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If you have been experiencing the feeling of the impending doom of late, you are not alone.
For a solid two years, many have felt a spike in stress and anxiety related to fears about COVID-19. This was justified to a large extent, as millions of people have lost their lives to this virus globally. Even so, the outsized sense of impending doom and gloom that ensued has let us feel off balance and afraid.
Now, with the pivot to a burgeoning war in Eastern Europe, fear is ramping up anew. How can we better manage these emotions and avoid making ourselves sick with stress? To learn some tips about managing fear and anxiety, read on.
What Is a Feeling of Impending Doom?
Fear is a potent emotion. Sometimes fear manifests as a sense of sheer terror as if something horrible is about to happen. You may feel like your life is in danger, or that the world is about to experience a cataclysmic event.
When you feel this sense of foreboding, the symptoms may include:
- Racing heart.
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain.
- Weakness, weak limbs.
For some people, the feeling of doom is so debilitating that they become afraid to leave their homes. When fear and panic lead you to isolate yourself, it is probably a sign of an anxiety disorder.
What Causes You to Feel Dread and Fear?
There are several possible reasons why you might have the sense that something bad is about to happen:
News Overload. When you spend too much time consuming the network or cable news programming you can become overwhelmed. Today’s reporting tends to lean toward a sensationalist style, versus the measured delivery of facts in prior decades. This can stoke fears, along with a sense that you have no control over events.
Medical issue. Impending doom can be a precursor to a health event. Conditions that may cause a sense of doom include stroke, heart attack, seizure, anaphylaxis, and blood transfusion reactions.
Anxiety disorder. Feeling a sense of impending doom is a common feature of panic disorder. Panic disorder is a form of anxiety where the person has panic attacks on a regular basis. A common symptom is the sense that they are going to die.
When Is Sense of Impending Doom an Anxiety Disorder?
About 40 million Americans struggle with some sort of anxiety disorder. There are several different types of anxiety disorder, but the common feature is fear. The sense of fear comes along with a feeling of having no control over whatever has stoked the fear.
Here are the types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Intense fear and worry may cause shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, palpitations, and sleep disruptions.
- Panic disorder: This is a sudden, unpredictable episode that feels like a heart attack. It features chest pain, trembling, nausea, shortness of breath, and a sense of doom.
- Social anxiety: Fear of being judged or rejected by others. Symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, blushing, muscle tension, nausea, and feeling lightheaded.
- Specific phobia: Extreme fear related to a certain object or situation that leads to avoidance behaviors.
- PTSD: A prolonged response to having experienced or witnessed a traumatic event that features irritability, flashbacks, insomnia, substance abuse, and avoidance behaviors.
- OCD: Alternating cycle of obsessive fears and compulsive behavioral responses to the fear in an attempt to reduce feelings of anxiety.
6 Tips to Work Through the Feeling of Impending Doom
So often, feelings of doom and gloom are a product of our own thoughts. We can allow distressing thought obsessions to take hold and dominate our lives. There are some techniques to use as coping skills when you are gripped with fear.
Consider these 6 tips:
- Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you take control over your thought distractions. When you take a pause and note your negative thoughts and emotions, you acknowledge it without critiquing it. Accept it, and remind yourself that the feeling will soon pass.
- Deep Breathing Techniques: When we are anxious our breathing becomes shallow, and that deprives the brain of oxygen. Deep breathing can quickly reduce feelings of anxiety. These techniques help reduce muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and slow the heart rate down.
- Exercise. We all know about the many health benefits of exercise, but did you know it can help to manage stress, too? Being active helps provide a healthy outlet for anxious feelings. The motion and movement increase levels of neurotransmitters, which help reduce stress.
- Grounding Techniques. Grounding refers to the practice of becoming physically united with the natural elements. This might include walking barefoot or just spending time standing on the grass, in the dirt, or in the sand. The idea of grounding is to reduce the effects of stress through accessing the earth’s natural electrical energy.
- Yoga. Yoga is very helpful for lowering stress levels. Slow movements and stretches can reduce muscle tension and slow breathing. As a result, yoga helps reduce feelings of anxiety.
- Guided Meditation. To practice guided meditation you will use a scripted program, usually from a phone app or download. In these, a narrator walks you through descriptive mental imagery that helps slowly induce relaxation.
Getting Help for Anxiety Disorder
Because of the different features of the various types of anxiety, care must be taken to make a correct diagnosis. From that point, a tailored treatment plan is made. Treatment for anxiety disorder includes:
- Medication. There are many drugs used to treat anxiety. The doctor will try a drug they believe will be helpful for managing the symptoms. If the first one doesn’t help, another drug will be trialed.
- Psychotherapy. Therapies for anxiety include CBT, exposure therapy, and EMDR. Support groups are also helpful, where a clinician leads group therapy sessions.
- Holistic therapies. Holistic methods can greatly help manage symptoms of anxiety. These types of therapies bring about a calm mind as well as reduced stress.
If you have had a feeling of impending doom in recent months you may benefit from the help of a therapist. Don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance.
The Treatment Specialist an Online Resource for Mental Health
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or a loved one has been feeling a sense of impending doom, it may be an anxiety disorder. Give our team a call today at (866) 644-7911.