Chances are, you’ve probably felt anxiety at some point in your life. Occasional anxiety is perfectly normal. However, if your symptoms last for long periods of time or start to interfere with your daily life, they may be indicative of an anxiety disorder.
So what is anxiety really, and how do you know when to seek treatment?
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the most common of all mental illnesses, affecting nearly 1 in 5 American adults each year.
Although it comes in many shapes and sizes, generally speaking, anxiety just refers to a feeling of worry, intense fear, or nervousness.
For example, you might feel anxious before a first date, in a new social situation, or during turbulence on a plane.
However, while a normal amount of anxiety is okay and even healthy, too much of it is not.
For some individuals, even routine stress can feel completely overwhelming and debilitating. Moreover, it can come out of nowhere, in completely unexpected situations, and last for long periods of time.
When this happens, it is possible you have an anxiety disorder.
What Causes Anxiety?
Simply put, there is no single cause for developing anxiety.
Researchers believe a combination of both genetic and environmental factors play a role.
However, there are some general factors that may predispose or trigger an individual. These include:
- Childhood shyness or behavioral inhibition
- Exposure to a significantly stressful and negative life or environmental event
- Family history of anxiety or mental illness
- Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.
Some substances, such as caffeine, for example, may also produce or provoke anxiety.
Anxiety Symptoms and Signs
Symptoms and signs of anxiety will differ depending on the person and the type of anxiety they are experiencing.
For example, one person might have a mild sense of restlessness while another feels as if their heart is about to jump out of their body. Yet, both are the body’s natural stress response system at work.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control and will not go away. These thoughts make you feel restless or on edge and can get worse over time.
- Physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, fatigue, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, etc.
- Changes in behavior, such as avoiding normal activities for no other apparent reason.
Do I Have Anxiety?
Anxiety affects everyone a little differently.
As a result, it can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to self-diagnose.
The best way to answer the question “do I have anxiety” is to talk about your symptoms with a health provider that knows and understands your background.
This will help them direct you to the appropriate resources, so you get a proper diagnosis and start forming a treatment plan that works for you.
How to Get Rid of Anxiety
Anxiety is a complicated and complex condition. Unfortunately, that means there is no way to just “get rid of anxiety.”
However, there are ways to manage it and improve symptoms over time so that it does not interfere with your job performance, relationships, or other daily activities.
How To Deal With Anxiety
There are a number of ways to cope with your condition.
Generally, we can put these treatment options into three groups: therapy-based treatment, medication-based treatment, and natural remedies.
Therapy-Based Anxiety Treatment
Therapy-based treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders.
It focuses on teaching you different ways of thinking and behaving, which can help you change the way you perceive and react to different triggers. CBT may also include types of exposure therapy that focus on having you confront the fear.
Medication-Based Anxiety Treatment
Frequently, medication is used in combination with therapy-based treatment to treat anxiety. Benzodiazepines are the most common type of anti-anxiety medication. However, some antidepressants, such as sertraline, are popular as well.
Like any medication, benzodiazepines have their benefits and drawbacks.
For example, while this class of medication is very quick and effective for relief, people can build up a tolerance to it and even become dependent on it over time.
You should work closely with your healthcare provider to figure out what medication is right for your specific circumstances.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Studies show that nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety-related disorders can be highly effective.
Specifically, herbal supplements containing extracts of passionflower, kava, or combinations of L-lysine and l-arginine have demonstrated effectiveness.
Other supplements beyond these may hold promise, but more research is needed to confirm their benefits.
In addition to supplements, other natural remedies can include:
- Getting outside and spending more time in nature.
- Exercising and becoming more active.
- Eating foods rich in magnesium, zinc, probiotics, and Omega-3s.
- Practicing mindfulness meditation.
Ultimately, people should talk and work with their healthcare provider to evaluate the different options and determine which option works best for their specific needs.
It isn’t easy to admit you need help. However, there are a number of valuable resources that can help you manage your anxiety and improve your quality of life.
Today, there are thousands of resources, both online and in person, that can help you. And while in-person options are still the most popular choice, telepsychiatry has become more prominent over the last few years due to greater accessibility.
Moreover, there is substantial evidence that telepsychiatry is highly effective, and satisfaction among patients, psychiatrists, and other professionals is high.
However, if you still prefer to see somebody in person, talk with a healthcare provider who knows your background to see if they can recommend anyone in your area.
Another option to get help is to call a telephone hotline to talk to someone when you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
Easy to access and often free, these hotlines can offer a sympathetic ear in addition to connecting you with valuable resources that you may not have been able to find or access on your own. These hotlines are anonymous and confidential, which makes them the preferred option for some.
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all cause of anxiety, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.
Work with a trusted healthcare provider, and if you have any questions about medications or access to care, email us at email@example.com, and we will be happy to help.
Who can prescribe anxiety medication?
If you think you may need anti-anxiety medication to manage your anxiety, there are multiple healthcare professionals who can help. Your primary care provider, be it a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner, can prescribe anxiety medication.
Additionally, a psychiatrist can also prescribe anxiety medication. In some cases, your primary care provider may recommend you see a psychiatrist first before prescribing medication, as psychiatrists specialize in mental health conditions, such as anxiety.
In some states, psychologists, or mental health counselors, who have additional medical training can prescribe medication. These states include Louisiana, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho, and Iowa. However, in the majority of states, psychologists strictly provide mental health counseling, not prescription medication. If you are seeking help for anxiety, though, counseling with a licensed psychologist can be an effective treatment.
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