Why Am I Anxious & How to Overcome It?

23 March, 2017
Q Please what is the cause of anxiety, restlessness and fear especially in the night? This is despite keeping to daily adhkar.

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

Anxiety is a common disorder affecting millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses and so forth. In other words, it doesn’t discriminate. Restlessness in the night is also common, but tends to affect children and the elderly more so. Fear, however, may be related to the anxiety itself (as may be the restlessness) or it may have a separate etiology.

While you did not include details such as how long this has been going on, if any events triggered it, if you are otherwise healthy, or what kinds of symptoms you are having, I would kindly suggest that you start a diary or log book and write down how long has it been going on, has it gotten worse. Write down symptoms such as difficulty breathing, feeling faint, pounding heart and so on. Please also notate if you take any medications or use recreational drugs. It is also important to document if you hear voices or see things during these episodes.

Regarding the fear, in sha’ Allah, please try to pinpoint exactly what it is that you are fearful of. Is it the dark? The ticking of a clock? A memory? Worries? If you can identify what it is you are afraid of, you can begin to address that fear. Before you go to sleep (I am guessing that this is when it occurs), please write down any thoughts you may or may not have prior to going to bed. Keep this journal for about a week or two and see if there are any patterns which the fear/anxiety/restlessness follows and if there are any preceding factors.

For relief, I would kindly suggest that you try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive body relaxation, and positive self-talk and having a calming caffeine-free cup of tea before bed.  There are many more excellent stress-anxiety reduction techniques online, please do explore your options.

Also, reading Qur’an, and doing dhzikr, in sha’ Allah, will help bring a peaceful, calm state of mind. If the situation continues despite your efforts to remedy it, I kindly suggest that you seek out the help of a counselor in your area who can assess you and develop a more concise plan of action based on your individual symptoms. Remember, though, anxiety is a very common disorder and it is my feeling that the restlessness and fear are part of the anxiety symptoms which you have been experiencing. A good counselor can identify this and develop a treatment plan which will address and alleviate these issues, in sha’ Allah. Additionally, please see your doctor to rule out any health disorders which may be causing this. Ask for a complete physical examination and please mention the symptoms you have been having.

Regarding your original question: “What is the cause of anxiety, restlessness, fear at night”; there are many. Things such as stress at work, home or school, a traumatic life experience,  being abused; childhood trauma; health problems-imbalance of hormones or brain chemistry (abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters) are among the few causes.

Researchers have found that anxiety disorders tend to run in families. You may want to talk to family members to see if anyone else in your family is or has suffered from this. As your symptoms occur mainly at night, it could be that you experienced a traumatic event during the night as a child and your subconscious is telling you that at night “it’s not safe”. Or, you could be experiencing anxiety, fear and restlessness due to a sleeping disorder. The only way to find out fir sure what the cause of your anxiety, fear and restlessness is, is to get evaluated by a doctor and assessed by a counselor.  In sha’ Allah, you have a simple case of anxiety which causes the other symptoms and like millions of others worldwide, it can be treated once diagnosed.

We wish you the best. Please let us know how you are.

Salam,

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.