Symptoms And Treatment Options
It is estimated that anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults in America. Any stressful event in an individual’s life is known to cause it. However, chronic anxiety is neither mild nor brief and it can last for up to six months. It is also known to get worse if the condition is left untreated. Anxiety disorders, in general, are classified as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobic disorder. Each has its own characteristic symptoms and requires a different line of treatment.
Anxiety disorder is a broad term that covers many different forms of psychiatric illnesses that include uneasiness, apprehension, worry, fear, bouts of experiencing terror, etc., which are known to affect the psychological and physical health of the individual. These disorders are known to co-occur with other mental and physical illnesses including substance abuse. Any accompanying illnesses may work to mask the symptoms of the disorder or even worsen them. However, it is important that these illnesses are treated prior to treating anxiety disorder.
Causes of anxiety are attributed to biological reasons that include low levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, exposure to environmental pollutants, increased grey matter, and malfunction of the amygdala in the brain. Sustained substance abuse is also thought to contribute to anxiety disorders in an individual.
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Anxiety disorder develops over a period of many years and can begin at any point in an individual’s life. However, the greatest risk of onset is between years of childhood and middle age.
Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms
Affected individuals spend the day with worry and tension even if there has been no occurrence that would have provoked the feelings. The concerns may be about health issues, difficulties at places of work, and family problems, among others. Other symptoms are inability to concentrate, getting startled effortlessly, anticipating disaster of some kind for most part of the day, and not being able to sleep or relax easily. Physical symptoms of anxiety include sweating, uncontrolled tremors, headache, upset stomach, frequent urination, lightheadedness, etc.
Anxiety Disorder – When to Seek Help
If the worries or fears are so great that they disrupt daily life then it is important that the individual seeks medical help. If a medical cause is ruled out by the consulting doctor after a physical exam and a medical checkup, the next step is to consult a therapist who has sufficient experience in treating anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorder – Treatment Options
Anxiety disorders are treated with specific types of psychotherapy, medications or both. Some self-help techniques are also seen to provide good results in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Treatment choices are dependent on the problem that is present in the individual. Though medications cannot be used to cure anxiety disorders completely, they can be used to control the physical symptoms. Medications are prescribed by the consulting physicians or psychiatrists.
A wide variety of medications including benzodiazepines and antidepressants are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Antidepressants cause symptoms to fade in 4 to 6 weeks’ time. SSRIs that alter the levels of neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain are also sometimes used. They have fewer side effects than antidepressants. Tricyclics are used to treat anxiety disorders. They are started on low doses which are gradually increased. Beta blockers help to keep certain physical symptoms under control. It is important to be aware of the fact that some of the medications have an effect only as long as they are taken regularly and it is possible for the symptoms to recur if the medications are stopped.
The psychotherapy is provided by psychiatrists themselves or when they team up with counselors, psychologists, and social workers. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is seen to bring positive results in the treatment of anxiety disorders – read more about CBT here. The thinking patterns that support the anxiety and fears can be controlled with the cognitive part. The behavioral part of the therapy helps to change the response or the way in which the individual reacts to the triggers or situations that cause anxiety.
Self help techniques that help to alleviate anxiety disorders include practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Reduction of consumption of alcohol, getting adequate rest and sleep, weaving sound nutritional habits into the daily diet, regularly exercising the body, and developing a positive attitude are also seen to help people reduce the severity of such disorders.
Anxiety – Self Help Treatment
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