you to avoid physical and emotional symptoms by providing an unbiased outlet for your stress," said Dr. Schabbing.

Learning to accept an anxiety disorder for what it is, educating yourself about the condition and seeking professional guidance can lead to unexpected positive lifelong habits.