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Aspergers Adults and Anxiety Prevention


Anxiety is very difficult for many grown-ups with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism to over-come. It can affect an individual psychologically and physically. Anxiety can happen for a range of reasons, and adults with Aspergers can vary in their ability to cope with it.

Emotions are abstract. To understand emotion you need an imagination. One of the areas of difficulty for adults with Aspergers is not being able to imagine things, so understanding emotions can be difficult for them.

Anxiety can affect both the mind and the body, and produce a range of symptoms. The psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety are closely linked and so can lead to a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. The psychological symptoms of anxiety are:
  • becoming preoccupied with or obsessive about one subject
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • easily losing patience
  • thinking constantly about the worst outcome

Its physical symptoms include:
  • dizziness
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urinating
  • headaches
  • loose bowel movements
  • muscle aches
  • periods of having gas
  • periods of intensely pounding heart
  • pins and needles
  • stomach upsets
  • tremors

If you do experience any of these symptoms, it is important to also get medical advice to rule out other medical conditions.

Once you understand anxiety and identify the things and situations that make you anxious, you can then take steps to cope with it. Strategies for managing anxiety include the following:

1. Any activities that are pleasant and calming such as taking a bath, listening to relaxing music, aromatherapy, playing on a computer may also help reduce anxiety. Some Aspies may find lights particularly soothing, especially those of a repetitive nature, such as spinning lights or bubble tubes.

2. Keep a diary. Try to understand the anxiety symptoms you display when you are anxious – and to look at the causes of your anxiety. Keeping a diary in which you write about certain situations and how these make you feel may help you to understand your anxiety and manage it better. Use the diary also to think about the physical changes linked to anxiety. Aspies often retreat into their particular interest if they are anxious about something. Use the diary to monitor this as well.

3. Create an “anxiety plan.” An anxiety plan is a list of things and situations that cause anxiety as well as solutions and strategies you can use to help manage your anxiety levels. The plan can be adapted, depending upon how well you understand anxiety.

4. Physical activity can often help to manage anxiety and release tension. Using deep breathing exercises to relax can be helpful, as can activities such as yoga and Pilates, which both focus on breathing to relax. Use a visual timetable or write a list to remind yourself when you need to practice relaxation.

5. Aspies can find it very difficult to relax. Some adults with Aspergers have a particular interest or activity they like to do because it helps them relax. If they use these to relax, it may help to build them into their daily routine. However, this interest or activity can itself be the source of behavioral difficulties at times, especially if they're unable to follow their interest or do the activity at a particular moment. Some Aspies may need to be left alone for short periods of the day to help them unwind.

6. Some adults with Aspergers find direct confrontation difficult. They may therefore be unable to say they don’t like certain things or situations, which will raise their anxiety levels. If they identify they are anxious, they could use a card system to let family or friends around them know how they are feeling. They could also carry a card around with them to remind themselves of what they need to do if they start getting anxious. Devise a stress scale that you can use whenever you find something particularly stressful.

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4 comments:

  1. I think there are many Aspies, self included, that have an abundance of imagination AND empathy...the issue with understanding emotion is just that, and being uncomfortable or overwhelmed... As well as plagued or struggling with how we even sort through the feelings and reactions we are having to them...it can be linked to earlier past negative experiences, and fear...thus the "fight or flight" response/anxiety kicks in as a defense mechanism, or others freeze and shut down. I still don't believe that is about imagination, but coping and reconditioning in many cases, developing skills too...because some take a long time to develop a more "mature" way of acting/coping, as one might be just reacting. Just my take...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly how I feel when I'm anxious

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  2. I have a decent, not GREAT imagination and I have lots of empathy but I just don't know how to show it very much. I also rarely read fiction because I can't follow it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I`m HFA and now 50 years old, and through my life, I have developed a wide variety of coping strategies that help me deal with all kinds of situations.
    The one thing that still has a serious impact on my life is anxiety linked to not being able to control my surroundings.
    I tend to mask it by portraying myself as happy-go-lucky, but inside, situations that others find mundane, fill me with dread and quite literally make my stomach churn.
    The physical symptoms of my anxiety are still the biggest thing that stops me enjoying life to the full. Situations that take me out of my "comfort zone" are made far worse by the thought that my increased anxiety may cause my bowels/bladder to let me down at the wrong moment.
    Boarding a train or bus with no toilet is something I will avoid wherever possible, and I dread when I`m flying somewhere and the seat-belt light stays on for ages....
    People laugh at me when they see me use the bathroom several times in a short period of time. As a consequence, events that should be fun and enjoyable send my anxiety levels through the roof. Recently, I won an award that required me to travel to London and go on stage in front of thousands of people to receive it. Just the thought of my body letting me down at the critical moment led me to decline the invitation. Still kicking myself over that one...

    ReplyDelete

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