These days anxiety is so common that the word is often overused to describe being under stress. But what if your distress doesn’t go away even when its source is no longer present? If you’ve been dealing with anxiety for a while, you might be wondering, will it ever go away? Luckily, anxiety issues don’t have to be permanent. Read on to learn more about how anxiety works and ways to cope.
Does Anxiety Ever Really Go Away?
Anxiety has become one of the most common mental health issues globally. In 2013, it was estimated that 8.2 million people struggled with anxiety disorder in the UK.  One of the reasons for the increase in anxiety disorders could be that life is more stressful than before. For example, easy access to social media can be detrimental to mental health. We tend to compare ourselves to others and feel pressured to constantly achieve new goals.
However, the good news is that anxiety can go away or be managed enough to live a fulfilling life. The key is to act fast and receive the help you need before it becomes a long-term problem. Talking about mental health is much more mainstream these days, and the knowledge on mental health issues is more accessible. We live in a world where it’s more common for people to recognise anxiety symptoms quickly and then worry whether their anxiety will ever disappear. Even if it can be a normal response to stressful events, worrying excessively about your anxiety can invertedly make it a long term issue.
What’s the Difference Between Anxiety and an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a broad term used to describe occasional anxiety and anxiety disorders. Anxiety that’s proportional to the situation (for example, when it’s a response to exams, a new job etc.) is unlikely to become a permanent problem. It can be beneficial as it motivates us to complete stressful tasks. After all, anxiety is a normal emotion, and all humans are equipped with it and for good reasons. Once the stressful event has passed, anxiety naturally dissipates: it’s the way our body tells us a threat is no longer present.
Getting rid of it can be tricky if you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterised by psychological and physical symptoms that aren’t necessarily triggered by stressful situations. For example, while public speaking can make you anxious, you might also feel anxious or on edge daily even if there’s no apparent threat (e.g., when you’re taking the tube or meeting up with friends).
If you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder, making your anxiety go away might be difficult, but not impossible, when helped by a professional. Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are effective treatments for anxiety.
How Does Anxiety Go Away?
One of the most common questions anxiety sufferers asks is; can I make it go away on my own? The problem is there’s no straightforward answer here. If anxiety is in the early stages, there’s a chance you can improve the situation by being self-aware. For example, if you’re a person who tends to feel calm and balanced, you might be able to recognise that you suddenly feel anxious more often than usual and then take steps to decrease stress and prevent the symptoms from increasing and interfering with your daily life. However, in many cases, anxiety symptoms develop gradually and subtly, and you might be unable to recognise there’s a problem until it’s become too difficult to manage on your own.
On the other hand, an anxiety disorder, like panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder etc., is unlikely to go away on its own. While self-awareness and using self-help tools can be helpful, the best way to approach the problem is by seeking professional help. Therapy can help you understand the mechanisms behind anxiety, teach you coping skills, and improve your well-being using various techniques, including exposure and relaxation.
Why Does Anxiety Return In Some Cases?
Some people are more prone to developing anxiety than others due to genetics or personality type. For example, people whose family members struggle with anxiety are more likely to suffer from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). 
Many adult anxiety sufferers have already experienced anxiety when they were younger. As children, we are more emotionally vulnerable. For example, a child is more likely to be subjected to bullying and become affected by harmful family dynamics, such as living with parents who are too strict or criticise them, which negatively influences the child’s self-esteem. This can lead the child to develop an anxiety predisposition that never entirely disappears after an initial episode. Later in life, when the child, now a young adult, goes to university, they might meet like-minded people who help them feel confident and get out of their shell. This can diminish their anxiety, which stays dormant for a few years until they start a new job. However, their boss seems to never appreciate their efforts. This, in combination with work demands, might trigger a new anxiety episode or even an anxiety disorder and make them relapse as the problem, originated in childhood was never addressed before.
Even being under a lot of stress unrelated to the source of your childhood anxiety can trigger new episodes of anxiety in the present if you hadn’t sought professional help. In a nutshell, some are more prone than others to initially develop anxiety. However, the most common reason anxiety returns is because it wasn’t dealt with effectively when it first emerged!
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How Long Does Anxiety Last?
When it’s not an isolated instance, in some cases, anxiety can last for a day (or even two or three), and the symptoms come and go depending on what’s going on in your life. Suppose you’re facing a difficult situation or a challenging life event, for example. In that case, if you’re moving home, getting married, having a baby or starting a new job, it’s natural to feel distressed. The symptoms should resolve once the problem has gone away or the circumstance has passed.
However, if anxiety is a reaction to ongoing difficulties, it might persist for weeks, months or even years. If you ignore it, it might worsen over time and start impairing your everyday functioning. For example, imagine you’ve just started a new job that requires you to work under pressure. Soon, you might become stressed all the time and worry about performing well. You might believe that working harder is the answer instead of looking for ways to manage stress. This can turn into long-term anxiety and eventually cause problems with sleep that interfere with your ability to work, relate to others and even enjoy your free time.
What To Do When Your Anxiety doesn’t Go Away?
