Anxiety Disorder Treatment
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is a common experience for many people. Anxiety includes feelings of stress, nervousness, and restlessness. An anxiety disorder is more severe and causes physical and emotional distress that interferes with an individual’s daily life. If left untreated, their symptoms could prevent them from engaging in social and family relationships, have a negative effect on their career, and stop them from participating in other daily activities.
Over 18% of all Americans are affected by an anxiety disorder. It is common for individuals to have one or more co-occurring disorders. For example, anxiety and depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, anxiety and substance use disorder, or anxiety and borderline personality disorder. Changes in the brain, environmental stressors, and genetics all play a part in the causes of anxiety disorder. Individuals who experience severe or long-term stress can also experience changes in the brain that regulate mood and cause anxiety. It is quite common for individuals who have experienced trauma to also suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Anxiety
In order to diagnose an individual with anxiety disorder, a physician or doctor will evaluate the person, perform a physical exam, and ask questions about their medical history. Because there are no lab tests to diagnose anxiety disorders, a doctor will use various tests to look for physical illnesses that may be causing the anxiety. However, if the individual is absent of physical illness, then the doctor will refer the individual to a mental health professional in order to treat the anxiety disorder.
Common symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
- Being irritable
- Having muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are various types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and other phobias. The most common anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million Americans and are the most common mental illness in the United States. While each anxiety disorder has its own set of symptoms, all anxiety disorders share common symptoms of persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience excessive anxiety or worry, most days, for at least six months. These individuals may worry about personal health, work, social interactions, family, relationships, and similar everyday life circumstances. Fear and anxiety will cause significant problems for those with generalized anxiety disorder and affect a variety of areas of their life, including school, work, and social interactions.
Individuals with panic disorders experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on very quickly. Panic attacks can occur without reason or be brought on by some type of trigger, such as a feared object, person, or situation.
Symptoms of panic attacks include:
- Heart palpitations, pounding heartbeat, or increased heartrate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
- Feelings of impending doom
- Feelings of being out of control
Individuals with panic disorder may worry about when their next panic attack will occur and will actively try to avoid panic attacks by avoiding places, situations, people, or behaviors that have caused other attacks. Oftentimes, individuals with a panic disorder will consistently worry about panic attacks and this worry will cause significant problems in that individual’s life.
Phobias are defined as an intense fear of specific objects or situations. Individuals with a phobia may have irrational fears about encountering the feared object or situation. Specific types of phobia disorders include phobias around flying, heights, specific animals or insects, blood, and similar objects. Individuals with phobias will take active steps to avoid their phobia and experience immediate and intense anxiety if they encounter their feared object or situation.
Social Anxiety Disorder:
Individuals with social anxiety disorder have an intense fear, or anxiety toward social or performance situations. Individuals with social anxiety will avoid social situations over fear that their anxiety will be negatively judged. The worry and fear around social interactions may manifest in a range of situations including the workplace or school environment.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorder
As discussed previously, a mental health professional or a doctor will utilize specific interview techniques and assessment tools to diagnose an individual with an anxiety disorder. Every anxiety disorder has different symptoms; thus, the exact treatment will depend on what specific disorder the individual has. The most common treatment for anxiety disorders are medication and therapy.
Anxiety disorders often present with other co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, or substance use disorder. It is important for an individual with an anxiety disorder to be properly diagnosed and treated. If left untreated, anxiety disorders have a significant impact on an individual’s life and will prevent them from engaging in normal activities.
For those individuals who are experiencing anxiety, seeking help can be beneficial. At Renewal Behavioral Health, we treat a wide variety of anxiety disorders and can help you restore a sense of control to your life. Call us today at (888) 292-0870 to learn more about how Renewal Behavioral Health can help you overcome anxiety.