What is anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are a class of mental illnesses that cause excessive anxiety, dread, or dread of everyday things like being in public places, speaking in front of people, and undergoing medical treatments. These worries might be so strong that they interfere with a person's ability to function normally at home, work, school, or social gatherings.
The most common types of anxiety include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Specific Phobias
What causes anxiety?
There are many different factors that may contribute to an individual developing anxiety. Some of these factors include:
Genetics – Your family history may play a role in whether you develop anxiety. For example, if your mother has had panic attacks, it increases your risk for developing them yourself.
Trauma – Experiencing trauma early in life, such as abuse or neglect, can increase your chances of developing anxiety later on in life.
Environmental Factors – Living in certain areas or experiencing environmental stressors, like pollution, noise, crowding, or extreme weather, can also trigger anxiety symptoms.
Stressful Life Events – Having stressful experiences, such as getting fired from your job, moving into a new apartment, or losing a loved one, can lead to anxiety.
Stress – Chronic stress can make it harder to cope with daily stresses and worries. This can lead to more intense feelings of anxiety.
How do I know if I have anxiety?
If you experience any of the following, you might have anxiety:
- Being anxious all the time
- Having trouble concentrating
- Being easily startled
- Having physical reactions when you feel stressed out
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Worrying too much about things
- Having recurrent thoughts or images related to your concerns
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Experiencing muscle tension
- Feeling shaky
- Having difficulty breathing
- Having problems eating or drinking
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
- Having suicidal thoughts
How do I treat my anxiety?
Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and other psychotropic medications can help reduce anxiety by reducing the activity of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, while anti-anxiety medications are used to treat anxiety. Both antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications come in pill form, but some people prefer taking medication orally rather than through injection.
In addition to medication, talk therapy is often recommended for treating anxiety. Psychotherapists are trained professionals who provide counseling based on their understanding of how the mind works. They will try to identify the source of your anxiety and teach you skills to manage your emotions better.
Mindfulness meditation is another way to learn to control your thoughts and emotions. It involves paying attention to what’s happening right now without judging yourself or others. You focus on your breath, body sensations, sounds around you, or whatever else is present in the moment. When you practice mindfulness meditation regularly, you begin to notice when you start thinking negatively and then choose not to engage in those negative thoughts.
Yoga is a great option for managing anxiety because it teaches you to relax and breathe deeply. The poses that yoga requires are difficult at first, but they become easier over time.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you change your thought patterns so you can stop worrying about things that aren’t really important. CBT focuses on identifying and changing unhelpful beliefs and behaviors that contribute to your anxiety.
Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to help you gain insight into why you worry and develop coping strategies to deal with your anxiety. In this type of therapy, you listen to guided relaxation techniques designed to lower your level of arousal.
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating mild to moderate anxiety. Acupuncturists insert thin needles into specific points along the body’s energy meridians. These points correspond to different organs and systems in the body. For example, acupuncture may be helpful for treating anxiety if there is an imbalance between the heart and liver.
Biofeedback is a technique that allows you to measure your own physical responses to stress. This information can then be displayed graphically on a computer screen. With biofeedback, you learn to recognize and control certain physiological reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical procedure where electricity is passed through the brain to stimulate its neurons. ECT is sometimes used to treat severe cases of depression and mania. However, it should only be considered after all other treatments have failed.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own unique set of symptoms. While some people may experience only mild anxiety, others may find that their anxiety is so severe that it interferes with their daily lives.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for anxiety disorders. The most common type of treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can help people identify and change the negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety. Medication may also be prescribed in some cases.
If you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, it is important to seek professional help. A qualified mental health professional can conduct a full evaluation to determine whether you have an anxiety disorder and, if so, what type it is. With proper treatment, most people with anxiety disorders can manage their symptoms and lead normal, productive lives. Contact us to schedule a consultation.