Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision.
But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. A person with an anxiety disorder lives with the anxiety not going away and often finds it get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.
People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms, including restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty controlling the worry and difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfactory sleep.
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.
People with social anxiety disorder have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others, including feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them, feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others, being very afraid that other people will judge them and feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around.
Evaluation for an anxiety disorder often begins with a visit to a primary care provider.
Some physical health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid or low blood sugar, as well as taking certain medications, can imitate or worsen an anxiety disorder.
A thorough mental health evaluation is also helpful, because anxiety disorders often co-exist with other related conditions, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, stress management and/or medications.
Psychotherapy can help people with anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful situations.
Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy. While there is evidence that aerobic exercise has a calming effect, the quality of the studies is not strong enough to support its use as treatment.
Choosing the right medication, medication dose, and treatment plan should be based on a person’s needs and medical situation, and done under an expert’s care. Since caffeine, certain illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders, avoiding them should be considered.
Do you or a loved one suffer with an anxiety disorder? Request your free subscription to Care Support Network today to take our free Anxiety Disorder Assessment to find out.