An relapse of an anxiety disorder is possible. You can reduce the chance of this happening by:
- a healthy lifestyle
- not using alcohol
- sleeping and relaxing enough
- following a daily routine: getting up, eating and working at set times
- getting enough exercise, such as walking, cycling or working out
- staying in contact with other people
- continuing to do as much as possible By continuing to do the things that scare you, you practise dealing with the feelings of anxiety.
- making a plan with your care provider to identify and prevent relapse in time
Make an appointment with your GP if your symptoms return.
New to the Netherlands?
Moving to a new country with your family can be exciting. It can involve a new challenge, a change of scene, and perhaps a new job. But adjusting to a foreign language and a different culture can take more time and effort than you might expect. This can leave you feeling sad, lonely and left out. It can lead to anxiety and depression. It may also bring on eating disorders and addictions or make them worse. Dutch GPs take these matters seriously. They are trained to help you cope with them, and also with other mental health issues that are not related to your move. If necessary, the GP will refer you to specialized mental healthcare.
Recovering from an anxiety disorder
An anxiety disorder has a big impact on your life.
After recovering, you may still feel anxious sometimes, but know how to deal with it better. Therefore you can:
- take good care of yourself again
- ‘participate’ again; interact with other people in a nice way and do useful things
- feel better and feel happy again
- do things that are important to you such as working, exercising or playing sports and maintaining social contacts
Sometimes people have a relapse of anxiety. For example, after a life-changing event such as the loss of a loved one or the birth of a child. The anxiety can then be more severe and sometimes more difficult to treat. It is therefore good to prevent the anxiety disorder from relapsing.
Recommendations to prevent the anxiety disorder from relapsing
The recommendations you received during treatment remain important to ensure that you stay healthy after your recovery They can help you prevent a new anxiety disorder:
- Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. For example, walking, cycling, swimming or gardening.
- Get enough sleep
- Follow a daily routine
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same times every day.
- Eat 3 meals a day, at set times.
- Keep working, if you can. This provides distraction and structure.
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Do not use alcohol or drugs
- Drink less coffee or none at all. This includes energy drinks with caffeine
- Relax. Try to relax as much as possible. You can do this by breathing calmly, practising yoga, meditation or relaxation exercises (in Dutch). You can also go for a walk or call someone on the phone.
- Seek support from people you trust and explain what is troubling you. Most people will understand.
- Continue to do as much as possible.
- By continuing to do the things that scare you, you learn to deal with the tension.
- This reduces your fear for certain situations.
- It is good to know that anxiety usually lessens on its own after 60 to 90 minutes.
- It might give you the courage to do the things that scare you after all.
- Try to change your thoughts. When you’re scared, you probably automatically think about things that make the anxiety worse. It is important that you learn to change those thoughts. What can you do? For example:
- Write down your experiences. Keep a diary. Write down exactly what happens when you’re scared. What do you think about? What are you scared of? What do you feel? How do you react? And what do you do?
- Think calming thoughts. Think about whether there is a reason to be so scared. Then, think about which calming thoughts can help you. Write these thoughts down so that you can read them at difficult times. This often makes it easier to deal with anxious moments and stay calm until you feel better.
- Peer support and hearing about other people’s experiences (in Dutch) can also help.
When should I call my doctor to prevent a relapse?
Make an appointment with your GP:
- If you have a relapse of anxiety. Do not wait until the symptoms get worse.
- If you take medication and want to discuss the dosage, for example.
Plan to prevent a relapse of the anxiety disorder
After recovering from an anxiety disorder, you and your care provider can make a plan in case you develop anxiety again. This plan is intended to help you recognise the symptoms in time and prevent a relapse of the anxiety disorder.
The plan states:
- how you can tell if you are having a relapse of the anxiety disorder
- how your loved ones can tell that you are doing worse again
- what you and your loved ones can do in that case
- who to contact, and how to contact them, if you feel that things aren’t going well
More information about anxiety and anxiety disorders
You can also get more information (in Dutch) from:
- The Anxiety, Compulsion and Phobia Foundation (Angst, Dwang en Fobie stichting), also for contact with peers.
- Netherlands Knowledge Centre for Anxiety and Depression (Nederlands kenniscentrum Angst en Depressie, NedKAD).
- The Netherlands Hyperventilation Foundation (Nederlandse Hyperventilatie Stichting)
- MIND Korrelatie, telephone helpline for contact with a professional care provider.
- At Mentaalvitaal.nl you can find online exercises and courses to help you.
- At Vaktherapie.nl you can find information about various forms of expressive therapy.
- Information about cognitive behavioural therapy can be obtained from the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (Vereniging voor Gedrags- en Cognitieve therapieën).
The information on anxiety disorders is based on the scientific guideline for GPs, the NHG-Standard ‘Anxiety’ (Angst), the Multidisciplinary document on ‘Reducing the dose of SSRIs & SNRIs’ (Afbouwen SSRI’s & SNRI’s) and the ‘Care Standard for Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders’ (Zorgstandaard Angstklachten en angststoornissen).