If you’re dealing with anxiety that doesn’t go away after a specific life challenge is over, it’s essential to seek professional help before the symptoms take over your life. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most effective anxiety treatments. It targets unhelpful thoughts, teaches you coping skills and eventually lessens your anxiety while improving your quality of life. You can read more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety here.
Anxiety sufferers often expect anxiety to disappear completely, but this is a myth. Although an anxiety disorder may technically go away with therapy, anxiety itself is a normal human emotion and thus is a part of being human; it can motivate us to finish tasks or act fast in emergencies. The key is to bring anxiety down to normal levels where you can function without it holding you back. Regardless of whether you’ve received professional help in the form of therapy or medication, the following tips can help you try to keep your anxiety in check:
Work on your inner dialogue
If you’ve been in therapy, you’ll have learned that unhelpful thinking is an essential factor that contributes to anxiety. Even when you’ve completed all your sessions, you have to make sure you practise the skills every day. One way to do it is by monitoring your inner dialogue. For example, you should pay attention to ‘what ifs’ scenarios that appear in your mind and try to come up with positive statements; “What if I succeed, what if everything goes well.” Similarly, pay attention to how you speak to yourself when you’re distressed or when things don’t go your way. Do you call yourself names? Replace negative terms with something more positive and be kind to yourself. Just because you fail once doesn’t reflect who you’re as a person. Churchill once said that success means moving from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm.
Calm your mind with meditation and mindfulness
Negative thoughts generally keep the anxiety going, so another good way to manage it is to learn to acknowledge these thoughts without reacting to them. One of the most effective ways of learning this is via regular meditation practice; this could be a guided meditation found on Youtube or even practising focused breathing exercises.
Meditation and mindfulness are also excellent ways to learn how to live in the present instead of the future (which is usually the focus of anxious thoughts, i.e., ‘what if?’). The more you overthink, the more anxious you’ll get. Mindfulness can ground you in the present by teaching you how to focus on one feeling, thought, sensation and even work task at a time. For example, whenever you wash the dishes, focus on it entirely; notice the way the water feels on your hands, focus on the shape of each plate; when you notice your mind wandering, gently bring it back to focus, staying in the present.
Let it all out
Sometimes the best way to deal with negative emotions is by (helpfully) expressing them. Whenever you feel anxious, you can reach out to a loved one or write your feelings down. Just admitting to yourself you’re feeling anxious can help you come to terms with your situation and encourage you to take care of yourself more. You could combine it with self-care; make sure you do something that makes you feel good and use healthy distractions such as talking to a friend. At the same time, try to change the way you view anxiety. Tell yourself that those feelings can’t harm you, they simply exist, and you are neither those negative emotions nor your negative thoughts.
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Tips To Prevent Anxiety From Returning
Take care of your health
Incorporating coping skills into your everyday life is half of the success; if you don’t take care of your health, they won’t help much. This is why you should make sure to eat healthily. An occasional snack here and there won’t do much damage, but eating balanced meals can make a huge difference. You should also avoid drinking alcohol too much, as changes in serotonin levels can worsen your anxiety in the long term. And don’t forget to keep active. Physical activity releases endorphins and can boost your mood and decrease tension and anxiety.
Know when to take a break
Even if you follow the tips above, you’re still at risk of relapsing if you put yourself under constant stress. It’s imperative to pay attention to red flags such as increased negative thoughts, mental exhaustion, more responsibilities at work, significant life changes, etc. In these instances, it’s helpful to develop a plan that will help you alleviate the distress. For example, suppose you start a new job. In that case, you might want to make sure you treat yourself with more kindness than before by increasing positive inner dialogue and praising yourself more. Pacing is also important here, and ensuring that you don’t overdo things.
Learn to recognise your triggers
We all have them. Social media is a massive trigger for some, as it’s difficult not to compare your life and progress to other people’s. For others, it might be reading upsetting news or overthinking things you must do the next day while in bed trying to sleep. Whenever you feel anxious, try to write down your feelings and describe the situation that triggered the anxiety to prevent it in the future. For example, you might want to reduce the time spent on social media or promise yourself not to go through your to-do list for the next day before going to sleep.
Be kind to yourself
If you’re learning how to prevent anxiety from returning, consider it a huge success. It means you acquired healthy coping skills and have become more self-aware. Even if the relapse does happen, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Relapses are extremely common, and they aren’t a sign of failure, just a learning process. Be kind to yourself whenever you feel your mental health is temporarily declining.
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Anxiety Therapy in London and Online
If you’re dealing with anxiety and worried that it will never go away, know that you aren’t alone. At Therapy Central, you can work with a qualified therapist specialising in therapy for anxiety who will adjust a treatment plan to suit your needs. At Therapy Central, we can help you lessen your symptoms, teach you how to manage them, and help you prevent relapse in the future. Therapy can help you regain a sense of agency and empowerment and allow you to enjoy your life again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; request a free 15 minutes consultation and discuss your options.
Anxiety can be a short-term issue that goes away when the stressor is removed. Still, it can also become a long-term problem that interferes with your everyday life. If you’re wondering if your anxiety ever goes away and what makes it more or less likely it will, you should consider factors such as your history of anxiety and whether you sought professional help in the past and practise anxiety management skills.