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What is Anxiety and How is it Treated?

What is Anxiety and How is it Treated?

  • Admin
  • Apr 08, 2020

Mental health is an extremely important component of your overall well-being. Unfortunately, our fast-paced lifestyle frequently harms mental health. One of the most common mental health disorders is anxiety. This article will help you understand what anxiety is and how it's treated. Use this information to make informed choices about your mental health care.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the response your body has to stress. It manifests when someone is afraid of what is going on or what is to come. Everyone experiences some degree of anxiety at different points in their lives. Anxiety becomes a mental health issue when a person has frequent, overwhelming anxious thoughts that prevent them from performing their normal daily activities.

There are several different classifications of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is when someone is generally afraid of how events will turn out. Some of the other common forms of anxiety disorders include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Each of these disorders has its own specific causes and contexts, but they are all classified as different types of anxiety disorders. The symptoms for these disorders have a large degree of overlap, although each also has its own specific symptoms or ways that symptoms manifest.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

There are several symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Different people with different specific anxiety disorders will experience their own combination of these symptoms. Some people may experience some symptoms but not others, while others will experience all of the symptoms, but at different degrees of intensity.

It’s important to note that merely experiencing symptoms isn’t a sign of an anxiety disorder. Many of the symptoms of anxiety are natural body reactions to stress. Instead, these symptoms indicate an anxiety disorder when they occur out of proportion to the event they’re responding to.

For example, everyone might experience sweaty palms when they’re nervous, but experiencing sweaty palms before an important presentation is different than getting sweaty palms when choosing which container of milk to purchase. In the first example, the response is proportional to the impact of the event, whereas in the second example, the stress of choosing the best milk shouldn’t be enough to cause a physical reaction.

Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Panicked or dreadful feelings
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased or heavy sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Trouble focusing on something other than the thing you’re worried about
  • Gas, constipation, and diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
  • Obsessive thoughts about certain ideas or material conditions

As you can see, the list of symptoms for anxiety are things that most people experience at some point in their life. The difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder has to do with the impact these symptoms have compared to the cause.

How is Anxiety Treated?

There are two primary ways that doctors treat anxiety disorders – therapy and medication. Some people only use one treatment or the other, while other people use both treatments. We’ll look at each option in more detail.

Therapy for Treating Anxiety

Counseling and therapy are the most common treatments for anxiety disorders. Many doctors recommend patients seek counseling and therapy even if they also receive medication. There are lots of different types of therapy available to treat anxiety. Some of the most common forms of therapy include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT aims to recognize and reduce or alter harmful thought patterns that cause anxiety and its associated symptoms
  • Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy attempts to get to the “root” of an anxiety disorder by talking with a trained mental help professional
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – DBT focuses on helping patients understand that they are not their thoughts, and uses mindfulness and meditation strategies to help people overcome anxiety

These are only the most common therapy techniques. There are also others available for people that don’t find relief from these options.

Medication for Treating Anxiety

Doctors can also prescribe medications for therapy. There are lots of different medications for anxiety, but they generally fit into three categories of medications, Tricyclics, Benzodiazepines, and Anti-Depressants.

Tricyclics are mostly used for obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorders and have proven effective at reducing symptoms for people experiencing these disorders.

Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed on a short-term basis or for use during severe anxiety or panic attacks. They can cause addiction and are rarely a first-line medication.

Anti-depressants also feature heavily in the management of depression. These drugs are first-line medications with a low risk of abuse. Many anti-depressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. These are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs.

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. However, anxiety can become a destructive force that causes people to have problems living their best lives. When the symptoms of anxiety are greater than the cause of the anxiety, then it’s likely that an anxiety disorder is to blame. Thankfully, therapy, medication, or a combination of the two have shown to be effective at helping people deal with anxiety. If you or someone you care about suffers from an anxiety disorder call a mental health professional to set up an appointment. Help is available. You only need to seek it out. 

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